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Arriving

By Plane -- SAS (tel. 800/221-2350 in the U.S.; www.flysas.com) operates 8 to 10 daily flights from Copenhagen to Gothenburg (most of them nonstop) between 7:30am and 11:05pm. (Many Swedes who live on the west coast of Sweden consider Copenhagen a more convenient airport than the one in Stockholm.) SAS also operates 10 to 15 daily flights between Stockholm and Gothenburg, beginning about 7am and continuing until early evening.

Planes arrive at Landvetter Airport (tel. 031/94-10-00; www.lfv.se), 26km (16 miles) east of Gothenburg. A Flygbuss (www.flygbussarna.se) or airport bus departs every 30 minutes for the 30-minute ride to the central bus terminal, just behind Gothenburg's main railway station. Buses run daily between 5:15am and 12:15am. A one-way trip costs 82SEK ($16/£8.20). A more modern airport, Gothenburg City Airport, opened in 2002. Positioned 18km (11 miles) northwest of the city center, it receives mostly low-cost flights, many of them charters, from other parts of Europe.

By Train -- The Oslo-Copenhagen express train runs through Gothenburg and Helsingborg. Trains run frequently on a north-south route between Gothenburg and Helsingborg/Malmö in the south. The most traveled rail route is between Gothenburg and Stockholm, with trains leaving hourly in both directions; the trip takes between 3 and 4 1/2 hours, depending on the train.

Trains arrive at the Central Station, on one side of Drottningtorget. Inside the station is a currency-exchange bureau and an office of the Swedish National Railroad Authority (also known as the Statens Järnvägar, "The State's Railways," or, more commonly, SJ), which sells rail and bus tickets for connections to nearby areas. For information, call tel. 771/75-75-75.

By Bus -- There are several buses from Gothenburg to Helsingborg/Malmö (and vice versa) daily. Trip time from Gothenburg to Helsingborg is 3 hours; Gothenburg to Malmö, 3 to 4 hours. Several buses connect Stockholm and Gothenburg daily. The trip takes 6 to 7 hours. Gothenburg's bus station, at Nils Ericson Platsen, is located behind the railway station. For information in Gothenburg, call Swebus, Sweden's largest bus company (tel. 036/290-80-00; www.swebusexpress.se).

By Ferry -- The Stena Line (tel. 031/704-00-00; www.stena.com) has six crossings per day in summer from North Jutland (a 3-hr. trip); call for information on specific departure times, which vary seasonally. They also offer a daily connection from Kiel, Germany, which departs daily at 7pm, arriving at 9am the following morning in Gothenburg. Vessels for both of these routes have excellent dining rooms.

From June to mid-August, there's service from Newcastle-upon-Tyne (England) to Gothenburg twice a week, taking 24 hours. This service is operated by DFDS Scandinavian Seaways (tel. 031/65-06-50 for information; www.dfdsseaways.se). There's no rail-pass discount on the England-Sweden crossings.

By Car -- From either Malmö or Helsingborg, the two major "gateways" to Sweden on the west coast, take E6 north. Gothenburg is 280km (174 miles) north of Malmö and 226km (140 miles) north of Helsingborg. From Stockholm, take E4 west to Jönköping and continue west the rest of the way through Borås to Gothenburg, a distance of 470km (292 miles).

Visitor Information

The Gothenburg Tourist Office is at Kungsportsplatsen 2, SE-411 10 Göteborg (tel. 031/61-25-00; www.goteborg.com), and it's open September to April Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm, May to June 21 daily 9:30am to 6pm, June 22 to August 19 daily 9:30am to 8pm, and August 20 to 31 daily 9:30am to 6pm.

City Layout

The layout of Gothenburg, with its network of streets separated by canals, is reminiscent of Amsterdam -- not surprisingly, as it was designed by Dutch architects in the 17th century. Its wealth of parks and open spaces has given it a deserved reputation as Sweden's greenest city.

Some of the old canals have been filled in, but you can explore the major remaining waterway and the busy harbor by taking one of the city's famous Paddan sightseeing boats (tel. 031/60-96-60; www.paddan.se). Their circular tour through the waterways and canals of Gothenburg strike us as one of the most absorbing and intriguing boat tours offered in Scandinavia. Paddan is the Swedish word for "toad," and the allusion is to the squat shape of the boats that enables them to navigate under the many low bridges. A Paddan service takes you from the point of embarkation, Kungsportsplatsen (near the Central Station), direct to the Liseberg amusement park. The park is the most popular visitor attraction in the area, attracting some three million visitors annually.

The best place to start sightseeing on foot is Kungsportsavenyn (or just "The Avenyn"), a wide, tree-lined boulevard with many sidewalk cafes. (Take a look at the "Gothenburg" map later in this chapter.) Avenyn leads to Götaplatsen, a square that's the city's artistic and historic center. Its centerpiece is a huge bronze fountain with a statue of the sea god Poseidon, sculpted by the great Carl Milles.

Gothenburg's old commercial section lies on either side of the central canal. At the central canal is Gustav Adolfs Torg, dominated by a statue of Gustav himself. Facing the canal is the Börshuset (Stock Exchange building). On the western side is the Rådhuset (Town Hall), originally constructed in 1672. Around the corner, moving toward the river, is the Kronhuset (off Kronhusgatan), a 17th-century Dutch-designed building -- the oldest in Gothenburg.

Gothenburg is dominated by its harbor, which is best viewed from one of the Padden boats. The major attraction here is the Maritiman center. The shipyards, whose spidery forms appear as if they were made from an Erector Set, are dominated by the IBM building. Part of the harbor is connected by an overhead walkway to the shopping mall of Nordstan.

The most rapid growth in Gothenburg has occurred recently on Hisingen Island, now home to about 25% of the town's population. Set across the Göta River (the mouth of which functions as Gothenburg's harbor) from the rest of the city, it's the fourth largest island in Sweden, and home of heavy industry, which includes the Volvo factories. In 1966, a bridge was built across the harbor (that is, the Göta River), connecting -- for the first time in history -- the island to Gothenburg. Despite its growing population and its manufacturing plants, Hisingen Island retains wide swaths of uninhabited scrubland and forest, and we've often gone here for summer hikes.

Getting Around

The cheapest way to explore Gothenburg (aside from on foot) is to buy a Göteborgspasset (Gothenburg Card). Available at hotels, newspaper kiosks, and the city's tourist office, it entitles you to unlimited travel on local trams, buses, and ferryboats; a free pass for most sightseeing tours; free admission to the city's major museums and sightseeing attractions; discounts at certain shops; free parking in certain centrally located parking lots; and several other extras that usually make the card worthwhile. A ticket valid for 24 hours costs 225SEK ($45/£23) for adults and 150SEK ($30/£15) for children up to 17 years old; a 48-hour ticket is 310SEK ($62/£31) for adults and 225SEK ($45/£23) for children.

By Public Transportation (Tram) -- A single tram ticket goes for 20SEK to 25SEK ($4-$5/£2-£2.50) or half price for children. If you don't have an advance ticket, board the first car of the tram -- the driver will sell you a ticket and stamp it for you. Previously purchased tickets must be stamped in the automatic machine as soon as you board the tram.

By Taxi -- Taxis are not as plentiful as we'd like. However, you can always find one by going to the Central Station. To call a taxi, dial tel. 031/27-27-27 or 031/64-40-00. A taxi traveling within the city limits now costs 100SEK to 250SEK ($20-$50/£10-£25), although a ride from the center to either of the airports will run up a tab of around 400SEK to 450SEK ($80-$90/£40-£45).

By Car -- Parking is a nightmare, so we don't recommend driving through Gothenburg. You'll need a car to tour the surrounding area, but there is good public transportation within the city, as well as to many sights. Avis (tel. 031/80-57-80) has a rental office at the Central Station and another at the airport (tel. 031/94-60-30). Its rival, Hertz, also has an office at the center of town at the Central Station (tel. 031/80-37-30) and one at the airport (tel. 031/94-60-20). Compare rates and, of course, make sure you understand the insurance coverage before you sign a contract.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.