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This is Gothenburg

Gothenburg is encircled by rocky shoreline, deep forests, tranquil lakes and the surging sea to the west. No other Swedish city gives such easy access to nature. Right on the doorstep are wide open spaces and magical islands.

Four centuries ago, when the decision was taken to build a harbour city on the west coast, the ambition was to open up Sweden to the outside world. Building a city on Swedish marshland, wedged between Norway and Denmark, was no easy undertaking, but with the help of the Dutch, English, Scots and Germans the vision was realised. Today, Gothenburg is a flourishing green city with a vibrant cultural scene, world-class restaurants and a fascinating history. At the same time adventure is never far away.

There is always an island waiting to be explored or a mountain to be conquered from the saddle of your bike. With its light summer evenings, colourful autumn days and snow-blanketed winter mornings, Gothenburg is where you can experience the real Sweden. 

The accessible city

Gothenburg is an open and accessible city. It offers almost everything you would expect of a cosmopolitan city – within walking distance. All you need is right in the city and you can get everywhere on foot – from the Central Station to your hotel, to the arenas, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. But it’s not just close to everything; it’s also easy to get here. Both international airports are just 20 minutes from the city centre and you can get direct flights here from more than 65 European cities.

Today, Greater Gothenburg is home to 970,000 people from almost every country on the planet. It is they who give the city its soul, its pulse and its unique atmosphere. In Sweden, Gothenburgers have a reputation for their friendliness and hospitality, and many who visit the city for the first time can attest to just how welcoming it feels.

Unique nature and coastal environment

The Gothenburg archipelago has a unique and magical atmosphere. People have lived on many of the islands for generations, but several are uninhabited and virtually unspoiled by man. They have exceptional natural beauty and diverse wildlife. The entire southern archipelago is car-free and is best explored by foot, on a bike or from a sea kayak. In summer the coast and islands provide a fantastic getaway for sunbathing and swimming. There is no better place to enjoy a Swedish summer. Through the seasons the islands and sea play out their own spellbinding drama, with the wind, sky and unforgettable landscape taking the leading roles.

For those seeking real adventure there is plenty of choice. How about a sea trip to catch lobsters, watching a seal colony from close quarters or silently cutting through the waves in a sea kayak? Few places on Earth offer such good waters for paddling as our coast and islands.

Photographer: Styrsö havskajaker

You can easily get out to the Gothenburg archipelago by public transport. It takes barely an hour from the city centre and costs no more than a tram ticket. On the larger islands there is accommodation to suit all tastes – from uniquely furnished rooms in guesthouses, to boathouse-inspired apartments with their own terrace just a few metres from the water.

The mainland also has exceptional outdoor experiences to offer. Just a short bus ride from the city centre you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity of a landscape that is diverse, surprising and enchanting. History is revealed in the shape of ancient remains, castles, ruins, churches and fortresses. You can hike, climb, cycle, paddle a canoe, fish or even take a dip in one of the many beautiful lakes. Let the adventure begin and fill your lungs with invigorating fresh air.  

Adventures on land and water

If you love getting close to the water you have canals, the harbour, the archipelago and countless lakes to choose from – all within easy reach.

For water sport enthusiasts there is nothing to beat Gothenburg. This is the final destination for the Volvo Ocean Race and everywhere you look you can see evidence of Gothenburgers’ love of the sea. Along the coast and in the archipelago the water is dotted with sailboats, and in the city’s canals you can take sightseeing boat trips or set out on your own journey of discovery in a kayak. There are also excellent opportunities for windsurfing, diving and snorkelling.

Alongside the city trams, cycling is a favourite way for Gothenburgers to get about. There are good bike paths everywhere in the city and just a couple of kilometres beyond the city centre is a fantastic network of nature trails. You will also find some of Sweden’s finest mountain bike trails here.

Beautiful gardens, parks and the green lungs of the city

You are always close to nature in Gothenburg. In and around the city centre you will find fabulous green spaces such as Slottsskogen city park, the Garden Society of Gothenburg (Trädgårdsföreningen) and Gothenburg Botanical Garden. In 2016 the city will hold the Gardens of Gothenburg exhibition - Gothenburg Green World - a unique collaboration between some of the best gardens in Sweden. The aim is to establish regular garden exhibitions of an exceptional international standard highlight the unique features of each garden and help to make Gothenburg the top garden destination in Sweden.

Like stepping back in history  

Our city’s history is filled with thrilling tales of pirates, smugglers, conflicts and war, mainly between the Swedes and the Danes. Strolling around Gothenburg is a little like travelling through time. Along the way you can see historic sites and buildings dating from the seventeenth century, punctuated by stone buildings and beautiful nineteenth century churches, and even car-free streets lined with charming timber buildings. The canals and the Moat (Vallgraven) are reminders of how the city looked in days gone by, while the defensive fortresses of Skansen Kronan and Skansen Lejonet still stand guard over the city.

In the old workers’ district of Majorna and in Klippan heritage site (Klippans kulturreservat) you can see many signs of Gothenburg’s seafaring history and its international openness. Among other things this was the departure point for most of the 1.3 million Swedes who emigrated to America to try their fortune on the other side of the Atlantic.

Photographer: Jonas Ingman - M2B AB

Regular sightseeing boats head out to the island of Vinga, which played a key role in Gothenburg’s historic development. Without the lighthouse and pilot station on Vinga it is likely that ships would have chosen a different destination. The difficulty of navigating this area is witnessed by the many wrecks close to the island. Among them is the East Indiaman Götheborg, which sank here in 1745 fully loaded with goods from foreign parts. A replica of the ship, launched in 2003, is now a popular visitor attraction, as well as being the largest working wooden ship in the world.

Photographer: Steampipe Production Studio AB

The thrilling seventeenth century fortress of Nya Älvsborg is another popular destination by boat. The fortress played an important part in the dramatic wars with Norway and Denmark, and has more recently served as both a prison and a storage depot for mines during the First World War.

Vibrant culture and music scene

Culture and the arts take centre stage in Gothenburg. Everyone here is encouraged to participate in the cultural scene and we create challenging cultural arenas where everyone is welcome. By providing a diverse and easily accessible art and culture scene we are creating an attractive city that is shaped by and for people from all over the world.

There is so much to discover. Gothenburg Museum of Art (Konstmuseet), Gothenburg Concert Hall (Konserthuset) and Gothenburg City Theatre (Stadsteatern) at Götaplatsen cultural centre always offer the highest quality, as does the Göteborg Opera (Göteborgsoperan) by the harbour canal. Gothenburg Museum of Art has been given three stars in Le guide vert, or Green Guide, Michelin’s tourist guide to sights and attractions. Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, which is also the national orchestra of Sweden, has been hailed as one of the most impressive orchestras in Europe, and over the years has enchanted the public and critics, nationally and internationally. But there are also lots of small art galleries, theatres and concert stages with space for everyone from world celebrities to local talents.

A genuine music city

Gothenburg is a genuine music city where music is close to people’s hearts. The city has a music scene that is only matched by much larger cities. It has a lively alternative music culture and big arena stages.

Music is important to Gothenburgers and big music events make their mark throughout the city. One example is the unique and internationally recognised Way Out West festival, which has set an entirely new standard in sustainability, atmosphere and attracting big names.

Staying in style

There are plenty of hotels in Gothenburg and almost all have environmental diplomas. In Greater Gothenburg there are around 12,000 hotel rooms, 7 250 of which are so close to the city that you can walk just about everywhere, from meeting places to entertainment and restaurants. Some hotels are so special that they are worth a visit in their own right. It may be the food, the architecture, the interior design or the whole concept that makes them so special. Check in to a designer hotel in the heart of the city, treat yourself to a weekend at a relaxing spa hotel in the name of health, enjoy luxurious pools and fine food, take in the panoramic views from a delightful roof terrace or stay in a picturesque guesthouse in the archipelago. In Gothenburg there are hotels to suit all tastes.

Unbeatable fish and shellfish

The cold, clean waters around Gothenburg provide lobster, langoustine, shrimp and fish of a quality that is hard to match anywhere else in the world. This has made our city a popular destination among foodies. In Gothenburg you will find everything from Michelin-starred restaurants and trendy food bars to traditional neighbourhood diners and street food stalls. Four Gothenburg restaurants have a star in the prestigious Michelin Guide, thanks to innovative chefs and creative concepts that are based on the best regional produce.

Gothenburgers are proud of their culinary traditions and like to buy their fish from the imposing Feskekôrka fish market hall or from the Market Hall (Saluhallen) at Kungstorget. At the coast or on the islands you can also often buy fish straight from the fishing boats. Producers and consumers alike set high standards for environmental conservation and sustainability, and you will find a wide choice of organic and eco-labelled produce.

Adventures for kids of all ages

Gothenburg is a great city for kids. Favourite attractions include Liseberg amusement park, Alfie Atkins’ Cultural Centre (Alfons Åbergs Kulturhus) and the Universeum Science Discovery Centre with its shark aquarium, rainforest and much more. Nature in and around Gothenburg also offers so many places to explore. What could be more exciting than heading out on a seal safari and watching the adorable seal pups sunning themselves on the edge of an island? You can also fish for crabs from a jetty or rocky seashore, or explore the diverse life under the surface with a snorkel and mask.

Photographer: goteborg.com

Vättlefjäll nature reserve and Delsjön lakes are perfect for canoeing adventures. Just a short bus ride or tram ride from the city centre you can camp, fish and cook over an open camp fire.

Swedish “allemansrätten” gives everyone the right of public access in nature and creates unique opportunities for those who want to roam freely and spend the night in the forest or countryside. But we naturally also need to act responsibly towards nature and wildlife, and show consideration for landowners and other visitors. So do not disturb and do not destroy.

There are lots of sheep and other animals to discover in the archipelago, and in Slottsskogen city park you can get close to elk, penguins, seals and deer. You can also pet rabbits here and have a go at riding a pony.

For those who want to learn more about the sea, Gothenburg Maritime Adventure Centre, the East Indiaman Götheborg and the Maritime Museum of Gothenburg are all exciting places to visit. Climb aboard and fill your sails with imagination and curiosity.

Christmas is best in Gothenburg

When December arrives, Gothenburg gets into the seasonal spirit and becomes the Christmas City that you really need to experience first hand. Liseberg amusement park is transformed into a magical winter landscape, with Scandinavia’s biggest Christmas market and carousels open for the festive season. It all takes place against a backdrop of five million Christmas lights. City buildings, trees, squares and bridges are illuminated with Christmas lights in stylish and innovative festive designs. Take a walk along the three-kilometre-long lane of light that runs from the harbour to Liseberg amusement park, and enjoy concerts, Christmas shows, shopping and perhaps a Christmas buffet of traditional Christmas dishes served with carefully selected delicacies.

Everything you could want for a successful shopping trip

It’s easy to make a shopping trip into a special experience in Gothenburg. The city has several very different centres, each with its own specialities. It’s just a matter of choosing which one suits your mood, needs and pocket. They are all fairly close together and you can reach most on foot. Pick and choose between exclusive fashions by local and international designers, vintage and second-hand bargains or well-stocked popular chain stores.

As a fashion city there is a wonderful sense of creativity in Gothenburg that goes hand in hand with our diverse music and cultural scene. The fashion scene is flourishing here and many Gothenburg-based fashion brands have achieved big success internationally. But it’s not all about clothing. Browse the cosy boutiques and exclusive interior design shops on trendy Magasinsgatan, visit charming Haga with its many cafés and small shops selling curiosities, interior design and vintage items, or explore the more gilt-edged shopping havens around the main boulevard, Avenyn. For those on the lookout for delicacies you should definitely not miss the Market Hall (Saluhallen) at Kungstorget and Feskekôrka fish market hall.

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