Gothenburg is home to a buzzing cafe culture, world class restaurants, and all the museums that New York, London or Paris could hold for a culture seeker looking to quench their thirst . But Sweden’s second largest city also boasts an enviable list of urban adventures to be had, from a vintage roller coaster to canals perfect for exploring by kayak. This often overlooked city break destination is perfect for an urban adventurer looking for an active day followed by an evening at Gothenburg’s trendiest restaurants and a luxe hotel to call home during your holiday.
Things To Do in Gothenburg
1. Kayak Gothenburg’s Canals
Gothenburg was once surrounded by a moat and a seven meter tall defensive wall. These days nothing of the wall remains, but the moat still surrounds the old city. One of the most unique ways to take in Gothenburg’s architecture and green spaces is from the water. Head to Point65 for a guided kayak tour of the city. You’ll appreciate the slight spray from other boats in the harbor as the summer sun shines overhead. Then it’s a totally different world as you glide into the quiet canals.
2 hour guided city canals kayak is 199kr per person at Point65. Multi-person kayaks are available for 2 – 4 people.
2. Segway Around the City
Gothenburg is easily enjoyed traversed on foot. But add two wheels and the ability to zip along up to 20 kilometers per hour, and now touring the city’s sights is an adventure. Put the pedal to the metal – er, lean forward to go faster – and cruise along the river and through the old town. There are stops for photo ops and you’ll probably be photo worthy yourself as you speed by tourists and locals.
A 1 hour guided city segway tour is 395kr per person at Segway Adventures.
3. Get Scientific at Scandinavia’s Largest Science Center
Universeum is 9000 square meters of fun. With a tropical rainforest where you can spot monkeys and toucans that roam free, a huge aquarium with sharks and rays, and an interactive science center where you can have a brain scan or see what it feels like to defy gravity, there is truly something to entertain the young or young at heart.
Universeum Science Center is open daily from 10am – 6pm. Admission is included with your Gothenburg City Card or is 230kr per person.
Haga is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Gothenburg and its charm makes it easy to see why both locals and tourists gather in the pedestrian street Haga Nygata. Well-preserved wooden houses still dot the neighborhood, which is filled with vintage stores, design shops, and cafes perfect for a fika (Swedish for coffee break).
5. Bike the Islands in the Gothenburg Archipelago
Easily reached by public transportation in just an hour’s time from the city, you can head out to the islands and an entirely different world. In just 13 minutes by ferry, you can arrive on quiet and car-free Stryso. Stop by Pensionat Stryso Skaret to rent a bicycle from the friendly owner Ola. The island is easily biked from end-to-end and there are plenty of photo worthy places to stop and snap a photo. You might even see some of the tiny island’s many deer.
Pensionat Stryso Skaret is open year round and is also a quaint place to stay overnight or for a few days on Stryso Island.
6. Tour the Volvo Museum
The Volvo brand was born in Sweden and one of Volvo’s factories still resides in Gothenburg today. For car enthusiasts, and definitely for Volvo Overseas Delivery customers, the Volvo Museum is a must see. The museum helps visitors time travel through Volvo’s 90 year history with everything from the classics to race cars. Don’t miss the Volvo Ocean Race exhibit, which will surely be of interest to thrill seekers with video clips of the sailors that defy death during the annual race around the world.
The Volvo Museum is open Monday – Friday from 10am – 5pm and Saturday – Sunday from 11am – 5pm. Closed June 20 and 21. Admission is 60 SEK for adults and 25 SEK for children or 120 SEK for a family ticket. Admission is free to Volvo Overseas Delivery customers.
7. Ride the Best Wooden Roller Coaster in the World
The Balder at has been voted and won the title of Best Wooden Tracked Roller Coaster in the World. When it debuted at Liseberg Amusement Park in 2003, it featured the world’s steepest drop on a wooden roller coaster at 70 degrees. It is a prefabricated wooden roller coaster with the pieces snapped together like building something out of Legos, giving riders the thrill of a wooden roller coaster but a ride nearly as smooth as a steel one.
Liseberg is open late April – early October. Admission is 415kr per person for the all-in-one pass.
8. Cycle Around the City
With 60 stations and 1000 bikes, it’s easy to find a Styr & Ställ bike to explore Gothenburg at your leisure. The first 30 minutes of use is free on every bike, no matter how many bikes you use in a day. Grab a bike and use the cycle lanes to explore Gothenburg from the port to the parks and everything in between. Pop in to one of the many bakeries and pack the basket with a picnic, perfect for enjoying while dangling your feet over the canal.
The first 30 minutes of use is free on every bike. The second half hour costs 10 SEK, the third costs 20 SEK and then it costs 40 SEK per half hour or a 3-Day Pass costs 25 SEK.
Where To Eat in Gothenburg
Michelin-starred Bhoga feels like being invited into someone’s home. With just a dozen tables and one communal high top, it feels more like friends socializing in a trendy dining room than it feels like you’re at a restaurant. Chefs Niclas and Gustav design their Scandinavian food to be simple and with clean lines, much like the modern and clean lines of the decor. What’s particularly interesting about the menu is that all dishes are priced the same, taking price point out of the equation. Of course, if you still can’t decide what to choose, there is a 4-course tasting menu that changes weekly.
Bhoga is open Tuesday – Saturday from 6pm. Reservations required.
2. Restaurang Kungstorget
Located right in the heart of the city, Restaurang Kungstorget translates to Restaurant Royal Square. The plush velvet chairs, rich purples and golds, and foot traffic practically drooling over your food certainly make you feel royal, but the Swedish home style cooking brings it all back down to earth. Restaurang Kungstorget is a perfect spot to stop for lunch between the many urban adventures sure to work up an appetite.
Restaurang Kungstorget is open Monday – Saturday from 11:30am. Reservations recommended.
3. Cuckoo’s Nest
Gothenburg’s old shipyard is now home to the Lindholmen Science Park and the very hip restaurant Cuckoo’s Nest. We loved the vibe with scientific equations scrawled across the glass, a plane flying overhead, and apothecary tables. The chef whips up experimental creations like an elegant baked salmon with wasabi or more casual bites such as the chipotle burger. And the menu is all organized scientifically, like a periodic table of elements. It’s definitely a fun and quirky atmosphere!
Cuckoo’s Nest is open for lunch Monday – Friday from 11:30am and for dinner daily from 5pm. Reservations recommended.
4. Pensionat Styrsö Skäret
Dinner with a view is an understatement as the lovely Pensionat Styrso Skaret sits just high enough on a hill for a beautiful view looking out into the archipelago. Run by husband and wife team Ylva and Ola, the atmosphere is as relaxing as it is friendly. They have a garden where the chef picks herbs and vegetables and the freshest fish from local fisherman is served. The menu changes daily depending on the daily catch and what is available at the market. Ylva can recommend wine pairings and just sip and sit back to enjoy the evening.
Pensionat Styrso Skaret’s restaurant is open in the summer. Check their website for times and to make a reservation.
If the line winding down the street with people patiently waiting for a table is any indication, Gothenburg’s trendy new bistro Barabicu is the place to be and it is well worth it to book a table during your stay. Barabicu puts a trendy Swedish spin on American barbecue. We had crab tacos, fig and bacon flat bread, a burger, and pork shoulder. Delicious! And you’ve got to go to bar and watch the bartenders, or rather mix masters, strain cocktails. Drinks are serious business at Barabicu.
Barabicu is open for dinner Monday – Saturday from 4pm. Reservations highly recommended.
Where To Stay in Gothenburg
Even the most adventurous travelers love a luxe place to relax and a sauna to ease those aching muscles after a long day of biking and kayaking. The new 4-star design Radisson Riverside in Gothenburg’s old shipyard is perfect. We loved the custom designed wall paper, funky design elements, and rooftop sauna and hot tub. We had a magnificent view as the sun set and the bustling city was just a few short minutes away on the easily accessible buses or trams. Free wifi and an ample breakfast rounded out our reasons to love this city design hotel.
Gothenburg City Card
We don’t always think city cards are a good deal, but unlike many that only offer you a discount for the city’s attractions the Gothenburg Pass gets you entry into all of Gothenburg’s attractions.
Our trip was provided by Visit Sweden and Volvo as part of the #WestSweden and #inaVolvo campaign. As always, all opinions about the experiences, restaurants, and accommodations are entirely our own.