While Stockholm is arguably the cultural and economic capital of Sweden, Gothenburg might be called the capital of the cool and alternative. Native Gothenburgers pride themselves on being more laid back and less pretentious than their Stockholm counterparts, and the nonchalance is evident in the relaxed atmosphere of the city’s many pubs and cafes. As the second largest city in Sweden with a population of almost 500,000, Gothenburg is also a major university town, with Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg University, which is the largest higher education institution in Scandinavia. Both institutions offer several master’s programs in English, making Gothenburg a popular study abroad destination within Sweden. Don’t miss the Saltholmen open-air bath and a boat excursion to Elvsborgs fortress.
The city center is small and easy to canvass on foot, but it’s also an absolute must to explore the city by water. The Paddan boats run tours through the city canals and in the harbor, departing hourly from the Kungsportbron bridge. (If it’s raining, the canary yellow ponchos are a good SEK 20 investment, even if you then look like all of the other tourists in town).
Gothenburg is also home to Volvo’s headquarters, and two round trip tickets on Scandinavian Airlines from the US are thrown into the deal if you sign up for the unique Volvo Overseas Delivery Program, where you come to Gothenburg to pick up your new wheels for a European tour before it’s shipped across back the Atlantic.
For outdoors enthusiasts (or those looking for green things under a roof) take a stroll through or have a picnic at Slottsskogen, Gothenburg’s largest park, and don’t miss the botanical gardens.
For bookworms, the Gothenburg Book Fair, held every year at the end of September, brings together Swedish and international literature lovers. For the kids, Liseberg Amusement Park, the largest fun park in Scandinavia, will titillate the whole family. Finally, for metalheads, Gothenburg has a surprisingly strong heavy metal scene and holds the Gothenburg Metal Festival every year.
Kungportsavenyn, known as “Avenyn,” is the main boulevard in Gothenburg. The one-kilometer long avenue extends from Kungsportsbron bridge to Götaplatsen square, where you’ll find Stadsteatern (the City Theatre), Konserthuset (the Concert Hall) and the Konstmuseum (the Art Museum), which is also home to the Hasselblad photography center.
Haga and Linnéstaden
Haga is the oldest part of Gothenburg, and was once a working class neighborhood. Today, after a few decades of gentrification, it’s one of the more desireable residential areas, with its sought after 19th century wooden houses. The main street is Haga Nygatan, which is packed with second-hand boutiques, cafes and cozy eateries. Check out Caféva at Haga Nygatan 5 if you’re in the mood for some good soup.
Haga is part of a larger area called Linnéstaden. Don’t miss Andra Långgatan, which has become a sort of mecca for various subcultures. It’s somewhere between Haight Asbury in San Fransico and London Soho. You’ll find plenty of retro, record shops and rebellion.