Don't panic: Gothenburg has only a fraction of the attractions that Stockholm has, and you can comfortably tour the highlights of the city in a day or two. If it's summer, you might like another day or so to explore some of the resorts, attractions, bodies of water, and islands in the environs.
As with any new destination, often the problem is having too much to do. Following the itineraries below will help you plan your time so you can see as much as possible.
The Top Attractions
The best way to get your bearings when you set out to see the city is to go to the 120m-tall (394-ft.) Guldhedens Vattentorn (water tower), Syster Estrids Gata (tel. 031/82-00-09). To get there, take tram no. 10 or bus no. 51 or 52 from the center of the city, about a 10-minute ride. The elevator ride up the tower is free, and there's a cafeteria/snack bar on top. The tower is open February to November (and sometimes in Dec) daily 11am to 9pm.
Early risers can visit the daily fish auction at the harbor, the largest fishing port in Scandinavia. The amusing auction begins at 7am sharp. We suggest that you do as we do and sample some freshly made fish cakes at one of the stands here. You also can visit the Feskekörka (Fish Church), on Rosenlundsgatan (no phone), which is in the fish market. Built in 1874, it's open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Take tram 3, 6, 9, or 11.
The traditional starting point for seeing Gothenburg is the cultural center, Götaplatsen, with its Poseidon Fountain, sculpted by Carl Milles. This fountain is a powerful symbol of maritime Gothenburg. The trio of buildings here are the Concert Hall, the municipally owned theater, and the Göteborgs Konstmuseum.
High Bridge -- Spanning the Göta River, Ålvsborg Bridge (one of the longest suspension bridges in Sweden) is almost 900m (2,953 ft.) long and built high enough to allow ocean liners to pass underneath.
Especially For Kids
At Liseberg Park, every day is children's day. The Liseberg Cirkus is a fun and charming amusement park with rides and lots of stimulating visuals, and there are always comic characters (some of them developed in close cooperation with the management of Disney) around to play with children. At least some of the rides, including the pony merry-go-round, the kids' boats, and a fun-on-wheels merry-go-round, are free for tots. Liseberg contains more flowers, and more acreage, than Tivoli.
Your children may want to stay at the amusement park's hotel, in the city center, a shorter walk from the park than any other lodgings in Gothenburg. Hotel Liseberg Heden, Sten Sturegatan S-411 38 Göteborg (tel. 031/750-69-00; fax 031/750-69-30; www.liseberg.com), offers year-round rates of 1,120SEK to 2,110SEK ($224-$422/£112-£211) in a double. They include breakfast and coupons for free admission to the amusement park and many of its rides and shows. The hotel accepts major credit cards. It was built in the 1930s as an army barracks and later functioned as a youth hostel. Today, after tons of improvements, it's a very comfortable first-class hotel. To reach the 179-room hotel, take tram no. 4 or 5 to Berzeliegaten.
Naturhistoriska Museet, Slottsskogen (tel. 031/775-24-00; www.gnm.se), displays stuffed and mounted animals from all over the world, including a stuffed elephant, a giant stuffed blue whale, and lots of big wooden drawers you'll slide open for views of hundreds of carefully preserved insects from around the world. It's open Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm. Admission is 40SEK ($8/£4) for adults, free for students up to 19 years old and children. Take tram 1, 2, or 6, or bus 51 or 54 to Linnéplatsen.
There's also a children's zoo at Slottsskogen from May to August.
A restaurant that kids find especially intriguing is Restaurang Räkan/Yellow Submarine, where seafood platters arrive at your table in battery-powered boats.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.