Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city, home to Scandinavia’s major port and located at the mouth of the Gota river on the Swedish west coast, with a population of about 500,000 in the urban area. Known for its mild, rather rainy climate, Gothenburg is a cultural city with plenty of annual events such as music festivals, the Gothenburg Book Fair, and the Gothenburg Film Festival, the largest film festival in the Nordic countries.
For first-time visitors with an interest in art, music, design, shopping, and nature, the following sights are loved among both tourists and locals.
Kungsportsavenyn, or commonly called Avenyn, is Gothenburg’s main boulevard with the highest density of pubs and clubs in the city. At about 1 km long, it stretches to the old moat at Kungsportsplatsen from Götaplatsen, the location of the Gothenburg Musuem of Art, Sweden’s oldest city theater, and the Concert House.
Built in 1935, the Concert House is the home stage of the Gothenburg Symphony, the National Orchestra of Sweden. In 2009, it featured in the critically acclaimed Swedish film Till det som är vackert (Pure) with actors Samuel Fröler and Alicia Vikander.
The Röhsska Museum
Located on Vasagatan, a side street to Avenyn, The Röhsska Museum has permanent and short-term exhibitions dedicated to fashion, design and decorative arts. The present exhibition Chinese arts and craft dates from 2000 BC to the 20th century. Also home to a shop, a lecture hall and a café.
The Gothenburg Museum of Art
With a focus on Nordic art from the turn of the 19th century, The Gothenburg Museum of Art houses collections from the 15th century to present including older French and Dutch art by world-class masters such as Picasso, Monet and van Gogh. Its temporary exhibition SURROUNDING BACON & WARHOL lasts until August 12, 2012. Neighboring Gothenburg’s Art Hall is dedicated to contemporary art with exhibitions, lectures, artist talks and program activities. The summer exhibition “SHE: THE QUESTION” by New York-based artist Chitra Ganesh features her drawings, photography, collage and videos.
For more art in central Gothenburg, visit Vasa Konsthall or the many galleries throughout the neighbourhoods Lorensberg and Vasastaden. For art outside the center of Gothenburg, Röda Sten is one of West Sweden’s leading exhibition centers for contemporary art and attracts visitors from near and far. Located in Klippan next to the harbor inlet by Alvsborgsbron bridge, the three-storey building has five exhibition halls, a bistro, a café and a nightclub.
The Museum of World Culture
Opened in 2004 and neighbour with Universeum Science Center and Liseberg amusement park near Korsvägen, The Museum of World Culture features a handful of permanent and temporary exhibitions with the aim “… to be an arena for discussion and reflection in which many and different voices will be heard, where the controversial and conflict-filled topics can be addressed, as well as a place where people can feel at home across borders.”
The Gothenburg Opera
Inaugurated in 1994, the Gothenburg Opera was designed by architect Jan Izikowitz and hosts opera, dance, musical and concert performances. About once a month, they arrange free, midday concerts in its foyer.
Next to the Opera House, at the Lilla Bommen, is the landmark Lipstick (nicknamed after its shape and red top) with an observation tower on the 22nd floor 86 meter above sea level. Open to the public on weekdays 11am-4pm.
Liseberg Amusement Park
Scandinavia’s largest amusement park attracts about 3 million visitors every year. Forbes Magazine named Liseberg one of the top ten amusement parks in the world and its wooden roller coaster Balder was voted the world’s best Best Wooden Tracked Roller Coaster. Apart from generous open times during the summer season, with thirty-five rides and attractions, Liseberg hosts an annual Christmas fair between mid November and late December.
The Gothenburg Botanical Garden
Founded in 1923, The Botanical Garden spans 175 hectares (about 430 acres), including a nature reserve, the Rhododendron Valley, the Rock Garden, the Japanese Glade, a viewing point, and several greenhouses, with around 16,000 plant species. The garden is open 365 days a year, from 9am until sunset. Between May and August, the greenhouses are open 10am-5pm.
Garden lovers will also enjoy the Garden Society of Gothenburg, which was founded in 1842 by the Swedish king Carl XIV Johan and is one of the best preserved 19th century parks in Sweden. Its much-admired rose garden has around 2,000 roses of 1,400 species, there’s also a palm house, green houses, a garden restaurant and Rosencaféet. The park is bordered by the canal and Nya allén with entrances near Avenyn and Gothenburg Central Station. Open 7am-8pm all days (the palm house opens 10am).
Created in 1874, Slottsskogen covers 137 hectares of parks, winding roads, paths, lakes, playground for games and sport activities, a rich animal life in its free “open” zoo, and restaurant Villa Belparc. It is a loved space to hang out among all age groups. Also home to the yearly Way Out West music festival in August.
For a park with a view, Keillers Park by Ramberget on Hisingen, 87 meter above sea level, has a combination of park and natural forest. Visitors can drive all the way to the top.
The city’s old quarter and former working-class district of Haga is now a bohemian part of town known for its cobbled streets, well preserved wooden houses, cozy cafés, and specialty shops (including second hand, antiques, crafts, interior, olive oil, chocolate and tea). For view over Haga and Gothenburg, walk the stairs up the hill to the fortress Skansen Kronan, introduced in 1698. A military museum until 2004, the fortress is today a private facility but open to the public for home-baked waffles on Fridays.
Paddan Boat Tour
A Paddan boat tour is a famous way to see Gothenburg from another perspective.
Where to Stay
Best Western Hotel Göteborg
Best Western has three locations outside the city center and two centrally located hotels, Best Western Hôtel Eggers at Drottningtorget next to Gothenburg Central Station and Best Western Hotel Göteborg situated on a high floor in a building along Skeppsbroplatsen. I chose the latter because of its location along the quay by Gota River, as I thought it would offer good views of the harbor and beautiful walks along the water.
While I loved the interior in my Standard room and the location within five minutes of the Opera and Casino Cosmopol, I didn’t feel fond of the hotel itself. It is situated on level four to six in an unassuming building, lacked enough personality and had too much of a corporate feel to please me as a non-business traveler. When I later learned that the hotel mainly hosts business guests during weekdays and tourists on weekends and in summer, I realized I need to improve my hotel choices.
Of the 72 mostly newly built rooms ranging from Moderate, Standard and Family to Superior, Deluxe and Suite, 67 have been entirely refurbished for design, function and comfort. All rooms have comfortable beds, retractable desks, LCD-screens, free wireless Internet access and are non-smoking.
I liked the colourful, spacious breakfast room, and the breakfast buffet satisfied too, despite the lack of non-white, healthier bread.
First Hotel Avalon
Unlike Best Western Hotel Göteborg, my second hotel choice First Hotel Avalon has managed to stay clear of the general chain hotel feel with a remarkably developed idea and attention to detail. In Avalon, the hotel is the overall experience of a stay, much thanks to a dynamic restaurant, bar and lounge scene, cultural experiences together with their partners, and carefully selected art throughout the property. Notable works include Jan Håfström’s Mr Walker in the elegant dining room, where also breakfast is served, and Dan Wolgers Honey above the buffet in the restaurant.
Here, the wow-factor is ever-present. I look for flaws but don’t find any anywhere, which is a first. I admire the hotel’s well thought-out Feng-Shui-influenced interior design, the tranquil yet dynamic atmosphere (a tough combination to achieve) and the warm welcome. I love how Avalon is part of First Hotels while maintaining its own original concept. No surprise Design Hotels included Avalon in their portfolio of unique design hotels.
Of the 101 top-modern rooms (Moderate, Business, Superior, Deluxe, Suite or Penthouse Suite), 24 have their own mini-spa, six come with bubble bathtub and three rooms have gym. My 30 sqm Deluxe Terrace room on the sixth floor was impeccable with its adjoining 15 sqm terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Kungsportsplatsen square and central Gothenburg, high-quality DUX bed, flatscreen TV with DVD and Wi-Fi, Bang&Olufsen portable music center, and large bathroom with high-pressure shower and bathtub (bonus for the Dr. Hauschka Lemon Bath), plus bathrobe and slippers. Not to mention the interior with hand-selected design pieces, such as the spectacular lamp in form of a horse on the balcony by Swedish design firm FRONT, Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s two red Swan chairs and Gunilla Lagerhem Ullberg’s carpet Tekla.
For breakfast, lunch and dinner, Avalon’s dining room on the ground floor offers an elegant environment to savor well-prepared food. Avalon’s bar and wine bar also impresses with their exclusive selection of wines.
Stay at Avalon in summer for access to the rooftop terrace with a transparent-bottom pool, free for all guests to use throughout day time during the warm season.
Another appreciated aspect is Avalon’s safety measures. Thanks to electronic key cards to the elevators and rooms along with no accessible stairs, only hotel guests can reach further than the lobby.
Above all, Avalon is a destination in itself for memorable and meaningful hotel stays.