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The picturesque Haga Old Town. (Photograph by Hanna Snarberg)

Sweden’s Cinderella City

Everyone’s heard of Stockholm, but what about Gothenburg?

If you’re planning a Scandinavian escape this summer, think about hitting Sweden’s idyllic West Coast — my hometown stomping grounds — instead.

After spending several years abroad, I suddenly realized how much this area has to offer: a rocky archipelago, picturesque fishing villages, beautiful, wild nature, and — last but certainly not least — fantastic seafood. That’s why I’ll be spending the summer getting back to my roots.

It’s a bit awkward being a tourist in a town I used to know like the back of my hand, but the fact that I don’t know what to expect is exactly what makes this trip so exciting.

If you’re planning your first trip to Gothenburg this summer, here are five places you just have to see:

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Cruise through Gothenburg's canals in a Paddan boat. (Photograph by Hanna Snarberg)

1. Kungsportsplatsen
This common city-center meeting point is close to Avenyn, the street where everything happens in Gothenburg. Jump on a Paddan boat to get an overview of the city and its history, spiced up with some silly, but, funny “Gothenburg humor.” (One warning: watch out for the incredibly low bridges on the canals. At one point you have to leave your seat and sit down on the floor to pass under what locals call the “Cheese Slicer.”) Also: Don’t miss the Poseidon statue, the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the Saluhallen food market, and great shopping at nearby Kungsgatan (look for Swedish jeans brands Cheap Monday, Acne, and Nudie).

2. Magasinsgatan
Don’t miss this laid-back area, where you can buy trendy vintage clothes at Miss Ragtime, furniture and textiles at Norrgavel, or just sit down and enjoy a coffee while watching people stroll by. The picturesque Haga Old Town is another must-see. And you simply have to pay a visit to Café Husaren and try their enormous cinnamon buns.

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The hip and trendy Magasinsgatan. (Photograph by Hanna Snarberg)

3. Kronhuset and Kronhusbodarna
You’ll find some of the oldest buildings in the city right behind Gustav Adolf Square. The main building, Kronhuset, dates back to 1654 and was once used as a military warehouse. Today it provides a venue for different musical events. You can also buy beautiful handicrafts in this area (stop by Mia Bäck’s pottery shop) and watch artisans at work.

4. Liseberg
Dedicate at least one day to this circa 1923 amusement park, voted one of the top 10 in the world by Forbes Magazine — especially if you are traveling with kids (but, really, who doesn’t like amusement parks?). The park boasts 37 rides, including the world-famous wooden roller coaster, Balder. Liseberg also plays host to a Christmas market (the biggest one in Scandinavia) in winter where you can see 5 million twinkling lights and real reindeer walking the grounds.

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The famous fish market, Fiskekyrkan. (Photograph by Hanna Snarberg)

5. Fiskekörkan
Make sure to stop by the famous fish market by the Rosenlund Canal, to sample all imaginable seafood and wine. The market is open Tuesday-Friday from 10:00-18:00 and Saturdays from 10:00-15:00 (closed Sundays and Mondays). The circa 1874 building, nicknamed the “Fish Church” because of its resemblance to a place of worship, was designed by noted Swedish architect Victor von Gegerfelt, and is a sight to behold in itself.

Hanna Snarberg (a Swede) and her partner, Alex (a Ruskie), share their wanderlust on their travel blog, Sam and the Dunes (“Sam” is their lovable pooch).