Somewhere along the line Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia lost out on the backpackers dream. Fortunately for them, low cost airlines have certainly opened a huge new pool of weekend city breaks and Gothenburg is no exception. Scooping a return ticket for a mere £20 from Stanstead, it makes for a great get away from it all and great to simply take in some peace and quiet.
Duration: 2 days
Cost: Approx £300
When: All year round
Doinit Factor: It's Scandanavia and you can get there for as little as £20
Situated on the Western Coast of Sweden, Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city and is home to Scandinavia’s largest university. You could be fooled into thinking it will be anything but quiet, but this sleepy city is just that, sleepy. Arriving at Landvetter airport I go through the inevitable motions of being overwhelmed by another foreign language that is in no way familiar to anything I know. I go though my usual habit of attempting to locate the first cash point but here arrives my first challenge. There isn’t one. Well, there is, in fact there are two however they don’t accept Visa, nor MasterCard. Suddenly I feel a lot further from home but luckily for me, taking a minute or two observing people, everyone is streaming towards a ‘Western Union’ type kiosk. I follow suite and sure enough I walk away Korona in hand. I take a 30 minute bus ride to the city centre and rather than take the long walk to my hostel to check in, I decide to push on through and soak in some of the atmosphere straight away. First impressions are always important but looking back I still have no understanding of the experience I was going through. I guess that goes with it being my first time in Scandinavia. I have flash backs of being in Saint Petersburg just a couple of months earlier with all the canals flowing through the city yet there I was in a city that had its own personality. The streets are as wide as those in Minsk and there is an array of traffic to contend with. Not simply cars, but keeping in touch with its sleepiness, bicycle highways and tram lines.
I grab a beer and some lunch in one of Gothenburg’s plentiful Irish Pubs and splurge on Sweden’s famously expensive economy. The early flight and the walking take it out of me and I retire mid afternoon to the hostel for a quick nap. Sleeping in there is just enough time to head in search of some local cuisine. Unfortunately, this is not the Europe I am accustomed to and my search comes up empty. I have to settle of an English pub this time but at least the local brew is on tap. The next day I wake up and set out with a purpose. I only have a short time in Gothenburg and using yesterday as a day to take in the atmosphere and gain my bearing, today is a day for exploring the sites.
Travelling alone, I dare not ridicule myself by heading to the huge amusement park by myself. To me it says a lot about the place whose number one attraction is an amusement park but I don’t want it to affect my judgment. There are only a handful of areas of interest and easily visited all in one day.
Located in the heart of Gothenburg and just 5 minutes from my hostel is Skansen Kronan. On top of a steep hill it takes some fitness to reach the century of stairs. Here you can see a 17th Century fortification whilst taking in all of Gothenburg.
Looking down on Gothenburg. (DN)
Skansen Kronan. (DN)
Virtually at the bottom of Skansen Kronan is the Haga District and what could be described as the nearest thing to an old centre Gothenburg can offer. It consists of several traditional Nordic streets offering small cute cafes and shops.
Walking around the Haga District. (DN)
"Travelling alone, I dare not ridicule myself by heading to the huge amusement park by myself. To me it says a lot about the place whose number one attraction is an amusement park but I don’t want it to affect my judgment."
Slottsskogen Park Much like Gorky Park in Moscow, Slottsskogen has much more too offer than your average park. Locals flock here in there thousands to picnic and relax. Amongst the picturesque scenery of trees and ponds, you can find the Natural History Museum, a small children zoo and an observatory. Rather than spending my time indoors I wonder around and stubble across a seal and penguin enclosure. No entry fee, just there to be observed and admired.
Penguins in the city's park. (DN)
Lilla Bommen is a part of Gothenburg harbor. (DN)
The evening is spent sharing a few beers and stories with the fellow solo travelers. With Sweden being so expensive for the common backpacker, everyone takes the opportunity to re-energise at home before continuing on their journey. It is worth noting that Sweden has a strange sort of prohibition in place and despite alcohol being plentiful in bars and restaurant’s, shops is another story. There is only select government shops that are open during strict opening times that will sell you alcohol over 3.5%. Being unaware of this prior to arriving I had to settle for the 3.5% beer and I welcomed a hangover free morning.
Gothenburg Cathedral. (DN)
Oscar Fredrik Church. (DN)