The coastal city of Gothenburg, known as Göteborg in Swedish, feels both familiar and new, combining charming Scandinavian traditions and modern urban living. It’s the country’s second-largest city and I came here years ago to sing at an EU event and more recently as a solo traveler. I’d heard that Gothenburg is the perfect spot to visit for solo travel, digital nomads and LGBTQ+ people… more on all of that later in this article.
On my recent trip, I started out by exploring Haga, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city. The picturesque streets are lined with traditional wooden houses that have been converted into modern cafes, boutiques and antique shops, and tempting bakeries. If you’ve gotten into the notion of Swedish ‘fika’ (a daily rest break often featuring coffee and cinnamon buns), then Haga is the right spot for it, if you can face down the plate-sized pastries! Plus if you’re a digital workaholic, you’ll find Gothenburg a bit of a haven, with good internet, co-working spaces and an emergent networking/startup scene.
For LGBTQ travellers, Gothenburg is thriving with some good bars and clubs to visit, as well as a pretty inclusive tone throughout the city. It hosts West Pride, a big annual event held every June that lights up Gothenburg with rainbow colours. You’ll find that Gothenburg values diversity and inclusivity, making it safe and welcoming for all of us.
Now that I’ve set the scene, let’s dive into the details of my Gothenburg Travel Guide. The point of the guide is to help you plan your adventure to this Western coastal city, with insider tips on what to do, where to stay and, given it’s Sweden, how to put together a smart budget for Göteborg.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN GOTHENBURG
1. Stroll through Haga: Start your visit by taking a leisurely ramble through the historic district of Haga, known for its well-preserved wooden houses, independent shops, and cute cafes. Yes, I’m going to recommend ‘fika’, but who else is going to eat those cinnamon buns?
2. Explore the Universeum: If you’re with kids (even grown-up ones), this is a multi-level science centre, with a tropical rainforest, aquarium, and various interactive exhibits.
Adults – 295 SEK, kids – 245 SEK (see price conversions below).
3. Visit Liseberg Amusement Park: As the largest amusement park in Scandinavia, Liseberg is super popular for rides, gardens (yes, gardens) and hosts live concerts. During Christmas, it transforms into a giant ‘winter wonderland’! You can get an annual ticket for entry (no rides) or rides all year long!
Prices vary by date, but typically 645 SEK for adults and 370 SEK for kids up to 110cm tall.
4. Garden Society of Gothenburg: This beautifully preserved 19th-century park, which is called Trädgårdsföreningen in Swedish, is perfect for a picnic or a leisurely walk, if the weather stays dry. Its Palm House, a stunning glass greenhouse, is a sight to behold and is one of the cleanest public greenhouses I’ve ever visited. Strange, but true. Totally free to access.
5. Visit the Gothenburg Museum of Art: This museum boasts an impressive collection of Nordic art from the 15th century onwards.
Adults – 65 SEK. Children <20 and students with ID – free.
6. Enjoy the Gothenburg Archipelago: Hop on a ferry to explore the archipelago’s charming islands, pristine beaches, and picturesque fishing villages. There’s an overwhelming array of options, boats and destinations (see the official guidance here). Note: if you’ve got the local Västtrafik travel card, it works on ferries too.
7. Experience West Pride: If you visit in June, take part in the vibrant West Pride festival, a highlight of Gothenburg’s LGBTQ calendar and welcoming to everyone (participant and spectator).
8. Dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant: Gothenburg has a flourishing food scene which has gained international respect. Treat yourself to a gastronomic adventure at one of its six Michelin-starred restaurants (see ‘FOOD’ below for suggestions).
9. Visit Gothenburg’s Botanical Garden: Spanning 175 hectares, it’s one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, showcasing over 16,000 species. A short walk from downtown.
10. Learn about the city’s history at the Gothenburg City Museum: Housed in the former headquarters of the Swedish East India Company, the museum tells the tale of Gothenburg from the Viking Age to the present. I thought the Viking exhibit was the most interesting bit. They also run walking tours around the city which show history through Göteborg’s ancient walls and buildings.
Adults – 65 SEK. Children <20 and students with ID – free.
For further details on cities to visit in Sweden, check out my city travel guides:
GETTING HERE & GETTING AROUND
Have you read my guide to reaching Sweden by air? If you’re starting out in Stockholm, there’s plenty of short-hop flights to Gothenburg Landvetter Airport with SAS, BRA or Ryanair. I use Skyscanner to scout for direct flights at times that suit me. Or take a fast train via SJ.com which starts at around 3 hours duration.
If you’re travelling from within Europe, options are plentiful although slightly more limited than for Stockholm. Full-service and budget airlines operate from Ireland, the UK, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Poland and many more. Check out Landvetter’s Destinations page. You can of course drive via Denmark and the exciting Öresund Bridge, or take a coach service like FlixBus.
Gothenburg city is quite compact and navigable, making it relatively easy to explore. Gothenburg has an extensive network of trams, buses, and ferries that make it easy to get around. Västtrafik is the main public transport operator, and you can use their app to plan your journeys and buy tickets. Below are some of the common ways to get around the city and beyond:
The Swedish railway network is excellent, and Gothenburg has a major train station. You can get fast intercity trains to Stockholm and Malmö and use regular regional networks. Use SJ.com or its app to get set up (available in English).
To explore the nearby archipelago, ferries operate from Saltholmen, with regular services to the islands. A Västtrafik ticket or pass can be used on the ferries.
While car rental is available, it’s not necessary for city exploring, given the city’s excellent public transport. However, it could be useful if you’re planning to explore the countryside. Did you know you can use Booking.com to compare car rental prices? There are both airport and downtown pick-up locations.
A popular option for getting around the West Coast, there are some rental agencies in town. I didn’t find any of the usual one or two that get fabulous reviews to recommend to you, so please research options cautiously if you want to do this. I’ve taken my own van in the past, and there’s excellent campsites in the region.
Sweden has a really good long-distance bus network. Companies like FlixBus and Swebus are good options.
Taxis and Uber are available and are costly. Always check the price before getting in, as taxi fares are not regulated in Sweden.
The city is incredibly bike-friendly, with plenty of designated bike lanes. Bikes can be rented from numerous places around the city, including Styr & Ställ, the city’s bike sharing program.
Like many European cities, Gothenburg is best experienced on foot. Major attractions, restaurants, and shops are often within a comfortable walking distance of each other.
Guided tours can be a great way to see the local sights without having to make all the bookings yourself. My advice to you is to explore the options on Get Your Guide and/or Viator. Both sites have options at a range of budgets and durations. Please use my links as that helps keep Planet Patrick on the road at no extra cost to you!
GOTHENBURG DAILY EXPENSES & SMART BUDGETING
Smart Budget = 1600 SEK
I plan my solo travel finances around the idea of daily “smart budgeting” including accommodation, food and excursions. A smart budget is flexible, leaving some cash to splash on memorable luxuries like a night in a fancier hotel, or lunch at a famous restaurant.
Mid-range Smart Budget: 1600 SEK – mid-range hotel, lunch from a local deli or market, proper evening meal, plus 1-2 city excursions.
Backpacker Smart Budget: 800 SEK – a dorm bed in a hostel, self-catered meals, using public transport.
Luxury Smart Budget: >2500 SEK – Gothenburg has ALL the luxuries, from 5* hotels to a 3* Michelin restaurant. Allow for 2500 SEK per day (and way up).
- Local currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)
- Exchange Rates: $1 USD = 10.45 SEK | £1 GBP = 13.48 SEK | €1 = 11.56 SEK
- SIM Cards: it may be more economical to purchase a local SIM card for data usage. Key suppliers in Sweden include Telia, Telenor, and Tele2.
- Emergency Services: 112
- Power voltage: 230 V 50 Hz. Power sockets are Type F.
GOTHENBURG ACCOMMODATION & FOOD
Prices fluctuate significantly between different regions in Sweden. Gothenburg is generally cheaper than Stockholm, but as the second biggest city in Sweden, is more expensive than regional locations.
$ Basic Hotel: expect to pay around 700-1200 SEK;
$$ Mid-range 3*: can range from 1200-2200 SEK
$$$ Luxury/Historic: mostly cost 2200 SEK and up.
$-$$$ Airbnb: a basic ‘entire place’ starts at 700 SEK per night (including wifi) in Gothenburg.
Note: add up the “total cost” of a room (room + amenities + breakfast) to ensure you compare like with like. Swedish hotels include free Wi-Fi, often breakfast and sometimes a sauna or gym. If breakfast is extra, it’ll run 100-200 SEK per person. Here are my top picks for a stay in Gothenburg, at every budget (I chose Profil Hotel Opera in 2023):
FOOD IN GOTHENBURG
Gothenburg has a burgeoning and popular food scene heavy on locally-sourced fish and produce, plus lots of vegan and vegetarian options.
Given its coastal location, Gothenburg is known for its exceptional seafood. Try delicacies such as crayfish, oysters, and mussels. Visit the Feskekörka (“Fish Church”) – an indoor fish and seafood market – to fulfil all the senses. Some people love Restaurant Gabriel, known for a shrimp sandwich (arguably the best in Sweden, but as a non-shrimp-lover, I have no dog in that fight!). A local Gothenburg specialty is “Strömming på Göteborgsvis,” a herring dish with roots here. The neighbourhood of Haga is known for giant cinnamon buns, which are big enough for 2-3 people!
Fine dining is alive and well in Gothenburg, with several Michelin-starred places, including Bhoga, Kota, and three-starred Restaurant Frantzén. Alternatively, the street food scene is growing too: try the area around Magasinsgatan and Kville (closed Sundays) for local and international stalls. There’s also a craft beer scene. If that’s your vibe, visit somewhere like Majornas Bryggeri or Brewers Beer Bar to add some froth to your foodie day.
If you would prefer someone local to show you around, there’s one or two guided food tours in Gothenburg that take in bakeries, cafes and restaurants.
In terms of budget, an evening main course starts around 150 SEK, maybe a bit less for takeaway. If you opt for more upscale dining, expect to pay 250 SEK and upwards for a main course (and much more at glam spots). Grocery shopping is more expensive in Sweden than other parts of Europe, but you should find that quality is top notch. There’s a Lidl or a Hemköp on the main floor of Nordstan in the city centre (open Sundays).
BEST TIME TO GO TO GOTHENBURG
I know you’re tired of me saying this, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to do! To enjoy the parks, street markets and eating at outdoor cafes, the summer months from June to August are ideal. You’ll find agreeable temperatures from 20°C to 25°C with the daily risk of rain showers. It’s a great time to attend Gothenburg Culture Festival, a major annual event featuring hundreds of activities spanning arts, music, dance, and more.
Autumn: Great for nature and outdoors, like tours of the archipelago (early September). Weather will be pleasant with some rain. Locals say: don’t bring an umbrella, but do bring a raincoat (as it can get windy).
Winter: think serene winter landscapes from November and March. While it’ll be cold and daylight scarce, winter in Gothenburg can still be fun, with the Christmas market, and ice-skating on the canals! There’s typically less snow here than elsewhere in Sweden due to the location on the West coast. People do crowd into town for Gothenburg Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in Scandinavia, late January / early February.
Spring: you’ll find fewer crowds, but warmer weather in April and May (hotel costs will be great too). Risk of rain: still high 🙂
SOLO TRAVEL TO GOTHENBURG
I love Gothenburg as a solo traveller. The infrastructure is well-organised, it’s easy to get around and there’s stuff to do. On the one hand you have culture galore, world-class museums, and a thriving cafe culture. On the other, it’s easy for English-speaking visitors, because most everyone speaks English and it’s a friendly place.
My one tip is to enjoy the city and then try to get out of town. Exploring Gothenburg’s southern archipelago is a must, where you can walk across idyllic car-free islands without needing a tour group. Get involved in local events like Pride West in June, Gothenburg Culture Festival during summer or the Gothenburg Film Festival in the winter.
DIGITAL NOMADS IN GOTHENBURG
Gothenburg is rapidly emerging as a desirable city for digital nomads, especially for those who value a strong work-life balance, a relaxed lifestyle, and top-notch technology infrastructure. This is the second-largest city in a country known for high-speed internet and work-life balance: you’ll find you’re welcome in the cafes and there’s more serious coworking spaces if you need them.
Dubbed as “Little London,” (Lilla London), confusingly also the name of a pub, Gothenburg has an emergent tech scene. It’s attractive for globally mobile people, who can see beyond the demands of narrow-sighted productivity. But you have to pay to get this high quality of life. In your calculation, the good accommodation, food and excursions might add up to justify the cost.
Sweden Digital Nomad Visa
While Sweden offers a great environment for digital nomads, as of now, it does not provide a specific digital nomad visa. So if you turn up to work in Sweden under a tourist visa or during a visa-free stay, you’re technically outside the law.
Non-EU citizens: to work remotely in Sweden, you should be employed by a Swedish company or have Swedish clients, and apply for a work permit accordingly.
EEA, EU, Schengen area citizens: there’s more flexibility. You don’t need a visa or residence permit to work remotely in Sweden, but, if you’ll stay >3 months, you must register at the local tax registration office (Skatteverket) to make sure you’re compliant.
LGBTQ+ TRAVEL TO GOTHENBURG
Sweden ranks highly on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index, and Gothenburg is known for its LGBTQ-friendliness. It has an active community and Pride West is celebrated every June with great gusto. The busy areas around the Avenyn and Haga districts are excellent starting points, with quite a few LGBTQ-friendly establishments. You should find a similar welcome in less urban places too, whether you’re exploring the Southern Archipelago or visiting a regional town. Not everyone in a generally-friendly country is going to be accepting all the time, but you’re generally in a good place in Sweden.
HOW SAFE IS GOTHENBURG?
Gothenburg is pretty safe, with low crime rates comparable to other major Swedish cities. Visitors, including solo, gay and female travellers, can expect to feel mostly secure even during the evening. As with any location, practising common sense and maintaining vigilance is sensible. For instance, always keep your belongings close and be aware of your surroundings. While the city is safe, during the winter months, weather conditions can be pretty cold, so – for your health – be adequately prepared for any outdoor activities.
Gothenburg operates mostly cashlessly, so having a credit or debit card with accessible funds is crucial. While the crime rate is low, staying informed by checking local news and taking personal safety precautions is always a good practice.