I slept through the 3-hour bus ride from Oslo and woke up to the sight of Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden’s second city and our second destination in our Euro trip.
Gothenburg from the get-go was captivating – the busy parks, the picturesque infrastructure, the trams making their way through the brick roads. Everything was what I expected when I was researching our itinerary.
We had 2 days and 2 nights to spend in Gothenburg. After we arrived early evening in our apartment, our first agenda was to find good food, something we rarely had in Norway, and experience Swedish night life.
We went to Avenyn street to find a good restaurant and we didn’t get disappointed. The food and beer were nice in the restaurant we dined in and it also had good service, something that was also difficult to find in Norway. We headed to Järntorget after dinner to look for a good pub or club. We ended up in a cozy hipster bar after trying out a few pubs.
Gothenburg didn’t have the wild nightlife we were looking for but walking home tipsy in the cold Swedish winter was close enough. Our apartment was cozy so it didn’t take me long to dose off.
A walking tour
We started our day early with a brisk walk to our first destination. It was particularly sunny that day in Sweden so I somehow enjoyed the mixed feeling of cold winds and warm sunshine.
Everything worth seeing in Gothenburg can be visited by walking. Every street has its walkways and drivers give priority to pedestrians. The distance between places didn’t seem far because of the picturesque and breathable streets lined with trees and beautiful infrastructure.
Our first destination was the Gothenburg Museum of Art or Kontsmuseet, which is home to the world’s finest collection of 19th century Nordic art. I’ve been a fan of art since I started traveling so I put this museum first on my list. Unfortunately, we went to the Kontsmuseet too early and it was still closed.
We did get good photos around Gotaplatsen square, Gothenburg’s cultural hub, so the short walk from the apartment was worth it. It’s hard to miss the Poseidon statue by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles at the center of Gotaplatsen. This statue has somewhat become a symbol of the city so it was a perfect start to our tour around Gothenburg.
We walked towards Haga, a charming neighborhood near the city center, for breakfast. It didn’t take us long before we found a lovely little Italian coffee shop which had delicious pastries and excellent coffee.
The streets of Haga are lined with shops and cafes, some of which are nested in well-preserved wooden houses that date as far back as the late 1900s. Its brick streets and comfy shops make walking in it a scenic experience.
As I climbed the last steps of the hill in Haga, I saw a big Swedish crown shining on top of Skansen Kronan. When I arrived on top of the hill, I felt infrastructure envy upon seeing the houses lined up on the surrounding streets below.
Skansen Kronan was a fortress built during the 17th century as a defense against possible Danish attacks. It was, however, never used and so were the cannons lined up on the small courtyard outside. Now, the fortress is only used for private events so there was no way we could get inside.
The view on top was amazing as it gives a 360-degree snapshot of Gothenburg infrastructure. This fortress is a shining reminder and silent witness to Gothenburg’s rich medieval history.
From the fortress, we saw our next destination, the Oscar Fredrik Church, another beautiful infrastructure in the center of Gothenburg. The church, completed in 1893, follows the Neo-Gothic style seen in other large cathedrals in central Europe. The interior of the church was also alluring with its colored glass murals, old paintings and pipe organ.
Nature and history
Slottskogen Park in central Gothenburg spans 137 hectares. We walked for 20 minutes to get to the park from the church.
The park itself was created towards the end of the 1900s. But since it was winter, we didn’t really find it as fun as the children frolicking in the playground did. The trees in the forrest were waiting for the first breathe of spring and the sun, by the time we went there, was in its hottest.
Thankfully, our next destination was nearby.
We saw the Gothenburg Natural History Museum on a hill nearby. We went inside and paid the fee to enter. Those under 25 years of age are free to enter so I saved up a few Swedish krones on the ticket.
I have never seen a bigger collection of stuffed animals than what I saw inside the museum. The museum had everything from dinosaur fossils to preserved rhinoceros and bisons. It also had the remains of a blue whale, which occupied an entire gallery.
We saw lines of children walking around the museum to see the zoological collections. Though this museum was intentionally created for children’s education, I thought, it’s a must-visit for travelers who haven’t seen the preserved wild animals in the wild.
Sights of Sweden
We were famished after walking around Gothenburg’s center but we had to walk a few kilometers more to find good food. Despite our hunger, we opted to walk because (1) transportation, like everything else, is expensive in Sweden, and (2) we didn’t have any idea on where to ride and where to drop off.
Almost an hour later, we found ourselves in Magasinsgatan, an inner city neighborhood which is also a shopping and restaurant area. The thing about Scandinavia is that there aren’t many restaurant options for local food. This is why we found ourselves in yet another Italian restaurant for lunch.
We were grumpy because of hunger so the eat-all-you-can vegetable salad in the restaurant was a good find. Maybe it was the exhaustion from all the walking or the hangover from the night before, but we decided to head to our last destination after lunch.
Nothing gives better sights of Sweden than a cruise around the city at sunset – and this is exactly what we did. We initially wanted a tour around Gothenburg’s smaller islands but found out that we didn’t have enough time. We asked a tourism officer and she gave us a better option.
We headed to Lilla Bommen, a part of the city’s harbor, and boarded a boat that goes around Gothenburg for public transportation. The boat dropped off passengers in 7 points on different sides of Gothia River, which traverses the city, and went back to Lilla Bommen.
I found the scenery of the city perfect as the sun slowly crept behind the Alvsborg Bridge. Gothenburg is a testament of how the new can mix well with the old – that building and developing new things doesn’t necessarily mean destroying the old, historic things.
This is the sight of Sweden I will always remember when I talk about Gothenburg and the sight that will always bring me back to that city.
We walked back to our apartment with swollen feet and heavy hearts full of memories. It was too short of a stay to experience Swedish life but a snapshot of Gothenburg is all I needed to make me want to go back to that alluring city.
More stories on my Euro trip here: