10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Gothenburg
In recent years, Gothenburg and the West Coast have become a top spot for foodies. World-class seafood, award-winning restaurants, and a magnificent coastline are drawing international visitors in ever-increasing numbers. Gothenburg, or as it's known in Sweden, Göteborg, is the country's second city, yet very different in character to its faraway big brother, Stockholm. Gothenburg's citizens are extremely proud of their city, and an often intense rivalry exists between Stockholm, in the north, and its southerly counterpart. The climate is more temperate, the al fresco dining starts a little earlier in the year, and all-in-all Gothenburg has a more European feel than the Swedish capital some 467 kilometers northeast. Bearing in mind that Frederikshavn in Denmark is just three and a half hours away by ferry, all this is hardly surprising.
See also: Where to Stay in Gothenburg
1 Feskekörka (The Fish Market)
Gothenburg is all about seafood, so what better way into the heart and soul of the city than eating like a local. The church-like Feskekörka, which literally translates as "fish-church" dates from 1874 and was built as an experiment to see if a single structure could stand without pillars. Thankfully, it seems to have worked so far. Inside, you'll find a range of artisan fishmongers and excellent restaurants. There are all sorts of seafood delicacies freshly landed on the day so if you're self-catering, you're in for a treat. If not, indulge in some take-away shrimps and sit by the adjacent canal, or settle in at Restaurant Gabriel upstairs.
Hours: Open daily 10am-6pm
Address: Rosenlundsvägen, 41120 Gothenburg
2 Editor's Pick Haga
In the west of the city, Haga is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Gothenburg and dates from the mid-17th century. Stroll along the charming neighbourhood of Haga Nygata, which is lined with beautifully preserved timber houses, boutique shops, and pleasant cafés. Try one of the world's largest cinnamon buns (Kanelbullar) at Café Husaren, visit the spa and restaurant at Haga Bathhouse, or enjoy fresh seafood at Sjöbaren restaurant. Don't miss out on Bräutigam's, chocolate makers for more than 140 years. In the southeast area, you can gaze out over the city from Skansen Kronan. As evening approaches head to Pustervik just outside Haga for some live music.
Location: Haga Nygata, Gothenburg
3 The Museum of Art (Konstmuseet)
Boasting three stars in the Michelin Green Guide to Scandinavia, the Gothenburg Museum of Art holds a unique collection of Nordic art, regarded as one of the finest collections in Northern Europe and featuring works by Carl Larsson, Edvard Munch, Anders Zorn, Picasso, Chagall, Monet, Rembrandt, and many others. The photo exhibitions at the Hasselblad Centre in the same building are well worth taking in, and next door, you'll find the City Theatre and Concert Hall. One of the museum's highlights is the Hasselblad Prize-winner's annual exhibition. The museum hosts a range of permanent and temporary exhibitions, family activities, lectures, workshops, guided tours, a shop, and café.
Hours: Open daily - times vary, closed Mondays
Admission: Adults SEK40, under 25 yrs free
Address: Götaplatsen, 41256 Gothenburg
4 Liseberg Amusement Park
A Gothenburg institution, the Liseberg Amusement Park is a true family favorite. There's thrilling rides and rollercoasters, regular concerts, and at Christmas, a terrific market. Around 40 different attractions and rides such as AtmosFear, the tallest free fall ride in Europe, and the award-winning wooden roller coaster Balder will help visitors while away the hours. On the Liseberg Big Wheel you'll be treated to terrific views over the city. There's also good food, music, games, and hundreds of thousands of flowers in bloom during the summer months. A brand new roller coaster, the Helix, opens in Spring 2014.
Seasonal & Christmas Opening Hours
Adults SEK 90, Children under 110 cm Free
Address: Örgrytevägen 5, 41251 Gothenburg
5 Magasinkvarteret (The Shopping Quarter)
The trendy, bustling neighborhood around Magasinsgatan, in central Gothenburg, used to be a warehouse district and is well worth a visit. Grab a cup of coffee and something to eat or browse shops with everything from interior design to vintage clothing. There are plenty of gourmet and traditional restaurants. For an authentic taste of southern Sweden try out herring with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce at Strömmingskluckan. The district is in the city center at the end of the Kungsgatan. If staying downtown, the easiest way to get there is to walk. Alternatively, you can take the tram or bus to either Grönsakstorget or Domkyrkan.
Location: Magasinsgatan, Gothenburg
6 Älvsborg Fortress
Älvsborg, in the harbor inlet, is arguably the best-preserved fortress in Sweden. Famed for holding back the Danes during the 1717-19 war, the fortress was attacked time after time without ever being occupied. Today, it's one of the most popular boat excursions in Gothenburg. The trip includes a dramatized historical guided tour, which as well as being informative is great fun. The boat trip takes approximately 30 minutes one way. On the island there's a café, a small handicraft shop, winding paths, and beautiful surroundings. The onboard guided tour is in Swedish and English and broadcast through loudspeakers. The dramatized fortress tour is also in Swedish and English.
Hours: Open July-August
Admission: Adults SEK 160, children 6-11 years half price, children 0-5 years free, family rates
Address: Lilla Bommen, Pusterviksgatan 13, 41301 Gothenburg
7 Skansen Kronan
Completed in 1697, Skansen Kronan fortress was built to defend against perceived threats of Danish attacks from the south. However, Gothenburg was never attacked in this way, and the cannons inside have stood idle for centuries. The building served as a prison, as a private residence during the 19th century, and as a military museum in the 20th century. Today, the site encompasses a restaurant and conference center. In the old army barracks adjacent to the tower, there's a summer café serving home baked cakes, pastries, and ice cream. From the hill, (Risåsberget) you can enjoy panoramic views over the city and harbor. To get there take either Tram 1, 2, or 6 to Prinsgatan.
Hours: Open Tuesdays-Fridays 10am-3pm, guided tours can be pre-booked
Location: Skansberget, Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
8 The Southern Archipelago
You don't have to travel far from the city to find charming villages, stunning scenery, and pristine beaches. Seal safaris, sailing, lobster fishing, sea-angling, and boat excursions are just some of the activities to tempt tourists in the Gothenburg archipelago (Skärgården). Regular ferry links run to most anywhere you'd like to go. The southern islands, reached from Saltholmen ferry port, remain a car-free zone making it a perfect destination for cyclists and hikers. Styrsö Island, with four quaint villages and about 1,400 inhabitants, is a real treat. The oldest village, Byn, which literally means village, dates back to 1752. There's also a post office, cafés, shops, guesthouse, and restaurant as well as plenty of places to fish and swim.
www.styrsobolaget.se (ferries to southern islands)
9 The Garden Society (Trädgårdsföreningen)
In the heart of the city, the Garden Society of Gothenburg (Trädgårdsföreningen) is one of the most beautifully preserved 19th century parks in Europe. Here, visitors can stroll amid rolling lawns, exotic plants, and historic buildings. The woodland gardens and magnificent collection of roses is a feast for any eye, while the splendid glass and cast-iron Palm House at the park's center was inspired by the famous Crystal Palace in London and has been a popular attraction since 1878. Here, you can experience a stunning diversity of exotic plants. For the kids, there's a terrific playground that was redesigned in 2013 with swings, slides, and secret paths to explore. Aside from the on-site restaurants and cafés, concerts and performances take place here throughout the year.
Hours: Open daily 7am-6pm, 10am-8pm, May-August; Palm House open daily from 10am-4pm
Location: Södravägen, 41110 Gothenburg
10 Universeum Science and Natural History Museum
In the center of Gothenburg, Universeum is the largest Science center in the Nordic countries and a great day out for all the family. The aquariums are among the largest in Europe. Explore the indoor rainforest or go on safari and get up close to lizards, birds, insects, sloths, and several species of monkeys. The ocean tank is home to eight different kinds of sharks, the largest one being the sand tiger shark. You can also see moray eels and swordfish and even touch giant rays as they surface. There's a space exhibition as well as a science and forensic crime laboratory.
Hours: Open daily 10am-6pm
Admission: Adult SEK 175, family (2 adults, 3 children) SEK 545, 3-16 yrs SEK 120, under 3 yrs free
Address: Södra vägen 50, 40020 Gothenburg
Where to Stay in Gothenburg for Sightseeing
Gothenburg's attractions don't group compactly into one area, but public transportation is good, and many are within a 10- or 15-minute walk of each other. So for tourists, the most convenient hotels are those in the center, close to the rail station and the Magasinsgatan shopping district and an easy walk from the floating ships museum. Farther south, on the way to the Liseberg amusement park and Universeum science center, is the Lorensburg district and Gothenburg's outstanding art museum. These highly-rated hotels are handy to Gothenburg attractions:
- Luxury Hotels: The striking contemporary Upper House, overlooking the Universeum and Liseberg, is connected to the convention center and has a spa, heated outdoor pool, and beautiful views. In the center, near the train station, city museum, and Magasinsgatan shopping area, the boutique Hotel Pigalle is a romantic retreat with 1920s Paris décor. Beside the rail station, Clarion Hotel Post offers a gym, spa, and a year-round heated roof-top pool, all a short walk from the center.
- Mid-Range Hotels: In the center, near the station, airport bus stop, and Magasinsgatan, the historic Hotel Royal Gothenburg pampers guests by including afternoon tea and cakes. A two-minute walk from the airport bus stop, STF Goteborg City Hotel has small, well-furnished rooms and a kitchen for guests use. Nearby, Hotel Vanilla is a 10-minute walk from the station and close to restaurants and shopping.
- Budget Hotels: For a unique experience only a short walk from the airport bus stop and the center of Gothenburg, Hotell Barken Viking is on a ship. Just off Kungsparken, halfway between the old center and the art museum and an easy walk to either, Hotel Poseidon is close to restaurants and shopping. Spar Hotel Majorna is on the waterfront in Majorna, near the maritime museum and Kiel ferry landing; a variety of restaurants are nearby.
If planning to stay a couple of days or more check out the Gothenburg City Card, which gives free admission to many museums and attractions, free public transport, and free sightseeing tours. As in many major European town and cities, there's a public bicycle scheme Styr & Ställ, so visitors can grab a bicycle at one location and return it to another. Throughout Sweden, other road users treat cyclists with respect and there are excellent cycle lanes. Several privately run cycle hire outlets are located throughout the city as well. Gothenburg is also a terrific city to explore on foot, so why not go for a wander and see what you can discover?