Must see attractions in Southwestern Sweden

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gothenburg

    Röda Sten Konsthall

    Occupying a defunct power station beside Älvsborgs bridge, Röda Sten Konsthall's four floors serve up edgy, contemporary exhibitions showcasing both Swedish and international artists working in mediums as varied as photography, sound art and installation art. It also hosts the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (Gibca). The indie-style cafe serves delicious bites (sandwiches 79kr, dishes 139kr to 169kr), as well as hosting weekly live music. To get here, walk towards the Klippan precinct, continue under Älvsborgsbron and look for the brown-brick building. Beside Röda Sten, check out work-in-progress Draken, a 41m-long sculpture which visitors are welcome to decorate graffiti-style; bring your own paint.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gothenburg

    Konstmuseum

    Home to Gothenburg’s premier art collection, Konstmuseum traverses the Renaissance to the present day, with works by the French impressionists, Rubens, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Picasso. Scandinavian masters such as Bruno Liljefors, Edvard Munch, Anders Zorn and Carl Larsson have pride of place in the Fürstenburg Galleries, with other highlights including a superb sculpture hall and the Hasselblad Center, the latter home to rotating photography exhibitions featuring both Nordic and global artists. The unveiling of the bronze Poseidon fountain at the front scandalised Gothenburg’s strait-laced citizens, who insisted on drastic penile-reduction surgery.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gothenburg

    Universeum

    In what is arguably the best museum for kids in Sweden, you find yourself in the midst of a humid rainforest, complete with trickling water, tropical birds and butterflies flitting through the greenery and tiny marmosets. On a level above, roaring dinosaurs maul each other, while next door, denizens of the deep float through the shark tunnel and venomous beauties lie coiled in the serpent tanks. If that's not enough, go button crazy with the fantastically fun, hands-on science exhibitions, where themes range from nanotechnology and space travel to mixing music.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Liseberg

    The attractions of Liseberg, Scandinavia's largest amusement park, are many and varied. Adrenalin blasts include the venerable wooden roller coaster Balder; AtmosFear, Europe’s tallest (116m) free-fall tower; Loke, a fast-paced spinning 'wheel' that soars 42m into the air; and the Valkyria, Europe's longest-dive roller coaster, with a nerve-racking vertical drop of 50m. Softer options include carousels, fairy-tale castles, an outdoor dance floor, adventure playgrounds, and shows and concerts. Entry to the park grounds is reasonable (100kr), which is ideal for those who just want to enjoy the charming landscaped grounds studded with impressive sculptures, but note that you pay for individual rides using coupons or an armband. Opening hours are varied – check the website. When it comes to refuelling in between rides, Liseberg is also the first theme park in the world to offer a very high-quality, exclusively vegetarian buffet lunch (adult/child 165/65kr) at the Green Room.

  • Sights in Bohuslän

    Nordiska Akvarellmuseet

    Skärhamn is home to the superb Nordiska Akvarellmuseet, a sleek waterside building housing exhibits by the likes of Arne Isacsson, whose watercolors defined the form for a generation of artists in Bohuslän, and Lars Lerin's compelling cityscapes, seemingly illuminated from within. The museum's cafe serves a damn fine cup of coffee, and the attached restaurant is a draw in its own right. If you're inspired to linger longer, the museum rents out five modern, cube-like guest studios that sit right above the water (artists/general public 500/1000kr).

  • Sights in Bohuslän

    Vitlycke Museum

    If you’re bewildered by the long-armed men, sexual imagery and goat-drawn chariots of Bohuslän's prolific Bronze Age rock carvings, drop by Vitlycke Museum, which has a determined go at explaining them. Digital handheld guides can be hired for 40kr, but it’s much better to catch the English tour (10:30am and 2:30pm). Trails lead from the museum to some of the area's key rock carvings – pick up a map in the foyer. Don't miss the Bronze Age farm out back. Buses run regularly from Tanumshede to Hoghem, from where it's a five- to 10-minute walk.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Trädgårdsföreningen

    Laid out in 1842, the lush Trädgårdsföreningen is a large protected area off Nya Allén. Full of flowers and tiny cafes, it’s popular for lunchtime escapes and is home to Europe’s largest rosarium, with around 2500 varieties. The gracious 19th-century Palmhuset (open 10am to 8pm) is a bite-size version of the Crystal Palace in London, with five differently heated halls: look out for the impressive camellia collection and the 2m-wide tropical lily pads.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Haga District

    The Haga district is Gothenburg’s oldest suburb, dating back to 1648. A hardcore hippie hang-out in the 1960s and '70s, its cobbled streets and vintage buildings now host a blend of cafes and boutiques. During some summer weekends and at Christmas, store owners set up stalls along the neighbourhood's main strip, Haga Nygata, turning the street into one big market. The charming three-storey timber houses were built as housing for workers in the 19th century.

  • Sights in Bohuslän

    Koster Islands

    Boat trips run from Strömstad’s north harbour to the beautiful cluster of forested Koster Islands every 30 minutes from July to mid-August, less frequently at other times. Tiny North Koster is hilly and has good beaches. Larger South Koster is flatter and better for cycling, with bike-rental facilities, numerous restaurants scattered about and two large beaches at Rörvik and Kilesand. Trips are booked through the tourist office.

  • Sights in Bohuslän

    Havets Hus

    Havets Hus is an excellent aquarium with sea life from Gullmarn, Sweden’s only true fjord, which cuts past Lysekil. Peer at such cold-water beauties as wolffish, lumpsuckers, anglerfish, cranky-looking flatfish, rays, and ethereal jellyfish; watch a magnified shark's embryo grow; walk through an underwater tunnel; and learn about the pirate history of the area.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Mölndals Stadsmuseum

    Located in an old police station, this museum is like a vast warehouse, with a 10,000-strong collection of mainly 20th-century local nostalgia, ranging from textiles and toys, to a recreated 1930s worker’s cottage. With a focus on memories and feelings, it’s an evocative place where you can plunge into racks of vintage clothes, pull out hidden treasures and learn the individual items' secrets on the digital catalogue. From Gothenburg, catch a Kungsbacka-bound train to Mölndal station, then bus 751. Alternatively, the museum is an 800m walk east from the station. One particular highlight is a collection of beautifully crafted chairs from the nearby village of Lindome, one of Sweden’s most historic furniture-making areas. The museum also offers a free brochure and downloadable app that allow you to explore the area's historic industrial landscape. If you're peckish, the in-house cafe serves simple, tasty fare that includes sandwiches and cakes, with summertime seating right by the rapids.

  • Sights in Bohuslän

    Carlstens Fästning

    Looming over town, Carlstens Fästning is a fortress built in the 1660s after the Swedish takeover of Marstrand and Bohuslän. Marstrand's ice-free port was key to trade, so King Karl X Gustav built the fortress to defend it. The port continued to be fought over for decades. Carlstens has also been a prison, known for especially brutal conditions. Admission includes a guided tour. It's worth walking up even if you don't go in: the views of the archipelago are stunning. Inside, you can explore a secret tunnel and in the prison cells learn the story of Lasse-Maja, a cross-dressing thief and local Robin Hood figure. On sunny days, people picnic on the lawn among the cannons. A nature trail ('naturstig') criss-crossing the island starts from here. There's a cafe at the entrance serving sandwiches, coffee, cakes and waffles.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Sjöfartsmuseet

    Sjöfartsmuseet focuses on the city's maritime history through an entertaining collection of maps, model ships, recreated sailors' quarters, and period objects. Most compelling is the large darkened hall where you're surrounded by soaring figureheads – some regal, some pensive, some vicious. You may spot some scrimshaw and a tiny weaving loom in a bottle among the nautical booty. The attached aquarium wriggles with goofy North Sea flatfish, lobsters and upside-down jellyfish, and you can find Nemo in the tropical fish tank. Outside, the Sjömanstornet (Mariner’s Tower), topped by a statue of a grieving woman, commemorates Swedish sailors killed in WWI.

  • Sights in Västergötland

    Hunneberg & Hanneberg Nature Reserve

    Described by Linnaeus as an ‘earthly paradise’, the Hunneberg & Hanneberg Nature Reserve covers two dramatic, craggy plateaus 8km east of town. There are 50km of walking trails here that are certainly worth exploring. The deep ravines and primeval forest also make great hiding places for wild elk, and this area has been a favourite royal hunting ground for over 100 years. Transport links are tedious – your best bet is to catch the frequent bus 62 from the town square to Vägporten, then walk 2km uphill.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Kronhuset

    The city’s oldest secular building, Kronhuset is a former arsenal built in Dutch style between 1642 and 1654. It was here that Karl X held the disastrous riksdag (parliament) in 1660 – he died while it was in session. Kronhusbodarna, across the courtyard from Kronhuset, houses workshops making and selling pottery, silverware, glass and textiles, as well as Göteborgs Choklad & Karamellfabrik (open 11am to 5pm): its chocolate balls are enough to lead the purest of angels into sugar-filled temptation.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Maritiman

    Near the opera house, the world’s largest floating ship museum is made up of 20 historical crafts, including fishing boats, a light vessel and a firefighter, all linked by walkways. Shin down into the 69m-long submarine Nordkaparen for a glimpse into underwater warfare. Inside the labyrinthine 121m-long destroyer Småland, in service from 1952 to 1979, hunched figures listen to crackling radio messages, and the bunks look just-slept-in – you half expect to meet uniformed sailors in the dim, twisting passages.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Linné District

    The Linné district holds fast to its grungy roots, especially along the Långgatan streets. Here, hip cafes, junk shops and street-smart boutiques mix with seedy sex shops and eclectic locals. It’s home to the kicking Andra Långdagen block party, a wild, one-day street bash organised by the street’s traders and fans. Held annually between April and June (check Facebook for dates), it’s a thumping concoction of DJ sets, film screenings, barbecues, clothes swaps and backyard B-boy battles.

  • Sights in Bohuslän

    Stone-Ship Settings

    One of Sweden’s largest, most magnificent stone-ship settings (an oval of stones, shaped like a boat) lies 6km northeast of Strömstad. There are 49 stones in total, with the stem and stern stones reaching over 3m in height; the site has been dated to AD 400 to 600. Across the road is a huge site containing approximately 40 Iron Age graves. The tourist office can help with transport. Alternatively, there’s a gorgeous walking path from the north of town.

  • Sights in Gothenburg

    Stadsmuseum

    At Stadsmuseum, admire the remains of the Äskekärrkeppet, Sweden’s only original Viking vessel, alongside silver treasure hoards, weaponry and jewellery from the same period in the atmospheric semigloom. Walk through the history of the city from its conception to the 18th century, spiced up with period wares, including an impressive booty of East Indian porcelain, and play 'Guess the Object!'. Temporary art and photography exhibitions are also worth a peek.

  • Sights in Bohuslän

    Nordens Ark

    Snow leopards, wolves and lynxes prowl Nordens Ark, a well-conceived safari park 12km northeast of Smögen. It shows off animals and plants from countries with a similar climate to Sweden’s and has breeding programs for critically endangered species, such as the Amur tiger and Amur leopard. A 3km path allows visitors a glimpse of the wild beasts as it runs past the spacious enclosures, and guided tours are available daily in peak season (included in entry price).