If you are looking for a great getaway when in Sweden, “go west young man”. Closer to Copenhagen and Oslo than to Stockholm, Göteborg is a cosmopolitan crossroads city and the gateway to Sweden’s west coast.
Founded in 1621 , Göteborg (Gothenburg) is Sweden’s second largest city and home to the largest Nordic sea port, two universities, four Michelin star restaurants, Volvo, canals, its very own archipelago, innovative festivals and shopping to die for. Like many crossroad cities, Göteborg is multi-cultural and multi-layered in its history, architecture, people and vibe. It is the kind of destination not only worth seeing, but worth lingering in.
Göteborg’s history is woven throughout its streets and canals. It was heavily influenced by Dutch, German and Scottish city planners and engineers who were contracted to build the city. For most of its history, the city was and is a centre for shipping, trade and fishing. Manufacturing was introduced in the 19th and 20th centuries as the city took on an industrial complexion. In the 21st century, technology companies have taken over, buttressed by two renowned universities, the University of Göteborg and Chalmers University of Technology.
A modern city with a penchant for the past, retro resonates throughout Göteborg. Few of the original 17th century wooden structures remain but the city’s eclectic legacy is evident in its Classical, National Romantic and Functional architecture.
There are many parks in the city, including Slottsskogen, a park in the middle of town featuring an “open zoo” and the Garden Society of Göteborg, one of the best preserved 19th century parks in Europe. Originally opened in 1923, the Liseberg Amusement Park continues to be a crowd-pleaser, combining thrill rides with open-air entertainment and dining.
A Town with Texture
Göteborg is a compact and extremely walkable city – exploration is a must as the city is rich in picturesque neighbourhoods and attractions. The Feskekôrka, or “fish church”, is an indoor seafood market which was built as an architectural experiment inspired by Norwegian and Gothic churches. Now part of the city centre, Haga was one Göteborg’s first suburbs. The area has maintained its authenticity with wooden house lined streets, boutiques and cafés. Some of the city’s legendary local stores and eateries are found in Haga, such as the Café Husaren (which claims to sell the largest cinnamon buns in the universe), Stiernglans hat shop, the Haga Bathhouse and Bräutigams chocolates and marzipans. Skansen Kronan, a 17th century fortress, overlooks the entire city from a Haga hillside. Pustervik, where live music rubs shoulders with theatre, bars and night clubs, is situated right outside Haga.
Once a warehouse district, Magasinsgatan is another vibrant neighbourhood abounding with shops, cafés, restaurants and bars. Fashion label Velour was born and raised here. Grandpa opened its first boutique outside of Stockholm in Magasinsgatan specializing in Scandinavian and international fashion, houseware and furniture with an accent on vintage. Speciality restaurants in the area include: Da Matteo Pannateria café and bakery, Gourmet Kory, Strömmingsluckan, Puta Madre and Magnus & Magnus. Nefertiti is Göteborg’s legendary jazz club.
Cruising Göteborg: Archipelago and Canals
Another way to view the city is from the water. Frequently scheduled Padden boat tours in Swedish, English and German provide cruise-by exposure through the city’s canals, under its bridges and in and around its harbour. Göteborg’s archipelagos consist of 18 very stunning and accessible islands. The islands of the southern archipelago are closed to automobile traffic, making them perfect for biking and hiking. Both northern and southern archipelagos have ferry service, including a car ferry to the northern archipelago. Rumour has it that the ultimate vehicle for visiting the west coast islands is a sea kayak, which can be rented near the harbour and in the city. Guided kayak tours are available according to skill level and no experience is necessary. Göteborg is also the start (or finish) of the Göta Canal cruise between it and Stockholm, navigating through the old hand-dug canals that criss-cross Sweden.
Extraordinary and Quirky Museums
Göteborg has a number of unique museums and cultural attractions. The Gothenborg Museum of Art boasts, among others, a leading collection of Nordic art. The Universeum is a seven-floor science centre which houses some of the largest aquariums in Europe. The Röhsska Museum is Sweden’s sole museum of fashion, design and decorative arts. For those who missed the 1960s, Nostalgicum is a hands-on exhibition all about the way things were back in the day.
Sweden’s Food Capital
Specializing in fresh fish and seafood, Göteborg is regarded as Sweden’s food capital. The town is brimming with fine restaurants, cafés, and even upscale lunch wagons. Four Michelin-starred restaurants can be found inside the city limits: Thörnströms Kök, 28+, Kok & Vin and, in what was once a warehouse of the East India Company, Sjömagasinet. The city hosts the Passion for Food Fair at the end of February, highlighting local west coast produce and cuisine.
An Eventful Summer
Göteborg hosts a number of national and international festivals, primarily in the spring and summer. The Göteborg Dance & Theatre Festival, Sweden’s major international festival for the performing arts, is slated for 14-21 May. Summerburst, a celebration of dance and house music, is scheduled for May 30-31. It coincides with the Hammarkulle Carnival festivities and the West Pride Festival. The Göteborg Symphony Orchestra will hold its annual open air concert in Slottsskogen Park on June 6th. Midsummer’s Eve will be celebrated on June 20th in some of the city parks and gardens or on one of the archipelago islands. Göteborg closes the summer with the Göteborg Culture Festival and the Tjörn Around inshore regatta.
Last, but certainly not least, Göteborg’s award-winning three-day Way Out West festival is also held in August. Originally a rock/hip hop festival, Way Out West has expanded over the years, immersing Göteborg in music, film screenings and miscellaneous mayhem.
For more information regarding the what, where, when and how of Göteborg, see http://www.Göteborg.com/en/.