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Introducing Göteborg (Gothenburg)

Though often caught in Stockholm’s shadow, gregarious, chilled-out Göteborg actually has greater appeal for many visitors (and resident Swedes) than the fast-paced capital. Some of the country’s finest talent hails from the streets of this cosmopolitan port, including music icons José González and Soundtrack of Our Lives. Neoclassical architecture lines its tram-rattled streets, grit-hip cafes hum with bonhomie, and there's always some cutting-edge art and architecture to grab your attention.

From Centralstationen at the northern end of town, shop-lined Östra Hamngatan leads southeast across one of Göteborg’s few 17th-century canals, through verdant Kungsparken (King’s Park) to the city’s ‘Champs-Élysées’, the boutique- and upscale bar–lined ‘Avenyn’ boulevard.

The waterfront abounds with all things nautical but nice, from ships, aquariums and sea-related museums to the freshest fish, and, to the west, the Vasastan, Haga and Linné districts buzz with creativity. Fashionistas design fair-trade threads, artists collaborate over mean espressos and street artists spice up forlorn facades. Stockholm may represent the ‘big time’, but many of the best ideas originate in this grassroots town.