Rituals City Guides: Gothenburg, Sweden

The gateway to the beautiful west coast, Sweden’s second city is a foodie and eco haven.  

With its canals and cobblestones, trams and bridges, sustainable innovations and foodie hotspots, the port city of Gothenburg has a lot to love. It was the winner of the Global Development Sustainability Index Leadership for the seventh year running in 2023, 95% of transport runs on renewable energy and 88% of all hotel rooms are environmentally certified. It is home to 17 Michelin-starred restaurants, and fans of Nordic style (and who isn’t?), will find plenty of temptation along the pretty old streets buzzing with shops, bars and cafes. 


It is also an outdoorsy city, with lovely parks and gardens, and surrounded by lakes, forests and a string of islands, some of them day-trip-able. And if all that surrounding nature gives you a taste for more, it’s an easy city to escape: just hire a car and head north for a spectacularly scenic coastal drive up the west coast to the Norwegian border.  


Gothenburg is a very walkable city, so you will quickly hit your daily step count just wandering round the shops and the sights. Just six kms south of the city is the nature reserve of Delsjön, which has lots of lakes and little bays but you actually don’t even need to leave town for some wild swimming spots, as well as outdoor saunas, including the Saltholmen Cold Bath-house and the new and completely free Jubileumsparken in Frihamnen, with its riverside sauna and one fresh-water and two salt-water pools. Throw in cycling tours, kayaking and canoeing, both in and around the city, and it is easy to get a natural wellness and fitness fix.  


For a different sightseeing POV try Plums Kayak Centre’s city paddle tour, where you glide through the water past landmarks such as the Gothenburg Opera House. If you’re new to kayaking, Plums run guided trips and classes but if you fancy going it alone, just rent your own kayak and see how far your biceps will take you. 


Serious foodies will already know that there are 16 Michelin-starred restaurants in Gothenburg, 17 if you count lakeside Signum, in Mölnlycke, just out of town, and with west Sweden famous for its fresh seafood, pescatarians, especially, will be in heaven.  


Twenty new restaurants opened in spring 2024 alone, four of them in the iconic Feskekôrka, the old fish church, or market, now reborn as a gourmet destination, home to Gothenburg’s largest outdoor dining space overlooking the canal, as well as live entertainment. Other newbies not to miss are Spanish Bar el Guiri, just a 15-minute walk north east of Feskekôrka, and Ceno Brasserie, which promises seasonal and sustainable dynamic dining, in the new and very impressive World of Volvo (see below).  


Fika – the much-loved coffee-and-pastries break -  is a national institution, which means you are never far from a good café.  The city’s most famous fika-stop is Café Husaren on Haga Nygata, which, with its tiled ceilings, chandeliers and over-sized cinnamon buns, is a little too instagrammable for its own good.  Far better is to pull up a chair outside coffee roasters Da Matteo in Magasinsgatan, the long city centre street that happens to be one of the best areas for shopping. 


Other foodie hotspots are Fiskbar17, Magasinsgatan, for some of the city’s best open prawn sandwiches, another Swedish speciality, and two of the Michelin winners Sjömagasinet, in an old waterfront warehouse at Klippan’s Culture Reserve, and Tavolo, an upscale Italian famous for the massive 6,800kg stone horse’s head that dominates this stylish former stable.  


For the rest of Gothenburg’s Michelin-starred restaurants, see here  


A walk along pedestrianised Haga Nygata, which runs the length of Haga, one of Gothenburg’s oldest neighbourhoods lined with the distinctive ‘landshövdingehus’ style buildings: one floor brick, the rest built of wood.   


The Rituals team in Gothenburg recommend a pit-stop at Saluhallen food hall, a 9-minute walk from the beautiful store.  


Retail therapy in Magasinsgatan (look out for fashion and accessories store Grandpa and Acne Studios ), and Haga Nygata, two of the best shopping streets for independent stores, and favourite Scandi chains such as & Other Stories and Cos.   


The Garden Society of Gothenburg  is one of the best-preserved 19th century parks in Europe, home to a beautiful rose garden and a glass Palm House from 1878, whose exotic plants flourish in the steamy interior. 


World of Volvo  This just-launched, beautifully designed, circular immersive space is home to a new Volvo Museum, as well as exhibitions, creative workshops, music events and dynamic dining at Ceno Brasserie 


For more information on the city see Goteborg.com   

Susan Ward Davies

Susan Ward Davies

Susan Ward Davies has been a travel editor and writer for more than 30 years- most of them spent as Travel & Lifestyle Director of British ELLE & elleuk.com, and now as Travel & Lifestyle Editor of thecalendarmagazine.com, where she writes about sustainable travel. She also freelances for a wide range of British publications including The Telegraph, The Times and Good Housekeeping. She is happiest on her way to the airport, suitcase in hand, setting off for an - as yet  - untried destination,  and loves nothing more than seeking out new places and experiences