Gothenburg is located on the west coast of Sweden and it was voted by the Swedish as the most popular city in their country with more than 60% of them wanting to live here. Gothenburg has a reputation of being friendlier than Stockholm and whoever is planning a trip to this northern European country should add the city to their itinerary.
The city combines culture and class with nature and urbanity and has a rich and intriguing history. There’s no shortage of things to do in Gothenburg; it will keep you as busy or as relaxed as you wish no matter your age.
Gothenburg is the capital of the Vastra Gotaland county and it is situated by the sea at the mouth of Gota river, which runs through the city and is the largest sea port in the Nordic countries. The city remains proud of its fishing heritage and offers high quality seafood. Being Sweden’s second city, it can be easily reached by various forms of transport both from Sweden and from around the world.
At Bonzah we’d love to encourage you to enjoy this Swedish city. You can easily organise a road trip from Stockholm to Gothenburg and admire the wonders that both cities have to offer. To inspire you, here we’ve listed the most interesting highlights that you can’t miss in Gothenburg.
Haga is Gothenburg’s historic district and a great starting point of your stay in the city. The area is well known for its markets, boutiques and cafes nestled along cobbled streets and beautiful old buildings. It’s the bohemian heart of the city and it stands out with its amazingly well preserved houses with their district design of a stone or brick ground floor and wooden stories above.
Haga was originally a working class suburb with a rather bad reputation but it was gradually transformed into a popular visiting place for locals and tourists. The area lies within walking distance of Gothernburg’s centre heading southwest. One of the best things to do here is to stop for a traditional fika break and enjoy a cup of coffee with a cinnamon bun; you can even taste a Hagabullen, which is a plate sized cinnamon bun.
Haga is easy to walk around but you can also explore it by bike. Gothenburg has an excellent rental bike system that allows you to visit almost anything.
There are two main landmarks you can’t miss here: the Skansen Kronan _ an old fortress towering above the neighbourhood_ and the Hagakyrkan _a historic church_.
Admire the views from Skansen Kronan
Skansen Kronan is a fortress built in 1687 and it was never drawn into battle. In the mid 1800s the fortress was used as a prison and later as emergency housing. Today, it’s a military museum and offers one of the best panoramic views of Gothenburg. It’s one of those locations you can’t miss visiting Skansen Kronan if you’re a history buff.
Skansen Kronan was originally built to defend the Swedes from the incursions of the Danes and over the years it has been variously used as a prison and a military museum. Today it’s home to a restaurant and a conference centre. It’s a bit of a workout to get to the top, but once you’re there you’ll be rewarded with striking panoramic views of the city and the Haga district. Next to the fortress there are old army barracks where you can find a summer café.
The fortress has 4-5 metre thick walls of granite, gneiss and diabase. It was never attacked and the cannons on the inside have never been used. There are guided tours offered in different languages as well as thematic tours on the history of the redoubt and the city’s military affairs. Walk around the six-sided shape and dappled granite walls of Skansen Kronan to appreciate how much effort it must have taken to build it. It is located on the Risasberget or Skansberget in the Haga district and the hill is accessible year round free of charge. To reach the fortress you can take the staircase from Frigangsgatan or the footpath from Lilla Risasgatan.
Enjoy a Canal Tour in a Traditional Paddan
Joining a canal tour in traditional paddan boats offers a great opportunity to admire the beauty of Gothenburg from the waterside.It’s a guided tour and it takes you under 20 bridges and out to the harbour. A paddan boat is a sightseeing boat which will pass by famous sights such as the Opera House or the famous fish market Feskekorka. The boats depart two or three times an hour and they are hop on, hop off so you can spend a bit more time at the sights that pique your interest.
Considering Gothenburg’s strong maritime spirit, this activity is a must-do and a great way to get to know the city.
Slottsskogen is a huge, tranquil expanse of parkland with farm animals and birdlife, including pink flamingos in summer. On its south side there’s the impressive Botanical Garden and a vast glasshouse which hold some 16 thousand species of plants including Sweden’s biggest orchids, the summer flower plantations and the adjoining arboretum.
This 1.37 sqkm green area attracts animal lovers with its children’s zoo that is home to Gotland ponies, elk, sheep, seals and penguins. It has a natural forest that is really nice for enjoying natural trails and foraging for wild berries. There’s an observatory on the northern end of the park that organises stargazing events in the summer months.
Slottsskogen is a popular destination amongst families because of the variety of activities it offers. You can see nordic animals in the main zoo and pet friendly creatures in the children’s zoo. There are also different performance areas where you can watch live music, puppet shows and folk dance shows. You can also play a round of mini golf, visit a natural history museum and wander through a butterfly garden. Children will love spending some time at the huge Plitka Playground for an afternoon of fun; here children can scamper across a huge climbing frame in the shape of a whale or participate in games organised in the playground during the summer.On the other side of the park is the exciting playground Naturleken that uses nature to create a fun environment for children.
It’s Gothenburg’s main park and a must-see for tourists, especially if you love outdoor activities. You can go roller skating, biking, jogging and even hiking! Little ones can feed the ducks on the main lake called Stora Dammen, which sits towards the southern end of the park and has a great café serving drinks and snacks right next to it.
Have Fun at Liseberg
Adrenaline and fun seekers can’t leave Gothenburg without visiting Liseberg, an amusement park that opened in 1923 and is amongst the largest one in the Nordic countries, attracting 3 million visitors per year.
One of the most popular attractions is the wooden roller coaster Balder, which was twice voted as Best Wooden Tracked Roller Coaster in the world. “Kanonen” is another popular roller coaster: it reaches a top speed just two seconds after being fired bullet-like from its start point before plummeting 24 m at a 90° angle. There’s also the AtmosFear, Europe’s largest free-fall attraction, or the Mechanica, a 360-degree ride that spins riders around up to 100 feet in the air. The park is open in November, December and during the summer months. In the holiday season, a Christmas market is hosted here.
There are more than thirty attractions here that range from carousels and rides to funhouses and roller coasters. Rides for the children are conveniently scattered throughout the park. Amongst them we can mention: colourful slides and swings at Barnens Paradis playground, boat rides at Kathiresan and a double-decker carousel at Children’s Paradise.
Learn About the World Around You at the Universeum
Universeum is a must-visit attraction for adults and children with curious and inquisitive minds. With 9000 sqm,Universeum is Scandinavia’s biggest scientific centre. This 7-stage high building features plants and animals from all over the world with special focus in the tropical seas and forests. It seduces visitors with a combination of adventure park and hand-on science museum.
The displays cover an indoor tropical forest, how lasers work and criminal and forensics science. Real birds, sloths and monkeys cruise through the branches above as you walk on wooden bridges throughout. But easily the most popular draw is the Ocean Zone, where you can get uncomfortably close to sharks and other creatures from the depths. Kids can even touch various stingrays!
The tour starts with a cute cable car ride to the top floor, from which you can immerse yourself in the various zones available as part of the exhibition. Universeum is organised into six sections, each containing experiment workshops and a collection of reptiles, fish and insects. Exhibits include an Aquarium Hall, which has more than 30 thousand known species of fish, a rainforest boasting monkeys, frogs and birds and an educational health section. There are several dining and coffee options available, including a taco buffet and a vegetarian restaurant.
Other exhibitions that you can enjoy here include life sized dinosaurs, Swedish wilderness, go on a safari with monkeys, the science and forensic laboratory and the space exhibition where you can learn about how astronauts survive without gravity, discover what it’s like to work in space and learn about how quiet it is up there. The Job Land is divided into several theme sections, where kids get to learn how to be builders, doctors and sailors for the day. The Reptilarium has an inclusive collection of venomous snakes and lizards.
Visit Gothenburg Botanical Garden
With 1200 plant species, Gothenburg Botanical Garden is the largest one in Sweden. Herb gardens, bamboo grooves, a Japanese valley, forest plants and tropical greenhouses are all on display. It’s another must-do in the city and a highly popular location amongst tourists. This massive park sprawls over 175 hectares of land and includes an arboretum and nature reserve.
The Gothenburg Botanical Gardens are also home to some 4000 plants kept in greenhouses, where you can find the largest collection of orchids in all of Sweden. The arboretum offers visitors a lovely respite from the city’s energy, with a gorgeous waterfall and a rock garden where some 6000 plants are on display. Don’t forget to add the sophora toromiro or Easter Island tree to your list of Gothenburg attractions: this species is extinct in its native habitat and you’re unlikely to see it anywhere else.
Visit the Gothenburg Museum of Art
Gothenburg Museum of Art stands behind the Poseidon statue in Gotaplatsen. It’s one of the finest museums in the city and it’s easy to spend half a day here taking in the diverse and extensive collections that are housed here. A delightful little park lies just behind the museum; with its late-spring rhododendrons and big duck-fillled pond, it’s a lovely place for a stroll.
The collections of European art date from the XV to the XVII centuries and fill a total of six rooms. Pride of place is taken by Knight with Falcon by Rembrandt, although Rubens is also well represented. Elsewhere, you’ll find paintings by the celebrated masters of French Impressionism and artists closely linked to them: Gauguin, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne for example. Collections of Swedish art are dominated by Alexander Roslin.
The main reason to visit the Gothenburg Museum of Art are the Fürstenberg Galleries on the top floor, which celebrate the work of some of Scandinavia’s most prolific and admired early XX century artists. There you can admire works by Carl Wilhelmson, Edvard Munch, Anders Zorn, Carl Larsson and others.
On a curious note, what makes this museum stand out from other major national art museums is that it doesn’t have its origin in royal or princely collections. It’s the people of Gothenburg themselves who have created the museum through donations of works and resources.
Explore Gothenburg’s Archipelago
There are over 20 islands in the Gothenburg archipelago that you can access on a day trip from Gothenburg. It’s definitely one of the best things to do here when the weather is warm as many of the islands have beautiful beaches and scenic lookouts.
Gothenburg archipelago stretches along the coast like a string of pearls. Hönö is one of the most popular islands. It’s home to the Fishing Museum and there are excellent seafood restaurants.
The northern archipelago is accessible by car while the southern archipelago is largely car-free and accessible by boat or tram. The archipelago is a great setting for hiking and cycling.
Are You a Car Lover? Don’t Miss the Volvo Museum
The Volvo museum is on the waterfront along the Göta älv river and showcases everything you ever wanted to know about the beloved car manufacturer, which was founded here in Gothenburg in 1927. You can see vintage cars and trucks as well as concept vehicles that were never brought into production. There are also exhibitions on the Volvo Ocean Race and the Volvo Golf Experience that you can visit. It’s a great place to visit for car enthusiasts and Volvo fans.
The Maritiman is the world’s largest floating maritime museum. Here you’ll find modern naval vessels including a destroyer, submarines, a lightship, cargo vessels and various tugboats, providing an insight into Gothenburg’s historic role as a major port. The main attraction is a huge naval destroyer called Samalan, complete with a medical room in which a leg amputation operation is graphically re-created, with mannequins standing in for medical personnel.
It’s a must do for marine enthusiasts of all ages. Moored next to Packhuskajen on the Göta river in the heart of the port city. You can go below deck on the Nordkaparen submarine.
The Sea Lab offers exciting challenges and experiments for adventure lovers that include mechanisms of a submarine, ways to protect seals from pollution, how heavy steel ships float on the ocean waters and many more things.