When you think about interesting things to do in Sweden, is Gothenburg the first thing that comes to your mind? I know… it isn’t exactly an iconic city like Stockholm, and you probably don't know much about it; I didn't either.
However once you've read my comprehensive list of things to do in Gothenburg with family you’ll find it is actually a pleasant and fascinating Swedish city with loads to enjoy, but none of the hustle and bustle major tourist cities have, which in my opinion is really nice.
Gothenburg brims with charm and fun. This moated city in the western coast of Sweden feels more like a large town than a big city, with its inviting tangle of waterways, parks, and squares. It is full of tourists’ spots and there are plenty of lovely things to see in Gothenburg both kids and grownups will enjoy.
Where to Stay in Gothenburg
Gothenburg is quite a small city, and while you can walk pretty much everywhere you'll be much better off if you stay in the city center area which is where most of the places to visit in Gothenburg are. Should you pick your hotel randomly, or only based on price, you may find yourself walking more than what you need.
One option is to stay close to the Central station, next to the old inner city. It's a good enough location to walk to Haga, Götaplatsen or the Maritime center by the river.
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While easy to walk, you'll be better off if you stay somewhere close to the city center.
Restaurants and shopping will be found around famous avenue Kungsportsavenyn going north to south to Götaplatsen, including the amusement grounds of Liseberg. This area is known as Lorensberg, and is in my opinion the best area where to stay. You can choose to stay closer to the river or Liseberg Park, although it won't mean much in terms of walking
Nightlife in Gothenburg is concentrated to the areas around two streets, Avenyn ("The Avenue", formal name: Kungsportsavenyn) and Linnégatan. Avenyn and Linnégatan are a couple of kilometers apart, and the areas are quite different. Many restaurants are located between Avenyn and Linnégatan in the area known as Vasastan.
What to Do in Gothenburg
From nautical adventure to cozy meals, and from thrill rides to nature walks, there’s something for everyone in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city and the world’s most sustainable destination. Stick with me in this travel guide and explore the best things to do in Gothenburg Sweden.
The Haga quarter is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Gothenburg, entirely set on a pedestrian-only street. It’s a charming little area flanked by brick warehouses and uniform 19th century houses with wooden facades.
These well preserved buildings were scheduled to be torn down during redevelopment works in the 1970’s, but Gothenburg’s citizens got together to preserve its character.
Haga was created as the city’s first suburb and nowadays it’s packed with sweet cafés and cute shops, as well as great delicatessens and reasonably priced restaurants. Many of the shops in the area are locally owned and operated.
Walking around Haga is one of those free things to do in Gothenburg – it is the city’s hippest neighborhood and the perfect place to stop by and enjoy a ‘Fika’ (the traditional Swedish coffee break), or to buy art, clothing, and souvenirs to bring home with you.
Paddan Boats Tours:
Paddan are flat-hulled, low-profile sightseeing barges that tour Gothenburg’s harbor and canals. The boats depart two or three times an hour from Kungsportsplatsen and are hop-on/hop-off, so you can spend more time at the Gothenburg’s sights you like the most.
The tour offers a different way of seeing the sights and takes roughly 50 minutes. You can enjoy absorbing yourself in Gothenburg’s waterways from mid-April until mid-October. During winter time there are special rides direct to Liseberg Christmas market.
In a city with a strong maritime spirit and culture this is a must-do activity, showing you around the 17th century canals, fishing harbor, old shipyards, and waterfront industry.
Not only is it a great way to understand the layout and take in views of the best Gothenburg sights including recent developments like the postmodern Lilla Bommen tower, it’s also an adventure by itself!
The paddan boats are low because they convey passengers underneath more than 20 of the city’s bridges, some of them low enough that you’ll have to duck to make it under with your head untouched – a great fun twist you’ll enjoy.
Maritiman- the Floating Boat Museum
Maritiman is an open air museum in Gothenburg with 19 vessels, the oldest dating back to 1875. There are a few military ships and even a submarine! You can of course get on and into all these boats, and are a great way of understanding what life at sea has been like during the past century.
Feskekôrka (Fish Church):
Feskekôrka is Gothenburg’s fish and shellfish market. It sits nestled along the city’s moat, just a short stroll from the city center, in a building that you might mistake for a church.
The indoor fish market built in 1874 (which is a true Mecca for seafood lovers) was a technical marvel at the time as there are no pillars inside, with a roof supported instead by powerful beams.
The design of the building, work of architect Victor von Gegerfelt, was inspired by medieval Gothic architecture and the wooden Norwegian stave churches – hence, it’s nicknamed the “fish church”.
The fish church hosts two restaurants, a couple of stands that offer take out and a wide open space lined with stalls selling the freshest local seafood.
Close to Gothenburg’s city center you can embark on a journey through the little granite islands of the Southern and Northern archipelago. It puts wild islands and picturesque finish villages within easy reach of visitors.
More than 20 islands stretch along the coast and are easily accessible by ferry or car. If you’re planning to go in summer months, this is a must see in Gothenburg and shouldn’t be missing in your itinerary.
There are plenty of things to do in Gothenburg’s archipelago - you’ll find hiking and biking trails in nature reserves, seal safaris, kayak trips on glassy water, boat excursions, and fishing, all set against a slower pace of life.
The Northern islands are connected to the mainland by a bridge, so you can drive right there. Reaching the southern islands, that are actually car-free, is only possible by boat (visit Goteborg’s official tourism website to see details on how to get there and the most up to date information on trams). Essentially, you can take a tram from Central Gothenburg to Saltholemn, and then catch a ferry.
Göteborg’s Konstmuseum (Gothenburg Museum of Art):
The prestigious museum opened in 1923, displays one of the finest art collections of Nordic and international artworks in the region. You can come to appreciate works dating as far back as the 15th century, along with art pieces by the likes of Picasso, Monet, Chagall and van Gogh.
There are permanent collections, such as the French and Nordic galleries, and there’s usually a visiting exhibit on as well. For lovers of the Renaissance and Baroque there are paintings by van Dyck, Rembrandt, Rubens and Jacob Jordaens.
The Gothenburg Museum of Art also organizes other activities like lectures, workshops, guided tours and special family activities.
Skansen Kronan is a military fortification built in the 17th century on Lilla Otterhällan hill, to defend the city against possible Danish attacks. In 1697 it was outside of Gothenburg but the city has since grown around it.
In the past, this fortress has been used as a prison and military museum, while today it houses a restaurant and conference center. You can come for an ice cream in summer or enjoy one of their homemade cakes.
The best part of Skansen Kronan, though, is actually views. It’s a bit of a workout to get to the top, but once you’re up there it offers a striking view over Haga and Göta älv.
Volvo Factory and Museum:
Some way west of the center, on a quay beyond the mouth of the Göta älv is a museum all about Sweden’s best loved automotive brand: Volvo, which was founded in 1927.
Here you’ll find almost every model the brand has ever produced, checking out dozens of vintage cars and trucks, but also concept cars never intended for sale. Apart from the vehicles, there’s an absorbing exhibition for the Volvo Ocean Race and equipment developed by Volvo Aero.
You can also take a tour of the Volvo Factory to learn about how the Volvo cars are assembled from scratch, and to see futuristic robots in action. These can be booked for large groups or individuals by e-mail.
Visiting a factory to learn how cars are made might sound like an odd activity, but there are a couple reasons to consider it.
Firstly, it is very interesting and not something you get the chance to see every day. Secondly, the Volvo museum takes you through the company’s history and its role in Gothenburg’s development.
Trädgårdsföreningen (Garden Society):
The Garden Society of Gothenburg (Trädgårdsföreningen) is one of the best preserved 19th century horticultural parks in Europe, where you can enjoy hours of strolling through the many floral gardens and tropical trees.
It was inaugurated in 1842 by King Carl XIV Johan and thanks to its careful preservation has been given listed status in Sweden.
This beautiful park is located in the heart of the city and it features a great children’s playground- suitable for both older and little kids- set among a flower garden (find more things to do in Gothenburg with kids down below)
The park’s most impressive feature is the Rose Garden, which has over 4,000 rose bushes that are in full bloom in early July - a spectacle of colour and fragrance that will stay with you.
The Garden Society also hosts a few historic buildings, like the cute coffee house dating back to 1874, and the magnificent Palm House (Palmhuset), erected in 1878 based on London’s Crystal Palace, which houses exotic plants in a Mediterranean climate.
Botaniska Trädgård (Botanical Garden):
Göteborg’s Botaniska Trädgård, one of Europe’s largest and foremost botanical gardens, covers 175 hectares (ca 430 acres), of which most constitutes a nature reserve including an arboretum.
The garden was created in 1923, designed to function not just as a botanical garden but also as a recreation area. Among other things you’ll find 16,000 different species and cultivars, an award winning rock garden, Sweden’s largest collection of tropical orchids, and the famous Sophora Toromiro tree, once native to Easter Island but extinct there now.
There’s a restaurant and café serving local food and refreshments, but if you want to keep costs down by taking your own food there are many lovely places to sit.
The garden is always worth a visit but is at its best during spring when the bulbs are in blossom, and late summer/early autumn when lots of flowers are in full bloom.
Göteborgs Naturhistoriska Museet (Natural History Museum):
Little changed since it opened in 1833 and then moved into its current premises in 1923, Gothenburg’s Natural History Museum offers a fascinating insight into how museums were run in days gone by.
The nice brick building sits atop a small hill in Slottsskogen Park (see below) and is home to a huge collection of over 10 million (!) stuffed animals. Many of the exhibits are from the early 1900’s and the taxidermy skills are pretty varied, running from impressively life-like to laugh-out-loud funny.
There are all manner of beasts in the museum, but one creature is especially big and famous: the Malmska Whale (world’s only stuffed blue whale), named after Mr. A.W. Malm, who was working at the museum in October 1865 when a blue whale got stuck in the Askim Bay.
Before you leave Naturhistoriska, check out the excellent collection of exotic birds, arranged in glass-fronted wooden cabinets. Just nearby is the museum’s main taxidermy hall, which focuses on a huge African elephant, weighing six tons and measuring six meters in height.
For a much needed break you can stop by at the Malm Whale Kitchen & Café, that serves lunch and refreshments with amazing views at the Slottsskogen City Park.
Fun Things to do in Gothenburg with Kids
Gothenburg is one of Sweden’s most kid-friendly cities (probably just after Stockholm) with most of the attractions within walking distance or accessible by tram or bus.
Families get to enjoy plenty of things to do together, like strolling around fascinating museums and interesting guided tours as well as visiting tranquil city parks perfect for picnic and equipped with exciting playgrounds.
As mentioned before the Gothenburg is very easy to walk, and if your child still requires a stroller (view my list of recommended travel strollers) to get around you won't have any difficulties despite the cobble stones.
Here I’ve shared my top 3 family-friendly places in Göteborg Sweden which will keep your kiddos happily entertained throughout your holiday.
Child Friendly Gothenburg Activities
Located in the heart of the city, is the Universeum Science Discovery Centre, one of the star attractions for kids in Gothenburg. It is also the biggest science centre in the Nordic region, covering 7 floors of interactive exhibits, workshops, laboratories, and wildlife enclosures, including one of Sweden’s largest aquariums.
This little universe approaches scientific topics in an engaging, child-friendly way. It has a rainforest with a 25-meter-high kapok tree, a chemistry-lab featuring plenty of hands-on activities, two aquariums with over 30,000 species of marine animals, an indoor playground suitable for younger children, an "Experimentarium" for the inventors of tomorrow, and many more!
With this much on offer, you can't expect it to be cheap. The Universeum comes with a slightly higher price tag – around 13 Euros for children age 3+ and around 19 Euros for adults (kids under 3 get in for free). However, it's definitely worth it. Also, it’s one of the few indoor attractions open every day of the year.
Slottskogen Gardens and Zoo:
Southwest of Haga District is Göteborg’s main park, in 1.37sq km of restful greenery. This family-friendly park includes a zoo and botanical gardens, with everything from seals and Gotland ponies to a beautiful waterfall and nature trails.
The park has cafes, snack shops and restaurants as well as tons of picnic areas where you can even pick wild strawberries and blueberries in season.
If you need to squeeze in a morning run (for free!), Slottskogen is the place to go. There are also adventure playgrounds, an observatory, a birdhouse, miniature golf and other fun sports facilities.
Liseberg Amusement Park:
Liseberg is Scandinavia’s largest amusement park and the most popular tourist attraction in Sweden, drawing three million visitors annually. It features more than 40 thrill rides and family-friendly attractions, some of which date back to 1923.
This thriving amusement park has a traditional character and abounds of greenery and woodland, but its amazing lineup of high-tech rides is constantly evolving.
You can’t leave Liseberg without riding the bone shuddering Balder, a wood-tracked roller coaster measuring 36 meters at the highest point and with a maximum speed of 90km/h.
All ages are accommodated at Liseberg, so those adrenaline rides are combined with thoughtfully designed young children’s amusement including colorful slides and swings, flying elephants and dragon boats.
Liseberg amusement park is open throughout the summer months, with limited open hours in Halloween and Christmas holidays. A little like Universeum, you do pay extra for this premium attraction but your little ones will enjoy them. Have a look and see which type of ticket offers best value for your family!
Other Things to Do in Gothenburg Sweden
Shop ‘til You Drop
To escape inclement weather and find all your favorite brands, head to Scandinavia’s leading shopping center in Nordstan, which has more than 200 shops offering the latest in all possible areas.
Enjoy Gothenburg’s Nightlife
There’s no shortage of things to do in Gothenburg at night, whether you’re after cabaret, theater or an all-night party. Most of the mainstream eateries and night spots are located on Kungsportsavenyn, but for something a little more atmospheric The Old Town and bohemian Linné can’t be beaten.
What’s the best time to visit Gothenburg? All-year-round! But if you’re not a fan of winter, come in summer, spring or autumn. Bear in mind that spring and autumn might be wet from the rain, so make sure to bring a good jacket and travel shoes with you.
How to get from Gothenburg Airport to the City Center? Travelling to and from the airport couldn’t be more easy with Flygbussarna busses leaving about every 10 minutes; the trip to the central station only takes half an hour. I’d suggest buying tickets online in advance, you’ll get a small discount with your purchase.
What’s the Gothenburg Pass? It’s a card that provides you with a free entry to over 30 Göteborg attractions and a guide book to streamline your trip. Passes are available for 24, 48, 72, and 120 hours - depending on how long you’ll stay in the city. Also included in the pass is unlimited travel with the Hop-on/Hop-off buses and boats. We got them and they were totally worth it!
There’s no doubt Gothenburg is full of sights to behold and exciting activities for everybody.This guide help you plan your stay and getting around in this charming Swedish city, and remember to ask me any questions you may have in the comments section below.
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