Often touted as Europe’s most sustainable destination, it’s no surprise that Gothenburg in Sweden has an extensive bus and tram system to get you where you need to be, with possibly the best app connected to it that I’ve ever used. And it’s not hollow talk – by 2030, the aim is for all of Gothenburg’s buses to be electric, leading to vastly reduced emissions and noise. As a tourist, you perhaps won’t have a car, or won’t want to use it, but the public transport infrastructure makes the city incredibly easy to navigate. I very much enjoy the freedom that comes with having a car in England, but I haven’t missed it one bit since being in Sweden (well, perhaps when I was in IKEA). Below, I’ll take you through all your options, from buses to boats.
Yes, you read that right. Boats!
- The Västtrafik app
- All about tickets
- Transport methods in Gothenburg
- Getting to and from Gothenburg Landvetter Airport
The Västtrafik app
First things first, I highly recommend downloading the Västtrafik app. All public transport stops in the city have maps on them, making it quite easy to figure out where you need to be, but to save time and really make journey planning on the fly (hehe) a breeze, the app is your friend! Let’s have a quick tour…
On the tabs at the bottom of the screen, you can toggle between your purchased tickets, options for new tickets, and travel planning windows. The journey planner will give you the various options for getting from A to B, showing travel time, live delays and which platform you need to use. The journey planner also tells you what ticket you need! So if you’re travelling through several zones, you won’t be caught out. The departures screen shows you the upcoming departures from any stop you choose, or you can set it to automatically show your closest.
All about tickets
Tickets are time based; you buy a ticket for a certain window and have unlimited use within that time. Zone A covers all of the city, so it’s unlikely you’ll need any other type, and a single ticket lasts for 90 minutes, but you can also buy many other options. Below is a table of ticket prices (zone A only) for the tickets best suited for short stays, to give you an idea of how much to budget for your trip – but you can also download the app and explore for yourself! For example, for a weekend trip, a 3-day ticket is ideal, because you get unlimited travel within that time and save money compared to buying three individual day-tickets.
|Ticket type||Adult price (SEK)||Youth price (SEK)|
And the best part – this ticket is valid on EVERYTHING! Yes, trams, trains, buses and ferries all fall under the same ticket. So while it may seem pricey at first, it’s the only purchase you’ll make, unless you cross into a new zone.
Buying the tickets on the app gives you a handy QR code, and that’s all you need. For travel-related questions, you can head to the various transport hubs – look for “Resecetrum”. See the map below for locations of Gothenburg travel centres, or click here for more information including opening hours. I’ve visited them before to ask questions about tickets and routes, and they’re very friendly and helpful
Transport methods in Gothenburg
So, you’ve downloaded the app, bought your ticket, and have planned your route. The only thing left is to hop on! The transport itself is always punctual, and fitted with trackers so you are never left guessing when your bus will arrive. All the stops have screens with real time updates, and usually a little icon to signal that the bus or tram is wheelchair accessible.
Trams in Gothenburg
Super speedy and reliable, Gothenburg’s iconic blue and cream trams are hardly ever delayed or cancelled. In my experience, they’re my default method for getting around the city. If you keep an eye out, you’ll spot the older and newer models. The older ones even have a wire above the windows that functions as the “stop” button! Screens and announcements inside tell you exactly where you are. Generally, they pause at every stop regardless of whether someone inside or outside has requested it, but late at night they might skip you stop if you don’t press the button. You don’t need to show a ticket anywhere unless asked by ticket control, who occasionally patrol the trams. And you can buy a ticket on machines on the tram, although you’ll pay a small bit extra.
While less speedy, the buses are also reliable – they are more prone to delays, but I can’t imagine schoolkids here ever have to run home and beg for a lift when the bus doesn’t show up. Like the trams, screens and announcements inside tell you which stop you’re approaching so you can press the button in plenty of time. Generally you get on at the front and scan the QR code on the ticket near a glass screen next to the driver, but sometimes you can use the doors further down the bus. You won’t be able to buy a ticket on board, however, as the drivers don’t take payments in order to keep everything running on time.
Trains in Gothenburg
Again, they’re fast and reliable. I use them less because they aren’t really what you need to travelling around the city, but they can get you to many day trips, such as Alingsas, for the autumn light show. Like the trams, you don’t need to show a ticket unless asked. If you’re looking to travel further afield, search “Sweden trains” online or on the app store. In the station you shoould be able to find ticket machines and staff members should you need assistance.
The Gothenburg ferry network
The most exciting part! If you find an island you want to visit (and I highly recommend that you do), Västtrafik will tell you which route is best. You can catch a ferry from Stenpiren, or more likely (for the southern islands), Saltholmen, which requires the number 11 tram. If you’re heading to the northern islands, you’ll need a bus to Lilla Varholmen, most likely the Röd. Then, as if you’re at a bus station, just find the boat you need and hop on! Again, there’s no need to scan a ticket anywhere, just show it if you’re asked to. Even just a round boat trip with minimal island exploration is a fun day out – and it feels free if you’ve already bought the ticket. It would be a great rainy day activity if you want to get out about about but still avoid the weather.
The ferries to the southern archipelago are white and blue and enclosed, with rows of seats inside (sometimes even a place to buy sandwiches!) and access to the open deck. In contrast, the boats to the northern archipelago are bright yellow car ferries, with a large open deck and a small corridor of seating for pedestrians.
Not only are the islands worth a visit, but you may want to catch a ferry from one side of the river to the other, from Stenpiren to Lindholmen – although over on that side is mostly a science park and technical campuses, so there’s slightly less for tourists to do. These journeys are frequent and take about five minutes on the 285 and 286 ferries. Those with green tickets are free commuter ferries, while those with orange ferries require a Västtrafik ticket.
Getting to and from Gothenburg Landvetter Airport
The airport is situated some eleven miles from the city, and isn’t tricky to get to. With a zone A and B ticket, you might be able to get there on public transport – simply search for Landvetter Flygplats in the app and you should be directed towards the Röd bus, then the 612, although the second bus requires pre-booking. You can find more information in the app or by talking to the Resecentrum. This option takes between forty minutes to an hour, and costs 70 SEK for the AB ticket.
The easier option is to buy a ticket from Flygbussarna, who operate airport transfer buses which will bring you directly to the city, and vice versa. You can find the bus stop and ticket machines just outside of the airport exit. Tickets are approximately 119 SEK (12 euros ish) for a single trip, or 189 SEK for a return trip (around 19 euros). In the city, the bus stops at Berzeliigatan, Korsvägen, Kungsportsplatsen and the Nils Ericson Terminal (at Central Station), and you choose which stop when buying your ticket, which you can do at the machines or in the app. This journey is closer to half an hour.
Other transport types
Honestly, many parts of the city are within walking distance, so if you want to do a full day of sightseeing that’s quite possible. Walking between attractions is doable; although it is much more tiring and time consuming, it is free! There are also very good cycle paths which allow you to get around the city almost exclusively off-road, but there might be sections where paths run out and you have to use the road. Styr och Ställ operate several banks of hire bikes which also have an attached app, and Cykelstaden provides cycling maps of the city. That said, the bikes are slightly less user friendly, in my opinion, just because there might not be a bike stand in a convenient location. But still, it’ve lovely to be in a city with good cycling infrastructure.
And there you have it! A comprehensive guide to Gothenburg city’s transport. The system of public transport really is very easy to use, and even though it’s perhaps a bit pricey (in my opinion anyway – perhaps you think differently) it does deliver value for money. In one day I could easily get on half a dozen trams, and for a day out, the islands are just brilliant. I’m fairly certain you’ll find the transport very straightforward if you visit Gothenburg, and it will really enhance your stay. If you have any questions about getting around, drop them in a comment, and perhaps I can help you out!