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How to show your parents a good time in Gothenburg

Anne Grietje Franssen
Anne Grietje Franssen - [email protected]
How to show your parents a good time in Gothenburg
The streets of the historic Haga district are always worth a visit. Photo: Frida Winter/Göteborg & Co

Gothenburg, Sweden’s unassuming second city, lacks the self-evident tourist attractions of Stockholm, so it can be hard to know how to impress visiting parents (or friends or partners for that matter). Here’s how to convince visiting loved-ones that moving to Sweden’s drizzly west coast it wasn’t such a bad call after all.



DaMatteo was voted the best coffee shop in Gothenburg in 2015 and has several branches all across the city. The spacious location, with charming outside seating, at Magasinsgatan includes a roastery and a bakery. It's the perfect location for a traditional Swedish fika (the somewhat platitudinous ‘coffee and bun break’) with a bit of an untraditional twist.

They serve all the classic ‘bullar’ (buns), such as the world-famous kanelbullar cinnamon rolls, but DaMatteo spices them up with something unexpected - like sourdough, or cardamom. And if you’re tired of fika, DaMatteo also serves artisanal pizzas, sandwiches and salads.

People chatting in the courtyard at DaMatteo. Photo: Superstudio/Götebord & Co


Cigarren is an unpretentious, unhip yet friendly cafe on the Järntorget square. They serve excellent coffee (the non-filter kind) and simple but gratifying toast, with lots of butter and melted cheese. As the name suggests, there’s also a wide variety of cigars on offer (but there are plenty of reasons to visit this bar as a non-smoker). Järntorget is a magnet for interesting characters, so make sure to hang around around for a while if like people-watching.

Viktors Kafe is a trendy, hipsters-with-beard type of place near Götaplatsen, a square you’ll probably pass because this is where you’ll also find the Gothenburg Museum of Art (Göteborgs Konstmuseum), Göteborgs Konsthall, Göteborgs Konserthus and the public library. Viktors Kafe is a paragon of Swedish sophistication: Scandinavian design, pour-over coffee and avocado on toast.

READ ALSO: How to show your parents a good time in Stockholm


Both DaMatteo and Viktors Kafe (mentioned above) offer varied and affordable midday meals. Generally expect to pay between 90-130 Swedish kronor for a decent (warm) lunch. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to offer lunch deals that include soup or salad and coffee, for example at the vegetarian (but truly delicious) En Deli Haga.

If you’re all undecided on what you want to eat, head to the market hall Stora Saluhallen or its less crowded equivalent Saluhall Briggen. You’ll find something for everyone: from Vietnamese to Greek to the Swedish catch of the day or the classical west coast räkmacka (a mountain of shrimps on rye bread with egg and mayonnaise).

Another great lunch spot away from the crowds is the Röda Sten cultural centre. It’s a square, brick building along the Göta Älven canal hosting cultural events and housing temporary exhibitions, as well as an artsy, family-driven restaurant on the ground floor. On weekdays you can choose between a (changing) vegetarian, meat and fish dish.

The Stora Saluhallen is perfect for indecisive guests. Photo: peter Kvarnström/Göteborg & Co.


Dinner and drinks

In the same building as the Gothenburg Museum of Art, a stone’s throw from Poseidon’s statue, you’ll find the dim-lit but lively restaurant Mr. P. The food is served in small or medium-sized portions and is a fusion of different cuisines. Many dishes have recognisable ingredients but come in a slightly upgraded form, like salmon sashimi with kimchi or roasted beetroots with smoked goat cheese and almond dukkah, a crunchy Moroccan spice mix.

If your parents fancy both jazz and refined dining, be sure to make a reservation at Unity Jazz. This intimate bar offers concerts with your food. Imagine sitting only metres away from the musicians while enjoying a glass of (natural) wine and a starter of burrata, an entree with vongole and tarte tatin for dessert.

An all-time favourite - especially with eccentric film lovers - is Hagabion, an arthouse cinema-cum-restaurant. This colourful venue has a changing menu with around five different entrees. The portions are generous and one main course should leave you satisfied. If adventurous, try a local beer from Stigbergets with your dinner.

There are also plenty of good options if you or your visitors are looking for a non-European fare. Simba, across from the Opera, is an Ethiopian restaurant with great ‘injera’ (a type of sourdough pancake made from teff). Be, however, prepared to witness your parents eat with their hands. Daawat is a classic, barely Swedified, Indian diner. Its founder was the first to open an Indian restaurant in Sweden, in 1971. Daawat is centrally located, close to a popular (very student-heavy) nightlife area. You’ll find relatively cheap drinks around Andra Långgatan, but don’t necessarily expect class.

The Hagabion cinema is popular. Photo: Beatrice Törnros/Göteborg & Co.



Whether you’re a car fanatic or not particularly, Gothenburg undeniably owes at least part of its existence to Volvo. It therefore makes sense to pay the brand’s museum a visit, even if only to pay your dues (admission costs 160 kronor, with discounts for pensioners, students and children). You’ll find, well, a lot of old cars. Which, if no one else - and I apologise for the un-Swedish, gendered comment - your father might be excited about. 

If your guests are more into art than engineering, I urge you not to skip the aforementioned Gothenburg Museum of Art (Göteborgs Konstmuseum) at Götaplatsen

Admission costs 65 kronor, but you can also choose to pay 130 kronor for a museum card that is valid for a year in The Gothenburg Museum of Art, Museum of Gothenburg, The Maritime Museum and Aquarium and The Röhsska Museum. 

It has a wonderful collection of fin-de-siècle, art nouveau and impressionist artworks by internationally famous artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet and van Gogh. Various preeminent local artists are represented as well, like the 18th century artist Alexander Roslin, the 19th century artists Anders Zorn, Bruno Liljefors, Carl Larsson, and the 20th century modernists. Drop by the next door Göteborgs Konsthall (free admission), with contemporary art exhibitions, on your way out. A five-minute-walk away is the Röhsska, a stylish museum for design and crafts.

A parent and child-friendly museum is Universeum. It’s a public science centre that is divided into six sections, each containing experiment workshops and a collection of reptiles, fish and insects (265 kronor admission, discounts for children, pensioners and students).

The Röhsska is a stylish design museum showing everything from the most cutting-edge design to ancient Japanese bronzes. Photo: Marie Ullnert/Göteborg & Co.


Activities and sights

One obvious parent-friendly activity is to take a stroll in the Botaniska Trädgården, Gothenburg’s splendid botanical gardens. And, to be honest, its quite lovely for someone of any age or stage in life. The hilly, well-manicured terrain is an outdoor museum for flowers, trees and plants and has rotating exhibitions, following the season.

There's a total of 175 hectares to stroll around in, if you include the next-door Änggårdsbergen nature reserve. The garden is host to some 16,000 different species. Sights especially worth seeing are The Rock Garden, The Rhododendron Valley, the Japanese Glade and the greenhouses. 

Another natural environment within the city is the Delsjön lake and its surroundings. In summer, Delsjön is the perfect place to go to escape the city heat and take a swim, rent a canoe or read a book by the water. In every season, the path around Delsjön makes for a relaxing walk (It's10 kilometres, but relatively easy terrain). 

To get there, it just takes a few stops on the tram from buzzing Körsvägen (where you’ll find the Liseberg, amusement park, which is also worth a visit if your parents prefer adrenaline over serenity). Start or end your hike with waffles at Kaffestugan Lyckan.


Gothenburg Green World. Photo: Jennie Smith/Göteborg & Co.


Another must-see place to visit (although admittedly I’m biased as I live there) is Gothenburg’s southern archipelago. Take a ferry from the harbour at Saltholmen to one of the many islands. These car-free oases are scattered with coloured wooden houses, rocks and mosses, apple trees, blueberries in summer, and ocean views year round.

On many of the islands you’ll find hiking trails. On some of them (like Styrsö, Vrångö and Brännö) you’ll find a restaurant, café or shop. During the summer holiday you’ll want to pay a visit to Brännö’s brygga, or jetty, where on Thursday evenings there’s live music, dancing, and picnicking by the sea. 

You can’t really visit the Nordics without sweating in a sauna (with or without your parents – I leave that up to you).

In the area of Frihamnen there’s a spectacular, free sauna overlooking the Göta canal (note that the sauna is closed for repairs until early 2023). If your guests are in want of a more luxurious spa experience I’d recommend Hagabadet in Haga, which is housed in a historic, Art Nouveau-style building (700-800 kronor). You and your company can easily spend half a rainy day in Hagabadet’s saunas, warm and cold baths, its egg-shaped swimming pool or in one of the many cosy chambers where you can sprawl on one of the chaise longues to rest or leaf through a magazine.

Brännö island in the Gothenburg Archipelago. Photo: Göteborg & Co.


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