Cycling in Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg is a city of commerce, bustling the length of a long thin harbour and along narrow cobble-stoned streets where shops furnish Swedish style and advertise Global Blue Tax Free shopping. The city was doused in hues of grey during our stay, except for one day when the clouds cleared and Nordic blue swept the sky clear. Sunshine sent the flowers into rapture and I joined them.

I walked that sunny day, soaking in the sun’s warmth and remembering our bike ride to Saltholmen.

Sitting by the seaside, Saltholmen marks the end of the line for west-bound trams and the start of a ferry ride to Gothenburg’s archipelago. It seemed like a good destination. I’d researched hiring bicycles and, although there is a city cycle hire scheme like Oslo, I decided to hire from a bike shop. It was a good choice.

We took a short tram ride to Stigbergtorget tram stop, walked over the road and hired bikes from Cykelkillarna. For a 24 hour hire, we each paid 120SEK ($21AUD / €13EUR /$15USD). The bike shop owner was very attentive, carefully adjusting each bicycle to ensure a comfortable riding position. The bicycles were a hybrid style, relatively new too and rode beautifully.

Saltholmen is about 9kms (6mi) from Cykelkillarna and very easy to find because Gothenburg’s bicycle network is excellent. There are clear pathways throughout the city, many separated from motor vehicle traffic and the paths are very well signposted.

On the day we rode I remember the chill of the wind most vividly. A temperature range of 6°-14° celsius, but a wind chill much cooler. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary for hardy northern hemisphere riders but for a sub-tropical cyclist like me, it was chilly.

The wind stopped us from spending too much time by the sea at Saltholmen. We had planned to continue with our bikes onto a ferry and over to an island in the archipelago, but outside was so windy and cold. So we went inside.

We found a snug café in a small garden centre where a forty-something man with a ginger beard smiled warmly and served us steaming goulash soup with two slices of rye bread smeared with something resembling quark, and each slice topped with two slivers of green capsicum. Overdosed on chilled salty wind and breakfast long over, I felt I’d landed in some type of temporary heaven.

Invigorated for the return trip, we retraced our tracks some of the way and then made a spontaneous decision to take a right hand turn towards Slottsskogen. On our maps, Slottsskogen showed as a green space, a large park criss-crossed with trails. On our bicycles, it brought some hills to climb. In my lungs, it meant crisp clean air. And in my eyes, the whole place sparkled. Not because I was having any sort of medical emergency. Quite the opposite.

Leaving behind streets lined with apartment buildings and neighbourhood shops, I was immersed in tunnels of leafy beech trees, tinting the air with a green hue and breathing life into me. When I posted photos of this forest on my Facebook page, Dayna (who writes for the Melbourne Brompton Club) described this wonderful feeling of being amongst trees, forest or bushland as “Shinrinyoku”. It means forest bathing or forest medicine.

In the heart of Slottsskogen, I felt all the grey skies and bustling commerce wash away, leaving a fond memory of a very enjoyable day cycling in Sweden’s second largest city.

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Shinrinyoku – Forest bathing

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Bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways given priority through the centre of tree lined streets.

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Bike station for Gothenburg’s cycle hire scheme in Haga (the Old Town)

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Signposts to Saltholmen.

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At Saltholmen: ferry in the background – hmm, which way next?

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This local family stepped off a ferry from the archipelago at Saltholmen and cycled away.

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Harbour Office near the Sailing Club

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Seaside 1

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Seaside 2

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Seaside 3 – ships and wind farms

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Tunnel of green in Slottskogan

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Cycling in Gothenburg near Nya Allén

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A map of our ride in Gothenburg.


14 Comments on “Cycling in Gothenburg, Sweden

  1. Interesting post about your adventures around Gothenburg, Gail. I can just see the city ‘doused in shades of grey’. I can imagine too, what a shock the temperature was. Your description of the wind chill sets my teeth on edge! I love the photos – especially the ‘forest bathing’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chilly ride! But with the right gear (which we on mainland Australia rarely get too much occasion to don) it’s just as nice a ride as usual.
    Your photos certainly look just as enticing as usual! I love the Harbour Office.
    Thank you for the Shinrinyoku credit, but I (of course) picked that one up from the amazingly widely-read “Mildly Extreme” Jane ( 😊
    Happy riding!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dayna for adding the link to ‘Mildly Extreme’ Jane’s blog. I’m grateful to you both for teaching me that wonderful word.

      In the right hand side of the Harbour Office photo, there is a catamaran with two women who were preparing to go out sailing. They were so excited about the wind strength. All I could think of was how cold it’d be out there, even with a full wetsuit! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • As you said, they’re acclimatized!
        But you looked pretty snug in your gear. And not having to wear a helmet means lots of easy (and stylish/fun/practical) options for keeping your head warm and dry, too!
        What a great holiday. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, that’s right not having to wear a helmet definitely makes a difference. I had layers of wool keeping me snug.
        Have a good arvo Dayna 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done, Gail! They certainly have their priorities straight. The center bike and pedestrian lanes look safe and inviting. I’ve added Shinrinyoku to my vocabulary and will go in search of the experience whenever I visit a place like Gothenburg.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Clare. Yes, it’s a lovely word to know. And I wonder if there is a water equivalent – for seaside, lakes, streams – because being near them also feels cleansing, rejuvenating…

      Liked by 1 person

    • ‘Happed up’ now that’s another new word for me – I love it! I was definitely well wrapped up in my layers of wool Alastair. Cycling in Scotland, you’d definitely be in shorts at those temperatures 🙂


  4. Riding through the woods always feels comforting to me and reading your post makes me wistful…the last 800 miles or so of my bike trip have been through open prairie. It has been wonderful but I miss all the beautiful green foilage of home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand that Bri. Experiencing unfamiliar landscapes brings different thoughts and feelings about our own place and often an intense appreciation for its uniqueness. I’m sure over your very long ride from NY to Colorado, you had lots of time to contemplate those sorts of things. Riding becomes like a moving meditation at those times, doesn’t it?


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