Visiting Gothenburg - What to See and Do

(Gothenburg Landvetter Airport GOT, Sweden)

Though often overshadowed by the capital Stockholm, Gothenburg should not be dismissed as a worthy travel destination until you've given it a try. The locals will certainly attest to the charms and attractions of their fair city by the sea, and judging by the noticeably cheaper prices, this popular Swedish destination could just be the ideal alternative for travellers on a budget.

One of the first things that visitors notice in Sweden's second-largest city is the pervasive atmosphere of informality and friendliness. The folks here love to kick back and relax, welcoming travellers with a warmth that seems designed to prove their cousins in Stockholm are a little aloof. The attitude is infectious and this makes visiting Gothenburg a lot of fun.

Take a boat cruise along the Gota River or go island hopping for the day. The water is never far away in this city, its shipbuilding industry putting Gothenburg on the map in the 20th century. The huge student population helps keep the scene fresh and lively, whether you are sipping a coffee in a café or clubbing until the Nordic sun creeps over the horizon.

Ten things you must do in Gothenburg

  • Gothenburg's largest public park is the perfect place to take a break from the urban fun and stretch your legs. Castle Park covers just over 270 acres / 109 hectares and offers a wide range of attractions that include a small zoo, a saltwater swimming pool, a large aviary and an outdoor café open in summer. There are also miles of walking paths and live entertainment during the warm months.
  • You can't beat the views from the observation deck atop the Guldhedens Vattentorn. This historic water tower rises 120 metres / 394 feet just on the edge of downtown. The tram will get you here in ten minutes, where a free elevator is waiting to whisk you to the top. It is open from February to November.
  • Gothenburg is home to Scandinavia's largest fishing port, and if you are interested you can venture down to the docks at 07:00 to witness the daily fish auction. It is a really lively event, and afterwards there are folks selling freshly cooked goods like fishcakes. It is an ideal way to get a day started Gothenburg-style.
  • If you think that the Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen is fun (roughly four hours to the south), wait until you check out Liseberg Park. It is bigger than Tivoli, has more flowers and offers all the classic rides that kids (and the kid at heart) love. The park is to be found right in the centre of Gothenburg, with its own hotel onsite if you really want to stay close to the action.
  • Start your tour of the medieval historic core of Gothenburg at Gotaplatsen. At the centre of this lovely square is one of Swedish sculptor Carl Milles' most striking pieces - the Poseidon Fountain. Ringing the plaza are three impressive historic buildings - the Goteborgs Konstmuseum, the city theatre and the Concert Hall. It is an ideal spot for people-watching or catching your breath when wandering around the city.
  • Art fans should plan a half day to browse the treasures inside the Gothenburg Art Museum. At its core is one of the world's top collections of 19th- and 20th-century Swedish paintings. However, you can also admire big pieces from all the Dutch, Spanish and Italian giants. Sculptures by Rodin and the legendary Swede Carl Milles are other highlights.
  • The city's most striking natural attraction is its Botanical Garden, a sprawling space first opened to the public in 1923. Wander its well-designed paths that take you on a tour of the wonders of the floral world. Spring is perhaps the best time to visit, as the Rhododendron Valley erupts into a fury of colour. Another amazing corner is the Rock Garden, a huge area of cliffs, boulders, streams and waterfalls.
  • The shopping is so good in Gothenburg that residents of Copenhagen often pop over to spend some cash. Sweden's largest pedestrian mall is here at the Kungsgatan, with another walker-friendly mall that is covered at the Victoria Passagen. The Nordstan is the place to go for high-end retailers, great dining and other entertainment, ranking as Scandinavia's biggest shopping mall.
  • The Gothenburg Opera House is one of Sweden's most impressive pieces of modern architecture. The king himself commissioned it in 1994 and today it hosts some of Europe's top operas, ballets and symphonies. Something will likely be scheduled when you visit, so treat yourself to a fancy night out in style at the opera.
  • Sitting on a bluff overlooking the city is the citadel known as the Crown Keep. Built in the 17th century, it originally protected the city's valuable harbour. In the 19th century it was converted into a prison, and today it is home to an interesting military museum. The citadel is located right in the heart of the city, offering an easy jaunt that rewards with panoramic views.

Gothenburg Airport GOT

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