Stockholm is the definitive city to visit when you’re in Sweden, but you should also visit Gothenburg because it’s making a name for itself and the world is noticing. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware that Gothenburg is an awesome city and if not then you’re about to find out.
Gothenburg was ranked the 12th Most Inventive City by Forbes magazine and the Culinary Capital of Sweden in 2012. Gothenburg’s neoclassical architecture is an excellent setting for this vibrant urban center of creativity. Gothenburg’s location on the southwestern coast of Sweden means there is also plenty to occupy the outdoor enthusiast as well.
But, first things first. Have you ever been to a fish church? One of the must-sees places in Gothenburg is called Feskekôrka, or the “Fish Church.” Everyone’s heard of a school of fish? What about a church of fish! It is a beautiful old Gothic church with a fantastic fish market located inside. Daily you can find fresh lobsters, giant crayfish, squid, salmon, cod, caviar, and shrimp. Even if you only visit to say you’ve been in a church of fish, it is worth a stop.
Gothenburg has also jumped on the food truck bandwagon. The food trucks in Gothenburg vary from American-style pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers, and burritos to Vietnamese, Mexican, and of course, Swedish style food. Don’t forget to find and devour some Swedish meatballs with lingonberry!
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Other fun food novelties are at Café Husaren, where they make one of the world’s largest cinnamon buns, called a kanelbullar, and Bräutigam’s, where they have been making chocolate for more than 140 years. Both are located in one of the oldest districts in Gothenburg called Haga; a neighborhood dates back to the 17th century.
Shopping suit your fancy? If you are searching for trendy, go to the former warehouse district called Magasinsgatan in central Gothenburg. It is primarily a pedestrian thoroughfare with cafes, authentic restaurants, and little unique boutique shops. You can find anything from local designer’s creations to bird-cage lamp shades complete with fake birds.
For more hustle and bustle, visit one of the main boulevards, Kungsportsavenyn, known merely as “Avenyn” or Avenue. Restaurants and shops will keep you busy during the day, and the nightclubs will keep you rocking at night. Don’t forget to check out the side street shops when visiting Avenyn.
So you’ve had your fill of Finnish food, and now you’re thirsty. Craft beer in Sweden has recently exploded with over one hundred breweries in operation and more on the way. Want to sample and imbibe some of Sweden’s most excellent brews, check out Ölstugan Tullen craft beer pub.
To embrace the local craft beer scene, try Gothenburg brewed and inspired ales like Avenyn Ale and Poseidon Porter from the brewery Dugges, named after the main boulevard Avenyn and the iconic statue Poseidon at the end of Avenyn.
Are you a thrill-seeker? Head to the local amusement park, Liseberg, with a roller coaster called “Balder” that has been voted the best wooden roller coaster in the world. The Liseberg Big Wheel, a large Ferris wheel, is a wonderful delight to ride and see many magnificent views of the city. Three million people a year enjoy the amusement park, why shouldn’t you?
If you’re looking for the thrill of nature, hop on a ferry to one of the twenty islands in the archipelago that extends out from Gothenburg and get ready to fall in love. The islands are known for their beaches, stunning views and charming villages. Something interesting that you’ll find is that some of the islands, like Vrångö and Styrsö, do not allow any cars. Rarely can you travel anywhere in the world and there not be a car in sight!
If you are interested in spending the night in the islands, try Pensionat Styrsö. They have beautiful guesthouses, and your room comes with bicycles. Cycling is perhaps the best mode of transportation for sightseeing on the islands. Other spectacular ways to explore the archipelago are swimming, nature trails, sailing, boat tours, lobster fishing, and seal safaris.
When you’re heading to Sweden, there are a few pointers to keep in mind to help you adjust to the culture. Make sure you respect everyone’s personal space. Don’t stand too close to them in line or sit too close to the bus. Also, when having a conversation in public, keep your voice and your body gestures to a respectful level. If you see a Swede, or multiple Swedes, turning away from you or shielding their eyes from you, check yourself to make sure you’re using your inside voice.
Gothenburg is worth a stopover during your Scandinavian travels. Have you explored the city yourself? Have a favorite Swedish brew or food? Share your story in the comments below!
Note: If you are planning on staying in Gothenburg for more than a few days, check out the City Card, which includes free access to the great public transportation, free admission to many attractions and museums and even a few free sightseeing tours.
Recommended: Gothenburg is a bike city. There is a ton of bike lanes, and half the population is a cyclist. Almost every other person in Gothenburg is a cyclist so exploring the city by bike is HIGHLY recommended.
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