Gothenburg, situated on the coast in west Sweden, is the country’s second largest city that offers a more laid-back and less crowded alternative to Stockholm. While only a few years ago, Gothenburg would have been overlooked in favour of more popular Scandinavian cities, it has emerged from its former life as an industrial, port city and into a culture-lover’s playground.
Pronounced ‘yette-bor-ee’ by the locals, Gothenburg is home to fascinating art galleries, museums and botanical gardens as well as one or two surprises. Sweden’s most popular tourist attraction, Liseberg amusement park, is in Gothenburg city centre and helped put Gothenburg Sweden on the map.
And after you’ve had fun on the rides, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants serving fresh fish or a hot cup of coffee and cinnamon pastry for a classic Swedish ‘fika’ break in one of the many cosy cafes.
It’s the perfect Scandinavian city for a relaxing, culture-filled break and these are our Gothenburg travel tips to help you make the most of your trip.
This ultimate travel guide to Gothenburg will show you the best places in Gothenburg, what to expect when visiting, where to stay in Gothenburg and things to do in Gothenburg which will help you in planning a trip to Gothenburg.
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How to get to Gothenburg
Gothenburg is the fifth largest Nordic city and is well-connected within the region and the rest of Europe.
The nearest international airport to Gothenburg is Landvetter, located around 20km west of the city. European budget airlines fly from Landvetter to a huge number of cities in Europe and destinations in the Middle East and Northern Africa. A shuttle bus service from the airport to Gothenburg takes around 30 minutes.
Gothenburg central station offers high-speed rail services all over Scandinavia. You’re only a 4-hour train journey from Oslo and 3 hours from Stockholm. If you’re travelling to Gothenburg from North America or Asia, you can fly into Copenhagen and travel by rail straight from the airport to Gothenburg in under 4 hours.
Travelling by bus is a great option as it can be cheaper and the bus from Oslo to Gothenburg, for example, takes just as long as a train journey.
What to expect in Gothenburg
Sweden is one of the safest countries in the world and Gothenburg, being such a small city, has low crime rates. It’s likely that Gothenburg is safer than your hometown so just be as cautious as you would be there.
Like all Nordic countries, Sweden is an expensive country for most to visit which includes Gothenburg. Beers in most bars will cost around €7/75SEK and the most basic private hotel rooms start from €65/700SEK. Although tipping is welcome, if gratuity isn’t already included in the bill, it’s not expected, and you can just round up the bill or tip 5-10%.
Sweden is part of the EU and the Schengen zone. The main language is Swedish, but most Swedes also speak English, especially in the cities. The currency is the Swedish krona and you won’t have any problem finding ATMs or money changers at the airport or train station in Gothenburg.
How to get around Gothenburg
Gothenburg is a very walkable place considering it’s such a small city. You will probably spend most of your time in the old Haga neighbourhood or in the nearby trendy Linne district. However, if you are going to venture out to the Liseberg amusement park or Volvo museum you may want to consider using public transport.
Luckily, public transport in Gothenburg is very good and tram and bus services are available all over the city. You can buy day passes which are valid for both trams and buses at Västtrafik kiosks in 7-Elevens and grocery stores. Or, you can buy single tickets for trams onboard.
If you want to use any of the river boats, you will need to pay for a ticket by card. It’s good to have a credit or debit card you can use in Gothenburg as Sweden is becoming an increasingly cash-free country.
The best time to visit Gothenburg
Gothenburg truly experiences every season: up to 30 degrees in summer, crisp autumns and mild, snowy winters which means no time of year is quite like another.
One of the best times to visit Gothenburg is for the Christmas markets from the end of November to a couple of days before Christmas day. There are several markets all over the city including one in Liseberg funfair. Don’t forget to try glögg, a Swedish cinnamon-smelling drink like mulled wine.
Though it rarely gets extremely cold in Gothenburg, you might prefer to visit in summer. It’s warm and Gothenburg never feels too crowded but summer, particularly July and August, is peak travel season and accommodation prices increase.
Autumn is the perfect time to travel to Gothenburg for a quintessential Swedish experience of relaxing in cafes and wandering down cobbled streets lined with crispy orange leaves while the weather is still warm enough.
Things to do in Gothenburg
One of the top things to do in Gothenburg has to be visiting Skansen Kronan which is an old fortress on top of Risåsberget hill. It was built in the late 17th century and was properly outfitted with canons and guns but was never required to defend the city.
Now, Skansen Kronan is a museum and café and there are a few paths you can stroll down if the weather is nice. It’s the ideal place to find panoramic views across the entire city especially at sunset.
Liseberg amusement park
As previously mentioned, Liseberg amusement park is Sweden’s most popular tourist attraction and a must-visit in Gothenburg. There are over 40 rides in Liseberg ranging from sculpture parks and teacup rides for little kids to a selection of thrill-seeking rollercoasters for big kids and adults alike. Europe’s tallest freefall rollercoaster aptly named AtmosFear can be found at Liseberg.
During the festive period from November-December is where Liseberg really shows off. The amusement park has its own Christmas market and festive-themed food stalls and everywhere is decorated with lights. Christmas isn’t the only time of year where Liseberg sparkles as the theme park is always dressing with the season whether it’s Halloween or springtime.
This is one Gothenburg museum that will appeal to any petrol heads, and that’s the Volvo museum. This huge warehouse is filled with Volvos through the ages from the car manufacturer’s humble beginnings in 1927 to present day. Volvo is a homegrown Swedish company and it’s an interesting exhibition which not only covers how Volvo have developed over the years but motor vehicles in general.
Gothenburg botanical garden
Botanical gardens are always great places to stroll through in good weather and the Gothenburg botanical garden is one of the biggest and most varied botanical gardens in Europe.
There are over 16,000 species of plant in the gardens and you could spend an entire afternoon exploring the greenhouses, water features, rare plants and trees.
This neighbourhood is the main hub of tourist activity in Gothenburg and leads onto a street known locally as the ‘Avenyn’ which is Gothenburg’s main shopping area. This is where you’ll find 19th century wooden houses along cobbled streets selling Christmas souvenirs year-round and dark, candlelit taverns and cafes with all the cakes, cookies and pastries you could possibly want.
Gothenburg museum of art
Gothenburg is the perfect city for culture vultures and has a huge array of museums for every interest. Gothenburg museum of art is one of the best museums in Scandinavia for Nordic art, both classic and contemporary, but the museum also exhibits work from big names in the art world like Picasso, Monet and Rembrandt. If you’re an art lover, this Gothenburg museum is a can’t-miss.
If you’re visiting Gothenburg during particularly warm weather, you might want to escape the more urban areas of the city and enjoy the countryside. Delsjön is a natural area of Gothenburg city accessible by the public tram. There are two huge lakes surrounded by miles of countryside with hiking and cycling trails as well as a beach. The water is even warm enough to swim in during the summer months.
A science museum, zoo, rainforest and aquarium all rolled into one at the Universeum’s interactive exhibition in Gothenburg. There’s no better attraction in Gothenburg to visit with your kids than the Universeum.
They can learn about how marine life and the rainforests are under threat, they can try out their dream jobs at the Universeum’s ‘Job Land’ and take part in chemistry experiments. Though there are amazing science centres all over the world, there isn’t one quite like the Universeum in Gothenburg.
What to eat in Gothenburg
Food in Sweden is all about fresh, homemade comfort food and Gothenburg is no different. Since Gothenburg is a port city, there is a big emphasis on fresh fish and seafood like shrimp, squid and haddock. But like their Danish neighbours to the west, Gothenburg love their pastries, particularly cinnamon buns. Though restaurants can be very expensive, you can still find traditional Swedish food in Gothenburg to suit every budget.
Head to the Haga neighbourhood for the cafes but for the best fresh fish and high-quality cheap food in Gothenburg, head to Saluhallen Market Hall or Feskekôrka fish market. Feskekôrka is a fish auction house for restaurateurs but there are some stalls selling street food style options.
Hot dogs are also a very popular takeaway option in Sweden, and you can buy anything from a simple hotdog to a decadent Swedish-style hotdog with toppings like mashed potato and even shrimp.
Where to stay in Gothenburg
Budget – Even travellers who normally consider themselves mid-range may find they need to find budget accommodation in Gothenburg like hostels, but there are tonnes of great options. Backpackers Gothenburg is well-located near the Haga district with an outdoor terrace and onsite restaurant.
Mid-range – But if you don’t want to stay in a hostel, there are still plenty of mid-range hotels in Gothenburg. Scandic is a local hotel chain offering accommodation in at least four different areas in the city. For a more local experience, Airbnb have plenty of apartments available all over Gothenburg.
Luxury – There is nowhere better to stay in Gothenburg than Upper House at the Gothia Towers if you want to splash out. The spa and facilities at this 5-star hotel are great, and you get the best views in Gothenburg over Liseberg amusement park. Even if you don’t end up staying at Gothia Towers, you can’t miss the views from the rooftop bar.
Tours to do in Gothenburg
Hop on Hop off bus and boat
One of the best ways to see Gothenburg without having to bother with public transport is to purchase a Hop on Hop off bus and boat tour ticket. Not only can you get off and jump back on the buses at several destinations around the city during a 24 hour period, but boats are also included on the route so you can take in a relaxing tour down the canals of Gothenburg and see some of the islands in the Gothenburg Archipelago.
Gothenburg is a compact, walking-friendly city so there’s really no better way to get to know the place. A local, knowledgeable guide is the best way to learn about Gothenburg’s history and all the main attractions as well as some secret spots.
The Paddan tour
Gothenburg’s past as a port city is very important to its history. So, what better way to learn about how the waterways and harbour helped shape the Gothenburg you see today than by travelling through its 17th century bridges and canals.
Day Trips from Gothenburg
The island of Vinga is one of the furthest islands off the coast of Gothenburg. There are fantastic views of the ocean from Vinga as well as the other islands in the area. There is a lighthouse you can visit, lots of places to walk around and a guide will provide an informational talk as you sail out to the island, too.
Torpa Stenhus Castle
There are some fantastic castles in Sweden and Torpa Stenhus Castle is one of the best. It was built in the 15th century and is situated on a beautiful lake surrounded by breath taking countryside. And during the festive period, the castle is beautifully decorated for the season and hosts a Christmas fair selling handcrafted festive souvenirs and treats.
One of the best day trips from Gothenburg Sweden you can book around Christmas time is to the nearby small town of Äskhult. This little village has been wonderfully preserved in its 17th and 18th century state so all the buildings and cafes are authentic to the time period and there are also some footpaths that allow you to explore more of the countryside.
During Christmas, everything is decorated with a festive theme and there’s a stop off at a confectionery factory and shop during this tour so you can pick up some Christmas gifts.
Recommended tours in Gothenburg
- Gothenburg Private Walking Tour
- 24h Gothenburg Hop-On Hop-Off Tour by Bus and Boat
- Gothenburg Pass
- The Paddan Tour
- Gothenburg – Tasting of Swedish west coast food
- Best of Gothenburg Photography and Sightseeing Tour
- Luxury Christmas-lunch at fairytale like Thorskog Grand Manor House