One of the best ways to see Gothenburg is from the window of a tram. The trams run all over town and move slowly enough for you to get a proper look at the city. However, Gothenburg is a fairly small city, so the distances involved are perfectly manageable on foot.
Historic tour of Gothenburg
This walking tour takes you to some of the historic buildings in central Gothenburg. We begin at Centralen, next to Drottningtorget. Most buses and trams stop by Drottningtorget. Centralen is Sweden's oldest train station with indoor platforms. The station was opened in the 19th century. Today, buses and trains depart for just about every corner of Sweden from Centralen. The station also has kiosks, cafés, restaurants, a record store and a bookstore.
Our walk takes us towards Brunnsparken and Gustav Adolfs torg along Södra Hamngatan. You will pass a hamburger restaurant and a large shopping centre. Brunnsparken is a local transportation hub for trams and most buses. We have now reached Gustav Adolfs Torg. The square is the administrative and political centre of Gothenburg. You will find both the old and new City Hall, the Town Hall, and the Exchange situated around the square. A statue of king Gustav Adolf II, founder of Gothenburg, stands in the middle of the square. Until the 1850's, the square functioned as a large market place. In those days, the square named Stora Torget (The Main Square). The market was re-located under great public protest to Kungstorget (The King's Square) behind Kungportsplatsen. A fish market opened just below Gustav Adolfs Torg, but it was moved to Rosenlundskanalen in the same decade.
Walk across the square towards City Hall, and turn right on Torggatan. Walk until you reach Kronhusgatan. Engelska nationens stenhus (The English Nation's stone house) was located at Kronhusgatan 11, now an office complex. During the 1700's and 1800's, British tradesmen such as Carnegie, Barclay and Hall established themselves in Gothenburg. The two largest business in Gothenburg at this time were those of John and Benjamin Hall and George Carnegie.
Continue on to Kronhusgatan 1, where you will find Kronhuset and Kronhusbodarna. Kronhuset is Gothenburg's oldest preserved building. It was built over a ten year period and was completed in 1653. Even during its construction, this big storage facility for the Crown came to be known as Kronhuset. Parliament held their sessions on the ground floor of the building in 1660. Since 1929, Kronhuset has been in the ownership of the municipality of Gothenburg. Kronhusbodarna (the Kronhus sheds) are from the 18th century, and today they consist of an old-fashioned country store and a café. Why not enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a pastry before we continue our walk?
Leave through the exit at Postgatan and walk down the street until you come to Smedjegatan, and walk down Smedjegatan to Norra Hamngatan. Walk down Norra Hamngatan towards Packhuskajen, and cross the bridge Stora Bommens bro. Go to Södra Hamngatan 1 to see The Residence. It was constructed during the period of 1648-1650, commissioned by Field Marshal Lennart Torstensson. He was also the General Governor of the counties of Västergötland, Dal, Värmland and Halland until 1654. The crown purchased the building in 1657. The Swedish king Karl Gustav X died here on February 13, 1660, during the parliamentary session. Today, The Residence functions as office space and reception rooms for the County Governor of Västergötland. There is a plaque on the building commemorating the death of Karl Gustav X.
Next, walk to Lilla torget (The Small Square), the last stop on the historic tour. Lilla Torget is an old market place. Wooden furniture was sold here in the mid-19th century, so the colloquial name for the square was "Trätorget" (The Wood Market). Lilla Torget is located southwest of the harbour canal, and many customers used the waterway to reach the market in those days. There is a statue at Lilla Torget of Johan Alströmer (1685-1761), the man who introduced the potato to Sweden in 1724. Today, the square is used as a bus stop. It is only a few minutes' walk from Brunnsparken.
Tour of Annedal
This short walk will take you from Linnéplatsen via Annedal Carlsson's & Starck's corset factory on Kastellgatan 1, just above Skanstorget. We begin the tour at Linnéplatsen, which you can reach by bus number 51 or tram lines 1 and 2. We walk to Övre Husargatan, passing a video store and Gray's American Food Store. Why not buy an American soft drink to refresh yourself with during the walk? Head towards the traffic lights, and cross to Seminarieträdgården on the other side of the street. Here, you will find a herbal garden and an exhibit of modern art.
Walk along Seminariegatan, turn left at Västergatan, which passes by a tram lane and through a residential area. Follow Västergatan until you reach a footbridge and the Saron church. Turn right and walk past a food store and a retirement home. You should now find yourself on Carl Grimbergsgatan. Annedal was built in the 1870's by Arbetarbostadsaktiebolaget (The Workers' Residence Shareholding Society), financed by a donation from Oscar Ekman. The two-storey houses located on Carl Grimbergsgatan were seen as ideal prototype residences for Gothenburg's working-class. Compared to Haga and Landala, districts which had a rather bad reputation, Annedal was quite posh and the elite of Gothenburg's working-class lived here. Arbetarnas Byggnadsförening (The Workers' Building Association) constructed 24 co-operatives on Carl Grimbergsgatan during the period of 1876-1881. There are a few red brick buildings left to this day which date back to that era.
Go the intersection of Carl Grimbergsgatan and Brunnsgatan. Walk down Brunnsgatan until you get to Övre Husargatan at the corner of Risåsgatan. You should have passed by an antique store and an ATM. Cross at the traffic lights and go towards a small supermarket. There, you will see a red brick building which was part of Asklunds bageri (bakery). The industrial bakery era peaked during the 1870's in Gothenburg. The population increased and the demand for bread with it. Asklunds bageri was originally located on Albogatan in Annedal, but moved to larger facilities on Övre Husargatan in 1901. They had more than 150 people on staff in 1914.
Walk up Risåsgatan and turn left at Kastellgatan. Carlsson's & Starck's corset factory, now shut down, had its facilities here from the 1920's. Prior to World War II, it was common practice for industries to be located in residential areas. The old corset factory is a beautiful old industrial building and is worth seeing. This is the last stop on this walk. Go back to Brunnsgatan, and take tram line 2 back into town.
The water tour
This tour starts at Lilla Bommen and ends at the bridge Älvsborgsbron. Take tram line 5 or bus number 40,41 or 85 to Lilla Bommen. Lilla Bommen used to be an inlet for many of the canals in Gothenburg. Both large and small freighters arrived here. The larger ships couldn't reach Lilla Bommen, because the canal was too shallow. Therefore, the cargo was reloaded onto smaller ships, 'hemförarbåtar'. The area was closed at night and a boom extended across the canal to prevent unauthorized visits. Hence the name, Lilla Bommen (The Small Boom). Today, it is a guest harbour and a docking point for sightseeing boats. The old sailing ship Barken Viking and Götheborgs Utkiken in the Skanska skyscraper are also located here.
We begin the tour by visiting GötheborgsUtkiken in the Skanska skyscraper, 86 metres above sea level. At the very top of the building, one has a nice view of the town and its harbour, along with the two bridges that link the island Hisingen with the mainland, Göta Älvbron and Älvsborgsbron. When we have had our fill of the view, we walk down to the harbour and the sightseeing boats. We take the ferry Älv-snabben to the cultural heritage centre Klippan, by way of Eriksberg.
Eriksberg is an old shipyard which has been converted into a modern neighbourhood. The former machinery buildings have been restored and converted into a hotel with conference facilities, Blå Hallen and Eriksbergshallen. Eriksberg's orange gantry crane stands 84 metres above sea level, and you have a great view of the harbour. For the more daring, bungy jumps from the crane are a popular attraction.
We walk back to the ferry-stop at Eriksberg and take Älv-Snabben to the cultural heritage centre Klippan, which is situated just below the bridge Älvsborgsbron. In the 16th century, the community at Klippan was a precursor of the subsequent city of Gothenburg. The cultural heritage centre sports a café, a hotel and a restaurant. Älv-Snabben puts into port just next to the café Konstkaféet, where you can enjoy a sandwich and a cup of coffe before embarking on the final stage of the tour.
Next, walk up to Älvsborgsbron, which offers a grand view of Gothenburg and the harbour entrance, the fortress Älvsborgs nya fästning and the island of Vinga. Walk back to Klippan and take Älv-Snabben back to Lilla Bommen, where the tour began. You pass Göteborgs Maritima Centrum, a floating maritime and naval museum featuring the submarine Nordkaparen. On the city side, you pass Stena Line's Denmark terminal, the Maritime Museum with its outlook tower Sjömanstornet, and the Gothenburg Opera House.
From Vasastan to Järntorget
This tour takes you from Vasastaden to Järntorget, by way of Vasagatan and Haga. During the late 1800's, the bourgeois residential area of Vasastaden was constructed. The tall, beautiful stone buildings are renowned for their achitectural merits. The tour begins at Valand, at the beginning of Vasagatan. We walk down the pedestrian lane in the middle of the street. We pass The University of Gothenburg's magnificent main building, just above Vasaplatsen. The walk continues along Vasagatan, to the traffic lights at the intersection of Sprängkullsgatan and Vasagatan and continue on to Haga Nygata.
Haga is the oldest suburb in Gothenburg, dating back to 1640's. Until the 1980's, Haga was a run-down area, but it has since been renovated. The older houses are now offset by new buildings constructed in an older architectural style. If you are interested in antiques and arts and crafts, you should definitely visit Haga. On and around the main street, Haga Nygata, you will find several antique dealers, antiquarian bookstores and arts and crafts shops. Plus many other shops as well, of course, catering to all ages and interests.
Walk along Haga Nygata, turn left at Landsvägsgatan and go to Järntorget (The Iron Square). Iron used to be an important export product, and it was weighed at Järntorget (The Iron Square), hence the name. The middle of the square boasts a statue depicting five female figures symbolising the five continents. There are a few restaurants, shops, a community theatre (Folkteatern) and a community centre (Folkets Hus) located around the square. Why not enjoy a cup of coffee here at Järntorget, as a nice break?
From Järntorget, we walk down the 1 kilometer long Linnégatan to Linnéplatsen. It is packed with boutiques, cafés, pubs and restaurants. It is perfect for a pubcrawl, or just try the nice cafés along the street. Or enjoy a nice meal at Karlson's Garage & Bar, situated near Linnéplatsen, to mark the completion of this tour, which ends at Linnéplatsen.
Gothenburg is a seaport. This was more obvious when the wharves were still operating, but the city still has the largest port in Sweden, receiving ships from near and far, and there are regular ferries going out to the archipelago. As a seaport located on the west coast, Gothenburg loves fish and seafood, something that is reflected in the number of seafood restaurants you will find here.
But Sweden's second largest city also has a lot of other food to offer –you will find food and drinks from almost the entire world, if you only look closely enough. If there is one obvious starting point in Gothenburg, it is Götaplatsen at Avenyn–"the most Swedish of all Swedish places" as someone is reputed to have remarked–where The City Theatre, The Art Museum and The Concert Hall flank the statue of the god of the sea, Poseidon. But looking at Gothenburg from a culinary point of view, there are some places worth mentioning before we get to Avenyn…
If you start at Korsvägen, opposite Svenska Mässan, you will find a small Italian gem (with no pizzas!) called av La Cucina Italiana, and if you turn the corner to Södra Vägen you will find the exclusive restaurant Linnéa. Further down on the same street, where Berzeliigatan crosses Korsvägen, is the mysterious Restaurang ?, where Swedish fare is mixed with international food (Bosnian for example) and where you can watch the chefs in action. Yet a bit further down is another pasta restaurant, Pasta +. There are also a lot of cafés selling those apparently universally popular lunch baguettes.
If you return to Götaplatsen, with its view of the entire length of Avenyn, you will find an exclusive restaurant called Fond located next to The Art Museum. It has a big, rounded glass front facing towards Götaplatsen. Unless you want to miss one of the gems along this route, you have to make a detour to Arkivgatan, a short way down to the left after passing Restaurant/Brasserie Julien, to acquaint yourself with med Steak, the exclusive restaurant belonging to one of Sweden's top chefs, Leif Mannerström. The fare to pick here is one of the excellent meat dishes. A bit further away, at Götabergsgatan, you will find another gem, 28+. Just as the name implies they specialize in cheese, but that is not all they have on offer. Good food does not come cheap here, but you will definitely leave 28+ satisfied. If you return to Avenyn, you will come upon Babar, a cosy place with rustic exteriors and large windows on the second level, from which you have good view of Avenyn. Evas Paley, a bit of a classic in Gothenburg, is located in the same building.
If you cross Avenyn, you may enjoy a bit of atmosphere from 'Down Under' at Dancin' Dingo on Kristinelundsgatan. From here, you can continue to Restaurang Räkan on Lorensbergsgatan, where you get your prawns delivered by remote-controlled fishing boat. They serve the prawn and crayfish stews that are so typical for the West Coast. Continue down the street and you end up at Harrys, a place for good (and occasionally inexpensive) food and entertainment by stand-up comedians. On the opposite side of the street, you will find Kometen, a hang-out for artists. Return to Avenyn once again and you will come upon Avenyn 10 (formerly Harley's) and further down is the venerable, French-inspired Brasserie Lipp with its large glass front and a nice outdoor section out front. They're also neighbours with the nightclub Bubbles. Not far from there, you will find English joviality and football (and some other sports) on the TV screens at The Rose and Crown. Across the street is Nivå, which is also very popular, both when it comes to eating and drinking and to nightlife.
If you want to make an evening of it, you may want to go to Nya Allén and Trädgår'n. They offer lots of great food and a very popular nightclub in a large modern building located next to the enclosed park Trädgårdsföreningen. If you continue towards Kungsportsplatsen, you have to cross the bridge to find a place to eat. The first place you come to is Restaurant Berså, with a trendy atmosphere catering to the in-crowd. Around the corner, you will find some traditional restaurants offering choice fare, including some which specialise in seafood. If you turn yet another corner, you will find yourself at the pasta restaurant Pasta Fresca Aldardo, where you can eat your pasta standing at the counter, or take advantage of their take-out service. If you look out the window, you will see Saluhallen, an indoor market with not only a plethora of meat, vegetables, bread, fruit and spices, but also a number of restaurants which provide a good and fairly inexpensive alternative for lunch. Next to Saluhallen, there is a restaurant called Esther, a place where designers, PR-people and other city folk meet and mingle. If you cross the street, you arrive at Kungsportsplatsen, with its meeting place by the statue Kopparmärra and, a bit further down, you will see Gamle Port, a restaurant, pub and nightclub that has been around for ages and renews its popularity at regular intervals. They offer a good, solid lunch menu, and a bit more sophisticated fare for dinner. This whole neighborhood boasts many restaurants and a good variety of fare–Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, Chinese, Thai, etc.
On Södra Hamngatan there's another great place for sports fans. O'Learys has adopted the "standard American" concept. Dubliners, across the street, has a similar concept but the atmosphere here is more Irish/British than American. If you continue down Hamngatan you will eventually arrive at Brunnsparken, where you find the bar Palace, a real classic. Further down towards the harbour, there are a number of small places, like Bommen and the exotic Restaurang Simba, serving African and Caribbean cuisine. The opera house lies across the street, and they have a good restaurant as well.
If you are at the intersection of Avenyn and Vasagatan and walk up Vasagatan (which some people call "Campus Street" because of all the thousands of students that rush through Vasastaden every day searching for books, lectures or food) there are many places to discover. Cafés dominate the scene in this area, but there are quite a few restaurants as well. Most of these are situated on side streets like Victoriagatan, where you find, among other places, Klara, something of a classic on the Gothenburg pub scene, and Vasastaden, which has a good menu with a wide variety of dishes. There are a few places at Vasaplatsen, among them Smaka, which serves typical Swedish staple fare. Near Vasaplatsen, on Vasagatan, is Oji, which serves a mixture of "Scandinavian spartan functionalistic" and "Asian ascetic" food. Sushi is the main feature on the menu, but there are many interesting courses, both for lunch and for dinner. This is also a good place for watching "Campus Street", having large windows facing the street. Further down Vasagatan, near Handelshögskolan, you find Bazar, a place that has expanded from being a café to being a full-scale restaurant serving Turkish specialties. And, as mentioned earlier, there are many more places to discover on the side streets.
This district has a very distinct character, being full of small shops, cafés and having very little traffic–this makes it an oasis in the city. Haga is situated between Avenyn and Vasastaden on one side, and Järntorget and Linnéstaden on the other. This is a section of the city which has many nice, small places, like cosy Sjöbaren at Haga Nygata with its wonderfully atmospheric back yard area, and further down the same street you will find Hemma hos. You are now at the very heart of the Haga district, so take some time to absorb and enjoy the special atmosphere of Gothenburg's own Greenwich Village. At the back of the same block lies the vegetarian restaurant Solrosen, which is a favourite among students with their standard vegetarian menu. Their lasagna is very popular.
To the east, Haga ends at Järntorget and Linnégatan. Close to Järntorget, there are many so-called exotic restaurants, many of them Asian. This could be called Gothenburg's Soho, with a full range of prices and standards. The top of that range is represented by the expensive and critically acclaimed Le Village, for instance, where you can buy not only a meal but also furniture. Plantagegatan is home to the perfect place for both fish 'n' chips fans and whiskey connoisseurs—the well-known British restaurant Old Beefeater Inn. Further up, on Linnégatan, you will find Restaurang + housed in a classical yellow building from the turn of the last century with a great view of the street. If you follow Prinsgatan from here, you will come to Gothenburg's most famous pizzeria, the French (!) Bistro Cyrano. You may have to wait for a while at the bar before you get a table, but it is worth it when your meal arrives.
Along Linnégatan–which may be called Gothenburg's second city parade, and perhaps a bit more mature and cultivated than Avenyn–there is a multitude of restaurants. There is an almost infinite selection, and you are sure to find a favourite of your own. Knossos is a popular Greek restaurant with an outdoor section in the summer. Further up are Istället, well-known to most locals, and Bitter. The side streets also have their share of large and small, good and not so good, restaurants and small eateries. Hos Pelle at Djupedalsgatan has received awards both for the management's commitment to environmental preservation and for the exclusive menu (lots of fish and seafood). 12-52 at the corner of Majorsgatan/Linnégatan plays in the highest division when it comes to restaurants in Gothenburg, and Karlsons Garage is a rustic meeting point that has specialised in simple but hearty fare. Another small gem is the Greek Den Lilla Tavernan, located on Olivedalsgatan, up towards Slottsskogen. It is extremely popular, in spite of crowds and long waits for a table, and you will quickly understand why once you have tried it.
These are but highlights of the restaurant scene in Gothenburg, so there are still many major restaurants and bars which have not been mentioned in more detail. To truly do culinary Gothenburg justice, you would also need to visit Bryggeriet at Avenyn, Venue, Excet, Etc, all the restaurants in the area around Kungsgatan and up towards Kungshöjd, or those further away from the city centre—nice places with a lot of character and local colour. And we mustn't forget about Sjömagasinet with its star in Guide Rouge, or Fiskekrogen at Lilla Torget with its delicacies from the sea. They are all worth exploring. Try them all, at least once, if you are visiting this lovely maritime city by Kattegatt and Nordsjön.
If you travel to Gothenburg by plane, you arrive at Landvetter airport, which is the obvious location for the Landvetter Airport Hotel. But you will probably prefer to lodge in the actual city. The easiest way to reach the city is by cab, and the cheapest way is by the airport bus. The bus will take you first to the area around Korsvägen and Svenska Mässan, which hosts fairs and exhibitions all year round. This area is also home to the amusement park Liseberg, and it will soon boast The World Culture Museum and a Science Centre as well. There are several hotels to choose from in the area: the expensive and striking Gothia Towers, the less expensive Quality Panorama Hotel and the budget alternatives Nice Bed & Breakfast and Göteborgs Vandrarhem.
The bus will then take you to Avenyn, which is one of Gothenburg's main streets and a must for all visitors. Along Avenyn, you will find The Art Museum, The Concert Hall, The City Theatre and a large number of bars and clubs. The airport bus stops right outside of Radisson SAS Park Avenue Hotel, which is large and expensive, and probably the hotel in Gothenburg where you will stand the biggest chance of spotting celebrities. The building next to it is Scandic Hotel Rubinen. A few streets down from Avenyn, you will find Hotel Liseberg Heden, with somewhat lower prices and more peaceful surroundings. There are also two budget hotels in the area: Avenyn Turist and City Hotel.
The bus trip continues down Avenyn, crosses the old city moat, and then the bus comes to a stop at Kungsportsplatsen. This is the liveliest shopping area in Gothenburg, and you can find a large number of small and medium-sized shops along Kungsgatan and Fredsgatan. There are also many hotels here. They may sometimes look a bit anonymous from the outside, but the genuine city environment can't be beat. Hotel Vanilj is a personable hotel which is actually better known for its café, Kafé Vanilj. Other hotels in this area include Hotel Flora and the oldest hotel in Gothenburg, Hotel Royal. Elite Plaza Hotel is a new, luxurious hotel located opposite the dome.
The final destination of the Airport bus is Nils Ericssonsterminalen, which has been added onto the Central Station. So, this is where you find yourself when you arrive by train. Drottningtorget, on the other side of the station, is a tram junction and many buses leave from here as well. Next to the square is Nordstans shopping centre with a lot of shops, but it might not be the nicest area for a walk. Instead, Fredsgatan and Kungsgatan to the south may be better options. Two of the classiest, and most expensive, hotels of Gothenburg are situated opposite eachother at the square in front of the station: Hotel Eggers and Radisson SAS Scandinavia Hotel. But no one will know that second name, ask for old Sheraton instead. Hotel Robinson is less expensive and situated a few hundred metres towards the centre, and so is Hotel Opera. If you go down to the river, you will come upon Barken Viking, an old boat which houses a hotel and conference facilities.
If you arrive by ferry you will find yourself in Majorna, to the west. This part of town feels very genuine and attractive with its old wooden buildings and green courtyards. The easiest way to get into the city centre from here if you do not have a car is by tram, but the bus is always a possibility as well. If you walk, it will take you about half an hour. There are not as many hotels here as in the city centre, but a good alternative is Novotel, just by the river, which has a good view of the arriving and departing ships. On the way into town, you will find two hostels: STF Stigbergsliden, och Slottsskogens Vandrarhem.
The trams towards the city will take you through Vasastaden, a part of the city that mainly consists of old houses from the beginning of the last century. This area has a lot of good cafés and bars, and it may be the best area if you are looking for a good bar rather than a disco. There are also many small shops around, and a lot of students. Plus a number of hotels, like exempel Hotel Vasa, the small and friendly familjära Hotel Lilton, and Hotel Excelsior.
But there are places to stay outside of the town as well, and you can frequently find inexpensive, personable and more interesting places if you just leave the city centre. On the charming island of Brännö stands ligger Pensionat Bagge, which hosts a ballad festival in the summer. On Marstrand, an island up north, you will find Hotel Nautic. In the beautiful wooded areas east of the city there is a campground called Delsjöns Camping, and south of the city you can stay at the budget hotel Formule 1.