As the second-largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg (Göteborg in Swedish) has a lot to offer travelers willing to visit this often-ignored second city. Not a lot of people visit Gothenburg in comparison to other parts of the country (like Stockholm) but I really enjoyed my time here.
The city is much more relaxed than Stockholm. With plenty of green space both in and around the city, Gothenburg manages to maintain a small city feel while offering plenty of things to see and do. And with a compact downtown, Gothenburg is easy to explore on foot on by bicycle.
This travel guide to Gothenburg can help you plan your trip. We’ve included all the essential information you need to travel this city like a pro!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Gothenburg
1. Go on the rides at Liseberg
2. Explore the quaint Haga
3. Visit the Botaniska Tradgarden
4. Visit the Skansen Kronan
5. Take a day trip to Marstrand
Other Things to See and Do in Gothenburg
1. Go shopping on the “Avenyn”
Plan a day of shopping on Gothenburg’s main street, Kungsportsavenyen (colloquially known as the Avenyn, which is pronounced like “avenue”). Stores and restaurants abound in all price ranges, giving you a lot of flexibility when it comes to activities and budget. You can walk up from the central station and window shop, have lunch, and stop in any of the parks that are nearby.
2. See Slottsskogen
Take a stroll through the wooded hills, where you can visit a zoo and a family-friendly animal park with moose, deer, goats, and more! The area is also home to the city’s oldest observatory. Best of all? It’s free! There are lots of jogging trails here and in the summer there is a cafe in the park where you can stop for a bite. This is one of the best places in the city to have a picnic as well.
3. 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. It’s also home to African elephants, dinosaur fossils, and tons of other mounted animal displays (seriously, there is a packed in here!). Admission is free.
4. Take in the Gothenburg Opera
Built in 1994 to much fanfare, the Opera House is gorgeous and an important monument of the city. It has over 1,300 seats and, although some tickets are pricey, you can find last-minute ticket deals at the box office for a wide variety of plays, operas, and musicals. There are often musical productions performed in English as well, with tickets usually ranging from 150-750 SEK per person.
5. 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 (which you can visit for free), and plenty of shade if you want to sit down with a good book.
6. Climb aboard the Swedish Ship Götheborg
A reconstruction of a mid-18th-century ship from the Swedish East India Company. The original ship sank just off the coast in 1745 after returning from a voyage to China. The ship is one of the world’s largest operational wooden ships and it often tours different ports around the world so be sure to check ahead to make sure it’s in Gothenburg before trying to visit. Tickets are 120 SEK for adults and 60 SEK for kids under 12.
7. 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. This is a great place to visit when you first arrive to get a solid understanding of the city and its past.
8. 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. Admission is 60 SEK though it’s free for anyone under 25.
9. 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 company’s headquarters and the museum here gives an outline of the Volvo’s history as well as the evolution of their vehicle designs over the past few decades. Admission is 100 SEK though there are discounts available for teens and children.
10. Wander through Delsjön
Just outside of the city, lies Delsjön, a natural area with lakes and wooded trails. The park spans almost 500 acres and its great for jogging or just going for a hike. You can also rent canoes here in the summer. Take a break for the city and spend a couple of hours walking around the parkland, before heading back to the urban atmosphere. It’s easy to get to via the public tram as well.
11. Eat a massive Cinnamon Bun
Swedes love their cinnamon buns (they’re a common fika choice) and you can find some huge ones here! In Haga, Cafe Husaren sells buns the size of your face (as well as other common Swedish baked goods and snacks). The cinnamon buns are popular with tourists so it can get quite busy, but it’s a must-try (the buns are vegan too!).
12. Explore Universeum
If you’re traveling with kids (or just want to act like a kid) head to Universeum. It’s an interactive science center that opened in 2011, offering an indoor rainforest, a chemistry lab, dinosaur exhibits, and much more. It’s a great way to have fun and learn a thing or two along the way. Admission is 225 for adults and 175 for kids under 16.
Gothenburg Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Hostels start around 250 SEK per night for a dorm room with 8-10 beds and at 650 SEK for a private room. Most hostels in the city also add a 25-50 SEK surcharge for bed linen to offset the cost of cleaning (you are allowed to bring your own sheets, but sleeping bags are not permitted).
Budget hotel prices – A budget hotel will begin around 700 SEK for a basic double room. Cheaper options are available however they usually necessitate sharing a bathroom with other guests so make sure you read the fine print so you’re not surprised.
Shared rooms on Airbnb can be found for as little as 300 SEK per night, though private rooms and apartments are much more common in the city. A private room will cost between 350-750 SEK per night while a whole apartment or house will cost you between 550-1,100 SEK per night.
Food – Food is expensive in Gothenburg. You can get cheap food from outdoor street vendors starting at 50 SEK, though they are few and far between. You can get hot dogs for around 30 SEK at places like 7-Eleven and Pressbyran (some even have veggie dogs!).
Grocery shopping here will cost around 600-700 SEK per week, however, if you cut down on your meat and cheese intake (some of the most expensive food items in Sweden) you can lower your costs significantly. Willy’s is the cheapest of the large supermarket chains.
For food to go, most convenience stores and cafes offer pre-packaged sandwiches and meals for 50-100 SEK if you want a quick bite. Whole pizzas begin around 65 SEK and most nice sit-down restaurant meals begin at 200 SEK for a main dish.
If you’re looking for a drink, beer can be as cheap as 40 SEK, though 65-75 SEK is more common. Wine will cost around 55-75 SEK at your average restaurant, and cocktails will set you back around 100 SEK. If you’re on a budget you’ll likely want to stick to beer. You can buy your own alcohol at the government-run Systembolaget for even greater savings.
All the best bars and pubs are be found near Järntorget and Andra långgatan (the more touristy and expensive places are on “the Avenyn” aka Kungsportsavenyn)
For a filling buffet, head to Café Andrum. For a quick bite on the go, Jonsborg has burgers and hotdogs (as well as veg options). For vegan eats, try MIM.
Backpacking Gothenburg Suggested Budgets
On a backpacking budget, you should plan to spend 650-750 SEK ($65-75 USD) per day. This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel dorm, eating fast food occasionally but mainly cooking your own meals, using public transportation, and participating in basic activities like visiting museums.
On a mid-range of budget of 1,300-1,800 SEK ($130-180 USD) per day, you can stay in budget hotels, get a public transportation card and take the occasional Uber, eat fast food (such as hot dogs, pizzas, and cheap Thai/Middle Eastern food) and visit more museums and attractions (like Liseberg or Universeum).
For a luxury budget of 4,200+ SEK ($425+ USD) per day, you can afford to stay in nice hotels, hire a rental car, do some guided tours, and eat out for every meal.
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
Gothenburg Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
While Gothenburg is cheaper than Stockholm, it’s still a far cry from a budget-friendly destination. Fortunately, there are always ways to slash your spending. Here are some of my ways to save money in Gothenburg during your visit:
- Download the Västrafikk app – If you’re going to be using public transportation, download the “To Go” app from Västtraffik. Paying for your rides will save you a few crowns each time you ride as the app prices are lower than loading a card or paying when you get on the bus. You can also load multi-day passes onto your app so it’s quite convenient.
- Stay with locals for free – Accommodation is expensive in Gothenburg. Consider using Couchsurfing.com, a site that connects travelers with locals who offer a free place to stay. If you can cut out your accommodation costs, you will save a lot of money. It’s also a great way to get to know the local culture because you’re staying in someone’s home and you can ask them all the questions you want.
- 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.
- 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!
- Free walking tours – Göteborg Walking Tours runs the best walking tours in the city. They offer a few different walks depending on what you’re interested in (they even have a fika tour). They generally last two hours and are available in English. just be sure to tip at the end!
- Drink beer – If you are going to drink, stick to beer. It costs about half as much money as mixed drinks or wine at the bars and restaurants. For greater savings, buy your own alcohol at the government-run Systembolaget (it can be up to 50% cheaper that way).
- Avoid the big restaurants – Eating out in Gothenburg is very expensive. If you want to eat out, try to stick to the outside grills you see on the side of the street. You can find a variety in them and they are under 100 SEK per meal (which is half the price you’ll pay at a nice sit-down restaurant).
- Try the lunch buffets – If you choose to eat out, the lunch buffets are an economical way to do so, costing around 105 SEK. They are a popular option with locals. For cheap hot dogs and burgers (including vegan options) head to Jonsborg.
- Refill your water bottle – Water is about 30 SEK per bottle. Since the tap water is drinkable (one of the cleanest in Europe!) you should just buy one bottle and reuse it. Not only will this save you money, but it will save the environment too!
- Avoid the taxis – With the buses running late you should be able to skip the cabs. A typical ride is going to cost you more than 200 SEK so unless you are far from the bus and it’s snowing out, the price is hard to justify.
- Save money on rideshares – Uber is cheaper than taxis and is the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or subway. The Uber Pool option is where can you share a ride to get even better savings (though you can get your own car too). You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
Where To Stay in Gothenburg
Gothenburg has a few hostel accommodations, though they aren’t quite as nice as the once in Stockholm. These are my suggested and recommended places to stay in Gothenburg:
How to Get Around Gothenburg
Bus – The public transportation within Gothenburg will cost 28 SEK per ticket when bought using the “Västtrafik” app and 31 SEK when purchased via a transit card or via credit card on the bus/tram. Tickets last 90 minutes and can be transferred from buses to trams and ferries as well.
A day pass costs 135 SEK while a 3-day pass costs 270 SEK. These also work for buses, trams, and ferries.
When coming from Landvetter airport, the bus is going to be your cheapest option. Flygbussarna runs shuttles regularly, with tickets costing 99 SEK (one way) when bought in advance. The journey takes around 30 minutes. Flixbus also runs airport shuttles but they come less frequently (however, they are cheaper).
Subway – Gothenburg doesn’t have a subway system (it’s a small city after all!).
Taxi – Taxis here are quite expensive. Fares start at 51 SEK and go up by 14 SEK per kilometer, which means an average ride is likely going to cost you over 200 SEK!
Bicycle – You can rent bikes all around the city using Styr & Ställ. As long as you return the bike to a stall in 30 minutes, the bike rental is free. You can get a 3-day Styr & Ställ card for 25 SEK and then you’ll have free access to rentals all around the city.
If you need a bike for more than 30 minutes, the second half-hour costs you 10 SEK and the third 20 SEK. The fourth half-hour (and every thirty minutes after) costs you 40 SEK.
Ridesharing – Uber here is a little cheaper than taxis but it’s still quite expensive. I don’t recommend using it unless you have to.
When to Go to Gothenburg
The ideal time to visit Sweden is from June to August, when the weather is warm and the days are (really) long. Gothenburg is at its liveliest during this time, and you will find locals taking advantage of the good weather at every opportunity. The parks are always full, and there are always fun events happening around town. Temperatures are often in the 20s Celsius (60s and 70s Fahrenheit) during the summer months.
The downside to visiting then is that, since Sweden has a very short summer, the city is rather crowded, so be sure to book your accommodation in advance. This is especially true if you are visiting during Midsommar, the big Swedish holiday at the end of June. It’s a great time to experience Swedish traditions (which involve a lot of drinking!)
May typically has great weather with occasional rain, while September will give you cooler temperatures and changing leaves. You’ll beat the crowds and still be able to explore the city on foot without the weather getting in your way (too much).
Attractions begin to close around late September, and the days get dark early in October. Temperatures start dropping around this time too. However, prices also decrease, and you’re likely to find cheaper airfares and accommodations during this time. Be sure to pack layers if you plan on visiting during this time of year.
The winter is very cold and sees a lot of snow and darkness. In the depths of the winter, you only get a few hours of light each day and temperatures plummet to -0ºC (32ºF). The plus side of traveling during the off-season, however, is that you’ll be offered the cheapest accommodations, and fees for certain attractions will be lower as well. While
Gothenburg is quite beautiful in winter, you won’t want to be walking around as much, and since it’s a great city to explore on foot, you will potentially be missing out.
Nevertheless, there is something special to be experienced in every season!
How to Stay Safe in Gothenburg
Sweden is one of the safest countries in the world. In fact, it ranks 18th on the ranking of the world’s safest countries! However, Gothenburg is still a relatively large city so keep an eye out for pickpockets, especially around the central station and on public transportation. It’s rare, but it never hurts to be prepared! As long as you are aware of your surroundings and use common sense and you should be just fine.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
And, remember, if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it here!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.
Gothenburg Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Gothenburg. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engine which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Sweden, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
Gothenburg Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Gothenburg Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
The Millennium Series, by Stieg Larsson
The Millennium Series started out as a trilogy composed of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire in 2006, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, all of which were published posthumously after Larsson’s sudden death (the series has been continued with a new author based on Larsson’s notes). The series weaves a tantalizing web of mystery and corruption which has propelled the series to over 100 million copies sold. It was later adapted into three critically-acclaimed Swedish films (as well as two Hollywood films).
Modern-Day Vikings, by Christina Johansson Robinowitz and Lisa Werner Carr
Modern Vikings does a great job of both exploring and explaining Swedish culture, highlighting the similarities and differences between Sweden and the US. The book also illuminates some of the country’s cultural quirks (such as their preference for all things “lagom” and Jante’s Law) as well as their place in modern history. It’s a good overview for anyone looking to learn a little more than Wikipedia can offer before they arrive.
The Laughing Policeman, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
While this is actually the 4th novel in a series of 10 novels (all written in the 60s and 70s), you don’t need to have read previous books to follow along. The book is a cunning murder mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Swede’s love their police dramas and murder mysteries, and The Laughing Policeman is one of the best. There is also a TV show based on the main character too!
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
This novel is equal parts heartwarming, depressing, and funny all at once (but mostly depressing to be honest). The book follows Ove, a grumpy old man who lives a life of solitude. As an unlikely friendship blooms, we learn about his tragic past and why he’s so irritable in the first place. The book was adapted into an award-winning film as well, which is also worth a watch.
Let the Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Another dark tale (Swede’s love their dark novels!), Let the Right One In is about the friendship between two young children in Stockholm…but there is more to the story than meets the eye as not long after the two meet a dead body is found nearby. The book was adapted into both Swedish and English films as well (the Swedish one is better though).
Gothenburg Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Sweden and continue planning your trip: