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Xmas Spirit in Gothenburg

3 minute read

It may be Sweden’s second city, but Gothenburg is Scandinavia’s Christmas capital. In December, its tree-lined avenues are decked out with 5 million fairy lights, and hundreds of market stands sell handicrafts, roast chestnuts and goblets of glögg, a potent mulled wine that does wonders against the Nordic chill. There’s more to this city of 490,000, though, than street markets and stocking fillers. Home to one of the largest student populations in Europe, this young, stylish metropolis is crowded with cutting-edge fashion and design stores. And its thriving culinary scene — the Swedish Chef of the Year award has gone to a Gothenburg cook five times in the past decade — trumps anything that Stockholm can serve up. Here are some tips for getting Gothenburg to light up your holidays.

Where to Stay
Built as the headquarters for an insurance firm in 1889, the central Elite Plaza Hotel is now a rest stop for pop idols like Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake. But push past the paparazzi and you’ll quickly realize it’s the hotel — and not its A-list guests — that’s the real star. With pillared and polished granite hallways, and 130 rooms (which start at $275 a night) boasting high stucco ceilings and marbled bathrooms, the Elite Plaza is the epitome of Old World elegance. 3 Västra Hamngatan; www.elite.se; tel: (46-31) 720 40 00

Where to Eat
Gothenburgers love their seafood; heavenly langoustines, cod and sole feature on most restaurant menus. But there’s one sea creature they like to munch more than most: the humble herring. They like it fried, fermented, pickled and baked. And they especially enjoy it at Leif Mannerström’s harbor-side restaurant Sjömagasinet. Every Christmas, the Michelin-starred chef dishes up a banquet of 16 types of herring and serves 10,000 people over 22 days. So if you want to join in the festive fish feast, make sure to book a table early. 5 Adolf Edelsvärdsgata; www.sjomagasinet.se; tel: (46-31) 775 59 20

Where to Shop
Want to de-blandify your Ikea home? Hit the Haga — the city’s oldest quarter — and search out a truly unique piece of Scandinavian design. The winding streets here house a dozen antique stores, but the best is Bebop Antik, which specializes in 20th century furniture and furnishings. Run by jazz buff Stefan Tellevi, the shop is crammed with classics, including twisting vases by Swedish glass designer Vicke Lindstrand and minimalist chairs by Denmark’s Kaare Klint. 4 Kaponjärgatan; www.bebop.se; tel: (46-31) 13 91 63

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