Traveling to Gothenburg

Your average person is likely to associate Gothenburg with Volvo, and maybe Hasselblad if they're into photography. In these days when it seems that every Tom, Dick and Harriet is on a budget flight to Barcelona or Prague, it is easy to overlook other, less "obvious" European breaks. But for a weekend break (preferably in summer!), it is as good a place as anywhere in Europe to go for a bit of café society, some excellent seafood and maybe the odd museum or two should the weather not cooperate. Gothenburg is not a traditional tourist destination, but there is certainly enough to keep you occupied for a few days at least. Although it has an excellent tram network, one of the benefits of Gothenburg is that it is a walkable city, and apart from some outlying areas it is reasonably flat. This is a "manageable" city, in which you do not have to rush around. Calm is the order of the day.

What To See and Do

  • The Avenyn. This is basically Gothenburg's "high-street". Although it isn't quite the Champs Elysee, it makes for a very pleasant walk and you will find many restaurants and bars, along with shops. At the top of the street is an impressive statue of Poseidon, and behind that the Fine Art Museum – using the Paris analogy again, this isn't quite the Louvre, but smaller museums are often more enjoyable because you feel you can do them more justice.
  • To the east of the Avenyn (near Korsvagen) is the Liseberg Amusement Park which should keep the young ones (and the young at heart) happy for a few hours. Here you will also find the Universeum, which is highly recommended. This is a science center with a strong emphasis on the environment, including its very own miniature rain forest.
  • Going north from the Avenyn, you cross over the canal which marks the entrance into the town centre proper. This is mostly the shopping district but it also has some eating and drinking places, and has a good tourist information center where you can buy that viking doll you always knew you wanted.
  • If you carry on far enough, you eventually hit the harbor. Like many other ports, Gothenburg is taking steps to gentrify its harbor. The main highlight here is the maritime museum, which has a very large and varied array of ships which you can explore. The collection includes a submarine, which those with claustrophobia may elect to miss out. Overall, the museum is a worthwhile part of a trip to Gothenburg.

Tips and Advice

For a two-city break, Copenhagen is a natural partner to Gothenburg. The two are connected together by a train service that takes you past some wonderful coastal scenery in western Sweden and over the truly impressive Oresund Bridge. Gothenburg is also a good base from which to explore the coast of western Sweden. There is an excellent bus service between the airport and various points in the city. Make sure to pick up the free city map available on the bus. Alcohol is not cheap in Sweden – drinkers beware!

In Short

Don't expect the romance of Rome, the art of Paris or the trendy buzz of London. But for something a little different, the rather laid back and understated Gothenburg is definitely worth investigating for a couple of days.

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