Gothenburg is the gray industrial city that grew large and colorful. Founded in 1621 by Gustav II Adolf it soon became an important trade city. Gothenburg is Sweden’s next largest city after the capital Stockholm and has approximately 550,000 inhabitants. Today the city stretches from the 17th century district of Haga to the modern area Lindholmen on the island Hisingen. Here’s your essential guide to the little big city in Sweden.
Gothenburg is the hometown of world-famous brands like Volvo and Hasselblad, and the city is still an important trade harbor. But today, this colorful city has so much more to offer.
Gothenburg has a great reputation as a clean and green city with a friendly welcome for visitors. It’s easy to connect with the inhabitants in Gothenburg whether you are jogging in a nature reserve or joining in the Scandi ritual of fika.
The feted theme park Liseberg is the most popular tourist attraction in Sweden. It is a mix of leafy grounds and thrill tides, attracting three million visitors annually. Its Valkyria is Europe’s longest Dive Coaster, a roller coaster with a vertical drop of nearly 50 meters.
Art, Music & Culture
The Gothenburg Museum of Art is considered to have the world’s finest collection of turn-of-the-century Nordic art (three stars in the Michelin Green Guide.) The museum is located at the top of Avenyn, on Götaplatsen. The entrance hall also houses the Hasselblad Centre for Photographic Art.
At Röda Sten Konsthall you can experience exhibitions and performances by Swedish and international artists. Across four floors, you can see paintings, photography, performances, video and sound art – and there are plenty of opportunities to participate in creative processes and conversations.
Just off the Avenue in central Gothenburg you find the Röhsska Museum. The museum, opened in 1910, shows everything from contemporary design to several thousand years old Chinese ceramics.
The Museum of Gothenburg houses the bones of a Viking longship that sank in the 10th century as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions.
The Gothenburg Concert Hall is located by Götaplatsen, at the top of avenue Kungsportsavenyn. It’s the home of 109 passionate musicians who together form the Gothenburg Symphony – the National Orchestra of Sweden.
Don’t miss the state of the art Gothenburg Opera House. According to the media the opera delivers “World class opera from top to bottom” (Aftonbladet), “The closest we come to the West End in Scandinavia” (Norwegian Dagbladet) and “A faultless ensemble” (Tanz)*. The Göteborg Opera has received a huge array of awards and prizes, and its shows receive the highest praise from critics both within Sweden and beyond borders.
Universeum Science Discovery Center is a little universe which combines science, technology and adventure. Follow the water from the mountains in the north down to the sea. There are big aquariums and plenty of hands-on experiments. In their rainforest you will find a 25-metre-high kapok tree with secret alleys and everyday there is a rainforest safari that will show you all the tropical beauty.
The museum of World Culture (Världskulturmuseet) includes contemporary exhibitions seen from an international perspective, where controversial and conflict-filled topics are addressed. The ultra-modern building also houses a café and restaurant. Make sure not to miss their exhibition, Together, about how wonderful and difficult it is to be with others.
Gothenburg Botanical Garden is one of Europe’s largest and best botanical gardens. It contains around 16,000 species of plants in the different greenhouses and areas like the rock garden and herb garden.
The German Church (Deutsche Kirche, also called Christinae Church is a church building in the central parts of the town. It was named after queen Christina of Sweden. The church was opened 1748.
Paddan boats City Tours
See Gothenburg from a new perspective. The classic city tour on the Paddan boats shows you the beauty of Gothenburg from a waterside perspective. The tour takes you under 20 bridges and out to the harbor. The tour takes about 50 minutes and the boats depart from Kungsportsplatsen from end of April until mid-October.
The ferry Älvsnabben criss-cross the river Göta älv from central Lilla Bommen to Klippan culture reserve by the harbor entrance. Enjoy the fine views from the top deck and keep an eye out for Kuggen – a red, unique building with spectacular architecture. The Port of Gothenburg is the largest in Scandinavia.
In the Gothenburg archipelago you can discover lively villages and inhabited islets in beautiful settings. There are a lot of activities as for example swimming, paddling and fishing trips. Take the tram and then the ferry to get to the southern car-free archipelago. To the northern archipelago, there is a bus to Hönö and Öckerö by car ferry.
The streets and parks of Gothenburg
This town was completely destroyed in 1611 when the Danes burned it to the ground. Fortunately, the Swedes did not give up the idea of a western commercial city, and in 1619 the king Gustavus Adolphus proclaimed “Here, the city shall lie” and pointed to the ground in today’s Gothenburg.
One of few surviving 17th century buildings in Gothenburg is the former artillery Kronhuset from 1654.
The culturally listed 19th-century district of Haga, with cobbled streets and a special type of three-story house construction, featuring one story in stone and two in wood. Haga has an abundance of small cafés, second hand and crafts shops.
The Linné district with Linnégatan, popular amongst Gothenburgers as the city’s ‘Second Avenue’, has plenty of excellent restaurants, bars and cafés. The intersecting Långgatorna – especially Andra Lång – is a Bohemian yet trendy area of the city.
The main boulevard Avenyn is short for Kungsportsavenyn. Here you find plenty of restaurants, cafés, bars and nightclubs and shops. There is also a pleasant shopping area with design shops and many independent fashion shops – mainly street wear, in downtown Vallgatan/Södra Larmgatan, running from Kungstorget by the market hall down to the crossing Magasinsgatan.
Some of Gothenburg’s most characteristic neighborhoods were built in the 19th century, for example Vasastaden, Lorensberg and the main boulevard Avenyn (clearly inspired by other formal European streets like Champs-Élysées in Paris). The infrastructure in Gothenburg evolved gradually during the 1900s and this changed the cityscape a lot. In 1902, the former horse-powered tram became electric and decades later the car traffic increased, which of course changed structures of many quarters and streets.
During the 1900s Gothenburg grew and as part of this expansion many new neighborhoods were built. In many aspects Gothenburg has gone from an industrial sea side town towards an innovative modern city.
The area around the square Järntorget, and especially the four parallell streets Långgatorna, is a hub for the alternative and relaxed nightlife. Enjoy a drink with friends, grab a bite to eat or go for theatre or a gig.
The Garden Society of Gothenburg, also known as Trädgårdsföreningen, is a most beautiful 19th-century park laid out along the old moat. The park boasts the Rose Gardens with 2,500 roses, from 1,200 species and the giant greenhouse the Palm House, built in 1878 as a copy of the former Crystal Palace in London.
The area around Frihamnen (the old Freeport in the central part) will become a whole new neighborhood for at least 15,000 inhabitants and in the area there will also be a big new jubilee park.
Where to eat and drink
With six seats only, Hoze is a small-scale and intimate foodie experience where José Cerdá serves his exclusive take on Japanese sushi. Therefore you need to make your reservation long time in advance.
Try Swedish fare like grilled veal with sauced parley root at Familjen in Arkivgatan.
Just off Kungsportsavenyen, inside the Clarion Hotel Post, you may enjoy Swedish pork belly with potatoe purée and apple sauce in Norda. a restaurant in which you not only eat nourishing, organic food, but are served from a kitchen that still takes its inspiration from Manhattan and its vibrant melting pot of flavors and origins.
In 2013, at Kyrkogatan 13, Ina Forssén and Hanna Öberg opened the city’s only champagne bar in a small backyard in a hidden backstreet. The small venue has plenty of character, especially the yard is a lovely place with outside seating weather permitting.
Enjoy giant cinnamon buns under a century-old glass ceiling at Café Husaren in gentrified Haga.
The café, roastery and bakery in an old riding hall da Matteo Magasinsgatan opened in 2010 and has just reopened after almost half a year of refurbishment. Enjoy soup for lunch, wonderful pastries and buns created by creative bakers and filter coffee brewed by the cup. You can watch the bread being baked and the coffee being roasted.
South of Haga, Linné is another resurgent district, now full of bars and cafés. Tacos & Tequila is an example of its easy vibe, serving La Maracuya cocktails (tequila, grapefruit, passion fruit).
If you are looking for excellent seafood, catch the 11 tram south-west at the Brunnsparken stop. Ride to the end of the line at Saltholmen – a journey of seven miles (11km) and 35 minutes. Board a ferry to Donso in the Gothenburg archipelago. Here Isbolaget does seafood and local dishes in an old icehouse. From this summer on you can also stay at its new hotel facilities.
Read also: Culinary Attractions in Gothenburg
Fish and Food Markets
Saluhallen Market Hall is a food market with produce from the region as well as from all over the world in some 40 shops and stalls. There are several small restaurants for lunch. The building dates from 1889.
Feskekôrka Fish Market Hall offers top-quality fresh fish and seafood on sale in a distinctive church-like building dating from 1874. There are two restaurants in the hall and the fish stands also sell “healthy fast food” for take-away.
Fish Auction is the largest fish auction in Sweden. See all species of fish and seafood from the nearby sea. It takes place at the central Fish Harbor. Get there on tram 3, 9 and 11 westbound from city center to stop Stigbergstorget, and from there some five minutes’ walk.
Artilleriet stands for an eclectic collection of interior, furniture, and details. Its range consists of a proprietary blend of classics, vintage and modern products together with innovative design from around the world. At Artilleriet you’ll find well-known brands with recognized high quality, and – equally important – the lesser-known up and coming suppliers with great potential.
Norrgavel is an exclusive interior design and furniture shop with a strong focus on environmental sustainability.
Nudie Jeans, the denim brand founded in Gothenburg in 2001, you can purchase at the store on shopping drag Vallgatan.
Find antiques and Twenties dresses at Fafangans Antik, founded by Mickael Appelkvist in May 1990.
The best second hand shop in Gothenburg is probably Miss Ragtime. There you find a lovely mix of gorgeous dresses, blouses, boots, leather jackets, coats and personalized jewelry!
Where to stay
A boutique retreat which goes in for velvet drapes, dark colors and baroque ambience is Dorsia.
A stately five-star slotted into the former central post office is the Clarion Hotel Post .
When Avalon hotel opened nearly 15 years ago, almost none believed in its concept. Today, the feng shui certified hotel where furnishing, light, scent and sound play a major role, it has proved an important role in the city’s accommodation world. Good food and drink is also a part of its success.
Upper House Spa is a paradise for the senses encompassing a five-star hotel, a Michelin-star restaurant and a spa that brings a whole new meaning to well-being. The hotel claims you are halfway to heaven when you arrive at this exclusive place at the top of Gothia Towers.
The Gothenburg Pass
Buy your Gothenburg Pass when you visit Gothenburg. The card provides you with free entry to over 30 attractions in Gothenburg – from the thrilling amusement park Liseberg to fascinating museums and peaceful cruises through the archipelago.
The Little Big City in Sweden, compiled by Tor Kjolberg