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How to show your parents a good time in Gothenburg

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.

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


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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How jellyfish in Gothenburg’s archipelago reveal impact of climate change

A global increase in jellyfish sparked by climate change is impacting communities in the Gothenburg archipelago, with local restaurants and fishing reporting the effects.

How jellyfish in Gothenburg's archipelago reveal impact of climate change

Jellyfish numbers are rising globally because of climate change and human impact on the marine environment, with the worrying trend set to continue.

Researchers report an increase in comb jellies in Swedish waters along with the 2018 arrival of an “alien species” called the clinging jellyfish, which delivers a painful sting.

But they warn there is not enough research to understand the full extent of their impact and further consequences at a local level.

To uncover the extent of the increased amount of jellyfish in the local environment, the writers of this article headed to Vrångö island with Björn Källström, a marine biologist at the University of Gothenburg. We didn’t have to search for long: jellyfish are visible both in the water and on land.

Marine biologist Björn Källström reports that human activity is responsible for the rise in jellyfish. Photo: Peter Seenan

When our team captured an American comb jellyfish, Källström commented: “This is an invasive alien species, which arrived in Swedish waters in 2006. In summer, people in Sweden report thousands of them.”

Aside from reducing the amount of fish in the sea, jellyfish clog nets.

“When fishing mackerel, we can’t catch anything,” Andreas Olsson Wijk, a local fisherman, said. “[The jellyfish] fill the net and it’s impossible to get anything into the boat.”

Fisherman and restaurateur Andreas Olsson Wijk says jellyfish prevent the catching of mackerel. Photo: Peter Seenan

According to Håkan Karlsten, a local hotel owner who has lived on the island permanently since 1991, “small fishing boats have problems because they are not strong enough to take anything. They don’t have tools to take them out, or strong motors to counteract the weight of the jellyfish in the nets.”

Professor Lena Granhag, lecturer of Maritime Studies at Chalmers University, explained that the warming of sea waters, caused by climate change, leads to the presence of the American comb jellyfish in Sweden and the Baltic Sea.

Excessive levels of nutrients in the water, called eutrophication, also contribute to the growth of the jellyfish population. The main nutrients involved in this process are nitrogen and phosphorus, which can be found in farming pesticides and fertilisers.

“More nutrients will lead to more blooms,” she said. “When there are lots of nutrients, algae will bloom. Jellyfish can eat the algae directly, but they actually capture zooplankton – or small shrimp – that in turn have algae on them.”

Källström explained how direct human action is also relevant. Ships can be responsible for introducing other invasive species, like the clinging jellyfish, which “came in 2018 with a big cargo ship to Swedish waters and managed to survive”.

Overfishing is also “a factor leading to more jellyfish”, he added, since fish are one of their main predators.

A jellyfish, or ‘manet’ as they are called in Swedish. Photo: Peter Seenan

Increasing jellyfish are a global trend. Along the coast of Haifa in Israel, jellyfish cause a lot of damage every year, with this increasing in the last few years. The Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in Israel points to climate change as a cause, with overfishing and the farming sector part of the reason behind the altered ecosystem.

Jellyfish blooms can also pose practical challenges, such as clogging the cooling water streams of nuclear power plants. Reactors at Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear power plant were clogged in 2005 and 2013. It happens regularly at Japan’s nuclear power plants during the summer in a tsunami-stressed energy sector. Nuclear power plants in Scotland face a similar challenge. 

“The problem in Sweden and in many other places is that we don’t have any long-term series of measurements of monitoring jellyfish. It’s actually quite difficult to say for any place in Sweden or many places in the world that jellyfish are in fact increasing. However, there are several signs of increase,” Källström said.

Jellyfish at Vrångö where locals say they are causing problems for fishing. Photo: Peter Seenan

A deeper understanding for the increase of jellyfish and their link with climate change depends on greater economic investment in the collection of data and marine research.

Initiatives on crowd-sourced data, such as the reports by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, are one solution to the lack of research about jellyfish numbers and its relation to climate change. “This is citizen science, people are helping scientists,” Källström said. 

Global trends suggest the impact of jellyfish goes beyond stung tourists and clogged nuclear power plants, to affecting local economies, marine ecosystems and local food production – an unsettling indicator of human action and its consequences for our climate that local actors and the international community fail to address.

Article by Gothenburg University students Sandra Daniel, Mireia Jimenez Barcelo, Javad Maleki, Peter Seenan and Marina Panicheva