When I first started writing articles about Sweden over four years ago, I always felt obligated to include the Swedish notation on important words in the article. Gothenburg, for example, which is Göteborg in Swedish. And for some reason, this always felt a little pretentious.
But now we have been living in beautiful Sweden for over four years and we even own our flat and have learned a lot of the language. Now it feels wrong to use the English version of these words! Hell, I am even typing this on a Swedish keyboard! Anyway, I just thought I would share that tidbit of insightful trivia.
A word about the pandemic: There is no requirement to wear masks in Sweden (and generally, people don’t), but most of our activities were outside. Buildings like museums and aquariums were strictly controlled in terms of social distancing and how many people were allowed in the building at any given time. If there was a place inside of a building that required people to stand close together, that attraction was closed. Restaurants and bars adhered to the 3m distance guideline. This was not just in the Gothenburg area, but throughout Sweden. Everyone was offered free masks on the three hour train ride ( we had our own). The place where you are at the most risk is on the buses and trams, where social distancing isn’t feasible and there is no mask requirement. But taxis, Ubers, scooters, and bikes are always viable options.
I have one more thing to let you in on before we go. I have employed my programming prowess to make things a little simpler for you. This article is a little on the long side, so I have created some hyperlinks below that will instantly teleport you to that part of the article. So if you’re a traveler scanning through blogs for pertinent information about the area, click on the links below. The rest of you, however, are required to read the article in full…..
- The City Sites – Canal tours, Botanical Gardens, the Palm House, Universeum
- The Food – notable restaurants we enjoyed while in Gothenburg
- Accomodations – we stayed in two different hotels in Gothenburg
- Vinga Island – I threw this in as a bonus trip, check it out!
THE RETURN OF The Travelin’ Man!!
Wow, it has been a quite a while since we did any significant travel. Since the pandemic, we have canceled our trip to Denmark and our trip to the US. We also had three of our friends scheduled to come see us, who also had to cancel.
But sitting around and comparing which sanitizer is best and trying to stockpile paper towels and toilet paper just isn’t in our DNA (although I do prefer the flat one, leak-proof, fits in any pocket – ugh). So while international travel is gridlocked with the virus, we decided to broaden our travel experience within Sweden. This time, we are making the jump out to the west coast.
We have done quite a bit of travel within Sweden, most of which is documented on my blog (see the links below). There was a trip to Skåne, in which the Travelin’ Man did not participate. We also did a small, three day weekend a few weeks ago in the archipelago, also not documented. I regret not telling you about those trips, they were both awesome!
You may recall these previous trips we did in Sweden that I did do articles for you (hyperlinks below):
We love the SJ train systems in Sweden, but this time we took a different line. We took the MTRX train from Stockholm to Gothenburg. It was around three hours, departing Stockholm at 11:47am and arriving in Gothenburg at 3:15pm. There were three stops along the way, and the scenery was, of course, beautiful. But otherwise an uneventful leg of the journey. The MTRX line was a tad cushier than the SJ line, but otherwise, they seemed the same to me. The tickets were 700 SEK each, round trip, which is around 80 USD. There isn’t much of a price difference between the two lines.
No matter where you stay in Gothenburg, it’s not likely that you will be able to get everywhere you want to go by shoe. Requiring the bus and/or tram is inevitable. You should download the app “västtrafik to go”. If you are reading this on an Apple device, try clicking here to download the app. This will allow you to get an immediate ticket, or an extended one for a day or more. It will create a QR/barcode on your screen that their scanners can read.
Refer to the map, above. You can see the rough approximation of the train trip in red. I also circled Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo, Sweden for your reference. Note that Oslo and Copenhagen are hyperlinked so you can go check out those articles in a separate page. Those blue markers you see on the map were all places that We went on this trip.
The City Sights
Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, the first being Stockholm. But the two could not be further apart in culture and feel. Stockholm has a stately feel. Traditional, refined, and very cultural from a Swedish standpoint. Gothenburg, on the other hand, feels very European, but honestly, I didn’t even feel like I was in Sweden. It has more of a devil-may-care, laid-back, and independent aura about it. Even the architecture of the buildings and the city layout is different from Stockholm. So if you live in Stockholm and are looking for a “getaway “, this fits the bill quite nicely.
Gothenburg caters to shopping and eating, and both activities are well represented here. Nice restaurants with outdoor seating and cool taverns line both sides of the streets in the main area of town. It feels young, vibrant, and very friendly.
We came during the summer, at the end of July. The temperatures in Gothenburg was a warm 65-70 F (18-21 C). There was an occasional light, cooling wind. I wore a short sleeve shirt with an over shirt that I could take on and off to regulate and it worked out well. And of course, I never leave home without my trusty hat.
For each location that we visit, I will include a small header that has the street address, telephone number, and a google reference. When you click on the google reference, it will open the location in your google map and bring up a nice description of the location.
Södra Vägen 50, 412 54 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 335 64 00
This is a must see attraction for Gothenburg. From their website:“Explore Universeum. Animals, nature, chemistry, technology and fun experiments under one roof in the heart of Gothenburg.”
But sadly, we weren’t able to get in. Due to the pandemic, you have to book in advance on their website. But they only allow so many bookings per day and their quota was full the day we had planned to go. But on the bright site, this will give us a major attraction to see when we come back!
The Botanical Gardens
Carl Skottsbergs gata 22A, 413 19 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 10 473 77 77
When we weren’t able to get in the Universeum, we rode the tram back to the botanical gardens. The entry was free, and they have public restrooms. We spent around an hour and a half walking around here, and we still didn’t see quite everything.
This place is an example of the tenacious outdoor beauty that is Sweden in the summer. For a place with such long, cold and dark winters, you would never expect such thriving, vibrant flowers and shrubbery.
They had a separate area dedicated to food farming. You know, corn, lettuce, watermelon, etc. It was very well done and they had some amazing things growing in there. It was just interesting in an almost-apocalyptic/survival sort of way.
The Canal Tour
Kungsportsplatsen, 411 10 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 60 96 60
Sure, it’s an extremely touristy thing to do, but what can I say, we love a good boat ride! This one lasts about an hour. As you would expect, it comes with a tour guide that tells you what you’re looking at with historical perspective. The cost was 390 SEK ($44) for both of us.
It takes you entire length of the canal, crosses the harbor and back around the other side. You’ll get to see some of the city’s best sites, including the Opera house (above), the old shipyard, and the fish church (also pictured above).
The Palm House
Slussgatan 1, 411 06 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 365 58 58
This place is spectacular. The grounds are absolutely immaculate, and the flowers were glaring with color. The greenhouse, er uh, palm house, doesn’t open until 2p, and frankly, it was kinda ho-hum. But it’s right off the main road, so just step in and check it out if you’re in the area.
Made in China
Tredje Långgatan 9, 413 03 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 309 52 10
The very first night, we went to a place called Made in China. Kind of like a Chinese tapas place. This turned out to be an outstanding choice. Very upbeat venue right on the Main Street. I strongly recommend it. The duck confit bun (pictured above) and the carmel pork were out of this world! But nothing in this place is going to disappoint including the wine and the cost. Many Chinese places fall short on wine selection, but this place had a wide assortment of really good ones. We liked it so much that we went there again on our last night. It is very close to the hotel Flora and has nice indoor and outdoor seating. It is extremely popular, so be sure to make a booking.
Mässans gata 22, 412 51 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 750 88 05
This was located on the 23rd floor of the Gothia Tower, which is located right next to Universeum. Just go into the main building there and find the dedicated elevator for Heaven 23.
As you would expect, the views are fantastic. We were able to get a spot right by the window. But remember that’s why you’re going there, for the view. The food was a definite “OK”, but that’s all. I had the Wallenbergare, which was the lunch special for the day. But instead of veal, it was a mish-mash of salmon, crab, and cod. And for a fish lover, it was probably pretty good. I mean, I am not what you would call a fish lover and I ate it. But they could have at least told me when I ordered it how it was different from the traditional Wallenbergare. Jana got the vegetarian dish, and she agreed that it, too, was “OK”. The wine was a little on the high side, especially for Gothenburg, where it is normally a bit cheaper than in Stockholm.
So go spend an hour or so gazing out over the city. It is a lovely restaurant, cozy and quiet, and I don’t regret that we went there. It was fun.
Vasagatan 32, 411 24 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 72 250 51 48
This is a Greek/Mediterranean venue. It was a five minute walk from the Flora Hotel. Cozy, warm and friendly, good food and great service. It has very nice indoor and outdoor seating. A good wine selection with good prices (we love that the wine in Gothenburg is generally cheaper than Stockholm). What else could you ask for?
I had the beef souvlaki with tzatziki, which was juicy and tasty. Jana had the lamb biftekia, also with the tzatziki sauce. The lamb was an interesting variation from the hamburger that we hadn’t seen before. And it was actually very good. I highly recommend this place.
We stayed in Gothenburg for the first three nights. Then we went off and did some other adventuring and came back to Gothenburg, which we then spent another night.
Grönsakstorget 2, 411 17 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 13 86 16
We stayed at the Hotel Flora for three nights (that last picture in the above collage I shot from the canal boat tour – pretty cool, eh?). It was 1000 SEK ($112) per night, which is really quite reasonable for this part of the world. Breakfast was included and was the usual hotel breakfast bar accommodation. There was a community coffee maker, where you took the coffee pods they gave you in your room down the hall to a community coffee maker. The bar was ok, if a bit cramped for pandemic social distancing. The room and the bathroom were spacious, especially by European standards. We were located very close to the tram, which we did use a couple of times, and overall the location was convenient for seeing the sights of the city including shopping at Haga and restaurants and pubs. All of these things considered, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 8.
Clarion Hotel Post
Drottningtorget 10, 411 03 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 61 90 00
The Clarion is one of those places that just gets everything right. The price was 1341 SEK ($152) per night. A little high, but if you want the larger room and all the goodies, it’s worth it. The usual breakfast bar was included.
We stayed here for one night after we came back from our road trip (that article not yet posted). Perhaps the nicest thing about this one was that it is literally across the street from Central Station, so it only took us ten minutes to get to our train the next morning.
Lilla Bommens torg 2, 411 04 Göteborg, Sweden
+46 31 60 96 70
Firstly, note that the map link I gave you above is for the dock area where you board the boat, not the island itself. The Island is a one and a half hour boat ride within the archipelago, located here:
475 42 Fotö, Sweden
The Boat and Cruise
The boat services were handled by Stromma, which is the same company that does most of the boats around Stockholm. We did the lunch cruise, which I recommend over the regular because, well, you get lunch, but also you get a much better seat and reserved seating. And as you can see, above, they were observing proper social distancing.
Lunch was a preassigned meal. We had the open-faced shrimp sandwich, which is a delicious shrimp salad served on dark bread (hidden underneath all the toppings) with sliced hard boiled eggs and loads of fresh greens and cucumbers. As with most Stromma cruises, they have wine, sodas, and coffee. They also had a decent selection of desserts. We opted for diet cokes (they were bottled and ice cold) on the way out. Coming back we had a nice glass of wine and some desserts. You keep your reserved seat for the return trip.
The open water was quite choppy both ways. It is a rather large boat, so we weren’t really tossed around much. If you are prone to getting seasick, you would probably be okay here.
The scenery during the boat ride was very different from the archipelago on the Stockholm side. It was rather barren and wind blown, reminding me more of Iceland than Sweden.
Aside from the barren landscape, the first thing you notice is the wind. And it has two speeds: really strong and gale force! I am not kidding on this, so be prepared. I would suggest, well, a good wind breaker for a jacket. Even though it was the middle of the summer, the wind and damp air made it a bit chilly.
I know I have used the word barren a couple of times, but don’t mistake that for uninteresting or unattractive. It is actually quite beautiful, especially once you have boots on the ground and are seeing it up close.
This island is located in one of the most dangerous areas of the archipelago in terms of ship passage. Back in the day, several families were permanently located here. Back then, there even enough children living here to warrant a small schoolhouse. The lighthouse required constant monitoring and maintenance, and the seas required constant scanning for ships, especially at night and during storms.
Even today, the lighthouse is still fully functional and there are several radar stations that use triangulation for redundancy and to pinpoint the exact course of any nearby ships. There are people still living here, but I don’t think they’re permanent, and even if they are, travel to and from the island is way more convenient than it was back then.
You would normally be able to climb to the top of the lighthouse and to explore some of the buildings, but they were all closed due to the pandemic. But that’s okay, there was a good bit of hiking, albeit treacherous at times, and other views to see on the island.
We stayed on the island for a couple of hours before returning back to the port in Gothenburg. It was an enjoyable escape and I would recommend it if you are looking to get out of the city for a bit.
And that concluded our events for the first three days. From here, we will be renting a car and driving through Kvantum and staying at the castle Läcko. It is located on Lake Vänern, which is the largest lake not only in Sweden, but in the entire European Union. So stay tuned to this channel for more about traveling in south western Sweden!