Length 4.4 km (2.7 miles), terrain: flat
Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks!
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Gothenburg (Swedish: Göteborg), Sweden's second-largest city, is typically Scandinavian: it's face is turned towards the sea, with its back to the granite cliffs and forests that spread out behind. The town was founded 400 years ago on the Göta Älv river as a Swedish port in the south to compete with the Danes and Germans, and it has grown to be Scandinavia's biggest port.
This doesn't exactly make for a beautiful harbor area: the whole mouth of the river, along both sides, is full of docks, warehouses, cranes and industry. But despite the very utilitarian look to most of the waterfront, it is always fascinating, and a lot of it has been redeveloped and been given back to the people in recent years.
|The route along Östra Hamngatan, with its trams, photo by Nic Taylor|
NOTE: If you have at least a few hours of free time in daylight, my tip is to take tram 11 or tram 9 to Saltholmen and then jump on one of the ferries out to one of the car-less islands in the archipelago, and get a real taste of the area via a good hike!
This route will circle the city center, both along the riverfront and along the park-lined moat-canal that once served as the city's defenses along the east side, inland.
We'll start the run right in the heart of the redeveloped area of the waterfront, at the new opera house on the Göta Älv river. It seems like every Scandinavian town had to build a new waterside opera house in recent years. This one is about the least-beautiful of them, in my opinion, but provides a nice anchor for cultural life along the water.
|The opera at Lilla Bommen harbor, photo by - Cristina -|
Now turn around, with your back to the river and run past the opera and cross the open square ahead, with the traffic circle to your left, and enter the downtown by running south along Östra Hamngatan. Follow the tram tracks along this main shopping street, as you pass the modern Nordstan shopping arcade on the left side.
When you come to a cross-canal, at the end of Nordstan, turn left on Norra Hamngatan and run along the canal, heading east, with the water to your right side. You'll pass an open square and then the Palace Hotel and Restaurant, one of Gothenburg's oldest institutions.
|The sluice, with Trädgårdsföreningen at the trees, photo by bobild|
You'll then cross a wider canal that goes south: this is the moat of the old city walls. Just on the other side of the moat, there is a series of parks along the eastern side.
Just past the moat, turn right, heading through the little gate into Trädgårdsföreningen (Garden Society) park, open from 7 AM till 8 PM. Keep on one of the paths along the right side, near the moat, going past the beautiful Victorian-era greenhouse until you exit the little park in just 400 meters.
|The greenhouse in Trädgårdsföreningen, photo by The Hamster Factor|
Now, just keep following the zig-zag of the moat as it curves westwards around the south edge of the city center.
|The canal in fall colors, photo by The Hamster Factor|
When you get to the next bridge, just before the electric plant, keep running straight, staying to the left of the old yellow warehouses ahead (still keeping the moat to your right).
Just past the warehouses, you'll find yourself back at the river again. Now turn right and head north along the pedestrian/bike trail right along the water.
At first, the scenery isn't too spectacular along this part of the river, but when you cross the canal that once formed the old harbor in the center of town, the riverfront gets really nice.
|Ships at Maritiman, photo by Sam Doshi|
You'll now pass the Marieholm restaurant-ship and then reach the back end of the opera again. Just run past it and you'll be at the starting point again.