If you are living in or traveling across Scandinavia you must visit Gothenburg, the second city of Sweden, at least once. Known as “the little London” for its gorgeous and young atmosphere, Gothenburg is a perfect city to spend your vacation but it is also a marvelous journey for those who have just a weekend or a couple of free days. Take some time exploring Haga, an industrial style neighbourhood from the end of the 19th century full of cafes and second-hand shops; enjoy a guide tour by boat through the Paddan Canals or visit the amazing islands of the Archipelago. Ah… And don’t forget that Gothenburg offers an immense cultural scene open four seasons!!!
A few travel tips…
Gothenburg is situated in a strategical position in Scandinavia: in the west coast of Sweden. It is easy to get to the city from the three main capitals: Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. From these cities, you can choose different means of transportation (bus, train or plane). If you take the train or the bus, it takes between 3 and 3 and a half hours to get to Gothenburg, which you will have to admit is nothing!!! Our advice: try to book the tickets in advance so you really can enjoy good offers and get two-way tickets for no more than 600 Swedish kroner.
A place to stay…
If you are looking for affordable and central accomodation, we recommend that you stay in Stigbergsliden Hostel. The cozy old building dates back to 1854, and its a good starting point for anyone wanting to explore the city and what it has to offer. You can get an overnight for not more than 350 Swedish kroner.
A short History…
With almost 550.000 inhabitants, Gothenburg is the second biggest city in Sweden and the fifth largest in the Nordic Countries. The city was founded in 1621 by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf and soon it became one of the most important commercial harbors in Northern Europe. Architects came from Netherlands to build a spectacular network of canals to facilitate the transportation into the city. The main avenues and parks were built between the 19th and the 20th centuries. It is easy to identify the commercial and industrial past by just glancing at the old canals and the red-brick buildings in the city center. Nowadays, Gothenburg hosts two Universities which attract more than 60.000 students each year and give the city a special and young character. Gothenburg is known, as well, for its significant musical scene and for hosting some of the most important Swedish industries, as Volvo or SFK.
What to see…
As mentioned before, there is a wide range of possibilities and things to do and visit in Gothenburg. We spent two days in the city therefore we are going to give you some tips according to our experience. For further information, you can also visit the City Tourism official page (www.goteborg.com) or drop by any of the Tourism Offices in the city, known as “Turistbyrån”.
Markets: Gothenburg has two authentic markets and both of them are close to the city center. Saluhallen is the perfect place for traditional market lovers. In there, you can taste some typical Swedish products or have a delicious lunch for a reasonable prize. Feskekôrka (“fish church” in Swedish) amaze the visitors for its peculiar architecture, which imitates a viking church. There you can buy fresh fish and seafood delicacies caught the same day.
Götaplatsen: From here you can start a walk trough the main avenue of the city. This majestic square hosts some of the most important cultural buildings of Gothenburg, such as the Stadsteatern (the City Theater), the Gothenburg Museum of Art (with one of the finest art collections in Scandinavia) or the Hasselblad Center, a modern photography center with world class photo exhibitions.
Haga: Haga is probably the most authentic neighbourhood in Gothenburg. Known for its industrial brick and wooden buildings, it is a spectacular experience to get lost among the narrow and cobbled streets. If you get hungry, we recommend you to stop by some of the several bars and cafes in Haga Nygata. The restaurant “En Deli Eco” offers, for example, an amazing vegan menu every day for no more than 150 Swedish kroner. In this street you will also find some of the most popular bakeries in the city, where you will try the biggest cinnamon rolls in Sweden!
Parks: Gothenburg is, literally, a green city full of parks and gardens which makes the urban area vivid and picturesque. Just in front of the Central Station you can access the “Trädgårds-Föreningen”, one of the most crowded parks in the city. Known for a big 19th century glass-house open every day until 5pm free of charge. The largest park in the city is Slottsskogen, located in the southern wing of the city. It has some peaceful ponds and old oaks under which you can have a nice picnic or just seat for reading a book. This park also hosts the Natural History Museum and the “Barners Zoo”, where you can see deers, reindeers and moose! Finally, 10 minutes by walk from this park, you can visit the Botanical Garden –Botaniska Trädgård-, which is open every day. It is one of the biggest in Europe and contains a wide range of orchids and an exceptional and exotic tree originally from Pascua Island.
The Paddan Canals: one of the main attractions in Gothenburg. The classic tour with the “Paddan Boats” takes you through the 17th century moats and canals, under many low bridges and out into the harbor. From March to October boat tours are offered every day from 11am to 16pm. The tour takes 50 minutes and it costs 170 Swedish kroner.
Museum of Design (Röhsska Museet): Since the 1950 decade, Sweden is known for being one of the international centers of design in the world. Opened in 1916, it is probably one of the most important Design Museums in Europe. It offers a big collection of textile, furniture, glass, porcelain and fashion items. Besides, Röhsska organizes temporary exhibitions each year, mostly produced outside the museum.
The Archipelago: If you have time to spare and you are looking to get away from the busy and vibrant city center, we really recommend you to visit the Gothenburg Archipelago. There are many islands you can get to easily by ferry. From Saltholmen you can take a ferry to get to the south islands (Vrångö, Brännö, Styrsö, Vargö). Torslanda is the departure point for visiting the north islands (Hönö, Öcker, Björkö). If you are interested in this trip, we suggest you to buy the Gothenburg City Card, which offers unlimited transport by ferry to the islands.
The Gothenburg Opera House (Göteborgsoperan): A great river-side building which has become one of the emblems of the city. Designed by the architect Jan Izikowitz, was built in 1994. It offers a wide assortment of operas, musicals, classic and modern ballet. The perfect spot for high culture lovers in Gothenburg.
These are some of the tips we wanted to share with you if you are planning to travel to Gothenburg. But as many cities in Europe, Gothenburg offers many other activities to do and places to visit depending on your own interests. Enjoy your trip and get inspired by one of the most fascinating cities in Scandinavia.
Article written by Marcos Doespiritusanto