by Zoe Johnson, The Telegraph, February 24, 2017
As gregarious as Stockholm is sophisticated, boasting an eclectic blend of heavy industry, neoclassical architecture, a burgeoning contemporary arts scene, and recently voted the most "sociable" place in the world, Sweden's second city is a diverse yet authentically Scandinavian destination.
If Gothenburg isn't on your bucket list already, here's why it should be:
1. It has a toy-town charm
Despite its newly-acquired status as a "hipster neighbourhood", Gothenburg's most historic district - Haga - packs plenty of traditional charm. With its 19th-century wooden houses, saved from demolition in the 1970s, cobbled streets lined with independent shops and cosy cafés, it makes for a delightful - and caffeine-fuelled - afternoon amble.
2. But it is big on heavy metal
And not just the musical variety. Among Gothenburg's industrial landmarks are the Volvo museum and the iconic Älvsborg bridge, which connects the northern and southern halves of the city. The latter is an explosion of aquamarine and the surrounding chimneys and cranes are to Gothenburg what skyscrapers are to Manhattan.
3. Music is a big deal
Sweden may be renowned for producing pop music, but with José González, Little Dragon, Goat and rock band In Flames among Gothenburg's musical exports, this is a city that caters to eclectic tastes. Between favourite vinyl stores Dirty Records and Bengans Skivbutik, the dance clubs of Avenyn, the myriad indie hangouts lining the Långgatorna and the huge annual Way Out West festival, there's something to satisfy most musical appetites.
4. The nightlife makes Shoreditch look positively passé
It is down the Långgatorna - the "long streets" - that you start to see why Gothenburg has acquired the nickname "Little London." Bars here were excelling in the alternative drinks scene long before Londoners learned to say "craft beer", and you've got the student population to thank for the relatively affordable prices.
5. It is very green
Relative to its size, Gothenburg is abundant in parks. The main draw, Slottsskogen, is a 137-hectare haven in the middle of the city, with playgrounds and picnic spots a-plenty, as well as a year-round free petting zoo. If the well-maintained paths dotted with joggers and cyclists are a little too urban, head a little further west to the Azalea valley where you'll find tranquility amongst the blooms.
6. Environmentally speaking it's pretty good, too
You can breathe easy, thanks to the city's green public transport. Emission-free, electric buses were introduced in June 2015 and the seasonal Styr & Ställ bike scheme introduces 1,000 cycles for public use between March and December each year - 30 minute rides are on the house.
7. There is more art than you can shake a spray can at
Artscape, Scandinavia's largest urban paint festival, has put Gothenburg on the street-art map since hitting the city in 2016 - but colourful counterculture has been a part of the city's fabric for the last three decades. Roda Sten Konsthall, a former 1940s boiler house has been a hub of creativity since it was taken over by local artists in the 1980s. It now hosts numerous workshops, events and exhibitions in contemporary art - and its exterior remains a perpetually changing canvas for local graffiti artists.
For those with more conventional taste, the Konstmuseet houses an impressive collection, boasting works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Rembrandt.
8. Adjectives don't really do its archipelago justice
A 30-minute tram ride will take you from the city centre to Saltholmen, right on the edge of the 20-plus islands that make up Gothenburg's archipelago. Whether you go for a summer dip off the rocks, or explore the snow-dusted islands on a sea kayak in winter, a few hours in the archipelago will have you forgetting you've come from the city.
9. Getting around is a doddle
Due to Gothenburg's compact size, walking is by far the easiest mode of transport. On foot you're also more likely to stumble upon hidden gems, and Gothenburgers are a friendly bunch - so you need not worry about asking for directions.
10. The trams are an experience in themselves
The iconic blue and white carriages have been rattling around since 1879 - and you'd be forgiven for wondering whether they had been updated since then. Notoriously rickety and adorned with adverts from yesteryear, you may also struggle to find one with a functioning ticket machine. That said, they are relatively frequent, rarely overcrowded, and hopping on one to Saltholmen will reward you with delightful scenery.
11. Seafood is virtually a religion
Fishing was once the city's most important industry, and with the abundant west coast on the doorstep, it is perhaps no surprise that the natural manna from the sea is held in high esteem. Feskekorke - quite literally translated as "fish church" - is where fishmongers have been hawking their freshest wares since 1847.
12. You'll indulge in Fika the way you're meant to
When it comes to coffee, independents rule the roast. Ask for a Starbucks and you'll end up ushered to the train station. You're not being asked to leave - it's where you'll find the only branch of the chain in the city, and locals are keen to keep it that way. As a general rule, coffee comes strong and black, or not at all. Tip: If you spot a sign next to the till saying påtår ingår, you can refill your cup for free - although it is generally considered impolite to go back more than once.
13. You can eat cinnamon buns bigger than your face
Made with fermented bread and the size of a dinner plate, Haga is famous for its take on traditional Swedish kanalbulle. Remember to ask about the påtår though; as you're likely to drain your first cup before you've made a dent on your bun.
Head to Cafe Husaren (cafehusaren.se), the self-proclaimed 'home of the Hagabullen', for the most authentic experience.
14. It wouldn't be Scandinavia without an appreciation of design
There's no better introduction than the Röhsska Museum. Its comprehensive collection charts the progression of the most influential contributions to the fashion, design and applied arts from the 1800s to the modern day; with everything from Chinese ceramics to an original 1940s kitchen fit-out from Le Corbusier's revolutionary Unité d’Habitation.
15. Or a vintage theme park
The biggest theme park in Scandinavia, no less. Opened in 1923, it is also Sweden's oldest. If riding the 30-year-old Lisebergbahnen rollercoaster doesn't scare you, the park's bright green bunny rabbit mascots surely will.
16. There's a spa that takes pampering to new heights
You can view the city from above in a (slightly) less nail-biting manner in the outdoor, glass-bottomed pool at Upper House (upperhouse.se).
17. Taking a convenience break couldn't be more convenient
Perhaps not a reason to visit in itself, but certainly a bonus once you're there. Numerous strategically placed retro public toilet stalls mean that when nature calls, you can spend a penny without spending anything.
18. And most importantly: it's cheap
Well, relatively speaking. At the time of writing, average prices in Gothenburg are 10 per cent cheaper than those in Stockholm in terms of dining out, hotels and public transport. With flights available from as little as £15, a trip to 'Little London' can come with a little price tag too.