Gothenburg is often regarded as Stockholm’s bohemian cousin, a more avant-garde alternative to Sweden’s sleek capital. And, with its cobbled streets, wooden houses, antique shops, cafés and independent boutiques, Haga is Gothenburg’s most distinctive shopping district.
The area dates back to 1648 and following investment by the Swedish government and the sympathetic restoration of historic buildings in the 1980s, Haga is a must-visit destination which is still full of centuries-old delights and offers a peaceful atmosphere, despite being close to the rest of the city.
Among the one-off boutiques here is Stiernglans. Located on Haga Nygata, the area’s main thoroughfare, it appears to stock every imaginable type of hat, from tweed flat caps and high-quality fedoras to feathered fascinators and bold berets. Theresa and Sarriy Anani founded Stiernglans in 2009 and the couple quickly fell in love with Haga’s relaxed ambience. ‘Haga Nygata is a nice, car-free street with cafés, restaurants and some smaller stores, which makes it lovely for a stroll,’ Theresa Anani explains. ‘People have the time to look at interesting things and to chat for a while. There’s no hurry in our store: people pop in, enjoy themselves and then pop out with a new hat and a smile on their face.’
Sarriy Anani is also enthusiastic about the area and is confident that there are no plans to modernise the district to bring it into line with the rest of the city. ‘It’s likely to keep looking the way it does today with all the small stores and cafés for the next 100 years,’ he says.
A natural meeting place
For those looking for items for the home, there are plenty of options. Bebop Antik, one of our favourite antique shops in the district, stocks furniture and lighting along with luggage-friendly souvenirs such as ceramics, glassware and jewellery. Meanwhile, Market 29 is an interiors boutique filled with minimalist glassware, lamps, vases and other curios. Owners Annalena Jönsson and Marcus Eliasson carefully select the stock; it’s unlikely that clients will easily find such pieces anywhere else as the couple travels around the world, particularly to Asia, to find items for the store.
Eliasson, like many store owners, is full of praise for the area. ‘Haga is the oldest quarter of Gothenburg, with small independent shops and interesting cultural meeting places,’ he says. ‘It’s a natural meeting place for people going from one end of the city to the other.’ The area encourages individualism and has seen an influx of new businesses as well as an increase in international visitors in recent years. ‘More young and dynamic companies are looking to establish their businesses in Haga, and they are attracting younger visitors to the area. These, combined with Haga’s historical and cultural sites, make Haga one of the most interesting areas in Gothenburg.’
Al fresco dining options
If you’re visiting Gothenburg with children, or are looking for a souvenir for a young person, the toys and games at Liten Karin are sure to appeal. This family store was founded by Cathie Fernström and has been based in Haga Nygata since 1983. The owners have witnessed positive changes in the area in recent decades, since the renovation project, and they also consider that the size of the area is one of its main attractions. ‘Naga is small and easy to cover if you don’t have much time to stay in town, for example, if you’re here with a cruise ship and only have a few hours to spend before setting sail again,’ explains Anna Fernström, Liten Karin’s buyer.
In addition, according to Anna Fernström, the abundance of al fresco dining options makes Haga particularly appealing in the summer. Among these are Café Kringlan, an ideal brunch spot, fish restaurant Sjöbaren, and Hemma Hos, which is known for its Swedish meatballs served with mashed potato and a generous serving of lingonberry jam.
Time to relax
After shopping and dining, take time to relax at Hagabadet, a stunning spa and wellness centre which first opened in 1876. Its main swimming pool boasts an ornate mural and spectacular art nouveau ceiling frescoes, which differentiate the spa from its modern competitors. Take an invigorating dip in the pool, refresh with a cold bucket shower and indulge in a treatment for the ultimate pampering.
For a truly memorable day out in the city, make sure Haga is at the top of your to-do list.