Gluten Free Sweden

Flag_of_Sweden_svgAs many of you will be aware, I have recently returned from a trip to Sweden. The purpose of the trip was to attend our friends’ wedding in Vänersborg, but we decided to also spend a few days in Gothenburg.

This was my first trip abroad since my coeliac disease diagnosis and I was anxious as to what gluten free options would be available abroad, so before I went I took to Twitter and asked the gluten free community if they had any experiences of visiting Sweden and if there was anywhere they recommended.

If I hadn’t started my blog back in April, this was probably something that I wouldn’t have thought of doing as I wouldn’t have had the network to ask, but I’m very glad I did!

I was very reassured to find out that Sweden is one of the best places to visit for gluten free options. I contacted various hotels before booking and I was delighted that all of them confirmed that they could provide gluten free breakfast options!

One thing we were warned about though, was how expensive it would be to eat out and buy alcohol in Sweden. This was certainly true, so if you do plan a visit to Sweden make sure you have a good budget!

Another thing I did before I left was print out some Swedish gluten free phrase cards courtesy of GlutenFree Passport (http://glutenfreepassport.com/allergy-gluten-free-travel/gf-translation-cards). I am very glad I did this, as in some cases it was difficult asking about gluten free options so I presented this instead. This reassured me that the restaurant staff understood my requirements.

I’ve decided to use this as a general post about my holiday, but I’ve also written some individual posts about specific hotels and restaurants in the hope that they may be able to help other coeliacs travelling to Sweden :). The links for these posts can be found in the relevant section below.

The Wedding

First and foremost the purpose of our trip to Sweden was to attend our friends’ wedding in Vänersborg, a few hours north of Gothenburg.

Finding flights to Gothenburg wasn’t easy, so in the end we decided to fly from Birmingham with BMI Regional, along with some friends. On arrival in Gothenburg, the four of us hired a car to drive to Vänersborg, arriving late in the evening. Most of our friends had already arrived in the town so we went straight out to meet them at a local restaurant (see below for a separate review).

The following morning we were up early for breakfast (see below for a separate review of the hotel), before heading off for a walk around the area and the nearby lake.

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We then headed back to our hotel to prepare for the wedding, which involved an amazing river cruise and the wedding taking place on the side of the river. It was just beautiful!

Once back on dry land we were off to the reception. Prior to flying out to Sweden I had been anxious about what the wedding meal options would be like for me and had checked on a couple of occasions beforehand that they’d noted my gluten free request! It turns out that I had absolutely nothing to worry about!

The starter was seafood cake topped with vänerlöjrom and salad with hjortronvinaigrette and I had the same meal as everyone else, minus the base. Unfortunately I was too buys eating to take a picture of this course, but it tasted lovely.

The main course was fillet of beef with basil and lime butter and balsamic sauce served with tomato and parmesan gratinted Pommes Anna, which was naturally gluten free and tasted divine!DSC01769

The dessert was lemon mousse cheesecake with fresh berries and passion fruit, and again I had the same as everyone else, minus the base.DSC01776

DSC01804I was very pleased to have been catered for, but was completely overwhelmed that I was even provided with an alternative to the wedding cake! I was given a chocolate mousse style dessert.

I hadn’t even thought about the wedding cake and when it was being cut, I did become jealous of everyone else eating it, but then one of the waitresses sought me out to give me a gluten free option! I thought this was brilliant and I am very grateful that I was so well catered for :).

HotelsDSC01944

For the first part of our holiday in Vänersborg, we were given recommendations of places to stay based on their location and it turns out that most of the wedding guests chose to stay in the same hotel which was great, as we were regularly seeing friends at breakfast or in the reception area!

The hotel we stayed in was called the Strand Hotell and it was situated right on the riverside and only a few minutes walk from the town centre.

For a review of the Strand Hotell, including its gluten free options, please click here.

The day after the wedding was primarily spent recovering, so very little was done that day, other than another walk and eating out at a riverside restaurant in the evening (see below for a separate review). It was the following day that the four of us took the hire car back to Gothenburg and began the second leg of our holiday.

DSC02118My boyfriend and I (ok, maybe it was more my choice….) had opted for a more expensive hotel in Gothenburg as this was the final part of our trip, but as our friends were moving on to Stockholm for a few days, they stayed in a different hotel.

I’d chosen the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel for us to stay in. The hotel was located right on the main square, opposite the train station. It looked fantastic and as it was our first holiday abroad, why not treat ourselves?! 🙂

To read my review of the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, including its gluten free options, please click here.

Restaurants

As mentioned above our first meal in Vänersborg was at the Restaurang Teatergränd and to read for my review of the restaurant and my meal, please click here.

DSC01627Our final meal in this beautiful town was at a riverside restaurant called Restaurang KopparGrillen, which I’d noticed during our walk earlier that day. It looked nice so I suggested we try it out. For my review of the restaurant and my meal, please click here.DSC01891

Our first meal in Gothenburg included quite a walk to try to find somewhere that had gluten free options. In the end we opted for Restaurang Gamle Port which was near to our hotel. For my review of the restaurant and my meal, please click here.DSC02022

Our second meal was at an Italian restaurant near to our friends’ hotel, which I’d found on the internet as offering gluten free options. The restaurant was called La Terrazza and to read for my review, please click here.DSC02101

Our final meal in Gothenburg was just for myself and my boyfriend, as our friends had now moved on to Stockholm. As this was our final night, I was looking to find somewhere really nice, after ruling out eating in our hotel as it was very expensive! In the end we came across the Källarkrogen which was a cellar restaurant located near to our hotel. To read my review of this restaurant, please click here.DSC02172

Lunch

It seems that lunch is one of the trickier meals of the day to find gluten free options for. I tended to just snack when I was in Vänersborg (see below), so it was Gothenburg where I had to find options.

As we arrived in Gothenburg at around 1pm, we were all wanting something quick and easy, cue McDonald’s! I’d been told that gluten free options were available at McDonald’s in Sweden, so I knew I’d have to give it a go, just to say that I had. However, I ended up having another one on our last day, just because of the convenience of it! For my review, please click here.

For two lunches during the week, I was fortunate that I’d taken two PERK!ER porridge pots with me, so they came in very handy. One of them even got to do a tour of Gothenburg with me!

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If you’ve not tried PERK!ER porridge before you really should give them a go! For more information about them, you can read my review here.

DSC01636Snacks

I’d been lucky to come across a massive gluten free section in the local supermarket in Vänersborg, so I had stocked up on some goodies for the rest of the trip.DSC01633   DSC01637

DSC01817The best thing I found was definitely the Fria Cinnamon Rolls and they proved very handy for the rest of the journey! Unfortunately as I was more interested in eating them, I didn’t take any pictures or notes to write a proper review, but I can confirm that they were amazing!! For more information please check out their website – www.fria.co.uk.

I also bought some Cookie-O’s (basically Oreos) and some Crazy Bakers of Sweden vanilla cookies. You can read the review of these products here.

DSC02018Our first day in Gothenburg included a trip to a local café (Soho Village) for drinks and I asked if their hot chocolate was gluten free. Fortunately it turned out to be the same hot chocolate I’d had in our first hotel, so I knew this was fine. It did however cost 45.00 SEK (approx. £4.50). In comparison, my boyfriend’s Americano was 30.00 SEK (approx. £3.00).

Unfortunately they didn’t however have any gluten free cakes, so my only option was a truffle…. I chose the mint option and it was really nice. It cost 15.00 SEK (approx. £1.50).

Our final day was spent very lazily, lounging in a DSC02217nearby park, but we did come across a lovely café (Rosenkaféet) which had one gluten free option, a lovely looking chocolate cake. I ordered one at a cost of 38.00 SEK (approx. £3.80), but was confused when it looked very different to the one of the shelf. Apparently the one on the shelf was for display purposes.

DSC02218The cake was warmed through before being given to me and I was asked if I wanted some cream to go with it! Considering my accompanying drink was hot chocolate with cream (costing 40.00 SEK, approx. £4.00), I did think maybe it would be a bit OTT to have more cream, but obviously I did!

The chocolate cake was absolutely divine and I really want some more just writing about it! It was really moist, verging on gooey, in the middle, but had a crisp topping, and the cream topped it off perfectly. This was definitely my best snack of the holiday and I really want the recipe! 🙂DSC02224

Flights

I felt that our flights deserved a bit of a mention as part of this post, as you will see from my comments below.

As mentioned above we flew with BMI Regional both to and from Gothenburg, but we weren’t aware on the outbound flight that the food and drinks on the food trolley were free (this wasn’t advertised even when it was being brought round), so we decided to make use of these on the way home. I did however anticipate that there wouldn’t be any food options for me.

Michael, a member of the cabin crew, was very apologetic that there were indeed no gluten free options (there were two sandwich options and two snack options, but all contained gluten). Michael actually offered me the chocolates that he had been given in his own crew meal, which I thought was so sweet of him!

Although I really appreciated what Michael did, I think BMI really need to look at their catering provision. Although the flight time was only a couple of hours, if food is to be offered, they really must include options for everyone. If dietary requirements were requested beforehand, I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to add some extra items. Even if it was just gluten free crisps, that would be better than nothing!

Verdict

I absolutely loved Sweden, both for its views and food, so I would definitely recommend it as a holiday destination! Just be sure to have some lunch options with you and plenty of extra money if you want to eat and drink out!

Finally, I mustn’t forget the reason we went to Sweden in the first place.   Congratulations to the happy couple, Mr & Mrs Morrey! 🙂DSC01715

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