Of all Sweden's cities, none manage to blend Old World influences with modern-day charm half as well as Gothenburg. Situated on an archipelago along the western coast, Sweden's second largest city is known for its Dutch-style canals, car-free islands, and bustling neighborhoods in the midst of its quaint fishing villages. Playfully dubbed “Little London,” this seaside city buzzes with energy thanks to its indulgent fresh seafood, dazzling coast, and nostalgic amusement park rides. If you only have one weekend to explore this hidden European gem, here's how to make the most of your time.
8 AM - Fuel Up at Fratelli Gridelli
Tegnérsgatan 26, 412 52 Gothenburg, Sweden
You have a big day ahead of you, so Fratelli Gridelli is the best place to curb your appetite without missing a beat. A small Italian deli, their daily breakfast buffet runs from 8-10 a.m. and includes caprese, croissants, cheeses, jams, and yogurts. You know what they say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
10 AM - Get a Lay of the Land
Kungsportsplatsen, 411 10 Gothenburg, Sweden
You could tour the city on foot, but why not take advantage of the water? The best way to explore the canals and waterways is on a paddan boat. You’ll hear about Gothenburg's seafaring history, tour the shipyards and harbor, and get a good overview of the area’s maritime past.
12 PM - Make it a Gourmet Lunch
Adolf Edelsvärds gata 5, 414 51 Gothenburg, Sweden
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, Sjömagasinet is a prime example of Sweden’s gourmet culinary scene. The restaurant is owned by Ulf Wagner (Restaurateur of the Year 2016 and winner of the Longtime Gastronomic Deed Award 2017) and has racked up a number of other accolades, including one Michelin star. Head chef Gustav Trägårdh was named Chef of the Year in 2010 and creates innovative a la carte dishes along with a daily three-course tasting menu.
2 PM - Get a Rush
Örgrytevägen 5, 402 22 Gothenburg, Sweden
Start your trip on a high note -- literally. Liseberg is Scandinavia’s largest amusement park where you’ll find 41 thrill rides and attractions. Feel your stomach drop on the Helix, the longest and fastest roller coaster in the park or Mechanica, which will have you spinning 360-degrees 30 meters in the air. If you’re not weary of heights, AtmosFear is Europe's largest free-fall, while Balder was named the best wooden rollercoaster in the world.
6 PM - Go to Church… Fish Church
Fisktorget 4, 411 20 Gothenburg, Sweden
A mecca for seafood lovers, Feskekôrka food hall (“fish church” in Swedish) is an indoor fish and shellfish market where you can buy all kinds of seafood delicacies and fresh catches of the day. Inside are two upscale restaurants, oyster and wine tastings, and plenty of other vendors to whet your whistle.
7 PM - Explore the Craft Brewery Scene
Tredje Langgatan 8 413 03 Gothenburg, Sweden
Andra and Tredje Långgatan are two of the most popular bar and restaurant streets in Gothenburg, and the perfect place to throw yourself a little pub crawl. Start at Brewers Beer Bar, which has a rotating selection of local drafts on tap. They claim they change their beers more often than they change their underwear, but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
8 AM - Get Your Java Fix
Korsgatan 2, 411 16 Gothenburg, Sweden
Café culture is big in Sweden, and there’s nothing like a "fika" (coffee) and a gigantic cinnamon bun to start the morning. For exceptional pastries to satisfy your sweet tooth, Ahlströms Konditori has been providing Gothenburg its caffeine fix since 1901, making it a must-see morning institution.
10 AM - Island Hop the Archipelago
Gothenburg’s territory includes a string of 20 car-free islands you can explore by ferry. Board a boat and make your way around the different port towns, embark on a seal or lobster safari or go deep-sea fishing to experience island-life Scandinavia style.
1 PM - Lunch with a Spot of Culture
Haga Nygata 15 Gothenburg, Sweden
Take a different — and healthier — approach to lunch at En Deli Haga. This vegetarian hot spot serves up Mediterranean cuisine in the oldest neighborhood in the entire city. Known for its signature wooden houses and trendy shopping, Haga combines the best of the Old World with the new — and En Deli Haga fits seamlessly into the mix. In addition to its Mediterranean breakfast and lunch options from locally grown vegetables, En Deli also plates up traditional Swedish coffee and sweets.
3 PM - Explore the Rainforest
Södra Vägen 50, 400 20 Gothenburg, Sweden
The massive complex known as Universeum is Scandinavia's largest science center. Throughout the seven floors, you’ll find huge aquariums and plenty of hands-on exhibits, like the recently added kapok tree with secret alleys. The highlight is undoubtedly the enormous rainforest teeming with exotic birds, sloths, monkeys, frogs, butterflies, and tons of other creatures. Hike through the rain cave to the canyon for an epic landscape and photo opp.
6 PM - Michelin It Up
Johannebergsgatan 24, 412 55 Gothenburg, Sweden
Despite Gothenburg’s relatively small size, the city is home to a whopping seven Michelin-starred restaurants. One of the newest, SK Mat & Människor (which translates to “Food & People”), is a great place to tuck into Swedish cuisine. Unlike a traditional pre fixe progressive dinner, SK offers an à la carte menu from which it is suggested to pick three items in addition to the four, six, and eight-course tasting menus. From the very first bite of the homemade rye bread with lingonberries, you’ll see why this is one of the most talked about tables in town.
Where to Stay: Hotel Pigalle
Södra Hamngatan 2A, 411 06 Gothenburg, Sweden
The Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice winner of 2017, Hotel Pigalle is conveniently located in the city center and beautifully appointed. A boutique property inspired by Paris in the early 1900s, each room feels warm and luxurious, while offering you a great base to explore.