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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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For members


Eating out in Stockholm: Is this the Swedish capital’s best pizza?

Pizza, people and an environment that will transport you to Campania. Perfect for a dinner with friends, a casual date night or a weekday lunch, writes Lauren Abston in this restaurant review.

Eating out in Stockholm: Is this the Swedish capital's best pizza?

On a sunny, late Sunday afternoon after working up an appetite kayaking in Brunnsviken, my friend and I stop by Magari for lunch.

Walking in, we are warmly greeted by the host who speaks to us in English. In the front corner of the restaurant sits a group of six men animatedly gesturing and speaking in Italian. They have drinks and no food, giving an impression they have been sitting and enjoying each other’s company since their lunch, hours before.

We opt for a table outside under the colourful, patterned ceramic tile and start rifling through the menu which explains the name of the restaurant as well as the origin.

Nicolas and Giuseppe are the pizza chefs who hail from Irpinia, the birthplace of pizza. Their goal is to bring innovation and fresh ideas to classic pizza, and the well-organised menu reflects this as it’s split into classic and contemporary pizza.

In addition to pizza, they have starters, snacks, calzones, and dessert. Saying magari is an enthusiastic way to stress how much you desire something. Our waiter helpfully answers our questions about some ingredients we’ve never heard of, helping us narrow down our pizza choices. 

The eponymous Magari lager, served in a wine glass, is the perfect antidote to my thirst on this humid afternoon; it’s cold, crisp and tastes faintly of tropical fruit. Magari has a concise drink menu with sparkling, red and white wine by the glass or bottle, plus classic cocktails.

Soon after the drinks arrive, our pizza is whisked out. We’ve opted for the classic Margherita Irpina and a vegetarian Nerano, with plans to split them half and half. 

Chock full of cheese on top of fresh pureed tomatoes, with scattered basil leaves and olive oil drizzled on top, the margherita does not disappoint. It’s paper thin everywhere except for the blistered, ballooned, chewy crust on the edges. I cut a piece off for myself with the crimson Tramontina fork and knife, and then I greedily pick it up to eat it instead of continuing to use the silverware.

It’s absolutely delicious, and I eat two pieces before remembering that I am supposed to share, and I offer to cut a slice for my friend.

She hands me a slice of the Nerano. It has fior di latte, fried zucchini and round slices of caciocavallo, a nutty cheese from Southern Italy placed on top. Instead of tomato sauce, it has a zucchini cream for the sauce so the pizza is a lovely green and white. It lacks a little salt; we imagine the zucchini has soaked up most of the oil and salt during the cooking, and it doesn’t compare to the margherita, but it’s still delightful.

We finish both pizzas and remain chatting as another group of Italian men spreads out over the table next to us with bubbling flutes of bollicine. 

As a late lunch, it’s a lagom amount, although we are both eyeing the larger than life cannoli that a family of three orders for dessert. I make a mental note to order that the next time. 

Magari may be the best pizza in Stockholm, and the quality food is heightened by the family feeling evoked the second you walk through the door. Going for a weekday lunch gets you a ton of value, 125 kronor for pizza or pasta, plus salad and coffee.

If you want to go on a Friday or Saturday night, I recommend booking a table in advance or planning to take it away. The best seat in the house is at the bar where you can watch the chefs expertly topping and firing the pizzas in the wood fired oven that takes up the majority of the kitchen. 

Magari Pizza Contemporanea

Rating: Five stars

Location: Sankt Eriksgatan 110, 113 31 Stockholm

Price: Starters and snacks: 40 to 250 kronor; pizza: 130 to 199 kronor; desserts: 95 to 150 kronor

Details: Monday through Thursday from 11am to 10pm. Friday 11am to 10.30pm. Saturday noon to 10.30pm. Sunday noon to 10pm.

This review is the writer’s own opinion. Lauren Abston moved to Stockholm two years ago from San Francisco. She loves exploring all the city has to offer, trying out new restaurants and bars with friends, picking up new Swedish words and learning how to dress for four distinct seasons.