Cityscape of Gothenburg from Big Harbor Canal

Eight reasons to visit Gothenburg, Sweden

Planning a trip to Gothenburg? Here are our top picks...

Stay: Hotel Eggers in the centre of town

Walking tour: Make your own tour

Experience: Gothenburg archipelago by boat

Food tour: Fika tour

Day trip: Boat tour to Vinga Island

Stepping out from Stockholm's shadow, Gothenburg, Sweden's second-largest city, has its own unique charm. Small enough to explore on foot but big enough to keep you entertained, Gothenburg combines the buzz of city life with a relaxed, friendly vibe.

Whether you're a foodie, a night owl, or a coffee lover, Gothenburg's trendy restaurants, lively clubs, and cozy cafes won't disappoint. But what really sets Gothenburg apart is its commitment to going green. With eco-friendly hotels, sustainable theme parks, and even a wind-powered Volvo factory, this city leads the pack in being eco-conscious.

Want to see Gothenburg from a different perspective? Try cycling its streets or kayaking its waterways. And when it's time to take a breather, the city's abundant green spaces provide the perfect escape. Most importantly, the locals are known to be among the friendliest in Sweden. Read on to find out why we can't get enough of Gothenburg.

Isolated islands in Gothenburg Archipelago on a sunny day

1. Gothenburg Archipelago is easily accessible

Gothenburg Archipelago consists of more than 20 islands spread across the northern and southern archipelago, whereof the southern archipelago belongs to Gothenburg. These are also all car-free. You can easily reach the islands by taking a ferry or boat from Saltholmen, Lilla Varholmen, or Stenpiren.

Among the most beautiful and must-visit islands is Asperö Island, where you can enjoy lazy days at the beach, walk around taking in the picturesque surroundings, and take pictures of the cute cottages. Brännö Island is a little bit bigger than Asperö with restaurants and cafés, nice swimming spots, and a bridge crossing to Galterö Island which is lovely for nature walks.

Styrsö is the biggest of the islands and there you will find restaurants and shops as well as guest houses if you decide to stay the night. If you go in the winter, this is the best island to visit as there will still be places open.

If you are looking for a complete nature experience, head to Vargö Island. This is a nature reserve without any shops or restaurants so there you can enjoy walks, swimming, and fishing without any disturbances.

Kayaking on the Old Canal in Gothenburg, Sweden

2. You can kayak through the Gothenburg's canals

Nearly 400 kilometres of waterways make their way through Gothenburg and the archipelago which makes for a haven for kayaking and canoeing. There are several kayak rentals in the city, among them, you can go to Kajakbryggan by the Garden Society of Gothenburg to pick up one.

It is always nice to see the city from a different perspective and kayaking is a lovely way to discover Gothenburg from the canal, but it is also a lovely way to paddle out to the islands in Gothenburg Archipelago. As one of Europe’s most sustainable cities, it sure is a good way to explore.

Inside a bar in Gothenburg

3. Gothenburg has a vibrant nightlife

Gothenburg is known for its vibrant nightlife and whether you want to enjoy fancy cocktails or drink your way through the implausible craft beers that the city is famous for, there is something for you. 

The most popular area for energetic nightclubs and bars to dance your heart out is Kungsportsavenyn. However, if you are after a more relaxing atmosphere, head to the Old Town or Linné where you will find a more bohemian environment.

The sailboat hotel, Barken Viking, in Gothenburg, Sweden

4. You can sleep in a sailboat

Docked up at the harbour in Gothenburg you find the sailboat hotel Barken Viking. It is a charming restored windjammer from 1907 that has a long history of travelling around the world all the way to Australia. 

The boat was originally Danish, built in Copenhagen, and did not arrive in Sweden before 1950. Today, it serves as one of the most unique hotels in Sweden and is also like a live museum. 

This is a lovely place to stay the night while having a different experience. If you do not overnight at Barken Viking, you can still enjoy a romantic dinner in the restaurant or a drink in the bar overlooking a lit-up harbour.

Row of bicycles along Gustaf Adolf Square, Gothenburg, Sweden

5. Gothenburg is a bike-friendly city

While Gothenburg is very walkable,  if you do not have much time or prefer moving faster, it is also an extremely bike-friendly city. The amount of traffic in the city centre is regulated on the weekdays which makes it a lot safer for bikers to navigate the streets.

But there is also a multitude of biking trails along the canals, river, and seaside with incredible scenery. The big plus is that bike hire is included in the Gothenburg City Card, so you can easily grab a bike for your sightseeing around the city.

The Botanical Gardens in Gothenburg

6. There are lots of green spaces in Gothenburg

Gothenburg is jam-packed with refreshing green spaces and you can enjoy a walk or a cycle in the park whenever you need a nature fix. Gothenburg is home to one of the largest and most impressive botanical gardens in Europe. It was built in 1923 and now you can find more than 16.000 plant species in the well-groomed gardens.

Pretty paths take you past glittering fountains, romantic benches, and beautifully decorated lawns of flowerbeds looking like paintings. The largest tropical orchid collection in Sweden and an award-winning rock garden are among the top sites to see in Gothenburg Botanical Garden together with their own beehives producing honey that you find for sale in the little shop there.

Kungsparken is another park worth visiting, lining the central canal in Gothenburg, it is a lovely green space with paths, statues, and fountains. Finally, you might take note of the beautiful Garden Society of Gothenburg, founded by King Carl XIV Johan in 1842, it is one of the most impressive gardens in the city.

Exhibit at the Gothenburg Volvo Museum

7. Gothenburg has a museum for everyone

Not surprisingly, Gothenburg has a whole lot of interesting museums to discover, starting with Sweden’s pride at the Volvo Museum to the Maritime Museum. Here are some of the must-visit museums in Gothenburg.

Volvo Museum

The museum showcases a whole range of Volvo vehicles and machines from the earliest cars that were built in 1927 and throughout history to today. It is a must-visit for any car enthusiasts and there are a whole lot of cool old vehicles on display. There is also a shop where you can buy anything Volvo and a café and play corner for the kids.

Museum of Gothenburg

Exhibits of Gothenburg’s history from prehistoric times until today. It is a really interesting journey in time and it houses the only exhibited Viking ship in the country, Äskekärrsskeppet. If you travel with children, you will be pleased that there is a Children’s Museum and playroom. You will also find a café and a shop in the museum.

Maritime Museum and Aquarium

A museum that focuses on the maritime cultural history of Sweden. You can see a whole range of model ships from different times of history. Recently, they also opened up an aquarium and have different talks and children’s activities. Finally, you can join boat and city tours to learn even more. The museum has a large and nice green space outside and a restaurant with tables outside so you can enjoy the beautiful space.

Christmas decorations in Liseberg Amusement Park

8. You can visit one of Europe’s best amusement parks

One of the coolest things to do in Gothenburg is to spend a day at Liseberg Amusement Park which is fully wind-powered and has been rated among the best theme parks in Europe on several occasions.

There are over 40 attractions, among them rollercoasters, water rides, and Ferris wheels. It's also home to the largest Christmas market in Scandinavia.

There are also a wealth of restaurants and cafes to fuel up between the rides. Liseberg offers everything you can imagine for all age groups, so whether you travel with family or are a group of friends, there is something for you. In 2023, Liseberg Amusement Park celebrates its centenary.

Planning a trip to Gothenburg? Stay at the historic Hotel Eggers in the centre of town.

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Linn Haglund

Author - Linn Haglund

Originally from Norway, Linn is an avid traveller and freelance travel writer that has a passion for the outdoors, wildlife, and responsible travel. She is currently living the van life in southern Europe with her fiancé and their dog.

Having travelled in 50+ countries and lived in five countries, she has developed a fervour for helping people to travel more responsibly and leave a positive impact on their destinations through her blog, Brainy Backpackers.

Last Updated 17 January 2024

An aerial view of lake in Sweden in summer


Sparsely populated Sweden is known for its natural wonders. Cities tend cling to the coast and rivers, while inland you'll find towns, the occasional house, and a huge amount of forest interspersed with moors and lakes.