Taking time out to have fun is a way of life for the Swedish and the locals living in the 2nd city of Gothenburg are gearing up for a year of celebrations as it marks its 400th anniversary in 2023.
This friendly, trendy and green city is not only compact, but easily accessible and has a plethora of things to do and see.
Buildings are being spruced up, the infrastructure made faster and new hotels popping up, ready for the predicted influx of visitors.
With 12 months of different events and attractions planned from June 2nd, it is hard to decide when to visit, but the midsummer celebrations are ones not to miss.
What better way to celebrate than dancing around a maypole and tucking into a delicious plate of pickled herrings and new potatoes.
June 24th signals a two day holiday to mark the solstice and the Scandinavians are determined to keep this ancient tradition going and why not, it’s great fun.
It would have been rude not to join in, so accompanied by husband Kenny and children Ruaridh (15) and Flossie (12) we headed to Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city ready to eat, drink and be merry.
With the sun the hottest it has been this year, we joined thousands of fellow party-goers at Gunnebo Manor, a beautiful 18th century house, set in stunning gardens, where we were entertained by a folk group and joined in all the traditional dancing, singing and jumping like a frog, to mark the solstice.
Many of the visitors donned floral head bands as they shaded from the heat and enjoyed sumptuous picnics with family and friends.
The vibrant city boasts over 95 per cent of hotels which are officially environmentally friendly.
One of the newest hotels in town is the Quality Hotel, The Weaver, aimed at families and in the up and coming Mölndal district, a few rides on the tram from the centre and with all the modern comforts we expect these days, including a much played Shuffle Board, loved by all the children staying!
A bumper breakfast featuring Scandinavian treats sets you up for the day and with excellent public transport links, especially the electric buses and old style trams, it is easy to move around the city.
There are plenty of things to see and do, from walking in the old district of Haga, with its beautiful cobbled streets and historical buildings dating back to the 18th century and now restored to house trendy coffee shops and restaurants, to visiting the Frihamnen area which has a wonderful free sauna for all to use.
Museums are in abundance and feature the history of the city, art and architecture and the popular and free World Culture Museum which also boasts a star in the Michelin Green Guide.
The Universeum Science Centre has seven floors of science and is the biggest museum of its kind in Scandinavia. You can explore through the tropical rainforest, watch the fish go by in the giant aquarium and take part in some fun experiments.
Gothenburg City Museum is the place to follow the history of the city from a fortified town in the 17th century, via the 18th century’s new ideas and the 19th century’s growth into a modern industrial and port city. Here there is also Sweden’s only exhibited Viking ship, Äskekärrsskeppet. Housed in the ancient East Indian property from the 18th century, there is also a special children’s museum.
A transport card to cover your visit is a worthwhile investment and as well as the buses, trains and trams, it also covers the local ferries and means you can escape from the city for the day and head for the archipelago which stretches along the coast, like a string of pearls.
The most popular to visit and only an hour away from the city are Styrsö, Donsö or Vrångö, with their pretty wooden houses and harbours and lots of secret hideaways to explore as well as taking a dip in the water.
You can laze away the day with a spot of lunch or a traditional fika, a coffee and cake to you and me, and people spot the locals as they go about their business on their quirky electric bikes, fitted with front trailers to carry goods.
Back on dry land, there is fun for all the family at the Liseburg Amusement Park, the largest in Scandinavia and full of forty plus rides from the old fashioned dodgems to the high speed roller coasters.
During the summer there are free concerts on and plenty of fun fair food and drink on offer as you tour round the quaint park.
Gothenburg’s locals are full of fun and proud of their city and its wealth of history which is just waiting to be told at the 400 year anniversary events.
So keen to shout out their love for their city, a competition was held to come up with an anniversary song and the winner by Katarina Hemlin sums this wonderful spot well – “We want to live, we want to die in Gothenburg.”
And so say all of us!
Accommodation in the new and trendy district of Mölndal can be found at the family friendly Quality Hotel The Weaver.
Attractions: Have fun at the Lisberg Amusement Park, the biggest in Scandinavia.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.