Greentraveller's Guide to Gothenburg
Take the time to explore Västra Götaland's largest city and you'll soon discover it to be a hub of environmentally-friendly events and attractions, from expansive green parks and gardens to eco music festivals.
On top of this, there are a whole range of restaurants, cafés and markets serving up local, organic delights, as well as a selection of environmentally-conscious hotels and B&Bs where you can bed down safe in the knowledge that your comfort won't impact on others. Gothenburg is also Västra Götaland's cultural centre, where visitors can roam between museums and art galleries, or just wander the streets of Haga, the Old Town.
What's more, the relatively small size of the city centre means you can quite easily walk around, or explore on two wheels using the Styr & Ställ rent-a-bike system. Here's our green guide to Gothenburg...
Where to go to sleep
Torpet Mon Hotel
An eco-friendly B&B almost completely surrounded by forest in Delsjon, only ten minutes from the centre of Gothenburg. The owners grow their own fruit and veg and source their eggs from their own chickens, and even make some of their own furniture. Rooms are comfortable and affordable (from €56 per room, per night), plus, if it's warm you can enjoy the breakfast whilst sitting out under the apple trees in the garden. There are lots of opportunities for walking and swimming nearby, and Torpet offers guests complimentary bicycles.
Part of the environmentally-conscious 'Scandic' hotel chain, Rubinen's central location (in the middle of Avenyn) makes it a great starting point for heading out and exploring the city, plus its only a short walk from many popular attractions. Rooms are colorful and full of character, plus there's a gym, a relaxing terrace and, best of all, the room rate includes a delicious organic breakfast.
Hotel Liseberg Heden
A 4* business and conference hotel located in central Gothenburg, near the Swedish Exhibition Centre. There are 179 rooms, each decorated in a modern Scandinavian style, including family rooms and mini-suites. The hotel also boasts an organic restaurant, Hedens Hörna, which only serves food made from local, seasonal produce where you'll struggle to choose between the grilled char fillet from Jämtland, fresh cod from the Barents Sea or organic sirloin steak from Bohuslän.
Where to go for food
Feskekorkan fish market
An impressive indoor fish market, near Haga Old Town, whose name (literally 'fish church') originates from the fact that it resembles a gothic cathedral.The largest market of its kind in Scandinavia, the isles are lined daily with trays holding all manner of delicious seafood including cod, halibut, crab and lobster. The belief that flounder tastes sweetest when the grass is green means this fish is particularly popular during the summer months.
Established back in 1984, this is Gothenburg's oldest organic food store. Fresh, organic produce may be found in many places in the city, but that doesn't stop this little gem being crowded throughout the day. You'll find everything from organic fruit and veg to environmentally-friendly cleaning products, as well as a range of items you'll not be able to find anywhere else. Originally a customer co-operative, the store is now run by its employees.
A green alternative to mainstream supermarkets, this fantastic, centrally-located food store offers freshly-baked bread, lots of fresh fruit and veg, as well as plenty of meat, cheese and other dairy products. If you're in a rush, you can also pick up ready-made lunches from the local company Grab, Eat and Save the planet.
Where to go to eat out
Central Saluhallen Market
Göteborg’s main central market is packed with budget eateries and delicious food stalls, the perfect place to grab some of the best authentic Swedish food in Gothenburg. There's a wide selection of organic food and various meats, fruit and veg, plus they also sell different delicacies from around the world. Once you're done shopping you can relax at one of the cafes or grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in the building.
Two Little Birds cafe
A trendy, newly-opened cafe-cum-gallery. Boasting organic salads, sandwiches and fresh espressos this unique little cafe also houses a new exhibition in their gallery every month. Most of the veg is organically grown and the bread is baked fresh in the local Cum Pane bakery, while the menu offers such delights as the Nightingale sandwich with olives, tofu, tomatoes and pepper.
Having opened in 1997, this 60 seater restaurant was finally awarded a Michelin star in May earlier this year. Dreaming up world-class dishes heavily based on seasonal produce, there's also a clear focus on modern Scandinavian cooking with dishes such as the confit halibut with a variation on pumpkin and pickled chanterelles. On top of that, there's a delicious tasting menu, local Grebbestad Oysters and, of course, a fantastic wine list.
Where to go to explore
Gothenburg Botanical Garden
One of Europe's leading botanical gardens, most of which constitutes the nature reserve Änggarden. With an aim of protecting biodiversity in the long term, the 40 hectare garden boasts some 16,000 different species on site. The rock garden, complete with cascade and tunnel, is a visitor favorite, as are the glasshouses and the woodland and stream gardens.
Garden Society Park
The Garden Society of Gothenburg, also known as Trädgårdsföreningen, is one of Europe’s best preserved 19th century parks – located at the heart of the city! Visitors can meander through beautifully arranged rose parks, decorative floral displays and leafy woodland paths. The Palm House, built in 1878, is a magnificent glass palace that also houses a stunning array of plants.
Where to go for culture
Göteborg Art Hall
The building houses national and international contemporary artworks and also offers a wealth of lectures, talks, seminars and classes. Admission is free, as are the guided talks that happen Wednesdays at 1800 and Saturdays at 1300, though you'll have to ask specifically for information in English.
Göteborg Natural History Museum
Founded in 1833, the museum is possibly most famous for the 15 metre long stuffed blue whale in the Whale Hall and the magnificent African elephant in the lobby. There are numerous special presentations of the earth, ocean life and environmental problems, as well as temporary exhibitions on related subjects. Entry costs 40 SEK but that money also acts as entry to five museums: the Museum of Art, the City Museum, the Maritime Museum and Aquarium, this museum, and the Röhsska Museum as listed below.
Museum of World Culture
Having opened in 2004, the museum has no permanent exhibitions but 5 new exhibitions are opened every year, all of which are free. It also hosts numerous spoken word, film screenings and seminars, as well as showcasing local musicians and international dance companies. The building's beautiful four-storey glass atrium is also a great place to look out over woods and mountains.
Röhsska Museum of Fashion, Design and Decorative Arts
Numerous short-term exhibitions for people interested in shape, colour and function. At the moment, exhibits include a selection of Chinese arts and craft dating as far back as 2000BC, as well as an insight into 18th century furniture, tableware and design. Entry is free for under 25s, plus there's a shop and lecture hall.
Where to go for experiences
Way Out West Festival
This is one of Europe’s top-rated music festivals, held every year in Slottsskogen City Park, right in the centre of Gothenburg. Also one of the greenest festivals in Europe, the Way Out West festival works actively to reduce its energy consumptionand is big on recycling, plus it is the first festival to be certified by KRAV, the Swedish certification for organic food.
>> See greentraveller's review of Way Out West festival
Gothenburg Culture Festival
An annual city-party where the whole festival area, Leve Klotet, focuses entirely on sustainability. This is often done in quite quirky ways, such as 2010's talking bins and Think Choirs singing about minimising waste. Because it works actively with sustainability issues, it has even been awarded the Green and Clean award.
Liseberg Amusement Park
Considered an absolute must by many who have visited Gothenburg, the city’s amusement park Liseberg may not seem too eco-friendly in terms of energy use, but it does take sustainability very seriously; using only renewable energy and also being the proud owner of a wind power station.
How to get around
Goteborg Bikes (Styr & Ställ)
There are around 50 stations and 600 bikes dotted around the centre of Gothenburg. Styr and Ställ works much like London's Boris Bike system - enter your card into the credit card slot, enter your details you'll receive a ticket with an ID on it. Use this ID, in addition to a PIN code personally selected by you, at the bike terminal to release a bike and then simply cycle away. If you're going to use the bikes regularly, you can also opt for either a 3-day ticket (10 SEK) or season ticket (250 SEK). Impressively, the first 30 minutes of every ride is always free, regardless of how many trips you make in a day. All bike station locations can be found on the website.
Västtrafik are responsible for nearly all public transport services (trains, buses, trams, ferries) in Västra Götland, and now offer a handy Travel Planner App for smartphones. Once you've downloaded the app, simply enter where you are, where you want to go and when you want to go and the app will provide you with the easiest route. You can also use your phone to buy one-way tickets. Simply send an SMS with the code GV (or GS if you’re under the age of 20) to 724 50 before boarding and you'll be sent a valid ticket to your phone.
Gothenburg City Card
On top of offering free entry to many of Gothenburg's museums and amusement parks, plus numerous discounts in shops and restaurants, the Gothenburg City Card also allows free travel on public transport around the city. To get a city card, visit one of the two main tourist information offices in Gothenburg or visit the Vasttrafik website. A 24-hour Gothenburg City Card costs €30.
>> For more information visit the Official Gothenburg tourist website