Gothenburg might be best known for being the home of environmental activist Greta Thunberg but it’s so much more. Located on the country’s west coast, Gothenburg was founded in 1621 as a heavily fortified, primarily Dutch trading colony. The Port of Gothenburg is now the largest port in the Nordic countries, known for its Dutch-style canals and green boulevards lined with shops and cafes. The city has retained some of its industrial roots, but it’s also a youthful university town, (University of Gothenburg and University of Technology Gothenburg), a high-tech research hub and most notably, a leader in sustainability. It’s no wonder Gothenburg gave us Greta Thunberg.
This year the city of Gothenburg is celebrating its 400th anniversary and the Museum of Gothenburg is ready with an entertaining and educational exhibition about the city’s birth and early days. The museum is offering a journey through history with 1600’s style social media and popular music of the times. The city evolved to become a multicultural trading metropolis with influences from around the world.
If you’re looking for a quaint, quintessentially Swedish neighborhood we suggest Haga, conveniently located within walking distance of the city center. There are a variety of shops with everything from specialty soaps to a local marzipan and chocolate maker. You can also find interior decoration, fashion, antiques, tea, spices and olive oil, and even a toy store. Most shops are unique and can’t be found elsewhere. A shopping spree is not complete without a proper coffee break, or fika as it’s called in Sweden. When you’re ready for a break the nearest cup of coffee is literally a meter away. Café Husaren is home to one of the most famous pastries in town – Hagabullen – a plate-sized cinnamon bun. It’s renowned for this sweet treat but there are plenty of choices. Cafés and outdoor terraces line the street in summer. In spring and autumn you’ll find a farmer’s market, and there’s always a popular market in the run-up to Christmas. European Christmas markets never disappoint.
If you’re traveling with the kiddos, or are simply a kid at heart, Liseberg is a popular amusement park with themed rides, performance venues and a landscaped sculpture garden. Liseberg is in the heart of Gothenburg and has more than 40 rides and attractions, all powered by renewable wind energy. The pendulum-like thrill ride even generates its own electricity during its powerful deceleration, which is then fed into Sweden’s national grid. Brilliant.
A short ferry ride will take you to the archipelago where you can explore the southern or northern islands. The northern islands are also accessible by car but heads up; the southern islands are all car free. Parking can be found so a bit of homework is in order before heading over. Ferries to the southern archipelago depart from the city all year round. Grab a seat on the top deck of the ferry and experience the beauty of the Gothenburg. There’s even fika on the ferry! There are over 20 islands filled with charming villages, stunning nature and a number of cliffs and beaches where you can capture that magical vacation moment. Activities include seal safaris, sea-fishing and boat excursions. If cycling is your thing you’re in luck. Some islands offer bike rentals but you’ll need to reserve in advance.
Gothenburg has a vibrant nightlife that appeals to a wide range of party-goers. There’s music for every mood; pulsating dance music, jazz, Latin, rock, karaoke, live music and the oldest gay bar in Gothenburg offering a great drag show.
Stockholm always gets the buzz, but Gothenburg is the real draw. The secret is out.
Photo credit – Destination Gothenburg.