I visited Gothenburg for the first time in February 2018 as part of a site visit to view the convention centre, social event options and to meet with the local organising committee.
My positive first impressions were formed as soon as I entered the comfortable and clean airport, which was the only one I've ever been to that had a children's play area by the luggage belts! That speaks highly of Sweden's high regard for families and childcare. Transport to the city was very convenient (and cheap) using the shuttle bus which pulls up literally outside the door of the airport. This stopped by the main convention centre and hotel (Gothia Towers) before continuing to the city centre area where many other quality hotels are located. It’s extremely economical to use and you can save further by booking online. In case you were wondering, everyone speaks English extremely well, and there are English and other language options on automated kiosks and food menus, etc.
I stayed at the Gothia Towers which is the perfect base for ICS 2019 as the convention centre is attached within. The hotel is huge, although full of character, with a great range of bars and restaurants on offer. Here you can try a Gothenburg speciality: the King Size Shrimp Deluxe open sandwich. It was truly extravagant and the shrimps were the freshest I have ever tasted. Gothenburg truly excels in world-class seafood. Families are looked after here with suitable dining options, and a free children’s play areas, plus table football for the “older kids”. A large and interactive science museum is also located next door.
Opposite the Gothia Towers you will find a taxi rank and a tram hub, both offering easy access to the heart of the city centre. If you would prefer some fresh Scandinavian air then you can walk 15 minutes or take one of the many available bikes to hire. Cycling is very popular in Gothenburg and the city is well set up to make life easy for cyclists.
Across the road from the convention centre you will, quite surprisingly, find Scandinavia's largest theme park. Liseberg is a stunning amusement park complete with gigantic hair raising rollercoasters; I am still shaking after riding “Helix”! As well as adrenaline rides there are gentler options like the iconic ferris wheel, or simply enjoy ambling through the beautifully landscaped gardens and taking in the friendly atmosphere. You can pay for entry only at just €10 euros, which I highly recommend as this is a special Swedish experience. There are many dining options in Liseberg too, including some high class restaurants.
Gothenburg is surrounded by hundreds of islands, offering beautiful rugged scenery. You can see some highlights with a tour, or simply by taking the standard ferry boats for a few Euros. Our Annual meeting chair, Ian Milsom was kind enough to show me around some of the archipelago on his own boat. Do take the time to get onto the water - you might even consider escaping from the fast pace of life and enjoying a stay on one of the many tranquil islands. Read more on the official Gothenburg tourism site here. You can also use Gothenburg as a starter or end point to exploring more of the Nordic countries (Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm are not far away by train). By September the days will be warm, long and it will be a lovely time of year to be in the area.
When it comes to great food Gothenburg is on a par with any of the great European cities, especially when it comes to all things fresh and seafood. There is wide array of excellent food on offer, from Michelin starred havens to modestly priced food trucks dishing out moreish comfort food. Coffee and bakeries are also fantastic in Gothenburg. You can enjoy these each day by taking full advantage of the Swedish tradition of ‘Fika’: a moment to stop and talk with friends and colleagues whilst enjoying a cup of coffee and a sweet treat – go for the cinnamon buns or the chocolate balls! Gothenburg excels in craft beer, with many varieties brewed locally. There is also a vibrant cocktail scene, with great bars, including many wine options, all over the city. The prices are comparable to any other European city, maybe a little higher than your local bar but not as high as you might think.
I enjoyed my visit so much that I came back again with my wife for a personal weekend break in September. Avicia also undertook a site visit just last week and plans to take the family with her this time to ICS 2019.
So join the ICS Office and submit your abstract before Monday 1st April and we hope to see you there. Skål!
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