Get your Swede on – 48 hours in Gothenburg

Things to do in Gothenburg Sweden

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I’m not really one for chasing after countries to tick off my “have visited” list but when the opportunity came up to spend a few days in Sweden while we travelled from Oslo to Copenhagen, I just had to take it.

I wanted to discover more about the Swedish way of life as well as explore all the things to do in Gothenburg.

A Swedish fascination

Swedish flag

Sweden has held some allure since I first learned about it as a child via one of their most famous exports – ABBA.

Did you know that ABBA were huge in Australia? So much so that an ABBA movie was made about their 1977 Australian tour. My cousin Maz was probably their greatest fan and I remember her obsession fondly. Voulez-vous… ah ha!

Flash forward a few decades and having many IKEA constructions and a few of their delicious meatballs under my belt, I feel like I had quite a bizarre perception of Sweden.

So I was curious to find out all about Swedish culture during our 48 hours in Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg boat hotel

Gothenburg, or Göteborg as the locals call it, is Sweden’s second biggest city. Found half way between Oslo and Copenhagen on Sweden’s south-west coast, the city is defined by its proximity to the Kattegat area of the Northern Sea.

With a rich maritime history, Gothenburg has many seagoing activities as well as delicious seafood. But that’s not all we found in Gothenburg.

Things to do in Gothenburg

We arrived on a sunny holiday week and spent most of our time outdoors enjoying the sunshine and laid-back vibe of the city. Armed with our Gothenburg City Cards we had access to the public transport network as well as many Gothenburg attractions.

Gothenburg boat tour

View of Feskekorka from Gothenburg canal

Gothenburg is a city of canals. Dating from the 17th century and influenced by Dutch design, a boat tour of the canals and harbour is the perfect way to see the city’s highlights. Cruising along the canals, out into the harbour and under many of the city’s 20 bridges, the one hour boat tour is fun and interesting.

You learn about the 1.3 million Swedes who emigrated to the United States – many of them from Gothenburg harbour. And also about the shipbuilding industry and Swedish trade led by the Swedish East India Company.

Apart from learning about Swedish history, I loved watching the locals enjoy their city. All along the canals people sat and talked in small groups, legs dangled to the water. There were even some groups fishing.

Feskekörka – Gothenburg’s ‘fish church’ or fish market

Feskekorka Gothenburg

The standard of seafood across Scandinavia is very high and you won’t find better than at Gothenburg’s Feskekòrka. An indoor fish market, the Feskekörka is home to several fishmongers and restaurants and the fish looks like it jumped straight from the sea. The market gets its name from its striking church-like design.

We enjoyed lunch at Restaurang Gabriel where I continued an ongoing obsession with shrimp sandwiches – sooo good. The creamy fish soup and mussels were delicious too. The restaurant sits above the market so you can enjoy the market goings on below.

Mussels - Retaurang Gabriel Gothenburg

If you fancy a picnic by the canal or in the nearby gardens they have some yummy looking take away sushi packs available too.

The Feskekörka is open from 10am Tuesday to Saturday.

Some people don’t like fish so if that’s the case head to nearby Saluhallen.

Saluhallen Gothenburg

An indoor market packed with providores of all kinds, you will definitely find a gourmet treat in this beautiful 19th-century building. Saluhallen is open from 09:00 am Monday to Saturday.

Liseberg amusement park

LIseberg amusement park Gothenburg

On our train ride from Oslo, our fellow passengers were most anxious that we visit Liseberg amusement park. And I suggest you do the same when you visit Gothenburg.

The park is a fun for a day out or few hours and has something for everyone. Founded in 1924, there are classic amusements like a carousel and even ballroom dancing under a rotunda. But there are also crazy rollercoaster and fairground rides for thrill seekers and a very sweet bunny themed area for children with rides and a playground.

If you are not interested in rides there are lovely gardens and grounds to stroll around and many restaurants too. The admission price is separate to the cost for rides and the park seems like it is a favourite place for locals to visit, much like Tivoli in Copenhagen.

Liseberg - things to do in Gothenburg Sweden

You can try lots of Swedish treats at Liseberg. Everyone seemed to be walking around with massive blocks of chocolate that they had won as well as cinnamon buns and ‘Spunnet Socker’ – that’s fairy floss or candy floss in Swedish.

We visited on a public holiday and there were few lines and minimal waiting times. I thought the prices were very reasonable too compared with similar amusement parks in the UK. Entry was around £10 with unlimited rides for children at around £25 per day.

More information about Liseberg.

Cruise the Gothenburg archipelago

Gothenburg archipelago

Love the sea breeze in your hair and a leisurely pace? Then head to the port of Saltholmen and catch a ferry to Gothenburg’s southern archipelago.

It’s easy to get there. Just take tram 11 from Gothenburg Central Station and take the short walk to the ferry terminal.

There are over 20 islands to explore in the southern G0thenburg archipelago. We took the ferry to pretty Donsö where Scandinavian red huts line the harbour. There are a few shops and cafes to visit there or find yourself a swimming hole for a quick dip.

Donso - Gothenburg archipelago

Donsö is the kind of place you just stroll around and look for details. I loved this gorgeous post box with a tiny little fishing village scene complete with resident seagull and fishing nets.

The ferry ride takes about 45 minutes each way depending on how many islands it visits. Along the way just gaze out at the beautiful scenery and watch the locals enjoy the sea and sunshine.

If you get a little hungry there is a snack bar on board the ferry for the all important ‘fika’ or snack. In this part of the world that means baked goods. With lots of cinnamon. Yum.

Wander Haga – Gothenburg’s old town

Haga Gothenburg

When you arrive in Gothenburg you notice the buildings are quite modern for a European city. That is because many of the city’s wooden buildings were destroyed by fire over the centuries.

The quaint Haga District is the exception. With classic cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and cafes, it’s a spot you must visit in Gothenburg.

Fika kanelbulle Haga

Many people visit Haga just to have fika (see below) at Café Husaren, famous for their absolutely ‘ginormous’ – my kids words – kanelbulle or cinnamon buns. I was happy with my coffee. There is undoubted respect for the bean in Gothenburg.

Fika – to have coffee with pastry

A Swedish tradition

My favourite spot along the way was the toy shop Liten Karin [Haga Nygata 25] where a teddy bear blows bubbles at the people passing below. You can also pick up some famous Swedish clogs at Haga Trätoffelfabrik [Haga Nygata 19]

Haga old town Gothenburg

Relax in Gothenburg’s botanic gardens

When the sun is out, and it was gloriously so when we visited, spend some time in the beautiful gardens of Gothenburg. The Botanic Gardens are some of the largest in Europe and showcase over 16,000 varieties of plants.

You can easily spend a couple of hours strolling through the various themed gardens – Japanese, Korean and English – and the enormous glasshouses.

Gothenburg botanic gardens

There is a playground for younger children in the centre of the park should you need to take a break. You could also visit the famous Rosenkaféet café for lunch or a snack.

Getting around Gothenburg

Nothing could be easier than getting around Gothenburg. The city is small and easy to walk around and when you need to go further afield there is a very simple to navigate tram, bus and ferry network.

I was very impressed with the transport that caters for all passengers including those with prams and pushchairs. Trams came regularly, even on a public holiday.

Gothenburg tram

If you like to explore by bike, Gothenburg has a great bike scheme where you can ride free for the first 30 minutes and with a small charge after that.

More information about Gothenburg public transport tickets and prices

Göteborg city card

In Scandinavia, I found the city cards offered by the local tourist boards deliver tonnes of value and the Göteborg city card is no exception.

With a Gothenburg city card you are entitled to use the public transport system including trams, buses and ferries. Extended bike hire is also available with the card.

Liseberg entrance included in Goteborg city card

Entrance to Liseberg is included (but not the rides) as well as the paddan boat sightseeing cruise and free or discounted entrance to museums and galleries.

More information about the Göteborg city card

The final word on Gothenburg

So what did I learn about Sweden during our trip to Gothenburg? Well, I didn’t find ABBA that’s for sure. That’s old news.

I found a laid back multi-cultural society with a love of cycling, coffee and cinnamon buns. It’s a city comfortable in its own skin. And I’d love to go back some day.

We were kindly provided Göteborg City Cards by the Gothenburg Tourism Board. All opinions and kanelbulle eating my own.

Gothenburg, Sweden - things to do in Gothenburg. Take a boat tour, cruise the Gothenburg archipelago, wander the Haga district, eat cinnamon buns

46 thoughts on “Get your Swede on – 48 hours in Gothenburg

  1. Trish @ Mum's Gone To says:

    We had a two week fly-drive around Sweden a few years ago and didn’t manage to fit Gothenburg into the schedule. I always said we must return to do justice to Sweden’s second city. You’ve just reminded me that I haven’t done this yet. Still haven’t booked my summer holiday yet so seriously considering this now!

  2. Jules ( says:

    I loved the bit about “multi-cultural society with a love of cycling, coffee and cinnamon buns”. I was trying to describe Sweden and Denmark to a friend the other day and literally said the same thing – and on top of that I mentioned the amazing and clean cut Scandinavian design you are surrounded by. Thanks for sharing info about Gothenburg, I have visited Sweden several times, but have not been to Gothenburg yet.


    • Katy says:

      Thanks Jules. I love Scandinavian design too. There’s some amazing stores in Copenhagen that we didn’t visit on our last trip which is just as well as I would have had a major shopping spree that our hand luggage would not have coped with!

  3. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says:

    Those cinnamon buns are so yummy. You certainly did a lot more than we managed on our trip (and had better weather by the looks of things). I really liked Gothenburg, it had a great, chilled out vibe and with the tram network easy to navigate too. Those city cards always seem to be great value if you’re planning on doing lots. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • Katy says:

      I seem to remember you had a new baby with you! We were so lucky with the weather and you’re right, the vibe is no stress and chilled out. Hard not to like really!

  4. Hilary says:

    Sounds like a lovely visit! Our good friends love to visit the amusement park and just sent me photos from there the other day! #citytripping

  5. Ruth | Tanama Tales says:

    Oh, seems like Gothenburg has turned into one of the hottest destinations in northern Europe. I am reading about it so much. It is a place that has me really excited because of the mix of good food, old world charm and natural features. It was an excellent idea to stop by. #CityTripping

  6. Wherejogoes says:

    Wow you managed to do a lot in a small amount of time! I love nosing around fish markets and the food looks amazing. My children would love the amusement park too. This looks a really charming place to hang out, do some sightseeing in a non-strenuous way and soak up the Swedish atmosphere. #CityTripping

    • Katy says:

      Gothenburg is really quite a compact city and we were so lucky with the weather. Definitely a place to consider for a bank holiday getaway

  7. California Globetrotter says:

    It’s so nice to learn about somewhere new in Sweden beyond just Stockholm! I would really love to explore the country in depth! I’ve pinned this as it looks and sounds like a wonderful place! 🙂 #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      I was surprised at how the landscape changed from Norway to Sweden. There’s so much to explore between Stockholm and Gothenburg. We had a great first impression though

  8. Cultural Wednesday says:

    Back in the 20th century when I was an au pair in Germany I befriended a fellow au pair who was Swedish and came from Gothenburg. It has been on my list ever since, you’ve made me realise that I should visit and soon! #FarawayFiles

  9. Julz says:

    I am toying with the idea to take a day trip to Malmö when we are in CPH this summer. I have never been to Götheborg either. looks nice – I love the fish market church!

  10. Corey with fifi + hop says:

    Ok wait a minute, and I’m not kidding, I thought ABBA WAS Australian!!! In any case you will have to see Mamma Mia on Broadway some time, it’s so much fun. Gothenburg is one of those places that looks so pleasantly perfect I know I would love it. Great that you were able to squeeze in a visit. #farawayfiles

  11. Allison says:

    I’ve heard some great things about Gothenburg, lately, and I’d love to visit. The archipelago and botanic gardens are particularly intriguing to me. And who can pass up those huge cinnamon buns. #FarawayFiles

  12. Clare Thomson says:

    I’m still giggling after reading Corey’s remark – we all remember Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel’s Wedding, after all! You’ve made Gothenburg sound delightful. I knew about Liseborg (it has a fabulous Christmas market) but I’d love to ride on a ferry and explore the parks. #farawayfiles

  13. Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne says:

    I’ve always had a sweet spot for Sweden, for some reason. While living in Denmark, we visited a few places in Sweden, but Gothenburg wasn’t one of them. We once explored the Bohuslan Archipelago, north of Gothenburg, and it was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for this lovely, cinnamon-scented tour!

  14. Katherine says:

    I love the idea of cruising the archipelago! Strolling through little villages on islands is always a favourite of mine, and Donsö sounds lovely! I’m always in it for the food as well! Those oysters from the restaurant above the markets must have been delicious. Do you think you’ll head back to see more of Sweden after this taste?

    • Katy says:

      Kat I’d really love to go to Swedish Lapland for the Santa experience, explore Stockholm and revisit Gothenburg in winter. My Swedish adventures are not over!

  15. Jenny (The Liitle Adventurer) says:

    Wow, you did so much during your stay – and it all looks wonderful! I love the idea of catching the ferry out to the islands, and as you know I have a serious weakness for a cinnamon bun! My son would love the amusement park too – looks like Gothenburg just got added to our list! #citytripping

  16. Kat says:

    Gothenburg seems like one of the ideal places to spend the moment winter is over – fresh seafood, gardens, sunny days and the great outdoors 🙂 I’m a huge ABBA fan too!! #farawayfiles

  17. Amanda Afield says:

    Scandinavia in the summer looks lovely! I’ve been to Stockholm, but the rest of the cities and islands look fun to wander around as well! Plus I’m a sucker for Scandinavian design, expensive as it may be! #farawayfiles

  18. Catherine Berry says:

    My three sisters and I saw Scandinavia from the back of the family Volvo. I have no idea how we survived squashed four abreast for weeks on end. It was many decades ago now and I’d be curious to re-visit. Thanks for hosting #farawayfiles

  19. Angie Vincent says:

    This looks like a great destination for a long weekend break. It sounds like the perfect relaxed vibe, lots of places to wander and of course coffee and cinnamon buns. Will add it to my list #FarawayFiles

  20. youngandundecided says:

    I’ve always really wanted to go to Sweeden! Gothenburg looks beautiful! It’s so funny you say that, my friend lives in Australia and she LOVES ABBA. I was so confused when she intially told me haa!

  21. Jesper, The Biveros Effect says:

    NIce to see that you liked Göteborg. I have only been there a few times, but it is for sure a nice city. Have you been to other places in Sweden as well? There are several nice towns south of Göteborg along the Swedish west coast. 🙂

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Jesper, we only had a flying visit to Göteborg but I definitely have a taste to discover more of Sweden. I appreciated the differences in landscapes and culture across the Scandinavian countries we visited.

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