Having long been defined by its industrial and maritime history, Göteborg has since reinvented itself. The old ports and warehouses have been replaced by cafes, bars, and one of the liveliest cultural scenes in the region.
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Göteborg (also known by its anglicised name Gothenburg) lies at the mouth of the Göta River on Sweden’s west coast, half way between Copenhagen and Oslo.
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The quick pitch
Göteborg was once dubbed “Lilla London” due to the influx of British traders but a more accurate comparison would be Liverpool or Glasgow: a traditional port city with rich industrial heritage that has since reinvented itself as a cultural focal point. Like Liverpudlians or Glaswegians, Göteborgs are renowned for their thick distinctive dialects, dry humour and working class egalitarian values. The locals pride themselves on being friendlier than their aloof Stockholm counterparts, and foreign visitors will only attract attention for the right reasons.
Göteborg is the home of Swedish corporate giants Volvo, Ericsson and SKF, and is still the biggest port in Scandinavia. Long after many of its factories and docks have closed down, the city is still shaped and defined by its industrial heritage.
International trade funded the city’s architecturally rich centre while generations of merchants and migrants have given the city a cosmopolitan outlook. From its earliest days the city has boasted large Dutch, German and British communities, hence it is one of the few Swedish places with an anglicised name. Dutch engineers built the canals and fortresses while Scottish industrialists have left names like Chalmers University and Keillor Park.
The city’s showpiece strip Kungsportavenyn, more commonly known as Avenyn (The Avenue), is one of the grandest in Sweden and often draws comparison with Champs Elysees. Haga, the city’s oldest suburb once populated by dockworkers, now has its cobblestone streets populated by cafes and boutique shops. At the old port of Klippan you can now enjoy local seafood at the Michelin-starred Sjömagasinet, or a pint of Carnegie Porter from one of Sweden’s oldest breweries.
The city’s museums are many and varied. Highlights include Maritiman, the biggest floating ship museum in the world, and Sjöfartsmuseet, both of which document Göteborg’s nautical past. Röhsska Museet is a must for any fan of Swedish design, while Varldskulturmuseet is a modern innovative museum dedicated to contemporary global issues.
Göteborg’s geographical position, almost directly between the three Scandinavian capitals of Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm, has made it ideal for big events. The Göteborg Film Festival and Göteborg Book Fair are largest of their kind in Scandinavia, while the Gothia Cup remains the largest youth football tournament in the world.
But Göteborg’s attractions aren’t confined to the urban and some brilliant day trips beckon. The massive Slottskoggen Park offers secluded forests and even the chance to see some Elk (that’s moose to North Americans), all within walking distance of the city. Take one of Göteborg’s iconic blue-and-white trams to Saltholmen and you’re only a short ferry trip away from numerous car-free islands in the southern archipelago. Alternatively take a boat trip north to Marstrand, an old resort town once frequented by the royal family. Or travel further north and explore the many islands and picturesque fishing villages of the Bohuslän coast.
Slottsskogens Youth Hostel
– well-equipped hostel conveniently located near Slottsskogen and lively Linneagatan.
Tel: +46 31 42 6520
– Small, central hotel with attached café and individually decorated rooms.
Tel: +46 31 711 6220
– Göteborg’s oldest hotel, having opened in 1852. Beautifully restored old building but still offering modern standards.
Tel: + 46 31 700 1170
– Stylish five star hotel housed in a classical 19th century building in central location.
Tel +46 31 720 4000
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This article was produced by The Local in cooperation with SJ