Gothenburg and Málaga: are these Europe’s most forward-thinking cities?

The cities of Gothenburg and Málaga have been crowned the European Capitals of Smart Tourism for 2020.


Within two decades, Málaga has transformed into a cultural powerhouse by the sea, having welcomed big-hitters such as the Picasso Museum and Centre Pompidou. It’s also reinvented old landmarks as vibrant cultural spaces — take the Tabacalera, a grand former tobacco factory now home to the Museo Automovilístico and the Colección del Museo Ruso.Within two decades, Málaga has transformed into a cultural powerhouse by the sea.PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY

The sun-bathed Spanish city is also a smart one: innovative, water-saving irrigation systems have been installed, there’s LED street lighting, and also 28 miles of cycle lanes winding along the coast. And in an extra touch of eco savvy, Málaga has also introduced an Air Quality Sectoral Plan to reduce air pollution and improve noise quality.


Welcome to a city that’s embracing the 21st century like nowhere else. Authorities in Gothenburg, in collaboration with the local tourism industry, are using tech to enrich the visitor experience: as well as the city’s comprehensive website, digital solutions to traffic and transport management have been introduced.Part of what makes Gothenburg smart is its commitment to sustainability.PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY

Part of what makes the city smart is its commitment to sustainability: 92% of its hotels are environmentally certified and local events can use the ‘Event Impact Calculator’ to tot up their social and environmental impact. So sustainable is the Swedish city that it’s topped the Global Destination Sustainability Index three years in a row.

What makes these cities so smart?

Cities recognised as European Capitals of Smart Tourism are assessed on factors such as accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation and cultural heritage.

Published in the December 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)