Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Gothenburg
Laid out in the 17th century, Haga is Gothenburg’s oldest district and it remains one of the city’s most atmospheric quarters. With its cobbled lanes, old wooden buildings, and abundance of small shops and cafés, it’s a scenic spot for a stroll or a mid-sightseeing coffee break.
From gravity-defying rollercoasters to classic carnival rides; Liseberg Amusement Park has been entertaining families in Gothenburg since 1923. Attracting over 3 million annual visitors; it consistently ranks among Europe’s favorite amusement parks, as well as being a popular music concert venue.
Feskekorka—which translates as the ‘Fish Church’—has been part of local life in Gothenburg since 1874, making it the city’s oldest market hall. Housed in a church-inspired building along the riverfront, the lively fish market is crammed with stalls selling fresh-off-the-boat fish and seafood.
With its landmark buildings, lively boat marina, and views along the Gota River; Lilla Bommen (Gothenburg Harbor is one of Gothenburg’s most scenic spots. At the mouth of the Baltic Sea, the small port welcomes pleasure boats and yachts, and is the starting point for sightseeing cruises.
Running for more than half a mile (one kilometer through the heart of the city; Avenyn is Gothenburg’s central boulevard. Buzzing with activity at all hours of the day, it’s lined with shops, restaurants, bars, and cafés; dotted with architectural landmarks; and home to a number of top museums and arts venues.
Perched on the banks of the Gota River, Gothenburg Opera House is Gothenburg’s most prestigious arts venue, hosting more than 300 performances a year. The grand building is also among Gothenburg’s most notable landmarks, with its maritime-inspired façade and ship-like silhouette dominating the Lilla Bommen waterfront.
Built in 1629 and known simply as Stortorget (Big Square) for two centuries, Gustaf Adolf Square gets its name from the plaza’s statue of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden from 1611 - 1632. Notice how the statue’s finger points to the ground. Story goes, the king rode up Otterhällan Mountain and pointed to the fields surrounding the canal below, saying “The city shall be placed here.”
Snap a pic of yourself doing the same pose as Gustaf, and you won’t be the only one. Said to be one of the great military leaders of European history, the king is said to have steered Sweden to greatness in the Thirty Years War, so Gothenburg’s main square seems a fitting place for his statue.
On the north side of the square, see Gothenburg City Hall, a neoclassical dream of gleaming white pillars, and a popular place to get married. Also look out for the city’s law court. Its 1934 extension, by leading Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, has been much lauded by fans of his modernist style.
At Christmas, a huge Christmas tree lights up the center, and Gothenburg’s most famous winter market fills the plaza, harking back to the 17th century when farmers’ carts filled the square and boats filled with food for sale jammed the canal.
Just off Gothenburg’s main shopping avenue, Trädgårdsföreningen was founded in 1842 by King Carl XIV Johan as a park and horticultural garden to be enjoyed by the people.
Run by The Garden Society of Gothenburg, Trädgårdsföreningen is one of the best-preserved 19th-century parks in Sweden. Visit the acclaimed rose garden, where over 4,000 roses bloom in summer. To sit and smell the flowers while enjoying a bite to eat and drink, head to cafe Rosenkaféet. In summer, the Rosarium also hosts lunchtime concerts and children’s theaters.
At the gardens, you can also walk along the banks of Gothia River on which Trädgårdsföreningen is set. To see the garden’s exotic plants, from the tropics to the Mediterranean, visit the palm house which was built in 1878 and inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. There’s also a children’s playground, and plenty of spots to sit down and relax on the manicured lawns -- no “Do not walk on the grass here” signs here!
Perched on an island at the mouth of the Gota River, Nya Älvsborg fortress was built in the 17th century to protect the city against Danish invaders. Diminutive in size, but rich in history; the sea fortress remains one of the best-preserved in Sweden and boasts a storied past filled with battles, sieges, and bombardments.
Sweden’s maritime history takes center stage at the Maritiman Maritime Museum, a floating museum with 13 vessels moored along the Gota River. Hop aboard to explore a 20th-century warship, go inside a submarine, and discover historic towboats, barges, and lightships.
More Things to Do in Gothenburg
The biggest indoor food market in Gothenburg, upmarket Saluhallen hosts over forty shops and places to dine. Built in 1889 on the site of the former boatyard at Götaverkan, its iconic barrel roof was designed by Swedish architect Hans Hedlund.
Inside, shop at independently-owned delis for spices and cheeses, olives, fruits and chocolates. Look out for tasting samples as you wander! Organic, locally-sourced produce is as big as you’d expect in Sweden: look out for Saluhallen bakery, which sells all kinds of organic breads.
Saluhallen Kungstorget, also known under the name Stora Saluhallen, is located a block from the canal on Kungstorget (Royal Square) in central Gothenburg, There are lots of bistro style spots with daily-changing menus that offer everything from soup to fresh fish. A few of its restaurants stay open late for summer too, and have terrace bars where you can sit outside and enjoy the Swedish sun.
With more than 20 small islands dotted along the Kattegat sea coast, the southern archipelago is a fashionable retreat for Gothenburg locals, as well as a popular choice for boat cruises and day trips. The car-free islands offer a change of pace to mainland life, with traditional fishing villages, scenic footpaths, and picturesque landscapes.
Gothenburg’s famous Slottsskogen Park contains 137 acres of woodland, open spaces, jogging trails and penguins right in the heart of the city. That’s right, penguins. At 2:30pm every day, you can even see the birds being fed at the lake they share with a group of clapping seals.
Throughout Slottsskogen Park there are open paddocks where you can see Swedish animals like elk, deer, and Gotland ponies. This is a park that doubles as a zoo -- the oldest one in Sweden. There’s also a children’s petting zoo, open in summer, where kids can get to know the park piglets, rabbits, and kid goats. It’s also fun to see the Swedish heritage area with small cottages from different regions.
Once used as deer hunting grounds, Slottsskogen has been a protected park since 1874. Wander the forest trail in late summer, past native beech, maple, and oak trees, and look out for wild strawberries and blueberries -- the perfect trail mix -- right at your feet. Or just relax at one of the park’s three cafés.
Slottsskogen is also home to the Way Out West festival every August, when major acts like Röyksopp and Robyn come to town. You may also see the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra playing a free outdoor concert. Sweden’s Midsummer celebration is another popular time to visit Slottsskogen, when families and friends come to picnic under the midnight sun.
Spread over 8,000 square meters on the Gothenburg island of Hisingen, the Volvo Museum takes you from the company’s beginnings in Gothenburg in 1927, to its status today as a world-renowned vehicle manufacturer. You’ll see over 100 vehicles from the Volvo range, from the very first ÖV 4 car, to trucks, marine engines, aircrafts and today’s concept vehicles.
Of interest to anyone who’s curious about cars, engineering, and technology, on a visit to the modern museum you’ll learn all about the history of one of Sweden’s most-loved brands, and you’ll even see founders Gabrielsson and Larson’s joint desk from the early years, as well as displays of Volvo Aero and Volvo Penta products.
Once you’ve seen both floors of the museum and had your fill of sitting in and learning about the gleaming cars and trucks, it’s popular to take a walk along the seashore just west of the museum. At the entrance to the Volvo Museum there’s a café, souvenir store with exclusive Volvo merchandise and children’s playground.
Permanently moored in Gothenburg Harbor, the four-masted Barken Viking was built in 1906 and is allegedly one of the largest ships ever built in Scandinavia. Despite its name, the boat bears no relation to the Norse warriors—it served as a merchant ship until retiring from service and being transformed into a floating hotel.
One of Europe’s leading botanical gardens, Gothenburg’s Botanic Garden (Botaniska Trädgård) was opened in 1923, in celebration of Gothenburg’s 300-year-anniversary. Spread over 430 acres, visit the botanic gardens and famous arboretum, and see 16,000 species of plant, from American insect eaters to Himalayan plants.
Botaniska Trädgård is also home to a rock garden which has been given 3 stars in the Michelin Green Guide, as well as a Rhododendron Valley, Japanese Glade, and Kitchen Garden. In the greenhouses you can see 4,000 different plants, including 1,500 kinds of orchid. As you explore, keep a look out for the rare Sophora Toromiro tree, indigenous to Easter Island.
Just across the road from Slottsskogen Park, scattered among the garden’s woodland there are plenty of lawns where you can relax and have a picnic. There’s also a restaurant, Botaniska Paviljongen, where you can enjoy lunch, and an art gallery and shop.
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