Borås – West Sweden’s cosy cultural hub
Located only a 50-minute drive from Gothenburg in West Sweden, charming and arty Borås is the perfect destination for a day trip. The city boasts a growing collection of world class street art and is known as the fashion centre of Sweden. Find the best this city has to offer with our guide.
As soon as you arrive in Borås, you’ll see them – the huge murals covering many of the city’s facades, sometimes as high as seven storeys high. Impressive in both scope and quality, these paintings are the result of No Limit street art festival, a bi-annual event that since 2014 has invited famous artists from all over the world to inject new energy into Borås’ public space. In effect, the project has turned the city into a gigantic outdoor gallery. What originally started as illegal wall paintings has now become a legitimate, and treasured, feature of the city. It’s also something that makes Borås stand out among Swedish cities, given that the country generally has a very restrictive attitude towards street murals.
Most visitors notice the paintings first – but the city’s public art collection includes many other art forms as well, from sculptures to installations. You can see much of the art simply by strolling around the city center, but there are some highlights you shouldn’t miss. They include Fredrik Wretman’s Bohdi, a large bust standing in river Viskan. The artist used himself as a model for the sculpture, which instantly captures by-passer’s attention with its heavy, silent presence. Bodhi was completed in 2008 as a part of Borås International Sculpture Biennale, another event bringing great art to the city. You should also take time to see Walking to Borås by Jim Dine, referred to as Pinocchio by locals, a nine-meter-high bronze statue depicting the beloved figure. House of Knowledge outside the Textile Fashion Center, Jaume Plensa’s eight-meter-high sculpture consisting of letters that form the figure of a person, is another gem.
Among the murals, you should take time to see NeSpoon’s red and white lace wall on Västerbrogatan, DALeast’s blue eagle on the walls of the Borås Unversity (just opposite to Plensa’s House of Knowledge) and Peeta’s three-dimensional, painted tag that seems to jump off a wall in the corner of Järnvägsgatan and Olovsgatan.
In Sweden, Borås has long been known as “the textile city”, thanks to its long history of textile manufacturing. You can learn everything about the industry at the city’s Textile Museum located in the Textile Fashion Center – how it blossomed in the early 20th century, faded in the 60s and 70s as manufacturing moved to low-cost countries and transformed into the contemporary, innovative and fashionable cluster of companies and schools that operate here today.
Temporary exhibitions range from high fashion and pattern design to wearable technology and more, often posing topical questions and reminding us of all the things textiles are besides clothing. Did you know, for instance, that Gore-tex can be used to manufacture artificial blood vessels?
Besides housing the museum, the Textile Fashion Center is also home to Smart Textiles. This fascinating exhibition showcases the latest developments in smart textiles from 3D-printed shoes to energy-saving dresses.
The city has a varied restaurant scene offering everything from Swedish classics to international delicacies. Café Viskan, by the river with the same name, is the city’s buzzing living room. If the weather’s good, grab a seat at the terrace decorated with lush palm trees, and enjoy lunch or a fika – Swedish for a coffee break with, for instance, a cinnamon bun. For dinner, try Pumphuset in the Textile Fashion Centre. Swedish architects Stylt Trampoli have transformed this old factory into a modern beer hall and restaurant, whilst still retaining its unique atmosphere. There are around 120 beers available, many of them locally brewed.
Another good dinner option is Vinci, often hailed as Borås’ best restaurant. Guests keep coming back here for the expertly cooked Italian, South American and Swedish dishes and the professional service.
Five must-dos in Borås
- Tour the city by foot and discover Sweden’s largest collection of urban street art
- Visit the Textile Museum and learn about the textile industry as well as Borås’ history as a textile manufacturing city
- Visit Smart Textiles to discover the future of wearable technology and textile innovation
- Have lunch or fika at Café Viskan, named after the river running past it
- Experience Borås’ varied culinary scene by dining at Pumphuset or Vinci
How to get there
From Gothenburg, take bus number 100 from Åkareplatsen or Korsvägen to Borås Central Station. The ticket costs SEK 135 and is valid for a return trip for three hours. The trip takes just under an hour, and there are normally three departures per hour – sometimes even more. For more info, visit vasttrafik.se