Don’t tell the residents of Göteborg that they live in Sweden’s “second city, ” but not because they will get upset (people here are known for their amiability and good humor). They just may not understand what you are talking about. People who call Göteborg (pronounced YOO-teh-bor; most visitors stick with the simpler “Gothenburg”) home seem to forget that the city is diminutive in size and status compared to Stockholm.
Spend a couple of days here and you’ll forget, too. You’ll find it’s easier to ask what Göteborg hasn’t got to offer rather than what it has. Culturally it is superb, boasting a fine opera house and theater, one of the country’s best art museums, as well as a fantastic applied-arts museum. There’s plenty of history to soak up, from the ancient port that gave the city its start to the 19th-century factory buildings and workers’ houses that helped put it on the commercial map. For those looking for nature, the wild west coast and tame green fields are both within striking distance. And don’t forget the food. Since it’s inception in 1983, more than half of the “Swedish Chef of the Year” competition winners were cooking in Göteborg.
Göteborg (Gothenburg) Sights
Göteborg begs to be explored by foot. A small, neat package of a city, it can be divided up into three main areas, all of which are closely interlinked. If your feet need a rest, though, there is an excellent streetcar network that runs to all parts of town. The main artery of Göteborg is Kungsportsavenyn (more commonly referred to as Avenyn, “the Avenue”), a 60-foot-wide tree-lined boulevard that bisects the city along a northwest-southeast axis. Avenyn starts at Göteborg’s cultural heart, Götaplatsen, home to the city’s oldest cultural institutions, where ornate carved-stone buildings keep watch over the shady boulevards of the Vasastan neighborhood lined with exclusive restaurants and bars. Follow Avenyn north and you’ll find the main commercial area, now dominated by the modern Nordstan shopping center. Beyond is the waterfront, busy with all the traffic of the port, as well as some of Göteborg’s newer cultural developments, in particular its magnificent opera house.
To the west of the city are the Haga and Linné districts. Once home to the city’s dockyard, shipping, and factory workers, these areas are now chic, bohemian enclaves alive with arts-and-crafts galleries, antiques shops, boutiques selling clothes and household goods, and street cafés and restaurants.
The main tourist office is Göteborg’s Turistbyrå in Kungsportsplatsen. There are also offices at the Nordstan shopping center and in front of the central train station at Drottningtorget.
A free English-language newspaper with listings called Metro is available in summer; you can pick it up at tourist offices, shopping centers, and some restaurants, as well as on streetcars.
Göteborg’s Turistbyrå’s Web site has a good events calendar.
The Göteborg Pass, available from the Göteborg tourist office, and on their Web site, offers discounts and savings for sights, restaurants, hotels, and other services around the city.
Göteborg (Gothenburg) Restaurant Reviews
Göteborg is filled with people who love to eat and cook, so you’ve come to the right place if you’re interested in food. The fish and seafood here are some of the best in the world, owing to the clean, cold waters off Sweden’s west coast. And Göteborg’s chefs are some of the best in Sweden, as a glance at the list of recent “Swedish Chef of the Year” winners will confirm. Call ahead to be sure restaurants are open, as many close for a month in summer.
Göteborg (Gothenburg) Hotel Reviews
Some hotels close during the winter holidays; call ahead if you expect to travel during that time. All rooms in the hotels reviewed are equipped with shower or bath unless otherwise noted. Göteborg also has some fine camping sites if you want an alternative to staying in a hotel.