Sweden’s second city of Gothenburg is lively, youthful and cultured. Compact enough to explore on foot (although boat, cycle and tram are also possible), you’ll find plenty of things to do in Gothenburg all year round whether you want to explore the architecture, shop til you drop or kayak the breathtaking coastline.
Explore the Old Town district of Haga
The oldest suburb of Gothenburg is Haga, which was established in the 17th century by the former Queen. Over time, the quaint 18th century low-slung wooden houses have been replaced by brick buildings. A fervent regeneration project in the 1980s saw Haga emerge as a trendy, attractive district, which is now brimming with cute cafes, boutique shops and classy restaurants. There are still well-preserved wooden houses remaining along the pedestrianised Haga Nygata, nestled alongside specialist shops, selling everything from jewellery to millinery. The nearby bohemian streets around Långgatan are also well worth a look.
Scream yourself hoarse at the Liseberg Amusement Park
The very center of Gothenburg city is dominated by the Liseberg theme park, which was established in 1923. It’s one of the oldest and most-visited amusement parks in Scandinavia, spanning 272 acres. With over forty rides, this park has been keeping kids of all ages entertained for 90 years. There are the traditional family favourites of bumper cars, house of mirrors and teacups. Challenge yourself with a ride on the 60 meter tall Liseberg Wheel and watch the world spin by onboard the Wave Swinger. Christmas is particularly magical at Liseberg as the atmosphere shifts into full-on festive fun. This year’s 90th anniversary is celebrated with a special Ice Rink, Santa’s House and Sleigh Ride around the park.
Chill out at the Botanical Gardens
Spanning some 175 hectares, this is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe. And with over 16,000 different species of flowers, plants and trees, it’s the perfect place to chill out. Named the ‘most beautiful garden in Sweden’, the rock garden, herb garden and arboretum are free to explore. There is a charge to wander the specialist greenhouses however, but inside you’ll find carnivorous plants, a large collection of tropical orchids and an Easter Island tree, which is incredibly rare and extinct on the island itself!
Discover Gothenburg’s fine museums
Sweden’s second city is brimming with fantastic museums, detailing local history. Don’t miss the superb Gothenburg Art Museum (Konstmuseum) which features an enviable collection of Nordic art. Sweden has given the world the Volvo automobile, and you can witness old and new models on display at the Volvo Museum. Catch (no pun intended) the interesting Maritime Museum (Sjöfartsmuseet) which details Gothenburg’s maritime history and its fishing industry.
Sample the delicious Swedish seafood
Goteborg’s enviable location on Sweden’s east coast archipelago ensures a fresh and bountiful crop of seafood all year round. Food journalists are finally cottoning on to sweet lobster, traditional herring and superb oysters. In fact the Bohuslän coast (which runs north of Gothenburg) is dubbed ‘the shellfish coast’. Either join a lobster safari to try your hand at catching your own food or sit back and relax at one of the many quality seafood restaurants serving up prawns, mussels, langoustines and herrings, prepared in a multitude of ways!
Gothenburg is also home to five Michelin starred restaurants, as well as authentic cafes that serve ‘fika’, aka buns or biscuits along with coffee or tea. And real foodies shouldn’t miss the so-called ‘fish church’ (Feskekôrka) which is actually a lively fish market selling lip-smackingly fresh seafood and shellfish, set inside a church-shaped structure.
Shop ‘til you drop on Gothenburg’s Avenyn
Often compared to Paris’ Champs Elysees, Gothenburg’s Avenyn, or Kungsportsavenyn as it’s formally known, is the place to be seen! The 19th century boulevard was originally designed to serve as the residential district of the wealthy and middle classes and was the first to be built outside of the fortified center. Today its home to the finest shopping in Gothenburg, from international stores to exclusive fashion shops. During the summer attention turns to drinking and dining outside, along the boulevard. Running from the Kungsportsbron Bridge to the Götaplatsen, Avenyn also takes in the Museum of Art, the Concert Hall, the City Theatre and the iconic Poseidon statue.
Try kayaking the pristine Bohuslan Coast
The West Sweden landscape is absolutely gorgeous and as close to nature as possible. Take a break from the sightseeing and wallet-hammering and get out of Gothenburg for a day’s kayaking. A short boat ride from the city’s Saltholmen Harbour or the number 11 tram from the Central Station will place you in the heart of the West Coast Islands. Nestled within the archipelago, there are no tidal waters or strong currents which make it the perfect spot for kayaking or canoeing. Get ready to explore the myriad of islands (including Styrsö, Donsö and Vrångö), rocks and islets: although maybe not all 8,000 in one trip!
Wander the authentic Christmas markets
From mid-November to Christmas day itself, the streets of Gothenburg come to life with colourful lighting, statuesque Christmas trees and traditional themed markets. The pop-up stalls sell Swedish handicrafts, jewellery, art, crafts and warming food. Don’t miss the forty or so tempting stalls of the Norstan shopping center and the hundreds of authentic stalls at the Tjolöholm Castle.
Check out Gothenburg’s eclectic architecture
Historic buildings nestle comfortably alongside contemporary designed structures. Gothenburg’s stab at futuristic design is amply illustrated within the Lindholmen Science Park on the northern bank of the Gota River. Gothenburg was founded as a port city, yet this old shipyard area has been transformed, with the incredible red Kuggen (cog) structure taking center stage. The Gustav Adolfs torg Square shows both the old and new City Hall Structures; the old section dates back to 1672, with the ‘new’ section added in 1935. And don’t miss the wooden houses in the west area of the city, particularly around Majorna and Kungsladugård, which feature a first floor made of stone and two further floors comprised of wood, to meet fire regulations.
Admire the view from the Skansen Kronan
Sitting atop a hill within the heart of Gothenburg is the Skansen Kronan, aka the Crown Keep, which provided fortification for the city from the 17th century. It was late used as a prison and today houses an interesting military museum. One of the interesting things to do in Gothenburg, it also has great views out over the surrounding city, canals and landscape.
Image credits; 1; JLogan 2; wikipedia