Trendy Gothenburg, Sweden’s second biggest city, is home to big industry names such as Ericsson and Volvo. But stand by for fabulous restaurants and hip bars, too
It has been called the San Francisco of Sweden and if you visit Gothenburg in the spring or early summer you will quickly see why. This is when the city, Sweden’s second largest, shakes off its winter shroud and bursts into a colourful pageant of shimmering water, elegant bridges, buzzing bars and quayside restanrants, many serving the wonderfully fresh seafood for which this part of Scandinavia is so well known.
Sitting on Sweden’s southwest coast, Gothenburg is where where the Göta River meets the North Sea. With what is said to be the biggest harbour in the whole of Scandinavia, it has been a major trading port for longer than anyone can remember. In some ways it still is. But don’t let the fact that Gothenburg is home to a number of Sweden’s biggest companies put you off. This small city has more than enough attractions to keep you happy during a weekend break, or even a bit longer if you have the time.
The undeniable charm of excellent bars and restaurants and plenty of interesting architecture aside, there are plenty of other attractions on offer here. More than 20 theatres and 18 museums, for example, not to mention the biggest local tourist attraction, Liseberg Amusement Park, which attracts more than three million visitors a year.
Take a quick look at the statue of Poseidon that dominates the Gotaplatsen Square, then head for the City Museum, located in the East India Company House, where the displays include the only Viking ship in Sweden on display to the public. Then continue your nautical theme with a boat trip. The Paddan boat tour, which leaves from near Kungsportsplatsen, provides a lively hour-long trip under some 20 bridges as the boat glides along the 17th-century canals and the city’s old moat. Watch out for the “Cheese Slicer” bridge, which is so low that you are advised to get out of your seat and crouch down to avoid bumping your head.
Back on shore, take time out for a drink and snack at one of the lively bars or restaurants you will find all over the city. Try, for example Brasserie Lipp at Kungsportsavenyn, a watering hole particularly popular in late afternoon when office workers and visitors alike arrive to soak up its lively atmosphere, not to mention some excellent seafood and a great selection of salads and sandwiches.
And if you are up to it after all that you can continue your sightseeing excursion to any number of Gothenburg’s other attractions. There are parks and other green spaces almost everywhere you look, the best known of which is the Horticultural Society Garden (Trädgårdsföreningen) in the centre of the city. This is a great place to be in summer, when there are often open-air concerts after which the partying often goes on late into the evening.
Hopefully all that activity will have helped you build an appetite for what is surely one of the best seafood restaurants in Gothenburg, Fiskekrogen, on Lilla Torget. The location, in a beautiful historical building, is matched perfectly by a menu featuring some of the best lobster and crayfish you have ever eaten, not to mention one of the most comprehensive wine lists you will ever have been tempted to work your way through. Don’t plan anything for too early the following morning!
Where to stay
Elite Plaza Hotel
: located in the former headquarters building of an insurance company, and recently refurbished, this hotel is probably the most beautiful to be found in Gothenburg. (Vastra Hamngatan 3)
Quality Hotel 11
: with a view of the harbour and built on the site of a former shipyard, this is one of the city’s most interesting and stylish places to stay. (Maskingatan 11)