If you’re considering planning a 1, 2 or 3 days in Gothenburg itinerary you’re really going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to incredible things to do in this lively city.
While Sweden’s capital city of Stockholm is the heart and core of Swedish culture and government, Sweden’s second-largest city is one of the top locations to visit in the country. Home to Volvo, beautifully designed Dutch canals, and one of the most thriving art and culture destinations in Scandinavia, Gothenburg is a city that can’t be missed.
Gothenburg has about half the population of Stockholm with the addition of stunning elegance and pools of green throughout the city.
Sweden’s second-largest city is the perfect spot to experience Swedish style and culture without just being another tourist of the mass. Keep reading this article to plan a Gothenburg itinerary and prepare to spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Gothenburg, Sweden.
How Many Days in Gothenburg?
One of the crucial planning points of your trip will be to decide how long to stay in Gothenburg. While it’s usually easier to decide how long to stay in capital cities, smaller cities can be trickier to figure out. So, how many days to spend in Gothenburg are ideal?
Gothenburg is ⅓ the size of Stockholm and although there is plenty to do, an ideal trip would be a long weekend in the city.
With one day in Gothenburg, you’ll be able to see the main sights, eat a good meal, and wander around the city. If you spend 2 days in Gothenburg, you’ll be able to go at a much slower pace, taking in the city while doing all the same things within 1 day but in less of a rush.
With 3 days in Gothenburg, you’ll be able to explore the city at your own pace, taking in the sights and tastes as well as managing to take a short day trip to the neighboring, breezy seaside, Gothenburg Archipelago.
Getting To & Around Gothenburg
You’ll likely be arriving in Gothenburg either by plane or by train.
If you’re visiting from another part of Sweden, the best way will be to take a train to get to Gothenburg’s Central Station. Sweden has a wonderful transportation system and you’ll be able to get a high-speed train from most of Sweden at usually an affordable cost.
Gothenburg has its own airport (Landvetter International Airport) located 25 km from the city center and serves routes throughout the rest of Scandinavia as well as the rest of Europe.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any direct public transportation from Gothenburg Airport to the city center, but there are multiple coach bus services offering transportation.
The travel time is around 20 minutes from the airport to the city and can be purchased in advance online or on the bus depending on the company. FlixBus is my favourite, as they have frequent services, low costs, and pretty comfortable seats on the bus. If you have the budget, it is also possible to book a private transfer.
If where you’re visiting Gothenburg from doesn’t offer direct flights to the city’s airport, the second-best option would be to fly into Stockholm or Copenhagen and then take a train to Gothenburg. Stockholm and Copenhagen airports are both bigger, lending more opportunities for flights from varying departure countries.
Just like the rest of Sweden, the city of Gothenburg has wonderfully efficient and sustainable urban transportation options. The main transportation system in Gothenburg consists of bus, a large tram network, and boat services which are all included in the same transportation ticket.
A single ticket costs around 35 SEK for 90 minutes for one zone covering any included transport that you need from your departure area to your final destination.
If you need to travel throughout different zones in the city, you’ll need to purchase a multiple-zone ticket (or two one-zone tickets) which lasts for 180 minutes and costs double the price of a 90-minute ticket.
It’s also possible to purchase day-pass tickets (1-3 days) giving unlimited public transport for the number of zones included in your pass.
To give you a better understanding of the zones, there are 3 zones in the city of Gothenburg, A, B, and C. While zone A is the direct center of the city, it’s quite a small area so if you plan on exploring the city without restrictions, make sure you at least get a ticket for zones A and B if you plan on purchasing a pass. Otherwise, purchase tickets as you go along according to your destination.
Despite the orderly transportation system of Gothenburg, the city itself is quite small making it an incredibly walkable city. For example, a walk between the Skansen Kronan Castle and the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History takes just around 18 minutes and this goes for most locations within the main city center.
However, you may want to use public transportation if you want to visit somewhere like the Liseberg Amusement Park or the expansive Gothenburg Botanical Garden (Trädgårdsföreningen), both of which are a little bit further from the city center.
1, 2 or 3 Days in Gothenburg Itinerary
It’s pretty easy to say that Gothenburg is one of the “coolest” and on-trend cities in Europe. While the city began as a Dutch trading colony in 1621, today it’s the sustainability capital of Scandinavia, the home to Volvo cars, friendly locals, and a world-renowned food scene.
It’s also one of the most enjoyable cities in Sweden to wander around on a long weekend and enjoy the idyllic architecture & Swedish minimalism, fika culture, nature, and canals making up Sweden’s second-largest city.
Day 1 – Gothenburg’s Central Highlights
Gothenburg Main Center
The prime location to begin any Gothenburg itinerary is in Gothenburg’s classic old town. Begin at the sprawling Gustaf Adolfs (King Gustaf Adolf founded the city in 1621) Torg, formerly Stora Torget. This is Gothenburg’s main square where you’ll find the city’s Town Halls, both old and new.
After wandering around in Gothenburg’s largest square, continue into the Western North Town (Vastra Nordstaden), and further take in the historical buildings such as the Stock Exchange, and Crown Hall (Kronhuset, Gothenburg’s oldest building dating back to 1643 in Dutch architecture).
If you want to learn more about the history, you can book a walking tour here.
Domkyrkan (Gothenburg Cathedral)
After first getting acquainted with Gothenburg in the precise and historically rich center of the city, I suggest heading to Domkyrkan (Gothenburg’s Cathedral) which is about a 6-minute walk.
Gothenburg’s Cathedral was first built in the early 19th century by architect Carl Willhelm Carlberg after an earlier cathedral built in the 17th century had perished. The interior of the cathedral is a unique mix of styles, from classical and empirical style to traditional baroque.
This gorgeous cathedral is an integral part of the city of Gothenburg and is a beneficial addition to any trip to Gothenburg.
Wander Around Magasinsgatan
A short walk (around 5 minutes) away from the Gothenburg Cathedral will bring you to Magasinsgatan (Warehouse Street).
This area is a great spot to explore Gothenburg off the beaten path and is the perfect example of how historic working-class areas in many cities today are prime spots for hip culture, shopping, and food scenes.
Here you’ll find many unique and local brands filling the streets, as well as a laid-back, expressive, and alternative atmosphere. Just wandering the area is an adventure in itself, taking in the architecture and street art, food trucks, and everything in between.
Dinner at Feskekorka (Fish Church) or Saluhallen Food Hall
At this point of your first day in Gothenburg, you’ll likely have built up an appetite and be ready to enjoy a meal in Gothenburg’s renowned food scene. My recommendations to have the best local experience with Gothenburg’s best and most well-loved foods are to either head to the Fish Church or the Saluhallen Food Hall.
Due to the city’s prime location by the sea, you’ll find outstanding seafood in Gothenburg and the surrounding areas. Built in 1874, Feskekorka (Fish Church) is the local fish market in Gothenburg and is a Gothenburg staple.
The building itself resembles a church and because of this, it took on its name and is one of the most recognisable buildings in Gothenburg. While the main part of the building is a fish market, there are a few delectable restaurants inside serving up some of the tastiest seafood in all of Gothenburg.
If you’re not into seafood, another option is to head to the Saluhallen Food Hall, about 5 minutes away in the other direction. The Saluhallen Food Hall is located in an iconic 1800s building and here you’ll be able to find all sorts of dishes and cuisines, including traditional Swedish delicacies.
Day 2 – A Deeper Dive into the City’s Culture
Breakfast in the Haga Neighborhood
The main advantage to staying 2 days and not just one day in Gothenburg is that you have the opportunity to further discover unique parts of the city and its culture as well as history.
To begin the second day of your visit to Gothenburg, I suggest heading to Haga, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, to have a Swedish breakfast and a leisurely wander around the neighborhood.
The neighborhood is lined with homes in traditional brick Gothenburg style, cosy cafes/coffee houses, unique shops of every type, and restaurants aplenty.
At Christmastime, you’ll find a festive Christmas Market and in the spring/autumn, you’ll have the opportunity to browse the local farmer’s market. My suggestion is to head to Latteria to enjoy a tasty breakfast before continuing your day.
Skansen Kronan Castle
Located on the perimeter of the Haga neighborhood is one of the most important landmarks in Gothenburg, the Skansen Kronan Castle.
Completed in 1700, the imposing fortress was built in preparation for battle but in all of the time of its existence, it was never actually used for that purpose as it was never attacked by enemies.
It’s been used in varying ways throughout history and today is used as a banquet hall, wedding venue, and party venue. This classic fortification offers wonderful views of the city and is definitely on of the top things to do in Gothenburg. You also can get an incredible view of Gothenburg from the castle, as well.
The outdoor part of the castle not used for venues is open 24 hours a day and is free for visitors unless. If you want to see inside, you’ll have to arrange a tour in advance with the Skansen Kronan group.
Gothenburg Museum of Art or Volvo Museum
A solid way to round up your second day in Gothenburg (if you’re planning 3-day itinerary, day 3 will be spent outside of the city), is to head to one of the city’s varying museums. My suggestions are either the Gothenburg Museum of Art or the Volvo Museum.
The Gothenburg Museum of Art is located in the central Lorensberg neighborhood and is known to be one of the best collections of art in all of Sweden and Scandinavia. With international collections dating back to the 15th century and unique exhibitions, I think the Gothenburg Museum of Art is one of the best museums to visit in the city.
Tickets for a single entry are around 65 SEK and are free for students and those under 20 years. Opening hours vary depending on the day and time of year, so check in advance to plan your day.
One of Gothenburg’s biggest names and sources of fame is easily the home to Volvo cars. For car aficionados or those interested in a unique and integral part of Gothenburg, a visit to the Volvo Museum is a great option.
Here you’ll take a trip throughout the history of the Volvo name beginning in 1927, its cars and what makes the company how we know it today. Entry tickets are around 160 SEK with concession tickets available.
Again, the hours of the museum vary depending on the day and time of year so check the website to plan accordingly.
Day 3 – Gothenburg Archipelago
Gothenburg is located in a perfect location for both city-dwellers and nature lovers alike. While even in the city center you won’t find yourself far from green areas, the Gothenburg Archipelago lines the waters of Gothenburg and southwest Sweden. If your Gothenburg itinerary consists of 3 days in Gothenburg, a great way to end your trip is to head to the Gothenburg Archipelago.
The archipelago consists of 20 islands and is split into two groups; the Northern Archipelago and the Southern Archipelago. Both are incredibly beautiful and worth the visit but with just one day, I suggest heading to the Southern Archipelago.
The Southern Archipelago is closer and more accessible with public transport, whereas the Northern Archipelago is a bit more of a complicated journey. The islands are completely car-free and have such a relaxed and happy atmosphere that’ll make you want to spend more time on the islands.
You can easily reach the Southern Archipelago in around 30 minutes on public transportation and there are quite a few options when deciding which island to visit on your day trip.
Styrso is the main hub island of the southern islands and is a great contender for which island to visit. You’ll find cafes, restaurants, and quiet spots to swim while enjoying the warming Swedish sun.
Another option if you’re looking to be fully immersed in nature, is to visit Vargo. Vargo island is the furthest west island of the Southern Archipelago and is pure nature and peace. There are no restaurants or stores as Vargo is a nature reserve, so bring a blanket and picnic to feel the fresh sea breeze, take in the wildlife, and go for a swim.
Where to Stay in Gothenburg
Hotel Royal – Mid-range visitors to Gothenburg will love this centrally-located hotel. They have a number of lovely, clean and comfortable rooms to choose from and even offer a great breakfast to start your day each morning. Click here to see their availability
Hotel Pigalle – For those who’d like a luxury option in Sweden’s second city, this hotel is a great choice. There are a myriad of elegant rooms to choose from and countless great amenities to ensure your stay in Gothenburg is a fantastic one. Click here to see their availability
Slottskogens Hostel – If you’re traveling solo or on a tight budget, then this hostel is an excellent choice. They have a great location for exploring all Gothenburg has to offer and they offer both dorms and private rooms along with good self-catering facilities and common areas. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Gothenburg hotels!
Gothenburg isn’t the most popular destination in Sweden, but it’s easily one of the most dynamic. There’s something for everyone; whether you’re keen on history, culture, food, nature, or modern architecture.
After spending some time in Gothenburg, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for Sweden’s second-biggest city and will likely be waiting for another trip to explore the region further.
Are you planning to visit Gothenburg? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!