One of the more memorable moments during our family tour of Northern Europe last year was during our stay in Gothenburg (Göteborg). While Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, it certainly has not taken on a diminutive status to Stockholm. Instead, the city has a standing of its own including having largest seaport of all the Nordic countries, a sizable student population, a diverse music community and beautiful open spaces of forests, meadows, lakes, parks and gardens peppered throughout the area.
Gothenburg City Center
According to the Gothenburg city council, each resident enjoys 300 square feet of green space, which explains how one can readily reach these open spaces. With an extensive tram network that is the largest in Scandinavia and bus line system that covers the rest, there is no reason, frankly, to use a car at all. And, one of the more popular ways to get an informative introduction to this city is by taking a Paddan boat tour.
The tour offers morsels of the city’s history, sites, neighborhoods and bridges. Some bridges are so low you need to duck to avoid injury and one, aptly named the Cheese Slicer, necessitates that everyone prostrate themselves on the floor of the boat to pass underneath. It was at this point that the dumbfounded group including my parents, my 5 year old son, my husband and I along with approximately 60 other people all laid as flat as possible all the while wondering, do I hear the locals laughing at us?
Biking around Gothenburg
Gothenburg Nature Activities
Perhaps it’s the idea of a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously or one that doesn’t want to dispose of historical treasures for the sake of convenience (or safety). I would prefer to think that preservation and conservation of culture, heritage and space is more important to Gothenburg as evidenced by other nature activities found throughout the city.
Slottsskogen is a vast park southwest of the city that is covered in forest and offers sweeping views of the city from its three high vantage points. Have a picnic or enjoy a concert while you spot diverse wildlife such as elk, deer, seals, penguins, or flamingos alongside other tropical birds. Another fun activity for children is the zoo where they are allowed to play with some of the animals.
Delsjon Nature Reserve in the east of the city has two adjoining lakes (one named “Big Lake” and the other “Small Lake”) with tree-lined rocky cliffs and plenty of forest to enjoy as you hike or jog along the path. Other activities include sunbathing on the beach, fishing, canoeing and golf. If you up to it, you can even go camping within the nature reserve.
Botanical Garden in Gothenburg
Gothenburg Botanical Garden in the south of the city is one of Europe’s largest and best. It features 20,000 species of plants, flowers and trees and unlike most other gardens where all are instructed to see but not touch, guests are encouraged to picnic and enjoy. The two most popular attractions include the topiary garden and the Ulf Nordfjell’s Linnaeus Garden, which won a gold medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in 2007.
Horticulture Society Park is one of the best preserved 19th century parks in Europe with the rose garden having been awarded two stars by the Michelin Green Guide. Throughout the summer, concerts and children’s theater shows can also be experienced.
Finally, you can purchase a City Guide at the local Tourist Office and use it to walk, bike or even sail along the canals that run throughout the city.