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Sweden is the largest and most populated of the Scandinavian countries, being larger than Germany and almost as big as Spain. The Swedish Empire controlled much of Scandinavia during the 17th century, and Sweden only granted Norway its independence in 1905. Gothenburg is Sweden's second city, an important economic and industrial centre, with a large port and the headquarters of Volvo motor cars.

We spent two nights in Gothenburg as part of our summer Scandinavian tour in 2013, starting and finishing in Copenhagen. The two cities are directly connected by train in under four hours, across the Öresund Bridge which first linked Sweden and Denmark by road and rail in 2000. This was my first visit to Sweden but I shall certainly be back!

Gothenburg and canals

The view from our hotel room of a sunny afternoon in Gothenburg, looking along the canal that encircles the city centre.

Our hotel, the Grand Hotel Opera, was somewhat more spacious and also much better value than the cupboard we had been staying in in Copenhagen. I'd heard that Denmark was expensive, but was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable prices in Sweden.

Grand Hotel Opera, Gothenburg

Gothenburg Angered tram

Gothenburg has a tram network that is the envy of Europe, the most extensive in Scandinavia stretching over one hundred kilometres about the city. It should be the envy of Edinburgh, but no reason to be Angered about that, surely?

Many European cities now have a public access bike rental scheme, such as London's so-called "Boris Bikes", and here the Styr & Ställ, or perhaps "Bjorn Bikes"? Great for getting lazy tourists active.

Bjorn bikes

Gothenburg market

The Market Hall has come a long way since its heydey of bartering and butchery, and is as clean and gentrified as could be. Plenty of nice little snackettes available to try.

Nearby is Feskekorka, the Fish Church, specialising in all things piscine. Despite its appearance, it never was a church and was purpose built as the House of Fish.

Feskekorka, fish church

Haga Nygata

The most picturesque part of old Gothenburg is Haga, with its wooden houses and bijou shops. This is looking down Nygata, through the centre of Haga.

Standing over Haga is the fortified round tower Skansen Kronan, built in the late 1600s outside the city walls. For a small fee you can step through the enormously thick walls and climb up inside to the rooms still bristling with cannons. It can also be rented for functions.

Skansen Kronan


A view of Gothenburg from the Skansen Kronan, with Oscar Fredrik's Church and Masthugget Church in the far distance.

Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg's finest and the hallowed ground upon which Aberdeen's finest did battle with Real Madrid, to emerge victorious with the 1983 Cupwinners' Cup.


Red roofs of Gothenburg

A view from Skansen Crown across the red, red rooftops of Gothenburg.

Being a place so closely associated with the sea, it was no surprise to find an excellent aquarium in Gothenburg. Its aged exterior belies the quality of fishy displays within.

Gothenburg Aquarium

Stuffed whale in Gothenburg Natural History Museum

Keeping to the theme of fish, the Natural History Museum of Gothenburg sports the world's only stuffed blue whale, set up with an unnaturally hinged mouth and access for top-hatted fellows to dine in style inside. Whale-stuffing, whilst frowned upon these days, was quite the mark of the eclectic collector in the late 1800s.

Fancy apartment buildings on Vasaplatsen, near Gothenburg University.

Gothenburg fancy apartments


This dramatic statue caught my eye as we wandered back to the hotel, it is of two knife-wielding fighters bound together by a belt, and is called Bältespännarna. I think the fountain behind adds to its raw feeling.

Wandering the shops on Korsgaten, on the island that makes up the old centre of the city.

Shopping in Gothenburg

Traditional Swedish clothing

Of course, in Sweden they all dress like this. Just like we all wear kilts in Scotland. Window shopping on Kyrkogatan.

Down by the harbour, Gothenburg's Opera House stands in pride of place. It is also used for musical productions and ballet.

Gothenburg Opera House

Barken Viking

Barken Viking was the largest sailing ship to be built in Scandinavia, and first took to the seas in 1906. She is seen here with Lilla Bommen, otherwise known as "The Lipstick" building in the background. We sat by the harbour and had a beer as the sun went down.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2014