Gothenburg, Sweden has been on my radar for past months. Last year I even had tickets for a day trip there but due to the flights changes I didn’t go. Every now and then I was looking at flights to visit Gothenburg but each time it seemed like the timing wasn’t right. Suddenly few weeks ago, on the random Wednesday morning, Ryanair had a crazy sale – so crazy that I booked the tickets without any thinking… for 2€/return. The only problem was that I was about to depart in a little bit over a week! I didn’t have much time to plan or even to properly check what are the best things to do in Gothenburg! I went for a spontaneous weekend trip to Sweden and it was actually pretty awesome!
I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything planned. Not in every single detail but still to have a vague idea what I’m going to do – that’s how Virgos are, apparently. So even if I was going to spend only 2 days in Gothenburg it still bothered me a lot that I didn’t have the proper knowledge about the city. I knew the basics, googled some pictures online and that’s about it. As soon as I landed in Gothenburg airport on Friday morning I found a tourist info point and gathered some maps and brochures to educate myself on the way to the city. It was a gorgeous sunny day, not a typical one for February. As soon as we approached the city I knew I’m going to become friends with Gothenburg and I was right – we clicked immediately and I’ve enjoyed my two days there a lot. And even if I did my best to discover Gothenburg as good as possible it still wasn’t enough for me!
Table of contents
Of all the Nordic countries I know Sweden the least. I’ve been twice to Stockholm but these were very short trips (1 day + 1.5 day) at the worst possible time (February and March) so the Swedish capital didn’t really impress me. Somehow I knew this time it will be different. Gothenburg is second biggest city in Sweden, with the largest students population in whole Scandinavia. And you can definitely feel this young vibe going around. On the bright and sunny day like my first one in Gothenburg the streets, restaurants, shops and parks were full of people, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Along the canal next to the fish market hall numerous people were sunbathing on the funky wooden deck chairs – I happily joined as it just felt the best thing to do at that very moment. The city definitely felt alive – that was one of the many reasons why I enjoyed Gothenburg so much!
Things to do in Gothenburg
The center of Gothenburg seems to be rather small and compact but exploring it in one day left me pretty exhausted. There’re just so many things to do in Gothenburg and I was determined to see them all! I walked around everywhere as it’s always the best way to feel the place and the weather definitely was a big help here. Scandinavian cities are rather distinctive and I can see why many people might not be too impressed with them but Gothenburg was really pleasant and pretty. The mix of architecture – from wooden houses to impressive city buildings and modern structures – was really amazing! Very quickly Gothenburg became one of my top 3 cities in Northern Europe!
If you visit Gothenburg here’s my walking route and list of things to see in Gothenburg – you might find these useful!
- Central Train Station – a starting point for many arriving to Gothenburg. The building itself is rather interesting, with wooden high ceiling and is definitely worth stopping by if you’re around
- Nordstan shopping center – place like any other but right in the middle you can find a tourist info point where you can get a very useful map, some brochures, buy your Göteborg City Card or ask about the city!
- The Barken Viking ship – the biggest sailing ship built in Scandinavia, for years it’s been moored in Gothenburg
- Göta älvbron – a bascule bridge with a great view over Gothenburg
- Gothenburg Opera – interesting especially for its modern building
- walk along the Göta river where even more amazing ships are moored
- walk along Stora Hamnkanalen with one of the best city views – the City Museum, Christian church and Gustaf Adolfs Torg
- Kungsportsplatsen, Saluhallen – the Market Hall and shopping streets around the cathedral
- walk along Vallgraven canal to the Fish Market Hall (and relax at the bank if the weather is nice!)
- go to the bohemian Haka district with 19th century wooden houses and climb up to Skansen Kronan – a fortress with another great view over the city
- Götaplatsen – the main public square in the city
Museums in Gothenburg
On my second day the weather wasn’t the best (it was snowing really badly at some point) hence it was a great opportunity to see what’s going on at the cultural scene of the city. There’re some 20 museums in Gothenburg, most of them sounded very appealing to me but with my limited time I had to choose which ones to visit. Eventually I went to Röda Sten – a former industrial space now turned into the contemporary art center – and Röhsska Museum focused on design, fashion and decorative arts – the only one of this kind in Sweden. Both were excellent choices and a great opportunity to see something different than classical art. There seems to be even more quirky museums in Gothenburg: Radio Museum Volvo Museum or Nostalgicum (where it’s all about 1950s and 1960s)!
Day trip to Gothenburg Archipelago
When visiting Gothenburg it’s a must to go to the nearby archipelago – a perfect nature getaway and the most typical Scandinavian landscape you can think of! The short tramp and boat ride will transfer you to a different world, like from a fairy tale – full of charming wooden houses, rocky islands and a very relaxed vibe. That’s where everyone escapes to from the hustle and bustle of the city. It feels like the time passes there at a super slow pace but that’s ok, cars and rush would just spoil the place. I bet it’s much more lively there in the summer time but on this winter Saturday when I went to visit Gothenburg archipelago there were only very few people around: walking, taking pictures and enjoying being in this perfect wonderland. I can’t think of a better (half) day trip from Gothenburg!
My favourite things about Gothenburg
Even if I had only 2 days in Gothenburg it was enough for me to develop strong affection for the place. At first it may look like a pleasant yet regular city but when you put together all these small things you notice around it’s a place where you want to spend more time, be a part of it. I loved Gothenburg trams – massive, with kind of vintage look that would fast take you from one side of the city to the other. I loved the local cafe scene with numerous spots to enjoy the cinnamon bun and coffee, some of them hidden in the gates to make them look even more appealing. I loved the mix of architecture but wandering in Haga, Masthugget and Vasastaden was especially nice. I loved the industrial sites that definitely had a strong influence on the look and vibe of the city. And I loved the archipelago, such a different world, like from a fairy tale, yet so close to the city… There’re just so many reasons to visit Gothenburg again in future!
Visit Gothenburg – practical information
How to get to Gothenburg
There’re numerous airlines serving Gothenburg, including low-cost ones. I used Ryanair with their great promo – I paid 2€ for return flights from/to Warsaw. Main Gothenburg airport is located 30 minutes away by bus, they depart every 15 minutes and the return ticket bought online costs 185SEK. Inside the terminal there’s a tourist information with maps and brochures.
Where to sleep in Gothenburg
For my 2 days in Gothenburg I’ve decided to stay in Scandic No.25 and it was a perfect option. The hotel is located very close to the Central Station and the bus terminal, in the heart of the city. It looks pretty regular from the outside but once you step inside you’re immediately in the funky yet very cozy space. It’s all about the details here and so you’re surrounded by photo frames, flowers, books and cushions. The place looks and feels so charming you don’t want to leave it! And even if it’s a fairly big, chain hotel it definitely doesn’t seem like it!
Göteborg City Card
During my visit in Gothenburg I used Göteborg City Card and it was a great help in discovering the city. 48 hours card costs 335SEK for an adult and gives you the unlimited opportunity to use public transport (including boats at the archipelago) and visit numerous museums for free. I know I wouldn’t see as much of Gothenburg if it wasn’t for the card!
The trip was in partnership with Visit Gothenburg and Scandic Hotels however all opinion remain my own. Some pictures used in the article are property of Scandic Hotels
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