The second-largest city in Sweden and Scandinavia's most important port, Gothenburg (or ) is situated on the west coast of the country. Sat at the outlet of the Göta Canal that links Gothenburg to the Baltic Sea and Stockholm.
Gothenburg was founded in 1621 by King Gustav II Adolf to secure access to the Atlantic, but the city was mainly settled and planned by Dutch merchants who used it as their base for trade. The numerous canals and gabled houses are evidence of this early influence. Shipping and commerce have always been important industries in Gothenburg and the port is a popular arrival point for visitors.
Gothenburg is a beautiful city with its waterside location, green open spaces, and fine architecture, as well as the wide selection of cultural establishments. The main street, Kungsportavenyn, known simply as Avenyn, is alive with edgy bars, cafes, and trendy shops.
Far more down-to-earth and youth-driven than Stockholm, Gothenburg's buzz is augmented by the large student population from the University of Gothenburg. While certainly not as magnificent as Stockholm, Gothenburg is often regarded as friendlier and cheaper, and certainly has enough going on to keep even the most energetic travellers occupied.
The Botanical Garden in Gothenburg is one of the largest in Europe and generally considered the most beautiful in Sweden, boasting about 13,000 different species of plant. The area covers 175 hectares (432 acres), most of which is a nature reserve including an arboretum. Inaugurated in 1923, on the city's 300th anniversary, the garden is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Gothenburg and indeed in Sweden. The pride of the garden is the Rock Garden, but other worthwhile areas to visit include the Japanese Glade and the Rhododendron Valley. The greenhouses display an impressive collection of about 1,500 orchids, among many other remarkable and rare plants, including extensive collections of Australian and South African flora. They host a series of exhibitions throughout the year so check the official website listed below to see what's showing during your visit. Well-maintained and extensive walking trails make the gardens a pleasure for hikers, and there are many beautiful nooks for picnics and relaxation. There is also a lovely cafe for refreshments. Travellers should note that although the botanical garden is open all year, in the cold months there is not much to see outside of the greenhouses.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Sweden, Liseberg Amusement Park has been welcoming millions of visitors a year for almost 80 years. Besides popular rides like the wooden roller coaster Balder and tamer rides for the children, there are more than 30 different attractions, restaurants and entertainment venues where concerts and shows attract huge crowds. Apart from all the fun rides, Liseberg Amusement Park offers many diversions in the form of games, shops, and scenic or themed areas. Adults may enjoy strolling through the attractive garden area, with waterfalls and sculptures. There is a good range of restaurants and eateries in the park, with some fine dining options and plentiful fast food. Besides the ever-popular summer season, Liseberg is also open over the festive season for the biggest Christmas market in Scandinavia, as well as food specialities of the season, an ice bar, and holiday entertainment. This is a must for travellers in Gothenburg over Christmas, when many locals feel that Liseberg is at its most special. As opening times, dates, and prices all fluctuate according to season, visitors are advised to check the official website in advance to plan their trip.
The well-preserved, 17th-century Alvsborg Fortress is located on a small island at the entrance of the harbour, at the mouth of the Gota River near Gothenburg. With a fascinating history of battles against the Danes, the fortress was once the mightiest citadel in Sweden for coastal defence and is said to be the best preserved of its kind in the country. A boat trip to the fortress is one of the most popular activities for tourists in Gothenburg. Boat tours of the archipelago offer passage to the fort, along with views of the pretty waterways. There is also a good view of the harbour from the island and some walking trails around the fortress to explore independently. A dramatised tour in English or Swedish explaining the history of the castle is included in the admission fee. It tells the history of the region from the 1600s to the present, introducing visitors to the colourful characters of the past. There is a cafe and a small craft shop on the island for refreshments and souvenirs. It's also possible to bring your own picnic basket. The boat trip to the island takes about 30 minutes each way, and travellers should note that the boats only run seasonally.
One of the most famous attractions in Sweden, the Gota Canal was an important transport route for passengers and goods between Gothenburg and Stockholm throughout the 19th century. One of the biggest civil engineering projects to ever take place in the country, the canal stretches 118 miles (190km) from Sjotorp on Lake Vanern to the Baltic Sea at Mem and has 58 locks. Gothenburg is linked to the canal at Lake Vanern by the Gota River. The picturesque, tree-lined channels are popular for cruises, which pass through the beautiful lakes of Vattern and Vanern, usually lasting about five to six days. Many boat trips are available on the canal, but they are almost always seasonal and often only operate in the summer months. A good option for travellers visiting in spring or autumn is a cycling trip along the banks of the canal. Canal trips are wildly popular with visitors and locals, providing a glorious way to traverse the pretty countryside. The official website listed below gives details on the different cruises, activities, and accommodation options along the Gota Canal.
Boat trips to the southern and northern archipelago of Gothenburg are popular with both visitors and residents. The southern archipelago includes eight car-free, sparsely inhabited islands that boast sandy beaches, good swimming, beautiful nature, walking paths, and a charm of their own. The southern islands frequently feature in Viking mythology, adding to their wild mystique. The island of Branno is thought to be the location for the famous Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. Vargo is a nature reserve and a great spot for bird watchers. Kopstadso is a small island with picturesque, narrow walking trails. Styrso is more developed and boasts some accommodation for holidaymakers, having been a kind of bathers' resort since the 1830s. The northern archipelago is more heavily populated and offers numerous hotels, restaurants, and sea-based activities. Although the islands can be explored independently by those who hire boats, and some travellers choose to spend some time staying in the archipelago, most tourists simply join the general boat tours of the archipelago, which take roughly four hours and show passengers the beauty of the River Gota, River Nordre, Bjorko Fjord and Goteborg's harbour as well as some of the islands.
Gothenburg is located on the west coast of southern Sweden and has an oceanic climate, enjoying milder weather than one might expect due to the moderating influence of the warm Gulf Stream. In summer, between June and August, the city gets as much as 17 hours of daylight. But in the winter months, between December and February, Gothenburg only gets about seven hours of daylight.
Summers are warm with average high temperatures of 72°F (22°C) and lows of 55°F (13°C), but temperatures of up to 86°F (30°C) can occur. Winters are cold and windy with average temperatures around freezing, but seldom dropping below 14°F (-10°C).
Snow falls mainly between December and March, but it is not unusual in November and April, and can even fall in October and May. Gothenburg is a rainy city, with moderate rainfall possible at any time of year. Every month the city experiences between 10 and 18 rainy days.
The best time to visit Gothenburg is between May and September, with the peak tourist season being the short summer, between June and August. Even at this time, rain and cold weather is possible and travellers should pack layers to prepare for both sunny warm weather and cold wet weather.
Getting around in Gothenburg is fairly simple thanks to the city's organised layout. The city centre is pedestrian-friendly, and walking is considered the best way to take in all the sights. Bicycles are also available for hire, and a network of bike paths make it a pleasant and convenient mode of transport.
Public transportation is made up of a network of buses, trams, and ferries. Tickets are sold at 7-Eleven shops, transport service centres, and Pressbyrån shops. Single tickets are also available on trams; however, more economical options for busy travellers would be the one, three, or 30-day tickets, or the Gothenburg City Card.
Bicycle and tram traffic can make driving in Gothenburg a bit confusing, and renting a car is generally only necessary for trips outside the city centre. Taxis are available by phone, but they are not regulated and can be quite expensive.
Gothenburg is much smaller than Stockholm and it is possible to see most of its prime attractions in only a couple of days. Gothenburg's attractions are fascinating, giving tourists a good sense of the long history of Sweden in museums like the Gothenburg City Museum, Museum of World Culture, Maritime Museum, Natural History Museum, and Kviberg Military Museum.
There are also many historical buildings in Gothenburg, including several forts and cathedrals, and the Crown House, former home of the Swedish Parliament. There is even a life-sized reconstruction of the Swedish Ship, Götheborg, which is open for visits in the harbour.
Outside the city, several popular attractions around Gothenburg include the Liseberg Amusement Park and the Wheel of Gothenburg. Paddan tourist boats run in the city canals, while Börjessons offer boat tours of the archipelago.
Tourists in Gothenburg can purchase a Gothenburg Pass, which grants them unlimited access to public transport, and free admission to Liseberg, the Botanical Gardens, and more than a dozen museums in Gothenburg.