Gävle: Welcome to a coastal gem
By Malin Norman
G ävle, located on the coast 80 minutes north of Stockholm, attracts visitors with a nice atmosphere, culture, food and plenty of events. The city also has everything you need for an active stay, including skiing in winter – perfect for a weekend get-away.
In 2017, Gävle passed the 100,000 mark in inhabitants, and although quite small, the city has the atmosphere of a big city and many choices when it comes to dining, entertainment and activities. “We are big on culture, sports and food. We have a lot to offer the active bon vivant,” says Maria Wallberg, marketing strategist at Gävle municipality.
The city is perhaps most famous for its long-standing Christmas tradition of Gävlebocken – a giant straw goat. The annual inauguration during the first weekend of Advent is one of the year’s highlights, a tradition for over 50 years.
Something for every season
As Wallberg confirms, there is a lot to do in Gävle. Opened in 2018, the extreme sports arena Dome Adrenaline Zone is a sure hit for the adventurous. The arena of 6,000 square metres consists of trampolines, a climbing wall, a ninja warrior course and much more. You can go skateboarding or biking, or even use indoor skis and snowboards.
In winter, Kungsberget attracts heaps of downhill skiers. The resort is continuously expanding with new accommodation options and slopes, and recently opened a new eight-seat lift. In Högbo, cross-country skiing is possible from early autumn and throughout the winter thanks to facilities with artificial snow. Högbo is also an official Vasaloppet partner, for those training for the big, annual cross-country ski race, and in summer the resort offers golf, canoeing, mountain bike tracks and much more.
Another highlight is the Prison Museum of Sweden, located in Gävle city centre. Here, you can follow 500 years of Swedish prison history, from the old castle jail with its dungeons and corporal punishments to one of the country’s first penitentiaries. See how it developed from a time when prisoners were publicly shamed and humiliated through physical penalisation, to a time when they were completely isolated from society and punished by solitary confinement.
Growing gastronomic scene
The thriving restaurant scene often comes as a surprise to first-time visitors. “It’s a gastronomic haven with new restaurants opening all the time,” says Wallberg. “Several restaurants appear in the White Guide, which proves that the region is a great fine-dining destination.”
Whisky fans must not miss out on visiting Mackmyra. 20 years ago, this distillery put Sweden on the international whisky map. In Mackmyra Whisky Village, just outside Gävle, you will find the distillery, forest warehouse and smokery, as well as the visitor centre with the restaurant Mackmyra Bar & Bistro. If still curious, you can also visit Mackmyra Gravity Distillery, a 35-metre tower where the spirits are produced with the help of the force of gravity.
The city has several great breweries, too. Hopsie Daisy, founded by Erika Parneborg in 2016, makes modern, hoppy ales with the motto ‘awesome craft beer for misfits like you – and me’. If you get the chance, try Hopsie Daisy and other local breweries such as GefleBockens Bryggeri. And there are treats for those with a serious sweet tooth, too, such as Gefle Chocolaterie, which also collaborates with Mackmyra Whisky Distillery on some of its fabulous chocolate.
Plenty of entertainment
One of the most popular destinations for families with kids is the amusement park and zoo Furuvik. Opening for the season in May, Furuvik hosts a large number of concerts and performances. For instance, this summer you can see English singer and songwriter Bryan Ferry, legendary Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, and Swedish singer-songwriter Lars Winnerbäck. The industrial area of Gasklockorna is another popular host for concerts, theatre performances, festivals and fairs. In May, Swedish rock duo Johnossi will play here – and this is also the venue for the fifth edition of Gefle Metal Festival, which takes place in July.
One of Gävle’s main strengths is that everything is close by – restaurants, entertainment and activities – and you can get around town quickly. But the city also has a prime location on the east coast of Sweden, close to Stockholm and Arlanda Airport. So, make sure to stop by Gävle and enjoy the wide range of activities and entertainment on offer.
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