Weekend Escape with the Kids: Gothenburg, Sweden

Filled with bars, bistros and boutiques, Gothenburg is much more relaxed and maybe a bit edgier than capital Stockholm.  Catering to a young university crowd, Sweden’s second city might not be your first choice for a weekend away with the kids.


But Gothenburg surprised us with its chilled, child-friendly vibe and  attractions.  Getting around is easy thanks to its many trams and buses  – we filled our agenda quickly with plenty of fun activities. Here’s our top five weekend MUST-DOs.


Insiders Tip: Most Gothenburg sites are easily reached by foot. For longer distances like going to the seaside or to avoid little legs from getting overworked, grab the Gothenburg Card.


With this city pass you can use all public transportation and have free access to pretty much everything on your list.


#1 Trek through the Jungle or Dive Deep into the Ocean

You can do both and a whole lot more at Gothenburg’s Universeum.


Swedish wilderness takes centre stage in this 18,000 cubic metre space of pure adventure.  Go on safari through the rain forest crossing suspension bridges hung from a 25 metre Kapok tree while checking out exotic birds, monkeys, sloths and a whole lot more.


Continue the adventure underwater while observing one of the largest aquariums in Europe. Through the sixteen metres long, four meters high panorama aquarium containing over three million litres of water, observe the sea creatures of the North Sea and along the Swedish coast.  It’s a spectacular collection of stingrays, sharks, seahorses, and starfish.


While you’re there, check out their space exhibit on the 2nd level, let the little ones plan their next career move in the job emporium or get some tricks and tips on healthy living in the floor dedicated to exercise for the body, mind and soul.


Insider’s tip: Universeum is a perfect spot if you get caught in Gothenburg’s unpredictable weather but make sure you get there early.  You won’t be the only one with the same plan and the lines can get long.  Open from 10-6

#2 Up and Down and all Around

Liseberg, Helix, bergbana

Literally next-door to the Universeum is Scandinavia’s largest theme park, Liseberg, which contains everything from scream-your-head-off roller coasters to quiet, antique carousels to a concert hall and tons of games and prizes.


Open since 1923, one of the amusement park’s main attractions is a wooden rollercoaster – the biggest in the world.  Although the summer allows for lots of outdoor fun, the park really gets going during Christmas and hosts a huge range of Yuletide activities, boasting the largest Christmas market in Scandinavia.


Insider’s tip: Check out the hordes of people carrying giant cardboard candy bars: Twix, Snickers, Toblerone: all the major sweets are represented.  The yummy prize is won by playing the popular Wheel of Fortune game.  And they are everywhere!

# 3 Fuel up

Due to the city’s proximity to the sea, it’s hardly surprising that Gothenburg takes its seafood seriously. So seriously, in fact, that a fish market shaped like a place of worship, was built in 1874. Feskekôrka  (‘fish church’) is located on the north side of the main canal.  Take a stroll down aisles of ‪heavily-iced counters displaying the catch of the day and pick your lunch.


Insider’s tip:  The Fish Church is closed on Sunday so make sure you go there on Friday or Saturday. If it’s sunny outside, grab a bunch of shrimp, some Aioli and a baguette for an outside picnic.


Alternatively, head to Haga, a charming old area of the city littered with small independent boutiques, antique shops, coffee shops and street stalls.


Here you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants, specialising in vegetarian or vegan dishes. You can mix and match salads, soups, and baked goods. Prices are very reasonable and the staff are friendly and helpful.


Afterwards, don’t forget to take a ‘Fika’, the traditional coffee break with friends. You should observe this practice at least two times a day by Swedish standards.


Insider’s Tip: Save room for the cinnamon rolls from Hagabullen.  They’re big.  They’re gooey. And they’re oh soooooo good.


# 4 Water World

Being in a boat gives you a very different perspective, so make sure you take one of the many boat tours available. Starting from Kungsportsplatsen Square on the main canal, the tours take place every half-hour during the warmer months.


Continue to discover the waterways with floating naval museums, the world’s largest, comprised of 19 water vessels of all sizes.  There’s even a new and very modern nautically themed Opera house.

#5 The Wonderful Wonders of Nature

Island-hopping around Gothenburg’s southern archipelago is also worth doing. Take the 11 tram out to the port town of Salthomen. Hop on a ferry and skip between eleven different islands. The kids can run through car-less paths and enjoy all that this natural environment has to offer.


 Insider’s tip: Be sure to grab a ferry timetable before you board at Salthomen, You don’t want to find yourself stranded later on.


There is lots and lots more to do in this city: packed with ancient and modern art, scenic parks, an amazing library, unique shopping and of course plenty of opportunities to explore- we just didn’t have the time to do it all in one weekend.  But the kids and us agree – Gothenburg is definitely worth another trip!


Flights to Sweden


- Karyn Gorman and Olav Adami