One of the best bits about travelling to somewhere where you know someone is you get the local, insider knowledge. And that’s precisely what happened in Gothenburg. I (Joel) visited visit my brother and his family, who have lived in Sweden for years. I’d previously visited in winter, so it was nice to explore a bit more of what Gothenburg has to offer outdoors, which is what Sweden is famous for (aside from IKEA, Spotify and Volvo, obviously!).
Gothenburg (Göteborg to the locals, pronounced gow·tuh·bawg) is Sweden’s second-largest city, located on the west coast of Sweden. Nestled between a stunning archipelago and expansive forests, Gothenburg is the perfect blend of urban landscape, countryside and sea.
Clean, tidy and well-maintained, Gothenburg is a city that should be on your list of places to visit. The Swedish also speak great English, so there are no language barrier concerns, which is wonderful for those who can’t speak any other language other than English (like me!).
Before we dive into our things to do in Gothenburg, here’s another thing Gothenburg has going for it – according to the Global Sustainability Index, the city is the world’s most sustainable destination and an excellent choice for sustainable travel. Without further ado, let’s explore the things to do in Gothenburg!
Things to Do in Gothenburg
1 | Gothenburg Museum of Arts
The Gothenburg Museum of Art has one of the best art collections in Northern Europe and includes some big names such as Rembrandt, Picasso and van Gogh. You’ll also find contemporary art there, too. The museum is also home to the Hasselblad Center. This is because Gothenburg was the birthplace of Hasselblad, who made the cameras that went to the moon in 1969! If photography is your thing, you can’t miss the Hasselblad Centre. You’ll find some decent photography exhibitions too.
2 | Universeum
Universeum is the national science centre of Sweden. It’s a gigantic 18,000 cubic metre playground that provides a powerful education in science, technology and sustainable development, things which the Swedish are renowned for. If the natural world, and more importantly, making the world a better and more sustainable place, is of interest to you, Universeum is a must-do in Gothenburg.
3 | Gothenburg Botanical Garden
If you like green spaces, the Gothenburg Botanical Gardens is a must-visit for you. On the edge of Gothenburg lies 175 hectares of beautiful gardens containing over 15,000 species of plants.
It’s a place where you can get lost in tranquil landscapes, from the arboretum to the Japanese Dell. You might even discover a bit of wildlife, like this frog! There’s also a cafe that serves amazing cinnamon buns, known locally as kanelbullar.
4 | Admire the Views from Skansen Kronan
Sitting proudly atop of hill Risåsberget, in the Haga district of Gothenburg, is the Skansen Kronan. The fortress, built between 1687 and 1700, was constructed to protect the city of Gothenburg against possible Danish attacks.
These days, it serves a different purpose – one where you can go to enjoy the panoramic views of Gothenburg and where you can go to sit, relax and soak up the atmosphere with friends. You can even get married or host a party in this dramatic setting.
5 | Visit Haga
What was once a dense residential area of Gothenburg, Haga is now known for its timber houses, cobbled streets, independent retail and cosy cafes. Haga is the place to go to feel like you are stepping back in time and to enjoy a bit of Swedish Fika.
6 | Stroll Trädgårdsföreningen & Palm House
Trädgårdsföreningen translates as a garden association, but all you need to know is it’s a wonderful park right in the centre of Gothenburg. It’s a place to relax on the well-kept lawns or perched along the river bank and stroll around the beautiful flower beds to admire the native and exotic plants.
And sitting in the centre of Trädgårdsföreningen is Palm House. Modelled on Crystal Palace in London, Palm House is a 19th-century masterpiece of cast iron and glass containing exotic plants, and you guessed it, palm trees! And as you wander around this magnificent and massive greenhouse, you’ll be wrapped in the tropical warmth.
7 | Cycle the Harbour
Similarly to Amsterdam, cycling is very much part of the fabric of Gothenburg, and cycle lanes form part of the city landscape, which makes getting around Gothenburg by bike friendly, efficient and safe. So, take the opportunity to get around this wonderful city in a safe and enjoyable way.
Taking a cycle tour around the harbour will give you unique and alternative views of the city that are well worth it. There are two options to enjoy cycling in Gothenburg. Head on a cycle tour or look for bike hire in Gothenburg. Bike Tour Gothenburg is a great option – they are located by the harbour and offer cycling tours (the tour guide rides on an iconic Penny-farthing bike) and bike hire.
8 | Indulge in Swedish Fika
We’re halfway through our things to do in Gothenburg, so it’s time to take a moment to relax over coffee. Did you know Sweden has one of the world’s highest coffee consumption per capita? That’s probably why Fika is high on the Swedish agenda! Fika is often translated as ‘coffee and a cake’, but after a bit of research, it turns out Fika is much more than that. Fika is a ritual – a concept, state of mind, attitude and, most importantly, a social event.
Therefore you can’t have Fika alone – it must be shared with someone because that’s the point! Haga is famous for Fika, so take a trip there. Alternatively, if you’re after a cinnamon roll, I have it from my brother that one of the best cinnamon rolls you will find is in the Botanical Gardens. And I can confirm – it was delicious! Sweet cinnamon with a moist centre. What’s not to love?!
9 | Visit Gothenburg City Museum
Located on a quiet road in Gothenburg sits the Gothenburg City Museum, which is housed in the historic former East India Company building from the 18th century. Inside, you can discover how people lived in Sweden 12,000 years ago and explore the history of Gothenburg and why it’s nicknamed the Swedish Amsterdam. You’ll also find Äskekärrsskeppet, the only exhibited Viking ship in Sweden. But don’t get too excited; it’s just the remains of the hull! There’s also a shop, café and restaurant inside.
10 | Wonder at Feskekörka
Gothenburg’s Feskekörka is one of the city’s most iconic and recognisable buildings. Feskekörka, translated as Fish Church, got its name because of the building’s uncanny resemblance to a church. But it’s not a church; Feskekörka contains a fish market and seafood restaurants. The building alone is worth a visit, even if what’s inside isn’t your thing.
11 | Escape the Urban Sprawl
There aren’t many free things to do in Gothenburg, but this is one!n You don’t have to go far to escape the city of Gothenburg. The outdoors is part of Swedish life. In Sweden, they have a thing called Allemansrätten, which is a right of public access. Allemansrätten means you can freely walk, camp, cycle, ride or ski across the entire country. Amazing, right?
Pushing away from the city centre is Änggårdsbergen Nature Reserve, which spills out from Gothenburg Botanical Gardens. You can explore the woodland and small lakes and get lost in a little wilderness on the city’s edge. Alternatively, check out Slottsskogen City Park. It’s Gothenburg’s main park and home to Göteborg Natural History Museum, a zoo and has cafes and restaurants.
12 | Thrill Seek at Liseberg
Liseberg is one of Gothenburg’s most popular attractions, with up to three million people passing through its gates. Imagine a centrally located place where you can satisfy the thrill-seeker in you. Well, Liseberg is the place to go! Liseberg contains Europe’s longest dive rollercoaster, with a vertical drop of almost 50 metres, where you will reach speeds of 105 kph (65 mph).
Liseberg entry is cheaper to visit after 6 pm, and if you want access to the park to enjoy the parklands and restaurants without going on the rides, that’s also an option.
13 | Explore a Warship
If ships are your thing, you can’t miss Maritiman. You can discover what life on board a submarine is like and wander around the Swedish Navy destroyer, Jagaren Småland, the largest warship in Scandinavia.
14 | Visit the Volvo Museum
You’ve likely heard of Volvo, but did you know the car manufacturer originated in Gothenburg in 1927? You can pay the Volvo museum a visit to learn all about Volvo’s heritage and history and look at a range of cars, buses, trucks, marine engines and construction equipment. There’s also a cafe and souvenir shop to finish your visit!
15 | Experience the Peace of Gothenburg Archipelago
Last but not least of our things to do in Gothenburg is to visit the Gothenburg Archipelago. That’s not because it’s not awesome, but because it will consume the best part of your day to get from the city to the islands of the archipelago and back.
Having said that, it’s worth taking the time to get out, explore the islands and soak up the peaceful nature of the Gothenburg Archipelago. So, if you fancy pushing even further out of Gothenburg or you’re looking for day trips from Gothenburg, the archipelago is the place to go! Read our in-depth guide to the archipelago.
Things to Do in Gothenburg Map
Is Gothenburg worth visiting?
Absolutely, yes! Gothenburg is a fantastic city with a rich history, lots of things to do and is safe, clean and tidy. Add Gothenburg to your list of places to go!
Is Gothenburg a nice city?
Yes, Gothenburg is a nice city. It’s got a wonderful range of architecture, is clean, tidy, friendly and safe. There’s also an excellent public transport network to improve your visit. There are also a ton of things to do in Gothenburg to keep you occupied, from visiting a range of museums to exploring the archipelago.
Is Gothenburg expensive to visit?
Gothenburg isn’t a budget-friendly city and is expensive to visit compared to the UK and London. Expect to pay a few pounds more for a pint!
Do they speak English in Sweden?
Although English isn’t their first language (it’s Swedish!), the Swedes speak excellent English. Communicating with Swedish people in English is seamless, and a language barrier is something you are unlikely to encounter.
What language do they speak in Gothenburg?
Swedish is the native language of Sweden, but in general, Swedish people speak excellent English. The Swedish are ranked as one of the highest performing countries on the English Proficiency Index!
So, what’s not to love about Gothenburg – there’s plenty to do, it’s by the sea, has great access to nature, and is safe, friendly and clean.
Things to Do in Gothenburg
- Gothenburg Museum of Arts
- Gothenburg Botanical Garden
- Admire the Views from Skansen Kronan
- Visit Haga
- Stroll Trädgårdsföreningen & Palm House
- Cycle the Harbour
- Indulge in Swedish Fika
- Visit Gothenburg City Museum
- Wonder at Feskekörka
- Escape the Urban Sprawl
- Thrill Seek at Liseberg
- Explore a Warship
- Visit the Volvo Museum
- Experience the Peace of Gothenburg Archipelago
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