Gothenburg on Sweden’s West coast used to be an important shipping and trading city and this heritage still shapes the city today: Dutch-like canals, some built in former moats, and boulevards are reminders of its past as a fortified Dutch colony and the city impresses with cute cafés and pastry shops (or “Konditori” as they are called in Sweden), boutiques and restaurants. I have put together my personal recommendations for things to do in Gothenburg after a three-day-trip.
Quickest Way to See Sights and Learn More About Gothenburg
I highly recommend to start exploring Gothenburg by boat, as it allows you to ge a first idea of the city. On the former moat which is now a canal, you can go on a tour and get an introduction to the city and its history. It was a very enjoyable way of sightseeing, because we saw the major sights and the guide gave a brief historic overview in Swedish and English. The tour starts at the inner canal, then heads to the port and back.
I did the one offered by Paddan Sightseeing, which took about 50 minutes and cost SEK 240 (about EUR 20, USD 23) per person. They leave when you cross over the canal at Kungsportsavenyen near the Saluhallen. (It is also marked in the map below.)
I really like this area – it is a great mix of various shops, restaurants, cafés and bakeries. You will find established brands but also independent labels and vintage shops. Da Matteo had great coffee and is located in a small arcade where it is nice to sit outside. (Magasinsgatan 17A)
There is plenty to explore while you shop and enjoy a coffee. The Kronhuset is one of Gothenburg’s oldest buildings and was used as a military church in the beginning. Later on, it was used to be a storehouse for military uniforms and equipment. Today, it is a concert hall and the Kronhusbodarna has become a crafts centre with small shops. The statue of Gustaf Adolf is just a stone’s throw away. Gothenburg’s founder points to the ground which illustrates the legend that he had a clear idea of where he wanted the city to be built. Also in the area is the Christinae Kyrka (Christine Church) which you cannot miss when you cross over the canal. The area is also home to many studios and galleries.
Saluhallen Market is a must-visit: It is an indoor market with delicacies from around the world. Furthermore, you will find two of my favourite bakeries there as well (Steinbrenner & Nyberg and Brogyllen). I highly recommend to try more than just the Kanelbullar – all their pastries are very delicious.
A bit off the Magasinsgatan area, there is a nice department store called Nordiska Kompaniet which sells international but also local brands.
This neighbourhood has made it into all the tourist guides. There are many small shops, cafés and restaurants around the main street “Haga Nygata”. It is quite nice to walk and explore. However, I had the feeling it was very touristy compared to other Gothenburg neighbourhoods and I preferred the Magasinsgatan area described above.
I did find three shops I liked:
Haga Interiör has a nice selection of Swedish and other Scandinavian décor items. I especially liked their Moomin selection. (Haga Nygata 33A)
Öjbro Vantfabrik sells knitted socks, sweaters and gloves with typical Swedish patterns. They also have other items such as kitchen towels, also with this famous pattern. They collaborate with regional producers and I think their products are really nice gifts with a story. (Haga Nygata 20)
Omnes has really cute children’s clothing, toys and games. (Mellangatan 6)
Many online guides and blogs recommended to go to Café Husaren for Kanelbullar. But when I passed by, I saw that not only were their cinnamon buns gigantic but also did it look like a tourist trap. Most of the Swedish people I know recommended other cafés. Hence, I have not tried this really famous café.
Poseidon at Götapladsen
This is one of the most famous statues in Gothenburg and is located right in front of the Gothenburg Museum of Art.
This is a great museum with a collection spanning from the 15th century until today with a focus on Europe and American art and a big emphasis on Nordic Art. Furthermore, it is particularly famous for its collections of the Nordic Colourists (among them the Gothenburg Colourists). In addition to contemporary Nordic art, there are also works by the Dutch and Flemish Old Masters, as well as French Impressionism. A very interesting work of their collection is Van Gogh’s Olive Trees and the museum does extensive research about his olive tree paintings.
The museum also offers private guided tours and I encountered quite a few small private groups who made use of this offer.
The entrance fee is SEK 65 (EUR 5.60, USD 6), students under the age of 20 can enter for free. The city of Gothenburg also has a special Museum Card which is valid at The Gothenburg Museum of Art, Museum of Gothenburg, The Maritime Museum and Aquarium and The Röhsska Museum and also offers further discounts.
The opening times of the museum are:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 am to 6 pm
Wednesdays 11 am to 8 pm
Friday to Sunday, and holidays 11 am to 5 pm
It is worth walking up to Skansen Kronan Fortress – the 360-degree-view of the city is stunning. The fortress itself was closed; I read it is now used as an event location.
I went to Slottsskogen Park for a walk and really enjoyed it. It is a beautiful and vast park and I even got to see a deer which did not seem bothered by me at all. It is a nice place to spend some time outdoors; there are also some activities and playgrounds for children.
I am a big fan of Kanelbullar, the Swedish cinnamon buns, and made it my mission to find the best ones in Gothenburg. It was a very tough task but I did it all for you 😉 It is difficult to decide which ones were the absolute best, because all of the bakeries listed below had really nice Kanelbullar (and other pastries); but I would say that my favourite was Ahlstroms Konditori. (Korsgatan 2) It has a very nice outdoor area in a quiet street with a view of the Christinae Kyrkan and their Kanelbullar had the right balance of cinnamon and cardamom without being too overpowering.
Further bakeries I would like to recommend:
Steinbrenner & Nyberg (multiple branches across Gothenburg and also at Saluhallen)
Brogyllen (multiple branches and also at Saluhallen)
Konditori Kampanilen – this one is a bit off the main areas, but I think it was worth my walk there. Their pastries are very nice and I had Fika, the Swedish break-time, in their cute café. (Karl Johansgatan 5)
Coffee & Food
I really liked A43 near the Gothenburg Art Museum. It serves really good coffee and also nice cakes. (Kungsportsavenyen 43)
Another great find was Viktors Kaffe which is also just around the corner from the museum. Their coffee is decent and I had a small lunch as well, which was also really good. (Geijersgatan 7)
Further Activities which I Did Not Manage to Tick Off My List
The Volvo Museum is definitely at the top of my list for my next trip to Gothenburg. Furthermore, I would like to go to Spinneriet in Lindome, a design centre with shops, art dealers and Sweden’s only vinyl factory. This is at least a half-day-trip, but I think you would probably need a day for it.
I would also like to take the boat to Brannö Island and also to Nya Älsvborg Fortress. For the latter, there are only regular boat trips in the summer season. As I travelled there right before the start of the high season, there were no boat trips during the week and I did not manage to get to see it. The boat ride to the fortress is about 30 minutes. From what I read, the trips to Brannö Island and Nya Älsvborg Fortress are day trips.
Sweden is not part of the Eurozone and uses the Swedish Krona. There is no real need to bring cash, as most of the places are cash-free by now.
How to Get to Gothenburg
The main mode of transport is by plane to Gothenburg Landvetter airport. The drive to the city is about 30 minutes and you can either take a taxi, which is about 500 SEK (about EUR 43, USD 47). Alternatively, there is a bus service which is SEK 119 (about EUR 10, USD 11).
Bear in mind that if you arrive late at night or on a busy day, you should pre-book a taxi. At night, there may not be any taxis available at the airport. Gothenburg is a big conference city and host of big concerts and events. I recommend to check with your hotel about transport before your arrival.
There are direct trains from Stockholm to Gothenburg, the high-speed train takes about three hours, the slower, regional trains four hours and 45 minutes. There are also train connections from Copenhagen, Denmark, but they require changing trains.
There are ferry services to other European countries such as Denmark and Germany.
Gothenburg has a great public transport network. I bought a daily pass for three days via the Västtrafik To Go – mobile ticket app which was SEK 115 (about EUR 10, USD 11) per day. It was really convenient, because I did not need to go to station or shop and got a QR code on the app which served as the ticket.
I also did most of my exploring on foot – this is the best way to explore European cities, as it allows you to look beyond the main sights and get a feel for the daily life of the locals. As mentioned above, I also did the boat tour.
All of the places mentioned above are also marked in this map:
All information as of the date of publishing/updating and based on the information on the website (listed above) and the information provided at the location. We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date. All recommendations are based on the personal experience of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the recommended places above.