Sustainable, quirky, laid-back and fun, the Swedish city of Gothenburg is no one’s little sister.
This vibrant Nordic town in West Sweden enjoys a high quality of life with a great public transportation system, live music scene, access to a stunning coastline, and a walkable city center filled with unique shops, fabulous restaurants and welcoming gathering places. Our guide has everything you need to know about how to enjoy a scandi-chic weekend in Gothenburg.
Things to do on a weekend in Gothenburg
The beautiful 19thcentury glass and cast iron Palm House is home to tropical flora from around the world. Modeled on London’s Crystal Palace (and fabulous for Instagram shots), entrance is free and makes for a lovely stop on walks in Kungsparken, the green park next to the city center.
Shop the Haga district, a thriving and hip hood with independent boutiques lining the pedestrian-only streets of colorful old wooden buildings. Stop for fika at Café Husaren for its decadent oversized cinnamon buns.
Upper House Spa sits high above Gothenburg’s skyline in Gothia Towers, offering both sweeping city views and serenity in its Nordic spa pool spaces. Enjoy body treatments, lunch, or just enjoy a good soak in the warm indoor and outdoor pools.
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Spend some play time in the Jubileumsparken waterside park in the Frihamnen area at Hisingen. This park was built to mark the 400thanniversary of Gothenburg. You can swim in the floating pool, admire the public art, or book a visit to the spectacular free sauna. The sauna in Frihamnen has been built from recycled materials, including changing facilities made from 12,000 recycled bottles.
The Gothenburg Botanical Garden is a short twenty-minute tram ride from town. The 400-acre botanical garden is one of the largest in Europe. It’s filled with more than 16,000 differenct species of plants.
Shop at Thrive, a local favorite that showcases 40+ brands of ecological, 100% Vegan and living wage fashion items for men and women.
Take a sightseeing cruise of the Dutch-built canal system and get an aquatic view of the city by boat. Or use the power of your own two arms as you kayak the canals in a slow travel fashion on a more lazy-style weekend in Gothenburg.
What to Eat in Gothenburg
Da Matteo: For the best fika in town with fair-trade drip or latte. The art of fika is really about taking a break with coffee and ideally a delicious pastry like a chocolate ball, cinnamon or my favorite, cardamom bun. Also great for a lunch of sandwiches, salads or pizzas. Spread out into the luxuriously large courtyard at the Magasinsgatan if the weather’s fine.
Located in the old harbor neighbourhood, Kafé Magasinet serves up delicious coffee, pizzas, sandwiches, salads and smoothies, all available to enjoy at leisure in a sunlight greenhouse patio or within the understated, brick-walled dining room.
The bustling Saluhallen market hall has been a foodie destination since it opened in 1889. The stalls are filled with artisanal cheeses, baked goods, meat, wine and chocolate makers. It’s a great spot to grab a lunch or snack on the go.
The fourth floor of the French-chic Hotel Pigalle is Atelier, a beautiful space of slating ceilings, chandeliers, and plush restaurant seating. The food is focused on the bounty of the nearby sea, through meat and vegetarian options are offered daily. The service and presentation are top drawer, so save this for a special evening to toast your time in Gothenburg.
Brewers Beer Bar: Popular restaurant on Magasinsgatan with 14 craft beers on tap and a special focus on Swedish microbreweries. Their food menu of pizzas and artisan kebabs (including vegan offerings) pair nicely with their home brew selections.
Where to Stay in Gothenburg
Clarion Hotel Post is conveniently located about 100 steps from the main central station in the city centre. This historic building was once the city’s central post office. The hotel has a rooftop pool on the 13thfloor with lovely views over the town. Rooms in the old post office portion of the hotel have full height windows to let the light shine in.
Hotel Pigalle is a sumptuous French-inspired boutique hotel in the heart of the city. Its sixty-four rooms are all richly decorated a la 1920s Europe, and it’s home to fine dining Atelier. Pigalle is cash-free, as are many establishments, bars and restaurants in Gothenburg.
Got more time?
Take a day trip to the coast and hike around Dyrön, part of Gothenburg’s archipelago. This beautiful little island is accessible by train and ferry from Gothenburg and Marstrand Island.
The three mile-long trail across the island is perfect for anyone with reasonable fitness and good walking shoes. Finish your walk with a free sauna and cool dip in the sea. The sauna can be booked online.
Want to venture beyond West Sweden? Check out the adventures in Dalarna, aka Sweden in miniature.
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