Known as the “gateway to northern Europe,” Gothenburg has a reputation of being a boring industrial hub. Now, it has reinvented itself as a cultural center with youthful metropolis. If you’ve been to Sweden before and would like to explore the country beyond the usual Stockholm basics, then a visit to Gothenburg will be a great addition to your trip. It’s a long way to come for just 3 days, but if that’s all you can spare, then this 3-day suggested itinerary will be very useful. There are of course numerous other destinations in this city so you might want to mix and match the suggestions below to create your own itinerary.
Things to know before traveling to Sweden:
Language – Swedish is the official language of Sweden. Most Swedes in the city and other main tourists’ destinations, speak English so you can absolutely get by without speaking the Swedish language. Like other countries in the world, speaking at least some Swedish phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals. Out of courtesy you could always begin with “Hej, pratar du engelska?” meaning “Hi, do you speak English?”
Etiquette – Most Swedes don’t like vulgar and loud people. As a visitor, you are expected to behave politely and dress appropriately. If you get introduced to new people or during business meetings – ensure an eye contact with a firm handshake with all attendees. Do not forget to say “Please” and “Thank you” when out and about.
Currency Exchange – The official unit of currency in Sweden is Swedish krona. Exchanging money in Stockholm is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Europe. Currency can be exchanged at the banks, money exchange counters around the city and airports. Most major establishments like hotels and restaurants in major tourist and business destinations accept credit cards. The best way to get local currency is to use ATMs, which are widely available in Gothenburg and other major cities.
Transportation – Getting around Gothenburg and the rest of Sweden is fairly easy. The city is quite compact so visitors can easily explore its tourist attractions on foot. If you are short on time and want to squeeze in many attractions in 3 days, then purchase the Göteborg City Card, which provides unlimited travel to all transportation networks in Gothenburg including buses, trams and boats. This card can be purchased at any Pressbyrån (a Swedish convenience store), 7-eleven kiosks, city’s tourist centers and the airport. You can also bike on your own or join one of the guided biking tours offered in the city. Do not forget to download Reseplaneraren (Travel Planner), which is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. This app helps you look up routes and schedules of buses, trams and boats.
Accommodation – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Gothenburg from luxury hotels to cheaper accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfasts. There are also plenty of apartment rentals if you prefer the comfort and convenience of having your own place with cooking facilities. If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary, we recommend accommodation options available in the city center to get easy access to most tourist attractions and dining options.
Where to stay in Gothenburg:
Detailed itinerary: Best of Gothenburg, Sweden in 3 days
On your first day, take in a few of Gothernburg’ most famous attractions and get an introduction to its rich history. Getting to Gothenburg from major Swedish cities like Stockholm is easy. Its excellent infrastructures and location make it a place easy to reach by various transportation options. By train, the average travel time between Stockholm and Gothenburg is approximately 3 hours.
Upon arrival at the central station, check into your chosen accommodation and get your bike at Styr & Ställ, Gothenburg’s handy public biking rental program. Biking in the city is an extremely popular activity among locals and tourists as it has several physical advantages. It is also a great way to see the city without spending too much money on transportation.
There’s no better way to get acquainted with the city than taking a waterside city tour (“paddan boats”) of the 17th century canals and moats of the city. While on board, your guide will talk about the city’s rich history and you will be introduced to some of the sights in the city like the Opera House, the old ship yard docks along the harbor and Feskekörka (fish market). For lunch, head to Feskekörka to enjoy a tasty and well-cooked sea food lunch. After lunch, come to grips with Gothenburg’s history by doing a self-guided tour of the Gothenburg Museum of Art. After your museum tour, make your way back to your hotel and get a good night sleep so you have energy for a whole day of adventure the next day.
On the morning of Day 2, get set to experience the glories of Gothenburg. Start by grabbing some breakfast at Haga, one of the charming neighborhoods in the city packed with quirky cafes and restaurants. A typical breakfast in Sweden is a simple combination of strong espresso and an open-faced sandwich. Oatmeal topped with fresh fruits, boiled eggs and cereals are also some of the well-known Swedish breakfast options.
If you are traveling with kids, a visit to Liseburg is a must. This amusement park is the largest in Scandinavia and offers attractions for everyone. You can try the best wooden roller coaster and fastest roller coaster in Scandinavia. You may also take a nice morning stroll along the Botanical Garden or the Garden Society of Gothenburg. In the afternoon, join a Matvandringen (Food walk Gothenburg), a 3 hour walk that will introduce you through the city’s food classics.
Your final day in the city can be spent on last-minute shopping and seeing those Gothenburg attractions that you haven’t yet had time for. You may also dedicate this day to Marstrand, an idyllic seaside metropolis of the west coast. Also, not to be missed is the Archipelago of Gothenburg. This exhilarating boat journey will take you past some of Gothenburg’s most magnificent landscapes, charming villages and stunning beaches. Head back to your hotel, then to the central station, or you may opt to continue traveling independently in Gothenburg.
This is the end of our 3-day suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form, the only way to travel Sweden. There are several alternative routes of travel within the area and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Gothenburg!
Have you been to Gothenburg or anywhere else in Sweden? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Entrance of the Universeum museum in Gothenburg, Sweden (RPBaiao / Shutterstock.com)