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Västra Götaland - Gothenburg, Lake Hornborga, Läckö Castle, Varnhem Monastery Church, Strömstad

What does the name of the region mean?

The name of the region can be translated as Western Gothland.

What is the region's historical importance?

In the past, the location of Gothenburg turned the region of Västra Götaland into an important region, as Gothenburg was Sweden's only access point to the North Sea and Atlantic. The region has an interesting history as it has been influenced by Danish invasions, but also by the influx of Scottish, German and Dutch people.

Today, Västra Götaland is the second largest region in Sweden in regards to the population (about 17% of all Swedish people live in Västra Götaland). Västra Götaland also includes two of Sweden's most productive agricultural regions.

What is the region known for?

Every year, over 155,000 people gather at the Gothenburg international film festival, which is the biggest film festival in Scandinavia. The region, in general, is known for the many festivals, especially music festivals, that take place over the warmer summer months.

Västra Götaland is also one of Sweden's most important tourist destinations as it as many ancient monuments, historic buildings, lovely landscapes (there's everything Sweden has to offer – the only thing the region doesn't have is bare mountains), educational museums, and great experiences for people of all ages. Not only international but also Swedish visitors enjoy what this region has to offer.

The region is also home to 20% of all of the horses in Sweden. No other region in Sweden has so many horses!

What are some places you need to visit in Västra Götaland?

Gothenburg

Gothenburg is the most important city in Västra Götaland, and home to Scandinavia's biggest port. The city is very interesting example of a city that has been trading with a variety of other cultures since the Middle Ages, and there is a strong Dutch, German, and Scottish presence in Gothenburg. The city has an immense amount of interesting places and activities, and it's virtually impossible to take it all in, so make wise choices and don't try to cram too much into one visit. There are plenty of parks (Hisingspark is the biggest one), a lovely botanical gardens, art galleries, a variety of museums, and of course some historic buildings to see.

Highlights of a visit in Gothenburg include the old city center of Gothenburg, Liseberg (the amusement park with the most visitors in Scandinavia, and right in the heart of the city), the many museums about history, art, and navigation (choose one or two that interest you most), the Vasa church, and the Volvo Museum (as Volvo was founded in Västra Götaland). If need to get out of the city for bit, you can take a ferry to one of the scenic islands of the Southern Gothenburg archipelago. One of them also has a fortress on it, so you can combine an escape from the city with some more culture!

Lake Hornborga

In spring, you can watch how the cranes dance and show off during their mating rituals. The lake is a wonderful place to just relax, and watch wildlife – or go for some nice hikes to forget all your troubles for a while.

Läckö Castle

This castle is over 700 years old, and not just a nice place to explore but also a place that offers a variety of experiences during the summer months: there is live music and also theater plays within the castle walls.

Varnhem Monastery Church

In the second half of the 12th century, the Varnhem Monastery Church was built for Cistercian monks (though the history of the actual site dates back to the 11th century), and is a very popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, the church burnt down twice (the first time in 1234, and the second time in 1566, but the second time wasn't an accident – the Danish forces had something to do with that fire). Today, the church stands once more, but the abbey itself is still in ruins. It is a very interesting place to visit and learn about as there's quite a lot of history attached to these buildings.

Strömstad

This city was part of Norway in the past, and today many Norwegians still come and visit Strömstad because many items are a lot cheaper in Sweden than in Norway, especially alcohol is something the Norwegian like to buy from this city – so much that an extra shop had to be opened to deal with the demand. But the city isn't just a Norwegian shopping paradise. It also has a big yachting harbor and is a rather popular destination during the summer months.

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