Don’t get me wrong. Gothenburg is a city that absolutely deserves more than a day of your time. But having been on a business trip here, I only had a day left to do some exploring – so I thought to make the best of it and visit the most attractive locations within the city centre.
Gothenburg, being a city dominated by its port (the largest container port in the Nordics) and extending on both sides of the Göta Älv river, large parts of the city evolve around water.
The centre is relatively compact, and starting off at the central train station, you can actually reach all the main attractions by walking.
Head to the city’s main canal, Stora Hamnkanalen, which is lined by impressive historic buildings. It is a huge attraction, in particular the steps at the end which are usually full with people watching the water and catch a bit of sun.
Located right at the end of the canal is one of the city’s largest squares, Gustaf Adolfs torg. It actually used to be called Stortorget which means ‘big square’ until the mid 1850s. It was renamed when a statue of king Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, the founder of Gothenburg, was installed here.
Also just a stone’s throw from the main station, make sure to walk along the canal Stora Nygatan, lined by impressive neo-classic houses.
On the other side of the canal you can already spot the beautiful small park of the Garden Society of Gothenburg, founded in 1842 by Kind Carl XIV Johan, with its gorgeous 19th century palm house.
There is also a lovely little rose and horticultural garden just behind the palm house, boasting some 4,000 roses and 1,900 species which was awarded starts in the Michelin Green Guide.
One of the best places to learn about local food in my opinion are food markets. Called Saluhallen in Sweden, Gothenburg’s largest indoor food market, in a building dating back to 1889, is located at Kungstorget. It is home to approximately 40 shops, food stalls and restaurants and remains a hot spot for locals to stock up on fresh produce or just grab some food to go.
Another food market absolutely not to be misses is the fish market, located in a unique, church-like building that dates back to 1873. Here you will find a wide range of the freshest fish and seafood along with a few restaurants.
Make sure to set some time aside strolling around Haga, Gothenburg’s oldest district. With its 17th century timber houses and quaint cobbled streets it is – at least in my opinion – the most picturesque part of the whole city. Large parts of the area have restricted car access which really give you the impression to be transported right back into the past!
There are lots of gorgeous small shops, cafés and restaurants waiting to be explored that will make time fly by!
One thing you can’t miss travelling to Sweden is the traditional Swedish ‘fika’. This actually means a coffee break where you sit down and have a coffee (of any other usually hot drink) together with a cake or maybe a sandwich. Use this relaxed break to try the famous – and ever so delicious – Swedish cinnamon rolls. Allegedly the largest rolls in all of Sweden are served at Café Husaren in Haga Nygata, Haga’s main street but you will find them (in normal size) wherever you go in the city.
Towering on top of the Haga area is Skansen Kronan. The old fortified tower was built in the second half of the 17th century to defend the city from attacks by the Danish, which however never occurred. It is made of four to five meter thick walls and was fitted with more than twenty canons. It is now a private facility for events. There are guided tours throughout the summer and is is possible to book a tour in case you are a larger group. Otherwise, access is limited.
To reach Skansen Kronan, it’s up a large steep fleet of steps to the top from Haga but the amazing views over central Gothenburg and the harbour is well worth the effort. Alternatively, there is a longer winding road up from the other side.
There are many beautiful churches throughout the central parts of Gothenburg, but one of the most impressive is certainly Oskar Fredrik Church, just off Linnegatan, which is known as the city’s ‘Second Avenue’. The church was inaugurated on Easter Sunday of 1893 and got its name from King Oskar II. The opulent neo-gothic style is rather untypical for the Nordics, resembling indeed the large cathedrals typically found in continental Europe.
End your tour by heading to the Lilla Bommen harbour area. Here you will find the Barken Viking ship, the biggest sailing ship ever build in Scandinavia, which is constantly moored here in front of the so called ‘lipstick’ building.
Although it was a very quick visit, I really enjoyed my time in Gothenburg and can only recommend to take the opportunity to visit.
Have you been to Gothenburg yet? Let me know about your experiences.