A city break provides the perfect antidote to the usual summer perils of sunburn and sand in your picnic hamper. Not only will you avoid the bustle of crowded resort towns, a city break can also give you a genuine insight into the culture of the country you are visiting.
A fashionable destination
For the traveller set on selecting something a little bit different this summer, a journey north to Scandinavia can be an inviting prospect. Always a popular destination, Scandinavia is especially fashionable at the moment thanks to its cultural exports in television and literature. And where better to sample this cultural smorgasbord of the north than in Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg?
No culture shock
Exploring the city may remind Brits of home. Crossing the Gothia river, leaving a traditional pub on your way to visiting the fashionable clothing shops along cobblestone streets, you may understand why the locals refer to their city as “Little London”. Gothenburg is like Britain’s capital in many ways. Indeed, the big surprise for many visitors is the almost complete lack of any culture shock that will greet you. Along with the comfortingly familiar blend of historic and stylishly modern buildings that characterise the city’s landscape, you will probably find that most of the people you meet will speak perfect English – and most are more than happy to practice their second language with visitors!
Gothenburg Culture Festival in August
Gothenburg makes for an exciting destination throughout the summer, as the city transforms itself into one big venue for the extensive programme of events that make up the Gothenburg Culture festival. The 2015 festival runs between the 11th and 16th of August, and includes everything from street performances and concerts to exhibitions of renowned artists and environmental sciences. It is a truly mixed bag of entertainment.
Gothenburg temperatures are generally a little fresher than most of the British Isles in the summer, and 20C (68F) is viewed as a good seasonal average. Take a day trip out to the coast, though – to stunning Saltholmen, or to the quiet coastal town of Marstrand – and you will enjoy a summer’s day every bit as bright, peaceful and picturesque as anything Europe can offer.
Whether you find yourself dining by the coast, or perhaps in the city’s feskekörka (literally “fish church”), fresh seafood is the dining experience of the city. Meatballs may be the national dish, but fish is Gothenburg’s main passion. Drinking and dining can be costly hobbies in all parts of Sweden, but you will usually find that the quality of service makes up for the higher prices. Equally, accommodation is a little pricier than you might expect in the UK. And, while every price point is catered for, you may find that you are getting a little less for your money than you would expect back home if you always choose the budget option.
The good news is that not everything about your trip is expensive. Gothenburg has great connections to the outside world, with train links to Norway, Denmark, and to the Swedish capital Stockholm. The city has a ferry port and two airports, both offering direct flights to and from the UK. Flights out of Heathrow run twice a day and prices can be very competitive, with a return trip easily coming in below £150 per person if you are flexible with your travel arrangements. Similarly, the exchange rate has become increasingly attractive to Britons in the past year, so cash in your sterling, buy a few thousand kroner, and make this summer the perfect time to live out your dreams of a Nordic adventure!