An Alternative Guide to Gothenburg, Sweden

It's what's inside that counts | © Rachel Maclean/Courtesy of Röda Sten Konsthall
It's what's inside that counts | © Rachel Maclean/Courtesy of Röda Sten Konsthall
Photo of Judi Lembke
20 June 2017

As Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg is a delight for both tourists and locals alike. With plenty of the obvious things to do here such as shopping, attending sports events, and visiting Liseberg, here is a guide for those looking for a way to explore the city’s more alternative attractions and experiences.


With a slew of galleries run by either artists themselves or art lovers dedicated to highlighting the best the scene has to offer, Gothenburg enjoys a brilliant indie-art scene.

Röda Sten

One of the city’s more cutting-edge galleries, visitors can view photography, paintings, video, sound art, exhibitions, and performance art from both Swedish and international artists. There are also lectures, seminars, and plenty more.

Röda Sten, Gothenburg, Sweden, +46 (0)31 12 08 16

Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names | ©Korakrit Arunanondchai / Courtesy of Röda Sten

Hasselblad Center

Located in the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the Hasselblad Center is all about photography. Three major exhibitions are staged each year—including the annual Hasselblad Award Winner’s exhibition—and they highlight both established and up-and-coming Swedish and international photographers.

Hasselblad | ©Kevin N. Murphy / Flickr


Like Stockholm and Malmö, Gothenburg has undergone a bit of a foodie renaissance. With Michelin-starred and award-winning restaurants lifting the scene, inspiring chefs have begun to take things to a whole new level.


Whether looking for something small, tasty, and beautifully made or are more in the mood for a full-on tasting menu, Somm is the place for foodies looking for something different. Fresh ingredients, unusual interpretations of classics, and plenty of new ones in the making, Somm also has an excellent wine selection, available by the bottle or glass. Alternative foodies, head here.

Apple, Jerusalem artichoke | ©Skånska Matupplevelser / Flickr

Café Santo Domingo

There are plenty of bookstores with cafés attached and now, Gothenburg’s Dirty Records has taken that idea and applied it to the local love for independent-record shops. The café serves a very nice cup of organic-Dominican coffee, homemade pastries that are to die for, and it offers vegetarian or vegan soup for non-meat eaters. Grab a bite to eat and the perfect addition to your vinyl collection all in one place.

Vinyl | © Anders Printz / Flickr


The Rover

Perfect for grabbing a pint with friends, The Rover might feel like a traditional pub, but its focus on Swedish and American microbreweries make it thoroughly modern. It attracts all ages who are here for a good chat and a cold brew.

Pub | © Jessica Spengler/Flickr

Ölhallen 7:an

The square around Saluhall was once filled with 14 beer halls and four additional taverns, where traders from the market would quench their thirst and mingle with friends—and maybe have a dust up or two. Ölhallen 7:an is the only one still around and while a fire in 1996 did some damage, most of the original furniture and fixtures survived.

In the bar | © Maria Eklind/Flickr



Located just off Avenyn and spread over four floors of a former residential home, Yaki-Da is one big house party. Every room has a cocktail bar and either a band or DJ filling the space with sound. There’s also a back garden, a coffee bar, and an all-night top floor restaurant.

Get your groove on at Yaki-Da | Courtesy of Yaki-Da


This former theatre was turned into one of Gothenburg’s best live venues in 2012 after extensive renovations. In addition to an open, intimate concert space there are also clubs where the focus remains on music. Everything from local acts to leading international artists have and continue to play here. A great place to catch a band on their way up before everyone else does.

Be The Bear live at Pustervik | © Bunnyman78/Wikimedia Commons


Bellevue Marknad

A bit off the beaten track, Bellevue Marknand is a vibrant alternative to the more central markets. There’s a great variety of items for sale—including electronics, outerwear, art, and books. It’s also a wonderful reflection of the multicultural side of Gothenburg.

Find hidden gems at this off-the-beaten-track market | Photo courtesy of Bellevue Marknad


Klädoteket calls itself a ‘fashion library’. Instead of buying clothes and accessories, patrons ‘lease’ them. The idea is to combat excessive consumption. What’s even better is that people can try things out without a huge outlay. The shop offers a mix of secondhand, vintage, and new items from design collaborations and also provides space for some up-and-coming designers.

Jen attacks a vintage clothes rack | © Joseph Brent/Flickr

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