When you’re travelling through Europe and find yourself in the far north, Sweden’s Gothenburg is a place not to be missed. With just under a million people, it is the second largest city in Sweden and one of the trendiest places in Scandinavia, with plenty of first class shopping, dining and entertainment on offer.
Fashionistas are sure to have a great time when they visit Gothenburg, but what I love the most about this city is that it has something for everyone. Keen nature enthusiasts can experience a breathtaking landscape of dramatic coastlines, islands, lakes and dense forests, while history buffs can get immersed in the city’s rich past.
Founded in 1621, Gothenburg’s prime west coast location was sought after by Swedes, Danes and Norwegians alike. The result was a fortification of the city that can still be seen today. Fortresses and statues provide an impressive backdrop to the growing number of cafés, bars and restaurants, making the city a must see destination for travellers from all parts of the world.
Below are five of my favourite places in Gothenburg:
New Älvsborg Fortress
On a small island where the Göta Älv River meets the sea, the New Älvsborg Fortress was built in the 1600s to protect Gothenburg from Danish invasion. It served as a military defense post until 1720.
Nowadays the fortress is buzzing with visitors, and features a café, restaurant and shop, as well as tours reenacting the history of the fortress. A 30-minute ferry ride takes you to the island, where you can check out the fortress and enjoy undisturbed views of the city, harbour and river surrounds.
Liseberg Amusement Park
Nurture your youthful side at Scandinavia’s largest amusement park, Liseberg. It is conveniently located in the outskirts of the Gothenburg CBD, and with its 40 rides and attractions, it is sure to amuse.
Originally a summer park, with the season spanning from April to October, Liseberg adopted a winter season in 2000 and is now hosting Sweden’s largest Christmas fair. A fairytale setting of sparkling trees and buildings decorated with five million Christmas lights, along with the natural beauty of snow dusted streets and rooftops, Liseberg sets an unforgettable scene to enjoy a traditional warm Christmas drink of glug by one of the open fires.
Located two hours north east of Gothenburg, on an island in Sweden’s largest lake, the medieval Läckö Castle is a national monument dating back to 1298. Today the castle is one of the buildings that best showcases Swedish history.
In the first half of the 17th century the building was a centre of architectural and artistic excellence. The castle has been called ‘a living picture of a classy baroque residence’, and visitors can enjoy the permanent exhibition ‘Läckö’s Treasure Trove - Luxury items from Sweden’s age of greatness’.
A waterfront stroll from the Gothenburg CBD is the suburb of Haga, renowned for its picturesque wooden houses and cobblestone streets. A cultural and creative hub of Gothenburg, it’s a place where old meets new and traditional Sweden meets the world.
Haga dates back to the 1600s and is today one of the most popular areas in the city. It features prime ocean views, shopping, dining and entertainment, as well as iconic buildings and statues. When visiting, make sure you enjoy a drink on the popular bar strip, or a giant cinnamon scroll in one of the old cafes.
Slottskogen (The Castle Forest)
Located a 20-minute walk from the CBD, Slottskogen, directly translated to the Castle Forest, is ‘the park of the people of Gothenburg’. It was developed in 1864 on the Old Älvsborg Castle grounds, as the growing city was in need of a green area where people could unwind.
Nowadays the park is buzzing with activity. The on-site zoo with native Nordic animals such as moose, reindeer, seals and penguins, is open to the public year round and is free of charge. There are also plenty of dense forests and gardens throughout the park displaying Sweden’s native flora. In August the park hosts the annual music festival Way Out West, which attracts musicians and concert-goers from all over the world.
Click here to see photos of this cosmopolitan city.
Click here to read about other things to do in Gothenburg, from lobster safaris to adrenalin sports.
Travelzoo tip #1: Time your visit. Gothenburg enjoys four distinct seasons, with temperatures reaching the high 20s in summer, and minus 20s in winter. There is something to do year round, but take the weather into consideration when booking your trip.
Travelzoo tip #2: When visiting, take advantage of the Gothenburg City Card that you can purchase from just SEK 315 ($48). With the card you’ll receive an inclusive ferry ride and admission to the New Älvsborg Fortress, as well as entry to Liseberg amusement park, and plenty of other attractions and sites around the city. The card also includes use of all public transport and parking throughout the city.