Gothenburg often gets overlooked by tourists in favor of Stockholm and other more famous Swedish destinations. But Sweden’s second largest city has so much to offer visitors – beautiful scenery, great food, fascinating history, museums and entertainment, and a lively local culture.
Our Guide to Gothenburg Sweden
This fast guide will highlight the many attractions and activities that make Gothenburg Sweden an underrated gem worth discovering. Here are the best things to see, do, eat, and explore in this port city on Sweden’s west coast presented in an easily digestible format.
Gothenburg, located in the Västra Götaland region of Sweden, sits along the Göta älv river near the country’s west coast. Founded in 1621, it is a historic city with plenty of charm and culture.
Though compact in size, Gothenburg packs in appealing attractions from botanical gardens to museums to Scandinavia’s largest amusement park. The beautiful seaside setting also provides opportunities to enjoy nature through archipelago boat tours, hiking, and swimming.
Of course, there is also great food and drink, from seafood fresh from the nearby North Sea to local craft beers and boutique coffee shops. Gothenburg has a laidback vibe and welcoming residents that make it easy to feel at home.
This guide covers the top things to do in Gothenburg for first-time visitors and repeat travelers alike. Read on for recommendations on:
- Top museums and architectural attractions
- Shopping, cafes, and Gothenburg’s food scene
- Boat tours and outdoor recreation
- Nightlife, events, and entertainment
- Day trips from Gothenburg
With this overview, you’ll be ready to plan your own adventures in this Swedish port city full of culture, beauty, and charm!
Major Attractions and Architecture
As a historic city dating back 400 years, Gothenburg has some fascinating architecture and museums that capture the flavor of the region. Here are some must-see attractions:
Liseberg Amusement Park
The largest amusement park in Scandinavia, Liseberg has over 30 rides, games, shows, restaurants, and more. Adrenaline junkies will love rollercoasters like Helix and Atmosphere, while kids can enjoy rides like the merry-go-round and circus carousel.
The Museum of Art
View Nordic art and design spanning five centuries at the Museum of Art, located in a 19th century building. The collection includes Scandinavian paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from the Renaissance through today.
Step aboard this huge ship museum to explore 19 vessels docked in Gothenburg’s harbor, including submarines, sailboats, and a lightship. You can even take some of the boats out for a ride.
Dating back to the 18th century, Gothenburg Cathedral is one of the city’s historic landmarks located near the main avenue. Don’t miss the stunning altar piece by Dutch painter Gerrit van Honthorst.
This main square in the city center has several important buildings like the Museum of Art, Theater, City Library, and Concert Hall facing onto it.
Stroll along the scenic canals that pass through the center of the city, crossing on picturesque bridges and watching boats pass beneath.
Shopping, Cafes, and Food
Beyond historical sites, Gothenburg also offers fantastic local shopping, cozy coffee houses, and delicious cuisine. Some highlights include:
This atmospheric neighborhood has boutique shops selling Swedish handicrafts and design, as well as cozy cafes and restaurants in preserved wooden houses. Stop for a fika (coffee break) at Café Husaren.
Sample Swedish delicacies like cured meats, pickled herring, cheeses, baked goods, chocolates, and gourmet coffee at the indoor Saluhallen market. You can also have seafood lunches at restaurants inside.
Meaning “fish church”, this indoor fish market has vendors selling fish and seafood direct from trawlers, as well as seafood restaurants upstairs where you can eat local catches.
Browse sleek Scandinavian furniture, homewares, and gifts at this trendy design shop in the city center. They have everything from minimalist decor to serving pieces by top designers.
For inventive fine dining with local ingredients, make reservations at two Michelin-starred Gabriel in the Feskekôrka building. Dishes include langoustine, reindeer tenderloin, and perfectly plated desserts.
Boat Tours and Outdoor Activities
Surrounded by waterways, Gothenburg offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the scenery. Get out on the city’s canals and harbor or explore the beautiful archipelago with these activities:
Paddan Canal Boat Tour
Take in the city sights on a 50-minute ride through the canals on an open-top Paddan boat. It’s the perfect orientation to the main attractions along Gothenburg’s waterways.
Archipelago Boat Tours
Boats depart year-round for island-hopping tours through the southern Gothenburg archipelago, a picturesque coastal landscape with cliffs and vacation homes. Pack a picnic and gaze at gorgeous ocean vistas as you sail along.
Relax surrounded by nature at this lovely landscaped park, which has rose gardens, small lakes, and wooded areas. There are trails for hiking and jogging.
Swimming in the Harbor
In summer, grab a public “open air” changing cabin and jump in for a refreshing swim right in the main harbor. There are multiple swimming platforms and diving towers floating offshore.
Gothenburg is great for cycling, with an extensive network of dedicated bike lanes. Rent a bike and pedal along the waterfront or over to picturesque islands like Vrångö.
Nightlife, Events, and Entertainment
Once the sun sets, Gothenburg comes alive with plenty of nighttime entertainment like:
Linné District Bar Crawl
Bar hop along trendy pubs and clubs on Andra Långgatan in the Linné neighborhood, which comes alive at night with live music and dancing.
Take in Göteborgs Kulturkalas, a huge open-air festival in August with concerts, crafts, food stalls and more along the colorful Western Harbour.
Opera, Symphony, Theater
See world-class performances at the Gothenburg Opera, Symphony Orchestra, and Stadsteatern theatre in the center of the city.
Liseberg at Night
When Liseberg amusement park stays open late, you can enjoy dazzling lights displays, live music, open-air concerts, bars and nightclubs.
Try your luck at Casino Cosmopol’s gaming tables, slot machines, restaurants and bars in central Gothenburg near Kungsportsplatsen.
Exciting Day Trips from Gothenburg
Gothenburg’s location provides easy access to natural areas and small towns perfect for day trips or overnight excursions:
Just an hour from Gothenburg, picturesque Marstrand island has a historic fortress, boutiques, galleries, beaches and sailing culture.
Drive up the scenic Bohuslän coastline to see fishing villages, smokehouses, lighthouses and dramatic seascapes along the North Sea.
Rent a sailboat or canoe to explore Sweden’s largest lake, with over 22,000 islands amid crystalline waters.
Check out this charming fishing village with reddish wooden houses, boats bobbing in the harbor, boutiques, and walking trails.
Mariestad has a beautifully preserved 16th century Old Town with a cathedral, town hall, and picturesque buildings.
With its vibrant culture, striking natural surroundings, historic charm and variety of attractions, Gothenburg offers an idyllic and quintessential Swedish experience. This guide just scratches the surface of all there is to see and do in this underrated city.
From exploring interactive museums to biking the archipelago islands to bar hopping in the Latin Quarter, there are so many ways to immerse yourself in local life. Gothenburg’s welcoming spirit, colorful harbor setting, and blend of old and new makes it easy to fall in love with this charming port city.
So next time you plan a trip to Sweden, save a few days to venture beyond Stockholm and allow yourself to discover Gothenburg’s abundant treasures. With delicious seafood, outdoor adventures, top-notch entertainment and rich history all packed in a laidback riverside setting, a visit to Gothenburg is certain to delight.