12 Top Things to Do in Gothenburg, Sweden

Gotenburg, Sweden

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Gothenburg (Göteborg in Swedish) is the second-largest city in Sweden, located on the country's southwest coast. Travelers visiting the charming town of Gothenburg near Kattegat will find a wide variety of attractions and historical places to explore. Gothenburg's sightseeing destinations include beautiful parks with everything from rose gardens to mini-golf and petting zoos, old cobblestone neighborhoods with cafés selling fresh cinnamon buns, a lively indoor public market, and Scandinavia's biggest amusement park for thrilling rides and fun souvenirs, among other things to do. There are even peaceful and scenic islands reachable by ferry boat.

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Picnic and Ride Ponies at Slottsskogen

Slottsskogen, Gothenburg, Sweden

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Slottsskogen, meaning "the castle forest," is Gothenburg's main park. It opened in 1874 and is home to the city's oldest observatory. For a relaxing day, go to the grass areas for sunbathing and picnicking or play a round of mini-golf—typically open from May through late October—by some shady forests.

Travelers can visit Gothenburg's Natural History Museum (Naturhistoriska Museet) from Tuesday to Sunday to catch a glimpse of the only mounted blue whale in the world, a huge African elephant, as well as fish and birds from around the world. Also from late April through early September, check out the Children's Zoo (Barnens Zoo), where the family can pet animals and enjoy pony riding next door (the weekly schedule varies). The year-round park also offers cafes, folk dances, and popular concerts, along with free admission.

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Feel Enchanted by Liseberg Amusement Park

General View of Liseberg Amusement Park

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Gothenburg's Liseberg is Scandinavia's largest amusement park and offers fun for all ages during the summer, Halloween, and Christmas seasons. You'll find everything from ​children's carousels to fast roller coasters. Various eateries are onsite, with a range of choices from fresh waffles to seafood to Tex Mex. Concerts by popular artists, beautiful exotic flowers, and shops filled with sweets and souvenirs give this place a colorful background. For Christmas, Liseberg goes all out with millions of holiday lights, a magical fairytale hunt in the Medieval Village, a ballet show on ice, and more.

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See the Archipelago of Southern Gothenburg

Styrso Island

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The southern Gothenburg archipelago—said to have been a famous location for duels during the Viking Age—lies off the coast of Gothenburg. The islands are entirely free of cars, so people use bicycles, mopeds, and electric cars to move around.

Several scenic islands in Gothenburg's southern archipelago are nice for swimming and excursions. Among the more popular islands are Styrsö, the southern archipelago's hub, which has four villages, sandy beaches, cafes, and guesthouses. Asperö offers walking, jogging, and nice hilltop views. Vrångö, the most southern of the islands, has lovely beaches, nature reserves, and shops.

To arrive, take a year-round Styrsöbolaget ferry from Saltholmen boat terminal or Stenpiren Travel Centre.

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Relax at a Botanical Garden

Beautiful Botanical garden of Gothenburg

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Botaniska Trädgården, Gothenburg's Botanical Garden, is one of the biggest in Europe and is one of the area's top free attractions. This must-see site is home to over 16,000 plant species and has greenhouses with exhibitions, an herb garden, an arboretum with trees from around the globe, a rock garden with over 6,000 plant species and a waterfall, the country's biggest collection of tropical orchids, and more. A wonderful, uniquely relaxing atmosphere is found here, along with many places to sit down and rest. If you are craving a cup of coffee, stop by the Botanical Garden shop, which also sells gardening accessories, plants, books, and other items.

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05 of 12

Shop and Eat at Kungsportsavenyn

Statue of Poseidon and the Avenyn, Gothenburg, Sweden

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With a mid-19th century design, Kungsportsavenyn, typically known as simply "Avenyn" (meaning "Avenue"), is Gothenburg's main, most popular drag for shopping and restaurants in all price ranges. This street stays busy late into the night, featuring various clubs to visit after the sun goes down. With a total length of 1 kilometer (about .6 miles), it spans from the bridge Kungsportsbron by the canal to the public square Götaplatsen and the Gothenburg Museum of Art, and Gothenburg City Theatre. Due to its size and popularity, Kungsportsavenyn is easy to find in Gothenburg's city center—just follow the signs or ask a local.

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Delight in the Gothenburg Museum of Art

Museum of Art in Gothenburg under blue sky, Sweden

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Visitors will be enticed by one of Northern Europe's best collections at the Gothenburg Museum of Art, located at the top of Kungsportsavenyn in the city center. Tourists and locals have a chance to see not only the work of masters like Picasso and Rembrandt but contemporary artists as well.

The majority of what's onsite is from Europe and the United States, but there is a focus on Nordic art—one of the most famous collections is at the museum's Fürstenberg gallery, which displays some of the most significant Nordic art from the 1880s and 1890s.

The museum is closed on Mondays and on various holidays.

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Stroll Around the Charming Neighborhood Haga

Cafes and shops in trendy Haga District, Haga Nygata, Gothenburg, West Gothland, Sweden

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Within walking distance of Gothenburg's center heading southwest lies Haga, one of the city's oldest and cutest neighborhoods. You'll walk past well-maintained traditional wood houses, usually with a stone ground floor and two wooden floors on top. Enjoy strolling the cobblestone streets, where you'll come across sidewalk cafés; don't miss trying hagabullen, the renowned, locally made, and oversized cinnamon buns. There are also eateries and charming stores with soaps, antiques, chocolates, crafts, books, and more.

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Catch an International Film Festival

The Draken Film Center hosted the 2018 Gothenburg International Film Festival

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If you are a movie buff visiting Scandinavia in late January and early February, head to one of the area's most popular events, which was established in 1979: the annual Goteborg International Film Festival. Featuring hundreds of films from around the globe, the event offers attendees several days of films of various genres, including animation, new Nordic feature-films, Swedish short films, documentaries, yearly themes, and beyond.

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09 of 12

Go Back in Time at the Garden Society

Garden Society of Gothenburg Greenhouse, Sweden

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Trädgårdsföreningen, or the Garden Society of Gothenburg, is a lovely park established in 1842 in the heart of the city. It's an ideal place for viewing historic buildings and having a relaxing day. Check out the Rosenkaféet café, located in a former barn/stable building that dates back to 1874 and which serves traditional healthy Swedish food from May to October. Palmhuset is a beautiful palm house with tropical species in an 1878 building. The rose garden features more than 1,200 kinds of this fragrant flower; the ideal time to visit is in early July when the roses bloom.

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Explore an Indoor Public Market

Stora Saluhallen

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Located in the city center, Stora Saluhallen, Gothenburg's largest public market, receives 2 million visitors a year. The market's interesting history dates back to 1887; this place is lovely to walk around and enjoy approximately 40 shops and eateries with an international array of cuisines. You'll find items ranging from coffee to fresh spices to local specialties like elk meat and salmon, along with everything from Hungarian cuisine to raw and organic foods to handmade chocolate. You'll be protected from the weather, as the market is indoors. Stora Saluhallen is closed on Sundays.

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Have an Adventure at an Experiential Museum

Open 365 days a year (though hours may vary), the Universeum in the city center is the place to take the kids on a trip to Gothenburg. Exhibits include an Aquarium Hall, which has more than 30,000 known species of fish, a rainforest boasting monkeys, birds, and frogs, and an educational health section. The museum also has live music, workshops, and more.

Several dining and coffee options are onsite, including a taco buffet and a vegetarian restaurant.

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Party at a Music Festival

Way Out West Festival

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The Way Out West Festival offers plenty of entertainment to locals and visitors every summer for three days in August. Live performances take place at Slottskogen Park and various venues throughout Gothenburg, and feature electronic dance music, rock, and hip-hop genres, among others. Way Out West Film, Sweden's third-largest film festival, shows about 40 films. The Höjden area hosts WOW Talks, inspiring on-stage discussions. As part of the festival's sustainability efforts, the festival's food is vegetarian and mostly organic.