With Christmas fast approaching, thoughts turn to presents and the dilemmas of what to buy friends and loved ones. Head to Gothenburg, the Christmas city for some unique and unusual gifts which will be sure to make an impression this year.
Design lovers will enjoy the new London-inspired Christmas Design Market housed in the Pustervik arena. It’s the ideal place for those looking for one-off gifts including clothes, art, crafts and designs from Gothenburg’s hottest designers.
To impress art aficionados visit the Röda Sten Art Centre close to the harbour entrance. It’s an imposing former boiler house and brings ‘industrial chic’ to Christmas shopping. All of the items available to buy have been created by local designers, artists and art students – the perfect opportunity to find something really unique and one off. There’s even a workshop where you can create your own Christmas decorations.
No Christmas trip to Gothenburg would be complete without a visit to Liseberg – the biggest Christmas Market in the whole of Scandinavia. You will be amazed by the 700 Christmas trees and five million fairy lights! This is the ultimate Swedish Christmas shopping experience, with over 70 stalls to choose from you are guaranteed to find something for even the trickiest of people. Just don’t forget to try some traditional marzipan pigs and glögg (Swedish mulled wine)!
Photo via Swedish Lapland by Jack Affleck
On 28 December 2013, an incredible new experience will open in Luleå during the winter months.
On the edge of Luleå’s city parkland, overlooking the frozen harbour, an igloo-style music concert hall will soon open to visitors. Made entirely of ice, the concert hall will seat 160 people, and will feature highly specialised musical ICEstruments, made, as you might suspect, of ice. Concerts will be held three nights per week, as well as on special request.
For more information, visit http://www.icemusic.se/in-english/.
Sunvil has a three night break in Luleå, which includes return flights, accommodation at the Hotel Elite Stadshotellet with breakfast, an ice breaking tour, and snowmobile pack ice tour and a ticket to the ice concert from £1,052 per person. Book at www.sunvil.co.uk.
Full list of our recommended specialist tour operators to Luleå in Swedish Lapland
Photo by Miriam Preis/imagebank.sweden.se
Bored of the same old socks for Christmas? Want something more stylish – and sustainable – than last season’s slanket?
Then plan your winter shopping break to Malmö, a city which specialises in ethical and fairtrade shops, which sell unique, beautifully designed Christmas gift ideas with a conscience.
Here are some of our favourite places to go green shopping in Malmö:
Drottningtorget is an ideal first stop for the eco-friendly shopper. The pretty square is in easy walking distance of Malmö Central Station, to the north of the city by the lovely harbour, and is home to a number of excellent ecological shops, including Morot & Annat, a small organic food shop selling juicy seasonal fruits, quinoa, sugar-free peanut butter, as well as handwoven baskets made by a cooperative of women in Sri Lanka, cool kitchen accessories and books.
Close by is Babuschka Sustainable Design, where eclectic design meets fair trade standards.
In the city centre, we love funky Uma Bazaar, where hipsters can recycle their jeans and get a discount off their next pair, and which supports producers in developing countries.
Perfect for design lovers and worth a splurge is nearby Norrgavel, a shop which sells Scandinavian designed furniture made from only natural local materials. Watch out for beautiful and unique pieces, including elegant wooden stools and chic picture frames.
Just across the road is the classic IM Fair Trade, a charity shop which aid projects around the world, by selling fair trade clothing, bags, jewellery and home furnishings. Head here for quirky Christmas decorations, brightly coloured scarves and gifts for children.
Find out more about great shopping in Malmö.
The Treehotel is a world renowned dream property, featured on countless Pinterest boards, bucket lists and in glossy travel magazines, and it’s obvious that its creators, Kent and Britta Jonsson Lindvall, are not new to the hotel business. This wonderfully hospitable couple have been running a well-loved guesthouse and gourmet restaurant, Britta’s Pensionat, together for many years.
An hour outside of Luleå, located in a pristine forest in the charming village of Harrads, this nearly 100-year-old property was lovingly refurbished by Britta and Kent in the 90’s. They kept the original character and charm of the original building and converted it into a cosy guesthouse and restaurant. Their vision was to create a guesthouse where visitors were treated like they were family members - Kent and Britta are welcoming hosts, who obviously love what they do.
From the white, turn-of-the-century clothes hanging on the clothesline, to the antiques in the rustic dining room, the atmosphere is wonderful. Britta’s is a time capsule, preserving the charm and grace of a simpler era, where people relaxed and enjoyed eachother’s company and food was seasonal and authentic.
Britta cooks delicious traditional Swedish Lapland food using local ingredients. Bear steaks, local salmon, roe deer and moose, served with Northern Sweden’s famous almond potatoes and fresh lingonberries, are just some of the many locally sourced specialities that can be found at Britta’s. Whether staying at the guesthouse, the Treehotel or in the area, a meal at Britta’s is an unforgettable culinary experience.
Surrounding the guesthouse is a beautiful forest, perfect for snowshoeing, skiing or snowmobiling. Far from the light pollution of the city, this is an ideal spot to view the Aurora Borealis. With many cloudless evenings during the long nights, the conditions are perfect in Swedish Lapland for chasing these mysterious Northern Lights.
How Britta and Kent came up with the idea to open the Treehotel is a story in itself. After many years of running Britta’s, the first treehouse happened rather serendipitously.
A friend of the couple decided to make a documentary film about the building of a treehouse. Fascinated by the possibilities, Kent asked their filmmaker friend if they could use the treehouse as an additional hotel room. Although this could only be used in the summer, and despite the long walk from the guesthouse to the treehouse, they quickly saw the magic of this concept and discovered that people loved sleeping up in the trees.
Photo by Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se
The treehouse was a childhood dream come true for people, and Kent and Britta relished giving guests this liberating, fantasy experience. Their vision became far greater than the simple treehouse built in the woods for the film.
In 2008, Kent took a group out on an adventure fishing trip to Russia, which included three architects from Stockholm. He realised this was the opportunity he was waiting for and, once in Russia, while sitting around the campfire, he shared their idea for making treehouses as hotel rooms. It was not long before his dream was a reality and the Treehotel was built in the forest directly behind Britta’s Pensionat.
While Kent will smile and explain that he cannot say which is his favourite treehouse, just as he cannot say which of his three daughters is his favourite, he is justifiably proud of the most recent addition: the Dragonfly.
Designed by renowned Finnish architect firm, Rintala Eggertsson Architects, the Dragonfly is the largest of all of the rooms at the Treehotel. With two separate bedrooms and numerous windows and cosy corners from which to gaze out at the snowy forest or the Northern Lights, this is the perfect accommodation for a family or two couples. The large table and chairs are perfect for playing board games or enjoying a glass of wine. Best of all, a delicious meal at Britta’s is just an easy five-minute trek from the Treehotel in the forest. Just like going back to your mum’s house and enjoying a home-cooked meal after playing in a treehouse all day, this is the childhood fantasy that we all dream of.
By Georgia Makitalo
Find out more and book your trip to the Treehotel with Simply Sweden
Full list of our recommended specialist tour operators
Top photos by Graeme Richardson. Bottom photo by Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se
Photo by Miriam Preis/imagebank.sweden.se
“One of the best trips I have ever been on”, was just one of the comments we received from the group of British travel writers, who visited Sweden earlier this month. They were travelling on a press trip through Skåne in the south of the country, known as the ‘breadbasket of Sweden’, led by wonderful local celebrity chef, Tareq Taylor and couldn’t have enjoyed themselves more.
So what made this trip so special, and how can you recreate your own mini Skåne foodie adventure?
1. Stay in a castle
Of course, any trip which involves a stay in a castle must have its advantages, and Skåne is also known as castle county! The writers stayed at the 18th century Kronovall Wine Castle, which has grand, Gothic style living quarters, and herds of deer which roam the grounds, and the fairytale Häckeberga Castle, whose gleaming white facade and pretty pastel turrets greet guests as they cross the lake. Even if you can’t spend the night, each of these castles has wonderful restaurants, which prepare local specialities with a modern twist, including wild boar and fallow deer with pureed parsnip, delicate white fish and delicious soups.
2. Try out a floating sauna
Going to the sauna is a way of life in Sweden, and what could be more fun than relaxing in one on a lake? You can find these special ‘sauna boats’ along the coast and by some lakes in Skåne. For the ultimate refreshing experience, the writers were challenged to have a sauna the Swedish way – with icy ‘God’ beers followed by a revitalising dip in the lake!
3. Eat with Tareq
Sadly, not everyone can travel with an expert chef. But fans of Tareq Taylor can try out some of the dishes he cooks on his UKTV Good Food programme ‘Tareq Taylor’s Nordic Cookery’ by visiting Slottsträdgårdens Café, his pretty eatery in Malmö. It’s also easy to follow the chef’s ethos on cooking with local, seasonal produce. Travellers can join Tareq’s friend, expert forager, Roland Rittman, and join him on the hunt for mushrooms and herbs and edible flowers. You can also stop by one of the many cider makers in Skåne. Sövde Musteri had a small boutique distillery where passers-by can also buy lovely gifts, from apple glögg and cider to local honey and cloudberry jam.
Tareq Taylor’s Good Food Channel series ‘Tareq Taylor’s Nordic Cookery’ is the UK’s first ever Scandinavian cooking show. His new series starts at 7.30am on Thursday 7 November on Good Food Channel. Visit uktv.co.uk/ for more information.
Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, is known for leading the way with its contemporary art and design. With a design school, and no shortage of home grown talent, there’s never been a better time to book a design-led break to Gothenburg.
Here’s our tips on the best places to see and be seen:
Art lovers should head straight to the Gothenburg Museum of Art to experience one of the leading collections of Nordic art spanning from the 15th century up to modern day. Masterpieces by Carl Larsson, Albert Edelfelt and Ernst Josephson stand out alongside well known pieces by Picasso, Rembrandt and Monet.
Entrance to the museum is free with the Gothenburg Card.
For arty types with more modern tastes, a visit to Göteborgs Konsthall – a centre of contemporary art – is a must. Focusing on visual culture, the programme of exhibitions and talks is often playful, and invites visitors to get involved in everything from costume making to illustration.
Better still, entrance to most workshops and exhibits is free.
Looking for a hero piece of furniture for your new flat? Design fans will love hitting the trendy interior design shops in Gothenburg, where it’s possible to hunt out everything from unique modern statement pieces to high quality vintage.
A local favourite is Designtorget, which showcases work by well known and unknown designers alike. The stock changes weekly from funky glasses to exciting art, so it’s almost guaranteed that there will certainly something to impress your friends.
For beautiful design with an environmental conscience head to beautiful furniture store Norrgavel. Designed by Nirvan Richter, each piece is lovingly made with a strong attention to detail using natural materials. You can even create your own furniture by choosing the materials just to make it extra special.
Imagine leaving the bright lights of the city and being transported by snowmobile and sled through the sparkling snow and across the frozen Bay of Bothnia to an island where Lotta Sundling and Bror-Einar Johansson welcome you into their beautiful and warm home. A traditional red and white Swedish farm house.
When Lotta Sundling first told her then fiancé, Bror-Einar Johansson, of her dream of creating a special hotel at the manor home of Jopikgården, on Hinders Island, he told her this would never work. Over 15 years later, Lotta fortunately proved him wrong. Since then, Jopikgården has become the ideal destination for those seeking an authentic Swedish Lapland experience. From the delicious gourmet cuisine, viewing the Northern Lights and the personalized service, this is a dream winter destination for those who seek something special in Swedish Lapland.
Jopikgården is far from the crowded city life. Situated on the island of Hindersön, it is one of the over 1300 islands that are part of the unique Luleå archipelago, the only archipelago in the world surrounded by brackish water. Thus, in the winter, when the thermometer goes below zero, the ice forms on the frozen sea and connect the islands to the mainland of Swedish Lapland and small city of Luleå.
Steeped in history, legend has it that a Finnish Sami family named Joper first settled the island in the 16th century. Soon, fishermen and farmers inhabited the densely forested island. In 1890, Lars and Hilda Åström moved to the current Jopikgården manor home where they, and their ten children, flourished for years.
Lotta grew up on the stories of Jopikgården. Lotta’s father, who like his father before him, had been born on Hindersön and had a cottage there, and she cherished this island paradise. For years, Lotta imagined turning Jopikgården into a tranquil hotel, reminiscent of a bygone era. She knew that harried visitors would find tranquility and peace in this stately home, on this lush island. She wanted guests to feel like they were at home, visiting family.
From the beginning, this husband and wife team has complimented each other. Lotta makes sure guests enjoy a warm welcome, with fabulous food and cozy and clean accommodations. The antiques in the home are lovely cared for and look as if they are brand new. Lotta is a gourmet cook, making each Swedish Lapland delicacy from scratch. In addition, all of the food is fresh and local. Ingredients such as the honey from the Hindersön beekeeper, to the berries, wild mushrooms, fresh fish, caviar (the unique Kalix Löjrom) and wild game, these ingredients are all local, from the island. Her personal touch is everywhere. You can smell the freshly baked cinnamon rolls, or watch her cure salmon (gravlax), as she tells tales of dances around the old phonograph player. Guests can also enjoy the relaxing sauna or soak in the wood-fired hot tub.
At bedtime, you just walk up the stairs to your comfortable, en suite bedroom where the traditional Swedish décor and the crisp linens welcome you to a restful night of sleep. In the morning, Lotta has prepared a traditional Swedish frukost. Breakfast is a hearty meal, with breads, meats and cheeses along with strong Swedish coffee.
Bror-Einer is a fabulous host, as well as taking charge of much of the logistics, including welcoming and transporting guests to Jopikgården. In addition, he helps arrange activities such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and chasing the Northern Lights. Swedish Lapland is blessed with many cloudless evenings and is ideal for viewing the mysterious Aurora Borealis. Whatever their need, each guest is treated warmly, like a special family member.
No, this is not a frosty fairytale. This is the magic of Jopikgården. This is the authentic sort of place that travelers seek. Together, this husband and wife team makes you feel like you are their valued special guests and you have experienced a memorable Swedish Lapland adventure at Jopikgården.
Find out more and book your trip to Jopikgården with Black Tomato
Full list of our recommended specialist tour operators
Text by Georgia Makitalo
A few years ago, Georgia Makitalo discovered Luleå while chasing the Northern Lights and has never left.
Photos by Graeme Richardson
Photo by Graeme Richardson
Close your eyes and dream of your perfect winter getaway - what do you see? A place in an arctic world with wide icy horizons or forests with trees bending under the heavy weight of sparkling snow? Deafening silence and the freedom of wilderness. An escape from your day-to-day life but still close to civilisation, great food and a comfy bed? Luleå in Swedish Lapland is just such a place.
Luleå is a mere one hour flight from Stockholm, but stepping out of the plane you are right in the middle of a winter wonderland. Stay in Luleå and make daily excursions into the wilderness; or head straight out into the frozen archipelago or the vast forests.
In the archipelago, small homely lodges await. Visit picturesque Jopikgården, where the famous local caviar, Kalix Löjrom is a specialty. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, take a snowmobile tour all the way out beyond the islands to the fields of pack-ice.
Or head into the forestlands and rest your head high above the ground at the world-renowned Treehotel. Or why not try ‘glamping’ at the Aurora Safari Camp where you can learn how to capture the Northern Lights on camera like a professional photographer?
Visiting Luleå is all about enjoying the spectacular nature right on your doorstep. Take a tour on an icebreaker (with a non-mandatory swim in the icy cold waters!), or a husky trip where you’re warm and snug in the sled while the dogs happily do all the work.
A holiday here is also about taking time out to just simply sit around an open fire enjoying a good cup of coffee and good company. And the food never tastes as good as when the natural ingredients come straight from nature and are prepared outdoors!
Simply put, Luleå in Swedish Lapland is amazing. And we can’t wait to share it with you!
Luleå is easy to reach from the UK being just a short flight via Stockholm. To book your adventure in Luleå, check out these exciting trips offered by our recommended specialist tour operators:
Photo by Miriam Preis/imagebank.sweden.se
When you think of wine, Sweden might not be the first country that comes to mind - but all that is about to change! The southern Swedish region of Skåne is gaining something of a reputation as Europe’s new wine district, thanks to its mild climate and extended growing season, and even has its very own wine route.
Featuring more than 20 vineyards, the fragrant Swedish wine route takes in some of Skåne’s most beautiful countryside. The vineyards range from little family farms through to large commercial ventures, but all of them are available to visit and sample delicious produce from.
The majority of the wines are either made from a white grape called solaris or a red grape called rondo, both of which are particularly successful in the Scandinavian climate. Whilst the solaris gives a floral taste with hints of apples, pears, rosehip and lavender, the rondo gives a lot of colour and a rich, fruity taste.
Even UK wine expert Oz Clarke has been singing the praises of Swedish wine, saying that Skåne is the perfect region for the grape and that its wines are likely to become mainstream within a generation. You heard it here first!
For more information on the vineyards, visit the food and drink page on the Skåne website.
All eyes turn to Gothenburg this weekend as the city prepares to play host to the World Food & Travel Summit from 21 – 24 September.
The theme of this year’s summit focuses on a ‘new wave in food tourism.’ More and more consumers and travellers are taking an active interest in local food and produce from the destinations they travel to and the summit will offer tips and advice on how to tap into this market.
During the weekend, visitors will have the opportunity to hear speakers from around the world discuss food tourism and network with fellow industry professionals. Sessions include advice on catching the food tourism wave, information on Sweden as the new culinary nation and investigating the connection between food, travel and the media, to name but a few.
Beyond the daytime schedule, there are exciting foodie activities galore. Monday night’s crayfish party and seafood feast at Kajskjul 8 restaurant in Gothenburg harbour is not to be missed. The menu will include some of Sweden’s finest seafood such as prawns, langoustines, crab claws and freshwater crayfish accompanied with Kajskjul 8’s famous aioli, mustard sauce, yoghurt sauce and much more.
Visit www.worldfoodtravelsummit.com for more information and to book tickets.