Why visit Gothenburg? The number of answers that can be given to this question is stunning. A lively city, with a particular energy, Gothenburg is famous for its inhabitants’ quality of life and character, welcoming and humorous: a place where you immediately feel at home, breathing in a relaxed yet sparkling atmosphere.

Populated with splendid parks, imposing buildings and ancient castles, Gothenburg is a young, creative city, full of galleriesmuseums and events: from food festivals to cultural events, sporting events and music festivals, every season here is electrifying. The sun never sets in the summer and the days are extremely long: it is the ideal time to stay up late and throw yourself into the Gothenburg night-life. It is also the time for a dip in the water, making the most of a great backdrop offered by the islands in the archipelago.

Even in the coldest seasons, the most characteristic districts, such as Haga, are an attraction point, with their coffee shops and alternative shops. The food in Gothenburg is fantastic: the biggest feature on menus is fish, to be tasted in rated restaurants or local inns where you can eat cheaply: even better, on a wild island, surrounded by fishermen’s houses. Run through by the River Gota and lying on the North Sea, the city is full of breath-taking panoramic points.

The second largest city in Sweden will enchant you with its architecture, it wonderful natural setting and its welcoming ways. Here are the 18 must-see places to visit in Gothenburg and the surrounding area, perhaps with Costa while taking advantage of our excursions.

Gothenburg Museum

Gothenburg is also known as the Scandinavian Amsterdam, and on visiting the Stadsmuseum, it is easy to understand why. The collection in the Gothenburg Museum tells of evolution from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century, up to the industrial expansion that gave life to the modern city. Founded as a merchant port at the mouth of the River Gota, it was equipped with an ingenious canal system, designed on the Amsterdam model.

Today, the Gothenburg canals are the backdrop to quiet boat trips: if you so wish, the itinerary can continue as far as Stockholm, along the Göta Canal, the  “blue ribbon of Sweden”. Located in the historical premises of the Eastern Indias Company, the prestigious Gothenburg Museum houses ancient testimonies and temporary exhibitions, also offering guided tours and itineraries on foot around the city. Inside, it is possible to admire a very special finding: the only Viking ship exhibited in Sweden. There is also a play area for children, a shop, a restaurant and a coffee shop for relaxing after a visit to the museum.

Gustav Adolf Square and Opera Theatre

It was called the “great square” of Gothenburg until the arrival of the statue dedicated to Gustav II Adolf of Sweden, the founder of the city in 1621. The political centre of Gothenburg, Gustav Adolf Square is surrounded by institutional buildings, such as the City Hall and the Neoclassical Stock Exchange. Nearby, we find the Opera Theatre, which is architecturally interesting: it was designed with inspiration from the port and includes themed elements such as sails and ships. The theatre's programme ranges from opera to ballet, concerts and musicals. While waiting for the curtain to rise, it is possible to enjoy a dinner at the theatre restaurant: it is extremely panoramic, as all the tables look out onto the river. It only needs a coffee to enter into the atmosphere.

Oscar Fredrik Church

The roses will hypnotise you, as will the slim spire jutting upwards: Oscar Fredrik Church is a classic visual reference of Gothenburg. Its Neogothic style will enrapture you. It was inspired by the great European cathedrals,  more than by the real Nordic style. Built at the end of the nineteenth century, Oscar Fredrik Church takes its name from the King of Sweden Oscar II, loved not only for his sharp mind and political taste, but also for his refined tastes and the sought-after literary works. Oscar Fredrik Church will accompany you on your trip to the city: we recommend you admire it from close up, to appreciate its elaborate lines and splendid interiors from close up.

Feskekörka

Who would ever have thought that a fish market could be located in a cathedral? This is the effect that Feskekörka has, one of the most visited places in the city. Constructed in 1874, the building was born from an architectural experiment and in inspired by Gothic stone churches and Nordic-wooden slat churches.  The translation of Feskekörka is, literally “ fish church”: a revealing clue to the sacred respect that the locals have for the sea and its gifts. The fish market sells all kinds of fish specialities, all fresh of course. Your mouth will water, for sure: there is a characteristic restaurant, small but welcoming, where you can order delicacies and large plates of food: from raw oysters to fried herring. 

Järntorget Square

Literally “square of iron”, Järntorget Square is one of the largest meeting places in the city. Located between the Linné district and the Haga district, the area is a reference point for alternative night life and informal food. There are cinemas, theatres, clubs, live music clubs, bars and restaurants around the square. A popular historical place for the working class, Järntorget Square is a symbol of Gothenburg and is a characteristic setting for a relaxing cup of coffee. This is where Linnégatan starts, the shopping street that is very popular with the locals. There is never-ending choice for a snack: from vegetarian food to trendy restaurants, without forgetting the pubs with craft beer. The atmosphere is authentic and there are always surprises.

Haga District

Haga is the old part of the city, a kind of oasis separated by tree-lined avenues, historical squares and working-class houses. Many buildings are built in the so-called landshövdingehus style, which is typical of Gothenburg, with one floor in brick and the others built in wood. This is a custom originally started to prevent fires, or rather, an ingenious trick to get round a ban of this type. The area offers a number of coffee bars and shops where you can buy everything: from furniture to tea, alternative accessories and characteristic cakes. Going shopping here is a unique experience: the items on offer are not stereotyped as they are elsewhere, and the gem is just round the corner. The Haga district is the perfect place for trying out the Swedish ritual called fika: more than a coffee break, it is a philosophy of life. The coffee bars and local cake shops are more than worthy of the situation.

Götaplatsen Square

The first thing you notice when you arrive at Götaplatsen Square is a giant statue of Poseidon, a majestic presence that has become a symbol of Gothenburg. The ancient god overlooks Avenyn, the main road of the city, always full of traffic and lined with restaurants and night clubs. Götaplatsen Square is a little like the heart of cultural life: the Concert Hall, home of the Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra, the Municipal Library, the Art Museum and the city theatre all stand around the square. The square also hosts more informal events, such as festivals and rock concerts: here, culture is 360 degrees.

Konstmuseum

Are you wondering whether to visit the Gothenburg Museum of Art? If you have time, the answer should most definitely be yes. It is worth it: the Konstmuseum, in fact, hosts one of the best late nineteenth-century art collections from North Europe. The permanent collection includes works by Swedish artists and international masterpieces, with canvases by Rembrandt, Monet, Chagall and Picasso amongst others.

In addition to the size and variety of its collection, the museum can also boast a creativity in its management: alongside temporary exhibitions and guided tours, workshops and family activities are also organised. There is also a coffee shop for a tasty break while commenting the best paintings. The construction style is typical of Neoclassical monumental architecture, reinterpreted with a Nordic slant: the particular nature comes from the ochre colour of the bricks, a sign of the city factory. 

Universeum - National Museum of Science

There is one attraction in Gothenburg, that old and young alike really love: the Universeum, the National Museum of Science, the most important in Scandinavia. It takes up seven floors and offers state-of-the-art technology and unique interactive experiences. One of the most particular is an unusual safari with monkeys and caymans: here, in fact, it is possible to cross an indoor rain forest, with butterflies and colourful birds flying past. Or experience the emotions of an astronaut and their challenges, like space-walking or sleeping without gravity. But also using a lie detector in the crime laboratory and being  enraptured by the fragile beauty of the ocean world, with tiger sharks and hypnotic giant rays. Far from being an obvious destination, the Universeum - National Museum of Science, strikes the imagination, arousing curiosity for nature and the wonders of science. 

Liseberg

The Liseberg Theme Park, a place full of offers for everyone, is just a short distance from the Universeum.  One of them, the Helix roller-coaster, is the longest and fastest in Scandinavia. There are dozens of attractions to choose from, such as the AtmosFear tower, from which you can free fall from for about one hundred metres. For anyone not feeling like reckless adventures, Liseberg Park is also perfect for relaxation, with shopsrestaurants and concerts scheduled for the summer season. Its main stage is one of the most important venues for live music in Gothenburg and hosts the biggest international stars. Fun is guaranteed in all seasons, even at Christmas when the traditional market offers the best of typical Swedish cuisine. Talking of relaxing: the Liseberg Gardens, one of the largest parks in the city, are a beautiful sight. It is a never-ending expanse of flowering bulbs, centuries-old oak trees and waterfalls. Here, the inhabitants of Gothenburg love to walk quietly, enjoying the beauty of nature: a privilege to take advantage of.

Skansen Kronan Fortress

The Skansen Kronan Fortress is one the list of the best view points in Gothenburg. From here you can count the roofs in the Haga district and look at the green slopes of the hill. The defence structure was built in the second half of the seventeenth century, based on designs by Erik Dahlbergh, an engineer who won over the nobility with his military honours.

 Skansen Kronan Fortress was equipped with 23 cannons to defended itself from all types of attack: however, it was lucky enough to not be used in war, as the enemy stayed at due distance. A possibility that it was well prepared for, thanks to its granite walls that are up to five metres thick. It was later turned into a prison and emergency shelter, and in the 20th century was turned into a military museum. Today it is a great panoramic viewpoint that pairs with Skansen Lejonet, its twin fortress that, unlike the golden crown of Skansen Kronan, bears a lion on its top.

Masthuggskyrkan Church

One of the most classic views for those visiting Gothenburg is Masthuggskyrkan Church: a great example of Swedish Romanesque architecture that attracts tends of thousands of tourists every year. It is emblematic as architecture and for its enviable panorama: it stands on a high hill and provides a splendid view over the river. Masthuggskyrkan Church was built in 1914, becoming one of the symbols of Gothenburg. Nearby, there is another particular place, the Gathenhielmska “cultural reserve”, one of the oldest areas of the city. Here you can find houses dating back to the 13th century and breathe an air of times gone by: a journey into eighteenth-century Gothenburg, before the devastation caused by fires.

Kungälv and Västra Gatan Avenue

Positioned at the mouth of the River Göta, the town of Kungälv is home to the Bohus Fortress, built to guard the Norway border and threatened by the Swedish: its fame for being invincible is well deserved, as it was never conquered, other than by treaty. Considered to be one of the best in the region, the castle is one of the most famous attraction in Kungälv, a charming location just north of Gothenburg. A walk along the Västra Gatan avenue is a must.  It is extremely characteristic with its colourful wooden painted houses. The views while walking along the river are delightful. There is also a tasty stop: the famous biscuit shop that gives off a delicious vanilla and chocolate smell into the air. As well as these delicious smells, you can also breathe in history in Kungälv with its stories of kings and battles. 

Styrsö Island

Gothenburg’s touristic fame is also linked to its archipelagos: the city stands a short distance from a number of wild islands that can easily be reached by boat. The city’s inhabitants love to come for a trip here, where the luckiest have a cottage with a sea view surrounded by wild heather. There are many trips to choose from: one of the most interesting is a trip to Styrsö Island,  populated by picturesque wooden houses. This pearl is halfway between the northern archipelago, which is more touristic, and the southern one, which is quieter and car-free.  A fantastic setting for walking on the seafront or for getting your fill of fresh seafood. 

Carlstens Fortress

When exploring the islands around Gothenburg, it is possible to come across spectacular castles, right on the sea with an invincible tone. One of the most fascinating is Carlstens Fortress, built on Marstrand Island north of the city. It is an unmistakeable presence that reigns over this island with its relaxed atmosphere, populated with characteristic houses, coffee shops and galleries: it is also great to visit by bike. Carlstens Fortress was built in the 17th century by the Swedish to watch over the island that had just been conquered. It dominates the town from about one hundred metres: the view from here is extraordinary. If you wish, you can visit the interior, to fully understand the importance of the manor house, historically contested for its role as a strategic outpost. Guided tours retrace the castle’s history. It guarded the small town of Marstrand for centuries. There are also theatre and music performances, and other activities for making the visit more interesting.

Tjörnbron Bridge

One of the most beautiful islands nearby is Tjörn, the sixth largest in Sweden. The island is connected to the mainland by the famous Tjörnbron Bridge: this is an impressive work that is striking for its size, with its 664 metres of length and 45 metres of height. The bridge was opened in 1981 in record time - in just 17 months - replacing the previous Almö Bridge, that was swallowed up by the sea. Driving over the Tjörnbron Bridge is extremely exciting. As well as being super panoramic, it is a kind of magical passage: on the other side is the wonderful Tjörn Island, with its picturesque fishermen’s houses and its natural breath-taking landscapes. Don’t miss the Pilane Sculpture Park: walking amongst rocks and lawns, you can come across unexpected, bizarre creations, like the giant head of a white woman. Ah, one other thing: it is said here that you can try the best smoked fish in Sweden here.

Skärhamn and Nordic Watercolour Museum

Another interesting stop on Tjörn Island is the Nordic Watercolour Museum in Skärhamn. A popular destination that is noted above all for its nautical appearance: the museum is housed in a building overlooking the sea, in an extremely charming way. The building is painted in the characteristics Falun red, the colour of Swedish cottages, created from the residue of copper mines. Inside it is possible to admire works of art by Swedish artists and others too: the Nordic Watercolour Museum hosts modern exhibitions and international workshops. That is not all, however: the museum organises courses and you can try your hand at the watercolour technique. If you are a sailing enthusiast, you will love Skärhamn: the place is the setting for prestigious regattas and the right place to go and eye up a brand new yacht. 

Klädesholmen

The adventure continues in Klädesholmen, a small island connected to Tjörn by a bridge. Fishing, here is a real institution and there is a dedicated museum. The real star is the herring, the most popular ingredient for fish dishes served in the local restaurants. From rustic inns to sophisticated restaurants, there is a never-ending choice for planning one of your most memorable feasts of your holiday. Klädesholmen – also the location of a herring festival, scheduled for the month of June - is a guarantee from this point of view. Fun fact: the herring island is also home to the first floating hotel in Sweden.

Set sail for Gothenburg with Costa Cruises

Tell us the truth: you’re thinking about moving to Gothenburg. It would be hard to say your are wrong: the Swedish city is a unique mix of Nordic fascination and cosmopolitan atmospheres, full of green spaces and opportunities to enjoy yourself. Gothenburg is the youngest and most “social” city in Sweden, thanks to its important university and many clubs and bars. It is also a place steeped in history: it became big with trade and thanks to its system of canals. It still has wonderful traces of its own past. This jagged coastline and the archipelago islands frame it wonderfully: if you want to appreciate it at its best, visit Gothenburg on a Costa cruise, taking advantage of the many trips organised to the city.

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