Sweden doesn’t exactly have a reputation as being a great place for the young and broke. But Gothenburg, the country’s second biggest city, may just surprise you. It was recently crowned most social city in the world, ahead of heavyweights such as New York, Barcelona and Berlin. Yep, Gothenburg might just be the coolest European city you’ve never heard of, so make sure to check out all the best bars, coffee shops, museums and more in our Gothenburg travel guide.
To help you get the most out of your visit and avoid the tourist traps, here’s our guide to the best of Gothenburg on a shoestring – whether you’re looking for a cheap beer, vintage bargains, free things to do or the city’s best restaurants for under £10.
The Best of Gothenburg’s Independent Coffee Shops
Not knowing where to get a decent coffee in a strange city is one of the biggest headaches when you travel (can somebody please develop an app with all the best coffee shops in the world on it? Thanks!) But fear not, we’ve got your Gothenburg coffee needs sorted! Here are a few of our favourite independent coffee shops.
If you love good coffee, industrial chic interiors and lovely Swedish hipsters with Macbooks then Kafé Magasinet is the café for you. The food is amazing too so this one’s a great shout for a slow brunch in Gothenburg.
This is the place to come for seriously impressive latte art and people watching. Alkemisten Kaffebar is undoubtedly one of Gothenburg’s best independent coffee shops.
Cosy terrace, friendly staff and the prettiest matcha lattes in Gothenburg. At Kale’i Kaffebar you can even take a barista course, which is a great way to meet locals and other travellers.
One of Gothenburg’s trendiest spots at any time of day, Bar Centro serves a mean espresso by day before transforming into a hip bar at night.
Where To Party In Gothenburg On A Budget
Bengans Record Store
When it comes to partying, Sweden has the potential to ruin you – and not in a good way. We’ve all got that one mate who was charged £12 for half a pint of lager. But do your research and you’ll discover Gothenburg has some amazing and cheap nightlife… and what’s more, the locals really know how to let their hair down 💃
Bengans Record Store
Love vinyl and gorgeous neon signs? Then this former cinema turned record store is the only address you need for your night-time escapades in Gothenburg. With weekly concerts, album releases, movie nights, and a bar/café, Bengans knows how to keep you entertained all night long.
The best all-round place to party in Gothenburg – and at just £2 entry it’s also the cheapest club in the city (#winning). Located on Jarntorget square, Pustervik has a number of dance floors and bar areas for you to explore. Insider tip: Monday’s parties kick off with a giant ping pong tournament on the main dancefloor.
Way Out West Festival
Okay, with tickets priced at £126 this isn’t strictly a budget tip, but Way Out West Festival offers great value for money. The line-up never disappoints (this year’s headliners include Lana Del Rey and Frank Ocean) and the festival is one of the most eco-friendly in the world, so you know the veggie food is going to be amazing. The ticket price goes up every month as the festival draws nearer, so be sure to plan this one in advance!
Although that would make a great name for a bar, this is actually a more general tip to let you know that Gothenburg has beautiful canals and that drinking alcohol outdoors is rarely monitored. Cheers!
This one is actually an entire street in downtown Gothenburg, full of more than 30 amazing cheap bars and restaurants. The area attracts a predominantly young, student crowd and is a great place to head for if you prefer to go with the flow without falling into a tourist trap. You can’t really go wrong on this street, but here are a few of our highlights:
Hops – featuring cheap beer (£20/pint), relaxed hipster décor, great music and cosy vibes.
The Kings Head – modelled on a traditional British pub, The Kings Head offers the cheapest beer in town (£3/pint). The friendly English-speaking staff from Ireland, Australia and England go out of their way to help you have a good time. This one’s particularly recommended if you’re a fan of rock music.
StreetLife – perfect for an old school night out on a budget, and with amazing cocktails starting at just £4 you can’t go wrong. The ‘50s themed décor and playlists featuring Elvis, Lil’ Richard, Chuck Berry and The Beach Boys are guaranteed to get you in the party mood.
Best Restaurants In Gothenburg For Under £10
Wakal Street Food
Yep, it’s more than possible to eat out in Gothenburg for under £10. The city has an amazing foodie scene, and you’ll find delicious vegan and veggie options on most menus. Here’s our guide to the best cheap restaurants in Gothenburg.
Wakal Street Food
One of Gothenburg’s best food trucks by a mile, Wakal Street Food serves up amazing and healthy Mexican fare at very reasonable prices. Order the vegan “La Tasa” and for just £7.50 you’ll get a huge portion of quinoa, beans, guacamole, sprouts, pico de gallo and chipotle salsa. They close when it gets really cold, so always check their website before you go.
Mentioned above for its AMAZING coffee, Kafé Magasinet also does a mean brunch. Try the “big breakfast” which includes coffee, a sandwich, egg, granola, juice and yoghurt all for just £8.
Bönor & bagels
Fresh bagels jam-packed with all the good things? Yes please! Bönor & Bagels are one of the best cheap restaurants in Gothenburg for a simple yet filling lunch, with prices starting from about £80-. We recommend the parma ham, goat’s cheese, red onion and honey.
On Andra Langgatan aka beer nirvana you’ll find a Gothenburg institution called Kelly’s Pub. Every Sunday they serve pizza, including their very own vegan collection, and for as little as£7 pounds you’ll get a large pizza and a “Stor Stark” (0.4 litre beer).
If you love Indian food, you’ll love Tre Indier. For insanely good value, opt for the lunch deal where you can pick one of two very generous take away dishes for £6 – enjoy al fresco, or take back to the hostel to make your new friends jealous.
The Best Parks in Gothenburg
One of the reasons Gothenburgers are so happy and friendly is their amazing quality of life – there’s so much green space, beautiful canals and stunning views. Here are some of the best places to relax in Gothenburg.
Palmhuset 📸 @hiimmimib
Located right in the city centre, Trädgårdsföreningen aka The Garden Society of Gothenburg is one of the most magnificent city parks in Europe. Don’t miss the gorgeous rose gardens in the summer, and the stunning Palmhuset aka Palm House (pictured above) which was modelled on the sadly demised crystal palace in London. And the best bit? It’s completely free to enter.
Located between the two areas Majorna and Linnéstaden, this 140 hectare forest park is the place to relax with a beer and some friends in the summer. Insider tip: there are two outdoor gyms in the park, close to the playground Plikta, to help you stay in shape on your travels – and they’re completely free to use. The park is also the location for Way Out West Festival.
Gothenburg Botanical Garden
Located next door to Slottskogen, this is one of Europe’s biggest botanical gardens. It’s completely free to enter, although entry to the greenhouse costs £1.80 – but it’s worth it for the a-mazing pics you’ll snap inside (#succulents). The best time to visit Gothenburg Botanical Garden is in the spring for the cherry blossom.
This floating pool is probably the best free thing to do in Gothenburg and a great place to hang out with the locals in the summer. The Jubileumsparken is also home to urban gardening,open-air roller derby, a free sauna, and much more planned for the future.
Röda Sten is located by the river Gota Alv in the Majorna neighbourhood and boasts possibly the greatest sunset in Europe stretching out towards the estuary. The views can be experienced from the hills, by the wharf or while enjoying After Work aka Happy Hour at Röda Sten Art Hall.
In the summer, the city’s student population hang out by the cliffs to enjoy the wonderful panoramic view, sharing some beer and BBQ. Insider tip: the views are equally exceptional during a crispy winter and you’ll probably have the place to yourself.
On top of the steep Skansberget (“Fortress Hill”) lies Skansen Kronan, a magnificent fortress from the 17th century. Here you’ll experience a neat contrast of history and a 360 degree city view. Every summer there’s an event known as Genesis Ambient Project, gathering hundreds of people by the fortress. This is one of the best spots in the whole city and I recommend hiking up the mountainside for an unequaled sunset.
Other stunning nature reserves near the city centre include Delsjon, Vattlefjall, Ruddalen & Safjall (you can rent a canoe at the first two for £25-30/day) and for more great views check out Snikens Kulle, Guldheden Water Tower, Landalabergen and Alvsborg Bridge.
Vintage shopping in Gothenburg
Pop Boutique 📸 @goagoteborg
Despite its fair share of trendy Scandi designer stores, shopping in Gothenburg doesn’t have to be expensive. You can easily pick up some stylish second hand pieces in great condition for under £10, here’s our pick of the best vintage shops in Gothenburg.
This is Gothenburg’s biggest vintage shop and a great spot if you’ve got plenty of time to rummage for a gem. You’ll find homewares and other knick knacks alongside clothes from almost every decade at Myrorna, at prices that will surprise you. You can pick up a whole new outfit for under £10!
This chain of charity shops has two shops in Gothenburg and the best bit is that when you buy from them, you know your money is doing good. Prices vary here, but you’ll definitely find some pieces at Emmaus below the £10 mark.
This store in downtown Gothenburg is smaller and more curated than the two tips mentioned above, with a focus on pop-culture mostly from the ‘50s to ‘ You’ll find big brands as well as independent labels amongst the rails at Pop Boutique (pictured above) and prices lie in the region of £20-£40 for all clothing.
Art and Museums in Gothenburg
Röda Sten Art Hall
As one of the largest shipping hubs in Europe during the 20th century, wealthy Gothenburg had a lot of money to invest in its art and museum scene, which is pretty impressive for a city of its size. The best
Gothenburg Museum of Art
Located on the stunning Gotaplatsen Square, this five-storey Neo-Classical beauty is worth a visit for the building alone! The Gothenburg Museum of Art boasts one of the best collections of Nordic art in the world, with works from the likes of Edvard Munch and Carl Larsson. The museum also houses many international works from 17th century Baroque to early modern art.
On the ground floor, you’ll find the Hasselblad Centre, dedicated to photography. The centre hosts some of the world’s greatest photographers and has to charge an admission fee – but at just £50 (or completely free if you’re under 25) it’s still one of the best things to do in Gothenburg.
Röda Sten Art Hall
Dedicated to contemporary art, this non-profit gallery is a great place to meet other people and talk about art in an unpretentious setting, and you can even practise your street art skills. Röda Sten Art Hall (pictured above) is located in the old boiler house underneath one of the city’s most beautiful bridges.
The Maritime Museum & Aquarium
Part aquarium, part historical museum – this fascinating museum will teach you about biology, local shipping history and Swedish Imperial history all in one. Entry to Gothenburg’s Maritime Museum & Aquarium is just £4, or free if you’re under 25.
Where to stay in Gothenburg on a budget
The easiest way to save money on your trip to Gothenburg is by staying in a hostel – not only is a dorm in a bed, or even a private room, usually cheaper than other types of budget accommodation but you’ll also get to meet other travellers who are always a mine of tips to help you avoid the tourist traps.
STF Göteborg City Hotel and Hostel 📸 @code._.west
Dorms from: £17.50
Privates from: £35
The Cheapest Way to get around Gothenburg
Walk! It’s the best way to get to know a new city, and you’ll end up stumbling upon amazing hidden gems and seeing a less touristy side to the city. If you don’t have much time, check out the city’s official bike sharing system, “Styr & Stall”. You get the first half hour free of every trip free and then you’ll be debited £1 for the second half hour (then 2 pounds for the third and after that 4 pounds for every half hour). You can also combine it with your Vasttrafik public transport card, and get a whole season (31 March-31 December), for just £7.
Got a hot tip for Gothenburg on a budget? Share it with our travel community in the comments below 👇👇👇
About the author
Kare is a photographer and Gothenburg native who is in love with travel. Follow his adventures over on his Instagram @code._.west.