Destination Sweden: Why Not Choose… Gothenburg?
In Sweden's second largest city and the country's main port, Gothenburg, life revolves around the sea. Take a leisurely stroll or cycle from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, or along the canals. Explore a city on a human scale where innovative architecture stands side-by-side with historical monuments, and where cultural and natural treasures are everywhere.
Stunning Culture and Architecture in a Green Haven
Start by visiting the centre of Gothenburg: the City Hall on beautiful Gustaf Adolfs Square, the Christinae Church and the City Museum. Next, head for the port docks, specifically to Lilla Bommen, to see the amazing Götheborgs-Utkiken skyscraper.
A little further on, you will find the opera, and don't miss the Maritiman Centre, a maritime museum like no other in the world. From here, you have the option of various walks along the canals.
You can also take a ferry to KlippanKulturreservat, a small neighbourhood where you can still see 18th-century buildings from the golden age of maritime trade, as well as old port workers' houses. Just a short walk away, under the impressive bridge connecting the two banks of the Göta Canal, is the Röda Sten cultural centre, which hosts contemporary art exhibitions.
On your way back towards the centre, stop by the Masthugg Church, then spend some time in the Haga neighbourhood. Its cobbled alleys are home to little wooden houses, as well as a few cafés where you can sample kanelbulle, a typical Swedish brioche cinnamon roll.
Next, for a change of scene, explore Vasagatan, the university area. Its streets are lined with elegant bourgeois buildings from the last century, and public gardens. A little further east, Kungsportsavenyen, Gothenburg's answer to the Champs-Élysées, has a whole host of bars and restaurants.
Make the most of your time in this part of the city with a visit to the Röhsska Museum, which offers a panorama of European and Swedish craft and design. Not far away, you will also find the Gothenburg Museum of Art, devoted to painting from the 15th to 20th centuries, as well as Scandinavian art from the 1880s and 1890s.
These two museums are just a tiny taste of the city's unbelievable cultural offer. You should also make time for its other interesting museums (the Maritime Museum and the National Natural History Museum). If you're a classical music fan, you'll love the Concert Hall (Konserthus), where the Swedish Symphony Orchestra performs.
With its many green spaces, Slottsskogen park and its splendid botanical Gardens, Gothenburg gives pride of place to nature, offering no less than 175m² of green spaces per inhabitant.
And if you get away from the coastal regions towards the north, you will find large national parks, lakes, forests as far as the eye can see, and perhaps even the Aurora Borealis.
Don't hesitate to venture out to the Bohuslän coast, which is dotted with fishing villages, each one prettier than the last.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Gustave Adolphe Square: located on the edge of the canal, this square is home to some of the most important buildings in Gothenburg, as well as a 19th-century royal statue. The remarkable architecture of the City Hall and the Law Court give it heaps of character. With its geometric shapes and sober façades, this square paved in red brick is spilling over with charm.
Gothenburg City Museum: located in the old premises and hangars of the Swedish East India Company (1750-1762), this museum offers three collections: archaeology (from prehistory to the Vikings), urban history with a focus on commercial activities (including a stunning collection of porcelain) and everyday life (fine furnishings from different periods), and finally industry (especially port activity).
Läppstiftet: scale the heights of this skyscraper, affectionately referred to as the Läppstiftet (lipstick). Built in 1989 in the Lilla Bommen district of the Port of Gothenburg, it is one of the city's most famous buildings.
Göteborg Maritiman: this gigantic floating museum, the largest of its kind in the world, is housed in a set of permanently moored boats. You can discover the interiors of half a dozen vessels, including a lightboat, a destroyer and a submarine.
Haga: this picturesque neighbourhood containing 17th-century wooden houses is an old workers' neighbourhood, which has now become Gothenburg's trendy hangout spot. Get lost in its cobbled alleys and discover its many cafés and antiques galleries. For an unbeatable view, climb up to Skansen Kronan.
Röhsska Museet: the Swedish museum of fashion, design and décor, offering a historical panorama of European and Swedish craft and design. Here, you can see Chinese and Japanese fabrics, as well as many contemporary items of Swedish, Nordic or European commercial and industrial design.
The Masthugg Church: the tower of this church is crowned with a cross and a cockerel, and offers superb views over Gothenburg. Opened in 1914, it is an excellent example of the National Romantic architectural style. The exterior appears rather austere (with its red bricks and the tiles on the huge 60m-high tower), but inside, the massive, pure timber ceiling immediately catches the eye.
Gothenburg Botanical Garden: with 20 acres of space and almost 16,000 species, this is the largest garden in Sweden . Discover the Japanese glade, with species from the Far East, the stunning alpine rock garden, the nursery and the arboretum. There is also a kitchen garden with herbs, and an anemone and rhododendron valley. Permanent greenhouses allow visitors to discover exotic plants and a magnificent collection of orchids.
The southern archipelago: just a 30 minute ferry ride from the coast, a relaxing and almost surreal landscape awaits, consisting of a myriad of granite islands and islets. No cars are permitted in this little maritime paradise, making it perfect for scenic strolls and bike rides. Styrsö, with its pretty wooden houses, is undoubtedly the most pleasant island to visit.
Fjällbacka: take a road trip along the Bohuslän coast, to discover the fishing villages. Built in the 17th century at the end of the Jorefjorden fjord, Fjällbacka a charming little fishing and leisure port, nestled against a mysterious rock formation. An imposing granite church, alleys lined with colourful little wooden houses and small moored boats: a real picture postcard for visitors.
The "fish temple"
Gothenburg was named "Culinary Capital of Sweden 2012", making it an undeniably gastronomic destination. Seafood, from the Bohüslan coast, takes a starring role on menus. Make the most of your stay by treating yourself to oysters, lobster, halibut, perch and salmon. You can work up an appetite with a stroll around the city's main indoor fish market: Feskekôrka, literally meaning "the fish church".
A must-try delicacy in Sweden, brioche cinnamon rolls, or kanelbulle, can be found in all good cafés. The perfect afternoon snack!
January: Saint-Knut's Day : Twenty days after Christmas, Saint-Knut's Day is celebrated with dancing, food and games. The tradition goes back to Viking times, when sacrifices were made on this day. Nowadays, it is when Swedish families take down their Christmas decorations and throw their Christmas tree out of the window.
August: Way Out West : For three days, Slottskogen hosts Swedish and foreign artists from the pop, rock, electro and hip-hop scenes. In recent years, the organisers have opted to make the festival environmentally friendly, with organic food, recycling and green transport for the artists.
December: Sankta Lucia, festival of light : This is one of Sweden's most charming traditions. In the streets, "Lucys" wearing crowns of candles and white dresses give out coffee and saffron or ginger buns, and sometimes also a spiced wine known as Glögg, while the crowd sings traditional songs. In the evening, the traditional Sankta Lucia is sung.
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