Go West

We explored Sweden’s eastern capital in 24 hours then swapped the compass, visiting the relaxed, trendy and quietly exciting city of Gothenburg

By Cheryl Caira

Lead image: Per Pixel Petersson

Get some energy for the sightseeing ahead by perusing the wares at Saluhallen. The indoor market has over 40 shops of tempting Swedish and international delicacies, plus café options offering seafood, veggie dishes and Italian fare.

Boutique hotel Dorsia in central Gothenburg

Opulence teamed with cocktail chic: schedule in a date by the bar at boutique hotel Dorsia, with its La Belle Epoque-inspired interiors. The hipster cool of Gothenburg convene at Folk, a theatre foyer bar with natural wines and a buzzing atmosphere. Just across the road on Andra Långgatan, you’ll find an array of choices for a nightcap, from craft beer joints to top indie sounds at Café Publik.

Take a walk into the centre via fashionable Magasinsgatan, lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Puta Madre comes recommended for its alternative take on Mexican food, with tasty dishes combined with the red-lit ambience of a 1920s bordello. You’re set for innovative fine dining with Gothenburg’s six Michelin-starred venues. Koka is a highlight, serving up seasonal, west Swedish cuisine in relaxed style with a regularly updated menu.

Giant cinnamon buns – a Gothenburg highlight. Image: Superstudio D&D/Göteborg & Co

Hit Haga, the oldest and most charming part of the city. Cobbled streets reveal artisan shops, cosy cafes and plenty of opportunities for a traditional fika coffee break. Eat a cinnamon bun the size of your head – called hagabullen – at famous Café Husaren.

Explore leafy Slottsskogen, a local favourite for walks and picnics featuring an animal park with seals, Humboldt penguins, elk and deer. The nearby Botanical Garden is also a lovely wander (you get free entry with a Gothenburg Pass, handy if you’re visiting a lot of attractions). It’s a vast space with over 16,000 different plants, a tranquil Japanese glade and nature reserve. The greenhouses are the proud owner of Sweden’s largest tropical orchid collection and the rare Easter Island tree, extinct in its natural environment.

Nip up the hill to Skansen Kronan and contemplate the red roofed houses of the city and the vista beyond. The crown-topped fortress at the top was completed in 1697, and in its time has been a prison, emergency residence and military museum.

Brave the rides at Scandinavia’s largest amusement park, Liseberg. A notable feature on the city skyline, the latest arrival is a dive coaster ride with a 50m vertical drop, alongside less fear-inducing options. Concerts are frequently held there in the summer, and the huge Christmas market is an eye-popping must-visit for glögg and good times.

Décor delights at Artilleriet. Image: Marie Ullnert/Göteborg & Co

Unearth some beautiful Scandi design finds at leading home décor store, Artilleriet. If you’re in the market for a one-off jewellery piece, try Four, a gallery and shop showcasing the creations of four different artists. Head to Vintage Göteborg for second-hand designer pieces in great condition. It’s a treasure trove of carefully curated clothes and accessories.

Röda Sten Konsthall is worth the tram trip out to the landmark Älvsborgs Bridge. A graffiti-covered former boiler house located on the harbour inlet, it’s a go-to for contemporary art, spanning four floors. For a look at some renowned Nordic artists, Gothenburg Museum of Art has an extensive collection, as well as work by masters such as Rembrandt, Monet and Picasso.

Donsö in the Gothenburg archipelago. Image: Peter Kvarnström/Göteborg & Co

Get out of the city for the day and breathe in some sea air at the bonny Gothenburg archipelago. It’s an easily reached change of scene by ferry, and the southern islands are peacefully car-free. Styrsö is the islands’ hub and 35 minutes from the mainland. Head up to Stora Rös for views across the surrounding islands, then cross the bridge to neighbouring Donsö (hiring a bike is a good idea) for seafood on the pier at Isbolaget.

 For more info on the city or to buy a Gothenburg Pass, go to