As the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg (Göteborg in Swedish) is not only diverse in activity but also, busy with history. Take advantage and learn as much as you can, whether you’re strolling through the city’s many museums or its botanical garden, or just taking in the atmosphere. The city has a much more relaxed feel than Stockholm, making it a great place to slow down and see a different side of Sweden. With plenty of green space both in and around the city, Gothenburg manages to maintain a rather small city feel. With such a compact downtown, Gothenburg is a great city to explore on foot on by bicycle. Restaurants here tend to be pricey, so try to cook when you can.
Hostel prices – Like elsewhere in Sweden, hostels are expensive. You’ll pay an average of 250 SEK a night for a dorm room. There is also a fee for bed linen, usually 20-50 SEK. Even if you bring our own sleeping bag, many hostels will still make you pay this fee so be sure to check in advance. Fortunately, most of the hostels in the city are newly renovated and well maintained (they all have high ratings) so you get what you pay for. Every hostel offers free WiFi, though virtually none include free breakfast. When it comes to private rooms, there are not a lot of options here so if you are looking for privacy you will need to book in advance or find a budget hostel or Airbnb.
Budget hotel prices – Hotels are pricey, and even budget hotels can cost quite a bit more in this city. Expect to spend 695-1,250 SEK a night here for a double room. Shared accommodation on Airbnb will cost you around 650 SEK per night. Renting an entire home or apartment on Airbnb costs 1,100 SEK per night. If you’re traveling in a pair or group, Airbnb is your best budget option.
Average cost of food – Restaurants are pricey so expect to spend about 200 SEK per person for an entree here. If you want McDonald’s, the price is the same as in the US. The cheapest restaurants will be Thai or middle-eastern, where you can easily get a filling dish for 75-95 SEK. If you’re staying in Gothenburg for a while, cook your own food and save on costs. A kilo of chicken breast is 50 SEK per kilogram, and a liter of milk is 10 SEK. A week’s worth of groceries will cost you around 550 SEK.Willy’s, ICA, and Lidl are some of the cheaper grocery store chains.
Transportation costs – Buy a prepaid bus or tram card. It is the easiest way to get around the city, and the cheapest as well. You can purchase them at almost every convenience store. A one day ticket is 85 SEK, while an unlimited three-day pass will cost 170 SEK. The city is easy to explore on foot as well, as the downtown core is rather compact yet picturesque. Renting a bicycle is also a great way to see the city, with prices starting around 200 SEK.
Suggested daily budget – 500-700 SEK / 55-75 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Cook your own food – Gothenburg can be expensive, especially when eating out. Almost every hostel has a self-serve kitchen, so take advantage of it. Go to the local supermarket, buy some unique meats and cheeses, and whip up dinner at a fraction of any restaurant’s price. Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal produce, which can be incredibly cheap!
- Stay with locals for free – Accommodation is expensive in Sweden so consider using Couchsurfing.com when you visit Gothenburg. The site connects travelers with locals who offer a free place to stay, making it a great introduction to the local culture. If you can cut out your accommodation costs, you will save a lot of money while you’re here!
- Refill your water bottle – Water is about 30 SEK per bottle. Since the tap water is drinkable here just buy one and reuse the bottle. It will help save you money AND help the environment too!
- Avoid eating in the tourist district – While Haga and the Avenyn are great places to stroll and soak in the city, they are also the most crowded, most expensive places to grab a bite to eat. Wander around some of the smaller streets to find cheaper options.
Top Things to See and Do in Gothenburg
- Explore the quaint Haga – As one of the oldest areas of Gothenburg, this once was the neighborhood occupied by working class people. Now you can enjoy their cobblestone pedestrian streets, quaint restaurants and cafés, and antique shops.
- Visit the Botaniska Tradgarden – This botanical garden offers something scenic to do, which is especially great for budget travelers. See 12,000 plant species, a Japanese garden and places to sit down and rest. There is a voluntary entrance fee of 20 SEK.
- Visit the Skansen Kronan – This fortress was built in the 1600’s and now houses a military museum. It makes for an interesting day excursion that can give you insight into Gothenburg’s history.
- Go shopping on the “Avenyn” – Plan a day of shopping on Gothenburg’s main street. Stores and restaurants abound in all price ranges, giving you a lot of flexibility when it comes to activities and budget.
- See Slottsskogen – Take a stroll through the wooded hills, where you can visit a zoo and a family-friendly animal park. The area is also home to the city’s oldest observatory. Best of all? It’s free!
- Visit the Natural History Museum – Located right next to Slottsskogen, this museum is full of all sorts of animals, including the world’s only mounted blue whale. Admission is free for anyone under 25, otherwise, it’s 40 SEK.
- Take in the Gothenburg Opera – Whether this is your thing or not, the Opera House is gorgeous and an important monument of the city. Although some tickets are pricey, you can find last-minute ticket deals at the box office.
- Picnic in Trädgårdsföreningen – This 19th park and garden sits at the heart of the city and is a great place to relax and have a picnic on those rare sunny days. There is a playground for children, numerous greenhouses full of interesting flora, and plenty of shade if you want to sit down with a good book.
- Go on the rides at Liseberg – The biggest amusement park in all of Scandinavia, Liseberg has lots of different rides to sample. Be sure to try Balder, the wooden roller-coaster, as well as the giant Ferris Wheel — you’ll get a stunning view of the city when on top! This park is fun for all ages, from carousels for kids to fast roller-coasters. Concerts by popular artists provide musical entertainment, while beautiful exotic flowers give this place a colorful background. Don’t miss the haunted house, either!
- Climb aboard the Swedish Ship Götheborg – A reconstruction of a mid-18th-century ship from the Swedish East India Company. The ship often tours different ports so be sure to check ahead to make sure it’s in Gothenburg before trying to visit.
- Learn about local history – The City Museum in Gothenburg offers some great exhibits, and best of all it’s free! There is lots of detailed information about city development, including things like old local clothing and household goods, but the highlight is undoubtedly the exhibit on the Vikings.
- Spend time at the Museum of Fine Art – If you’re an art lover, then you should take advantage of the thin crowds at this art museum. The museum’s collection features both Swedish and international work dating from the 17th century onward. It includes art from big names like Rembrandt, Picasso, and Monet. Entrance is 40 SEK; special exhibits are 80 SEK.
- Tour the Volvo Museum – If planes, trains, and automobiles are more your thing, you might be better off at the Volvo Museum. Gothenburg serves as the headquarters for this international car brand, and the museum here gives an outline of the company’s history and evolution in design that has occurred over the years. Admission is 100 SEK.
- Wander through Delsjön – Just outside of the city, lies Delsjön, a natural area with lakes and wooded trails. Spend a couple of hours walking around the parkland, before heading back to the urban atmosphere.
- Take a day trip to Marstrand – An hour bus ride from the city is the charming island of Marstrand. In the summer, this island is bustling with visitors who tour the narrow streets and visit the stone fortress, Carlsten (which is a definite must!). From here it’s just a stone throw to the smaller, more secluded islands of Dyrön and Åstol.