With its wide streets and waterways, fascinating maritime history, seafood smorgasbords and many parks and museums, this easygoing city is well worth exploring.
The city’s cobblestoned streets and canals evoke comparisons to Amsterdam. This is no coincidence: Dutch immigrants were responsible for the fortification and layout of Gothenburg (Göteborg) because they established the city in 1621. The wide thoroughfares are compared to Parisian boulevards. Locals call their city “little London” because of its parks, cultural appeal and nightlife.
You can fly to Gothenburg in western Sweden, take the ferry from Frederikshavn in Denmark or make a canal cruise from the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Once there, getting around is easiest by tram, bicycle or taxi. Parking spaces in the compact city center are rare and expensive, but if you purchase the Gothenburg City Card you get free public transportation, parking and admission to attractions.
Near Gustav Adolf’s Square is the Kronhuset, the historic City Hall which is now a crafts center. Visit the nearby 18th-century City Museum (Stadsmuseum) with its Viking ship or the Maritime Museum and Aquarium in the port to learn about Sweden’s long seafaring history. Admire the church-like design of the Feskekôrka (Fish Market) and order fresh seafood.
A Poseidon statue towers over the city’s main hubs, Götaplatsen and Avenyn, which are hot spots for culture, shopping and nightlife.
Gothenburg is close to the Arctic Circle and it becomes a magical place when covered in snow. During the festive season, thousands of sparkling lights brighten the streets and Christmas markets.
The cold winters are dark, but the short summers have long daylight hours. Starting in June, alfresco restaurants and bars pop up and cruises operate on the Göta Canal. Visit Slottsskogen city park’s free zoo with Nordic animals around lunchtime to see seals and penguins being fed. Children will also love the rides in Liseburg Amusement Park.
To see a little more of Sweden’s southwest, drive to the ruins of Bohus Fortress in nearby Kungälv.
Gothenburg is regarded as a more relaxed and cheaper alternative to Stockholm and a good base for exploring Sweden’s western coastal archipelago.