Fast Facts

  • Location: From Gothenburg (Swedish: Gíöteborg) on the west coast to Síöderkíöping on the Baltic Sea in Sweden.
  • Attraction Type: Canal
  • Significance: A historic canal that was created for commercial transportation, but ended up in a popular tourist destination.
  • How to Reach: If you are coming down air, you need to come at Landvetter Airport in Gothenburg. You can then go to various locations through which the Gota Canal has passed by.
  • Best Time to Visit: During the summer.
  • Nearest Airport: Landvetter Airport (GOT) in Gothenburg.

Gota Canal, nearly two hundred years after its creation, is finally proving to be a profitable commercial venture, although in a way markedly different from the one intended. Right up to the 19th century, there was no canal or viable waterway that ran through the length and breadth of Sweden. The need for a canal that would provide convenient transport was strongly felt. Gota Canal was built to meet that need.

Finally, this dream project of the Swedish people saw the light of day in 1832, running a distance of 382 miles from Gothenburg to Sderkoping on the Baltic Sea. It passed through the Gota Alv River, the Trollhatte Kanal and lakes Vanem and Vattern. However, impediments towards its smooth functioning happened, again and again, disturbing its commercial viability. Presently, it is Sweden’s chief tourist attraction. There is no other way to experience Sweden, its myriad sights and sounds, castles and fortifications, churches and cathedrals than through a lavish and languid cruise in the Gota Canal.

The Gota Canal was a brainchild of Baltzar von Platen. Soon after he proposed the plan, he started to generate political and financial support for its materialization. A good supporter of the cause was found in Charles XIII, who backed it both morally and financially. However, there was a lack of resources, both technical and logistical to carry out such a large scale public project in Sweden. Experts had to be brought in from England who oversaw the first phase of the construction. Implements and machines, including absolutely basic tools, had to be imported from England as well.

Importance of Gota Canal
The canal was thought to play a very important role in plying and transporting industrial products from one part of Sweden to another. However, soon the railways were introduced and both the public as well as businessmen and industrialists found a better way to commute and transfer goods than the rather slow channel. Moreover, the railways could run all through the year and do not need to be closed down in the winter months, when the canal fell into disuse. The use of the canal was now restricted to the transference of timber, oars, and coal — products that were not necessary to transfer in a hurry.

One of the biggest advantages of the Gota Canal was seen that it could provide a steady alternative to Denmark’s Orisound, where the Sound Tax as applicable. A certain degree of trade was actually carried out between England and Russia through the Gota Canal. However, the Crimean War interrupted and all Anglo-Russian trade was brought to a halt. Soon after the trade route was re-opened, major global powers forced Denmark to revoke the Sound Tax. The Orisound was again open to trade and Gota Canal lost its much-needed edge. It again fell to obscurity.

Gota Canal Cruise
Even now, the Gota Canal does not have the kind of commercial viability that a canal of such dimension is expected to have. However, it remains an attractive point of attraction in the country, with plenty of cruise ships plying through it for most parts of the year, except the winter months of course. Visitors consider a Gota Canal cruise to be the best way to explore this picturesque Scandinavian country. One of the greatest advantages of the Gota Canal cruise is that you have the freedom to leave the vessel, walk, run or hike along the cruise ship and then rejoin it when you have had enough. The cruise, however, is not continuous and there are quite a few stopovers on your way. All in all, a cruise ship provides you with the most authentic and memorable Swedish experience.

Gota Canal Cruises can range from 2 days to 6 days, depending on the distance covered and the number of stops on the way. Some of the most popular Gota Canal cruises are:

Mini Canal Cruise — 2-day cruises
The Good Life on board — 3-day cruises
From Coast to Coast — 4-day cruise
The Great Swedish Cruise — 6-day cruise

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