Swede dreams in Gothenburg

Often caught in Stockholm’s shadow, clean, green Gothenburg – with its car free islands, cafe society and culture (think theatres, museums and Michelin starred restaurants) – also rewards a visit. Here are five things you must do in Sweden’s second city

Make for a museum
Gothenburg may contain a mere half a million inhabitants, but it has the cultural clout of a city twice its size. Mustn’t miss museums includethe Konstmuseet – where you’ll find art work by French Impressionists Rubens and Rembrandt as well as the likes of Carl Larsson and Bruno Liljefors. Other standouts are Stadsmuseum, home to the remains of the Askekarrkeppet – Sweden’s only Viking vessel – and Rohsska, Sweden’s only art and design museum. Meanwhile petrol heads can pay homage to iconic Swedish car company, Volvo, at the Volvo museum. Note: you’ll need a car to reach the museum as it’s about 8km west of the city.

Scream yourself silly
 – located opposite The Upper House hotel (see below) – is Sweden’s largest theme park, attracting over three million visitors every year. If you’ve got the Goteborg pass (a highly recommend discount card), entry is free. Otherwise admission is around SK90 for adults with rides weighing in at approximately SK20 each. Adrenalin junkies won’t want to miss the 90km/h wooden roller coaster Balder, Kanonen (expect to be blasted from 0-75km/h in under two seconds) and AtmosFear – the tallest free-fall attraction in Europe.

Treat your tastebuds
Gothenburg is great for gourmands. The city is home to no fewer than five Michelin starred restaurants – take a bow Kock and Vin, 28+, Frond, Sjomagasinet and Thonstroms Kok. However happily for those whose wallets aren’t well stocked, there are plenty of cheap – and tasty – options. Husmanskost (home cooking) is having a moment. Classic husmanskost dishes include Swedish meatballs (naturally) and various forms of fish and potatoes. There’s also an ever increasing number of cafes selling smorgas(open sandwiches), smooth espressos and a selection of kanelbullar (cinnamon buns),kardemummabullar (cardamom rolls) and princess torte – a lime green coloured cake.

Go west
When you’re ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, seek out Gothenburg’s Southern Archipelago – a cluster of car free islands. One of the best is Branno, owing to its beautiful beaches, outdoor dance-floor, colourful cottages and cornucopia of cycling and hiking paths. Even better, Branno is easily accessible – take tram 11 from central Gothenburg to Saltholemen from where you can catch regular ferries to the island.

Sleep easy
For a small city, Gothenburg is home to a high concentration of swish hotels. The latest luxury hotel to open its doors is The Upper House which is handily located opposite the Liseburg Amusement Park and next to the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre. Although the hotel – set on the top six floors of Hotel Gothia Towers – has only been open a month, it’s already hosted the head of Ronaldo (the football ace stayed in the two storey executive suite during Real Madrid’s recent match against PSG). Jaw dropping views come as standard and raising the ante even further, there’s a slick spa replete with an outdoor, glass bottomed pool plus a restaurant – Upper House Dining. Presided over by executive chef Krister Dahl (aka the only person in the world to ever have won four gold medals at the International Exhibition of Culinary Art), the menu is inspired by Sweden’s west coast.

Five things: Abba

Planning on visiting the Abba Museum  - Stockholm's latest attraction - this summer? Here are a few facts about Abba to wet your appetite… Words: Kaye Holland.

One Initially Sweden’s greatest national export were known by the rather awkward moniker of Björn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida rather than Abba, which was the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden! However the quartet negiotated with the canners for the right to use the name Abba – an acronym of the first letters of each group member's name.

Two Dancing Queen is the group’s biggest hit single spending six weeks at number one in the UK and was Abba’s only American number one. The track was recorded in 1975 for the group’s album Arrival and released as a single in 1976. It has proved popular at sporting events and been adopted as a gay anthem

Three Agnetha Faltskog, Abba's youngest member, had a number one hit record in Sweden when she was only 17. However her first performance was at the age of five – when halfway through she dropped her trousers.

Four Abba represented Sweden in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. The song won and in 2005 during the celebration show for the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest, Waterloo was voted the best Eurovision song in the history of the contest.

Five Mamma Mia – the hit show based on the songs of Abba - was nominated for a Broadway Tony Award as best musical in 2002. A film version of the musical directed by  Tom Hanks with Rita Wilson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson as executive producers and starring Meryl Streep was released in 2008 to critical and commercial acclaim.