Stockholm or Gothenburg?

Stockholm or Gothenburg?

As Sweden’s appealing capital, stylish design centre and the birthplace of ABBA, the answer to ‘Stockholm or Gothenburg?’ appears to be a no-brainer. After all, what could be more iconic than the hometown of the well-loved Swedish supergroup? Yet, as trendy and charming as Stockholm is, Sweden’s ‘second city’ also has a lot going for it and in the interest of impartiality, we’re giving Gothenburg the chance to argue its case. Built along Dutch-style canals and blessed with leafy boulevards, it has everything you could want from a lively city – without the crowds. Even more impressive are Gothenburg’s eco-credentials; it’s one of the greenest cities on the planet, thanks to its wind-powered hotels and apartment complexes. So, if we’ve made you re-consider where to spend your next Scandi sojourn, read on to decide between Stockholm or Gothenburg…

  1. Landscape & Landmarks
  2. Food & Drink
  3. Attractions & Nightlife


Landscape & Landmarks

There’s no denying that Stockholm is a stunner of a city. Built across 14 islands and connected by a whopping 57 bridges, it’s Scandinavia’s answer to Venice. Gamla Stan – the Old Town – is the city’s historic centrepiece, which plays host to some of Sweden’s most impressive architecture; the Royal Palace, Nobel Museum, the Opera House and the historic Storkyrkan cathedral, to name a few. The nearby archipelago (with a further 30,000 islands) is also worth exploring during a sight-seeing sailing tour. Gothenburg, on the other hand, is akin to a Nordic Amsterdam, replete with canal-lined walkways and quaint cobbled streets. These are complemented by broad tree-lined boulevards, neoclassical architecture and a bustling waterfront, where you’ll find the freshest fish. Gothenburg is also somewhat of an eco-minded expert. To see nature in all its glory, head to Slottssgogen, the largest of city’s parks, or to the Botanical Garden, which plays host to 16,000 plant species. These magnificent collections of nature are protected by Gothenburg’s climate policies, earning it the title of Lonely Planet’s ‘Best Sustainable City Stay’ in 2021.

The two cities are well-matched when it comes to their natural beauty and notable landmarks, so whether you choose to visit Stockholm or Gothenburg, your camera roll is bound to be filled with scenic snaps. So, we’re calling this one a draw and awarding a point to each city.


Food & Drink

If like us you enjoy immersing yourself in the culinary culture of a new city, then you’ll be eager to hear about what Stockholm and Gothenburg each have to offer. The now cult status of IKEA’s meatballs has no doubt helped put Swedish food on the map, but both cities boast gastronomic delights beyond this meaty staple. Stockholm is home to some world-renowned and Michelin-starred restaurants, which lead the way when it comes to fusing age-old foodie traditions with modern innovations. Try Ekstedt for flavourful dishes cooked in a wood-fired oven, or Lilla Ego for seasonal Nordic recipes and fine wines. In Gothenburg, we’d recommend heading for the mouth-watering market stalls of Stora Saluhallen – the city’s most historic and gourmet food hall. Sample warm cardamom buns while enjoying a fika break, grab a loaf of fresh sourdough or sit down for a craft beer and some smorgasbord.

Both Stockholm and Gothenburg punch well above their weight when it comes to food and drink. But if we had to choose one foodie scene to frequent, Stockholm might just take the cake (or cinnamon bun), thanks to its Michelin-starred establishments.


Attractions & Nightlife

Stockholm knows what it’s doing when it comes to museums, with over 100 carefully curated spaces showcasing the city’s history, art and culture. If you’re a lover of music (and yes, in this case we mainly mean ABBA), become the band’s fifth member and embrace your inner dancing queen at the interactive ABBA Museum. From glam-pop to fine art, the acclaimed Moderna Museet houses Sweden’s largest collection of 20th-century art, while Fotografiska displays an ever-evolving collection of photography. In Gothenburg, there’s the Universeum, which offers up an interesting mix of science, technology and adventure, and the Aeroseum is ideal for any budding pilots or aviation enthusiasts. The city’s Liseberg Amusement Park is widely renowned as Sweden’s biggest and best theme park, guaranteeing adrenaline-inducing rides and family-friendly fun.

Come evening, neither city shows any sign of slowing down and both possess vibrant nightlife scenes. Gothenburg’s is driven by its large student population, with the tram-rattled Kungsportsavenyen noted as its main hub of cocktail bars and bistros. In Stockholm, the Norrmalm and SoFo neighbourhoods are where the city’s young professionals go to unwind and dance the night away. However, given Stockholm’s capital status, you’re likely to get more bang for your buck in Gothenburg.

While Stockholm may boast the bigger of the attractions, Gothenburg’s understatedly hip atmosphere places it firmly on our radar and since we love discovering new hangouts, the capital’s edgier cousin takes the win on this one.

All in all, we’d argue that it’s not so much Stockholm or Gothenburg, but more a question of whether you can squeeze both cities into your itinerary.

Written by Luisa Watts