Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York the Statue of Liberty, and Gothenburg has its archipelago.
The archipelago is a string of pearls of islands off the coast to the north and south of the Göta River delta. The smaller islands to the south are part of the city of Gothenburg. You easily reach them by public transport. Simply take a bus or streetcar to Saltholmen and hop on a ferry taking you out.
The archipelago is a must-see for any Gothenburg visitor
We have designed an archipelago tour with our visitors in mind. A smörgåsbord of things that make our archipelago unique.
The focus lies on the island of Styrsö, the largest one in the southern archipelago. The walking tour will take you on a journey almost 13,000 years back in time. Back then, the island was still wholly submerged in the sea but began to emerge as part of the land rise. You will walk through our forest, four distinct settlements, and also enjoy beaches and coastline.
We’ll end it with a yummy lunch in the present day, at our local pub, Öbergska. The building has an exciting history of smuggling, strong women and entrepreneurism.
Built over two-hundred years ago, our local heritage foundation owns the building. They operate a museum, a gallery and a beautiful herb garden there. The café is operated independently, and they serve contemporary Swedish kitchen, but inspired by tastes from all over the world.
Here are a few keywords to give you an idea of the tour: ice age, stone age, bronze age, Vikings, unique nature, stunning views, and delicious food. Combined into a coherent story by Gothenburg’s favorite VIP tour guide. He has lived here for more than twenty-five years and consequently knows the island and its long history intimately. He speaks several languages, has a great sense of humor and his storytelling is legendary!
Read more about the tour here.
Contact us for more information, pricing, and booking of your tour!
Is one day in Gothenburg all you have? That’s not a lot, but for most of our cruise guests, it’s all they get. Also, some of our drive-through visitors from Denmark, arriving by ferry or the E6-freeway, or our friends from Norway, heading south along the same freeway, stay a night to relax in what was once to be the capital of all of Scandinavia. One day in Gothenburg? We’ve got you covered!
First and foremost
You can do all of this on your own, maybe even using the guide we’ve prepared with tips and tricks, but if all you have is one day in Gothenburg, investing in your own personal guide is helpful, making sure you get to the right places in time and one to the next without missing a beat. Knowing the city by heart, we can adapt on the fly, cut corners, find another bus or streetcar, and ensure you get back to your ship or hotel in time. Besides, we’ll be able to tell you the stories, answer questions and really make you feel welcome in a way a phone screen never will.
Morning: a nice relaxing walk through downtown Gothenburg
This suggested itinerary starts downtown. All cruise ships will have bus transportation to our main square, Gustav Adolf’s Torg, shortly after docking. We will pick you up there or at your hotel. From the pick-up point, we’ll take a walk through downtown, always depending on where the pick-up is. After all, no two tours will be alike, as you, the guest are our focal point. You’ll get to see the city’s oldest buildings and our canals, and I’ll make sure to familiarize you with our history and culture.
Noon: a trip to the archipelago, for something you won’t find elsewhere
Our city has so much to offer. If you only have one day in Gothenburg, we need to prioritize. The archipelago here is unique: narrow roads, no car traffic, lush forestry, stunning ocean views, and quaint villages make the Gothenburg archipelago a one-of-a-kind destination, and TV teams from all over the world have been here to film. Using public transport, we’ll reach one of the islands where we could stop for lunch at one of the small cafés or restaurants serving seafood or more cosmopolitan fare. After that we’ll head out for a walk on the island, telling you more about their culture, history, and how the islanders have survived through the centuries.
Afternoon: from the islands, we return to the city and your onward journey, wherever that may be
At about four or five pm, depending on your itinerary, we’ll make sure to drop you off where we picked you up, after a day filled with impressions and delicious fresh foods. If you spend the night, we’ll make sure to leave a few suggestions for dinner reservations, or maybe a show or concert. If you head back to your ship, you’ll be sure to stand on deck as your vessel glides past the islands, pointing to fellow passengers who were stuck on a tour bus all day, telling them you just spent a day out there.
One Day in Gothenburg? Or maybe more..?
The above is just an idea. We know that all our guests are different, your itineraries are unique, and so are your schedules and interests. Don’t want to walk? Want the VIP treatment with a pick-up by limousine at your ship? Would you rather visit a museum? Take the kids to the amusement park? Dive into our ancient history? See outdoor art instead? Whatever gets your juices flowing, we can make sure your one day in Gothenburg will be memorable.
If you have more time, then we have more ideas, and we are more than happy to quote you a dream time in Sweden’s friendliest city. From private yachts to wild animal safaris, or adventure trips, we’ve arranged it all, and we are happy to make sure your trip to Gothenburg will be the best it can be. That’s our passion and our promise to you!
One day in Gothenburg. Leave with memories to cherish for a lifetime!
I just replied to a booking inquiry for a group with young kids. I love showing our young visitors around town. As the father of a ten-year-old (next week) and a family who loves to travel, I know that kids and adults have different outlooks on travel, and what to experience at a destination. Here are a few things to consider and plan for when you visit Gothenburg with kids.
Kids get bored more easily
The attention span of a child is not that of an adult. Every parent knows that. As a guide, I’m mindful not only to include their perspective in my narration, but also to make sure not to talk too much, or too long at a time. Including the kids in the process is vital.
Kids are smart! And they will usually happily go with everything, even walking tours (preferable to sitting still in a car for longer periods of time actually.) But frequent stops are crucial. Kids will also need comfort breaks and snacks to refuel their energy. Gothenburg offers plenty of everything.
Blending adult and kid activities
A city tour is normally geared toward adults with anecdotes about history, art, or culture. When you have kids with you, it’s important to also consider activities that are geared toward them. That doesn’t always have to be on a day-to-day basis but could be spending one day for adults (wine tasting) and one day for the kids (amusement park.)
These are just examples. Ideally, you can do everything because when everybody gets their fill, we’re all happier for it.
Gothenburg with kids
Sweden is by definition a child-friendly city. Our amusement park is the largest one and by far the most beautiful one in the Nordics. It celebrates its centennial this year and with its focus on all age groups caters to younger kids, thrill-seeking teens, and adults alike.
Right next door is our science museum, Universeum, which is almost entirely catering to children. Its huge aquariums and the rainforest are guaranteed to be a hit with the kids.
For Swedish-speaking very young visitors there’s the Alfons Åberg (Alfie Atkins) Museum right next to the central station for book-loving kids. Finally, while I haven’t been there since its reopening, I have heard great things about our maritime museum and its huge new aquariums. There’s obviously more, a LOT more… Ask us!
Places to eat and drink with kids
Kids usually love burgers, and I highly recommend Max, which is a Swedish burger chain serving really good burgers. Kids love it. When it comes to refueling sugar and energy, there’s a café in Haga serving their famous and humongous cinnamon rolls. I’ve yet to meet a child who’s not licking their lips at the sight of them.
If pizza is the preferred choice, I’d suggest visiting the world’s “largest” pizzeria (their claim!) which is a converted movie theater.
Every kid is different
My son loves sushi, but none of his classmates do.
He has a thing for smoked salmon and loves to see modern dance at our opera house. None of his friends do.
He obviously also loves all of the above. This is just to say that kids are different, and your child may like something else entirely.
Ask us and we’ll find something that’ll make them happy, too. This is why Gothenburg Tours is different from the rest. We cater to your needs. Whatever they might be!
I promised you the other day that I’d showcase some of my personal favorites in this versatile city. While celebrating its Quadricentennial this year, Gothenburg has a history spanning back thousands of years.
First things first: GAII
June 4, 1621, is an important date in our city’s history, as its fourth incarnation is founded by king Gustav II Adolf. Having long served as a bridgehead into the North Sea, as all lands north and south of our city were either Danish or Norwegian, each previous attempt at founding a city was destroyed by Danish forces (who at the time also ruled Norway.) This is why we only celebrate our Quadricentennial this year, late again.
You need to know about the Ice Age
About ten-thousand years ago, the ice retreated from Sweden’s West Coast, allowing for people to migrate north. And they did. All around Gothenburg, burial mounds, stone ships, cairns, stone carvings, and even paintings bear witness to an age largely forgotten by history. Here are but a couple of examples from ancient Gothenburg to show you:
Rock carvings on Hising Island
These are difficult to find, but no less impressive once you stand there, witnessing the work of art from people thousands of years ago.
These carvings, boats, and bowl pits bear witness to a time when the ocean shore was located in a very different place and while we know little about that time or why people carved into the rock, to be able to be in such physical proximity to our ancestors’ works of art is exhilarating
One of the country’s most impressive rock paintings
A few miles further north, on a cliff, someone (or several) artists painted animals, fish, and other symbols right above the seashore. They aren’t easy to get to but most impressive to see in person.
The islands tell the story of changing civilizations
In Gothenburg’s archipelago, there are many signs of how civilization changed over the millennia along with the changing coastline, as the land rises from the ocean after the literal weight of the ice had been lifted. Here you can visit where the first summer guests arrived some six-thousand years ago, bronze age burial sites, all the way to the medieval times where fishing created a short but vital period of wealth. While on the island of Styrsö, why not learn about how these past few centuries have seen a radical change in the island’s topography and appearance. That, however, is a different story.
There is so much more…
There are hundreds of sites to visit in ancient Gothenburg, and while this is not for everybody, if you love to see things that most tours don’t even mention, let me know. I’d be more than happy to take you to places most guides aren’t even aware of.
As Gothenburg celebrates its Quadricentennial this year, two years late, a local tradition, there are quite a few things happening in town. There will be a big festival in June to celebrate the city’s 400th anniversary of being founded (by the way not for the first time…) by king Gustav II Adolf, known as Adolphus the Great abroad. Our amusement park, Liseberg, was founded for the Tricentennial 100 years ago (we were late then, too, as the city was founded in 1621), will showcase a brand new hotel (with a water park opening next year) and a new roller-coaster.
Come to Gothenburg for the Quadricentennial, and stay for what we have built over four centuries
Yes, plenty will be going on this year, and they’re great reasons to come. However, we would like to invite you to stay and linger for everything else we have to offer.
In coming blog posts I’ll highlight some of my personal favorites in Gothenburg and surrounding West Sweden, regardless if it is culture or nature, sea or forest, architecture or food that makes your heart beat faster!
Welcome to Gothenburg in 2023. We’d love to show you around!
Imagine a glacier a couple of miles thick, weighing heavily upon the Scandinavian peninsula, a colossal monstrosity extending from the Arctic Circle all the way down to continental Europe. But with a warming planet, the glacier is slowly retreating. In its wake, humans are slowly migrating north following animal herds, e.g. reindeer and their predators: wolves, bears, and wolverines: prehistoric Gothenburg!
Five thousand years ago
People have been living in the area that is present-day Gothenburg for at least twelve thousand years! We know that because of the neolithic traces left behind, such as what is called “Drottning Hackas Grav”, which was found in 1978 and had to be moved 30 ft to avoid being destroyed by a road being built on the site. This stone-age gravesite is the oldest “building” or construction in the city dating back some five thousand years.
Three thousand years ago
As the glaciers retreated, a weight was literally lifted from Scandinavia, and ever since then, the peninsula has been rising from the ocean. This can still be witnessed in Northern Scandinavia where ocean levels are dropping, despite the current climate change actually increasing sea levels. Here in the south, oceans are beginning to wise again, outpacing the millimeter or so the land rises from the ocean. But thousands of years ago, the landscape here, the shorelines, looked radically different, and many of the archeological finds were on shorelines, including the above gravesite.
Another amazing find here in town is this wall with rock paintings. These paintings date three thousand years back. They aren’t very accessible, but I’m happy to take you to see them. There aren’t many rock paintings in southern Sweden and this one is really beautiful.
While the most famous petroglyphs in Sweden are an hour’s drive north of Gothenburg, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site at Tanum, there are several sites in the city as well, and most likely many more that have not yet been discovered. Near the harbor is another prehistoric Gothenburg site that may be difficult to access, but that rewards with ship carvings, balls, and a sun (?) wheel. Can you find the carvings in this photo?
There is a lot more to see and explore in our city, and it can be combined with visits to Tanum and/or more conventional sightseeing. Prehistoric Gothenburg is always worth a visit, and so are the five-thousand years that followed!
Today you celebrate your fourth centennial. That is quite the accomplishment. Now mind you, I realize of course that you are much older than that. We know that settlements along the Göta River date back to the Stone Age. Alas, it wasn’t until June 4th, 1621, that the current installment of Gothenburg actually survived to the modern-day. Every previous attempt at building a city on the mouth of the river was destroyed by our friendly neighbors, the Danes. At the time, they ruled the land south (Halland, Skåne) and north (Bohuslän, Norway.)
Walking through town, there are reminders everywhere about your third centennial celebration. Oddly, due to “delays” (we Gothenburgers excel at that…), we didn’t really celebrate your birthday until 1923. Funnily, the pandemic and other “delays” force us to delay the fourth centennial celebration, too. Therefore, our amusement park, Liseberg, will unveil a huge expansion, not this year, but in1923, their centennial. Therefore, many of the amazing building plans that were scheduled for this year won’t be done. But we can see them rise and if we grow tired of the hustle and bustle of downtown, your islands, lakes, the ocean, and forests beckon us to relax and recharge our batteries.
We got a new bridge across the river, and when you go downtown (which we’ve been avoiding during this pandemic, as much as humanly possible) you see construction going on everywhere: skyscrapers, train tunnels, tram tracks, you name it. Gothenburg is rapidly transforming into a 21st-century city, including a building taller than any other in Scandinavia.
Reanimating an old tourist slogan, here’s my greeting to my home town on your big day: Göteborg, we ❤️ you! (Please note this video is 14 years old, at least… LOL)
If you plan to visit Gothenburg, let me know. I’d be happy to show you my home town.
Being a tour guide, meeting people all the time, I’m often asked questions…
This has been a busy summer. Lots of tours, lots of guests that I have had the privilege to show around my city and West Sweden. And every time I meet guests, we talk (duh!) And every time, invariably, as we get to know each other, at some point questions will be asked about why I’ve become a tour guide. So here’s the answer: storytelling.
From Training Executive to Author and Tour Guide? How?
This might feel like a huge stretch, but actually, is not. I like to think of storytelling as the clip that holds it all together. When I first started out as a trainer, telling stories was a way to help me pass on knowledge to my students. Mind you, it is more complex, and I’m simplifying for the sake of this post. Storytelling has always played a major role in training and education.
The same is obviously true for writing books. Books are basically stories, and I won’t lie that I often view my books as lessons to humanity, stories about humankind. From there, the step to touring isn’t long. I love to tell stories about my city, not just about its interesting history. I use stories to explain the sights, anecdotes that can be funny, thought-provoking, etc.
Whether it’s the story about how Gothenburg was founded, the story of how it became the rich city with all the donations from the “founding fathers”, to the story of the challenges we face going forward.
Storytelling and then some…
Besides, visiting a city, traveling is all about learning. When you book a tour it obviously means you are curious to learn about the place you’re visiting, the people living there, the culture, the food, its history, etc. And storytelling is really the oldest form of learning. It goes back to the very beginnings of humankind. I once explained that in a video for my consulting business, which is yet another way for me to use storytelling to help clients.
Do you have a question for me? Let me know. I’m sure I can weave a little story around it…
Welcome to Sweden and welcome to Gothenburg! Did you bring enough money? Credit card?
No, this isn’t about me. I’ll be happy to take (some of) your money in exchange for an unforgettable tour experience though. This is about a news cast I heard this morning and some things I’ve experienced with guests of mine: money, credit cards and tips. Let’s take the easy one first: tips.
Tips, unlike the US, are included in Sweden
Most European countries include tips in their charge, e.g. in restaurants, cabs, etc. So you don’t have to whip out your calculator and crunch numbers. Here in Sweden, it’s customary to only tip when you’re particularly pleased with your server’s work, and we do that by rounding up to the nearest round figure.
E.g. if your restaurant bill is SEK 947:-, we’d round up to SEK 960 or 970, depending on how generous we feel. But you’re not obliged to do so and nobody will frown if you don’t. Servers here are paid a union salary and tips are added automatically. However, if you want to tip in cash, that is fine. I’ve yet to find a server who complains about a tip.
Please note: new Credit Card readers
Some of the new cordless credit card readers (or terminals) that the server or taxi driver will hand to you will include the option to add the tip on your card (so no hassle with cash.)
You’ll first have to enter the total amount (after the server entered the amount on the bill) before you proceed to enter your pin code or ask for a copy to sign. Be sure not to enter your pin as a total. There is a protection in case the amount you enter differs too much from the bill but it’s embarrassing to have your waiter see your pin as a total amount. #BeenThere
Other service providers are tipped using the same approach. They’re all on a salary and don’t need the tips to make their living! However, if someone does an exceptional job, they’ll gladly accept your tip.
Sweden is well in its way to be the first cash-free society
Regardless of whether you lament or applaud this development, fact is that about 90% of all payments in our country are handled either by Credit Card or Swish (similar to Venmo in the US.) Swish, in particular, has become an indispensable service for payments between people. Fast and free of charge (for now.) There are more and more stores, hotels and restaurants who no longer accept cash.
For visitors from countries where cash is still king, this can be a bit distressful. You’re hungry, order a meal but can’t pay for it. Trust me, we had the equivalent moment a few months ago in Hamburg, just the opposite way, having to leave three restaurants in a row because they did NOT accept credit cards.
Prepare for your trip to Sweden
The good news is that you won’t need to run to your foreign exchange bureau and worry about what size bill you’ll most likely need or what to do with leftover coins nobody will take back.
But, you need to bring your credit card, and you’ll always have to carry an official picture ID with you (passport, driver’s license, national ID card.) You should also, if your bank offers it, get a card that offers an NFC chipped card.
The European Union has new laws coming into effect this month (on the 14th) which will require all EU citizens to be able to use their PIN-code to pay for their goods in stores. Signatures will no longer be accepted. Keep that in mind. If you travel from outside the EU/EES area, nothing changes, but you’ll need your ID to prove who you are (if you do not have a PIN-code.)
The new legislation also affects credit card payments online, at least for us living in the EU/EES. If you need more info, ask your bank or google “RTS/SCA” to learn more.
Contact free payments using the card’s NFC (Near Field Communication) chip are becoming increasingly popular and here in Sweden the amount is set to SEK 200. If you blip (as we call it) your card to the card reader’s NFC symbol, you will not need a PIN-code. Simply blip and you’re done. Very convenient. Other countries may apply different sums, e.g. €20. Apple and Google Pay et al are still not very commonly used, as we have better local solutions.
What’s better? To pay in SEK or my home currency?
I’ve seen this myself abroad: the store or restaurant where I pay offers me to either pay in local currency or in my home currency. Based on my experience, I’ve always fared better to use local currency and let my bank handle the exchange. Why? When you pay in your own currency, the store’s/restaurant’s bank abroad will apply the exchange rate and it is usually worse than the exchange rate your own credit card company applies. This could be because they (locally) have to buy your currency while your card provider would sell the same, and it could also be that it’s just a way to line their pockets a bit extra. I suggest you ask your bank before you travel which would be more advisable.
Please remember: currencies tend to fluctuate, and as we’re heading into more unstable economic times, things change daily. Keep an eye on exchange rates while you travel to avoid any unnecessary surprises. This is true for stable “safe harbor” currencies like the CHF or USD as well as currencies from countries which are considered less safe, e.g. SEK or GBP, usually for political reasons.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to try and answer your specific questions.
Whenever I have the pleasure of taking guests to show them my city I wonder: will they be happy to see things from the outside or would they rather go inside? This might sound like a weird question to you, but allow me to explain. One of the most frequent things I do is walking tours. I pick up my guests at their hotel and we go for a walk where I show them the beauty of Gothenburg.
Would you like to go inside?
There are so many great things to see in a city, but when you have a limited amount of time, we tend to simply scratch the surface. We walk past some of the most amazing buildings but don’t go in. We point out “here’s this museum, and this is City Hall, and over there is where the local parliament resides, and it’s a beautiful building.” We never go inside which is a shame.
There are two main reasons why: a) most buildings aren’t open to visitors, which is a shame. Our local stock exchange is one of the most impressive places we have to show, but it’s only open once every blue moon at specific times, which never suits visitors from abroad. I can tell them that their president or prime minister had dinner here with our king, but I can’t show them.
The second reason is time. Even if the building were open, if you have four hours for a walking tour, there’s not time to spend one or two hours in just one building.
You need a reason to come back…
This is my MO for every place I visit: I miss something important, simply because I’d like to come back. And on a second visit, I may not have to do the “usual” again, but I can dive deeper. I’ve been to Venice countless times since I was a child, and while I have my “have to’s”, e.g. to drink a glass of Prosecco on St. Mark’s Square after dark and listen to live music, these days, my visits to this amazing city allow me to visit places most first-time visitors don’t see.
As a tour guide here in Gothenburg, I kind of see it as my responsibility to water my guests’ mouths, to make them want to come back for more. It’s a delicate balance and I always make sure to learn about hteir interests ahead of time, to make sure they experience exactly what they want, whether it’s walking past a building or going in (if possible.)