Boat rides, cafe crawls and even a spot of guerrilla gardening are all in order for Nicole Gallagher on a weekend break to Sweden’s second city

Cycling around the picturesque streets of Styrso, an island in Gothenburg’s southern archipelago, the cool sea breeze whips through my hair and provides much-needed relief from the soaring heat of the sun.

I stop off at a hidden little beach cove to watch the boats sailing across the calm waters, and have to remind myself that I’m actually on a city break.

With green fields, woodlands and beaches on its doorstep, Sweden’s second city is far from being a bustling metropolis. Instead, life here is calm and relaxing.

I base myself at the Avalon hotel, in Gothenburg’s downtown. It’s filled with vibrant pieces of artwork and even has a rooftop glass swimming pool protruding over Kungsportsplatsen. It’s quite amusing to stand at street level and look up to watch swimmers paddling their legs in a front crawl.

Outside, the streets are lined with tables full of people catching up over cocktails and fine food. You won’t find anyone rushing around here; the Swedes are too busy being effortlessly cool and calm.

Scandinavians are known for their cutting edge design, and plenty of the bars and restaurants in Gothenburg have a 21st century feel. A fine example is Restaurang Kungstorget, where traditional menus have been replaced by iPads.

After lunch I head to Lilla Bommen, where I watch the boats setting off into the distance. I also take the opportunity to do some guerrilla gardening. Instead of flower pots, the dock is lined with planters boasting a selection of free-for-all vegetables.

For a taste of something more traditional, I head to the Haga old town where locals are sat outside enjoying coffees and pastries in the sunshine. I join them and am presented with the largest pastry I have ever seen in my life! It’s a great place to stop and do some people watching.

In the evening, the air is still warm and the streets are illuminated by restaurants and bars along main road, the Avenyn. People of all ages, young and old, are out and about having fun, laughing and dancing the night away.

After enjoying a meal at the Restaurang Familjen, I head down to Cafe & Bar Grindstugan near the river, where a guitar player is entertaining a crowd.

The next morning, I enjoy a refreshing cycle around the southern archipelago. There is no better way to get back to nature and escape life than on these peaceful islands where few tourists roam. Gothenburg is one city break where none of the city stresses apply.