It’s one of the most-travelled routes in the country, linking the Swedish capital with the west coast’s biggest city.
But the trip between Stockholm and Gothenburg isn’t exactly short – the total distance is a butt-numbing 400km. So: if you’re going to do this journey, allow yourself a bit of time.
There are loads of different options for making the trip, from taking a cheap bus ride to hopping on a domestic flight.
Some of these methods are quicker than others, but they all make it possible to have breakfast by the Baltic Sea and eat dinner in the Gothenburg Archipelago (or vice versa).
Trying to visit Gothenburg on a day trip from Stockholm isn’t really the best idea; you’ll spend as much time travelling as you will enjoying the city.
That said, people do make the journey for business trips, and if you’re really keen there’s nothing to stop you leaving Stockholm at the crack of dawn and returning back late at night.
Ready to set off? Here are the different options you can choose from – we’ve assumed you’re travelling from Stockholm to Gothenburg, but the instructions will also work if you’re heading in the opposite direction.
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Going by train
If you’re travelling from central Stockholm to central Gothenburg, the fastest overland option is the train. Non-stop services can complete the entire journey in just three hours. Quick, eh?
And it’s not even that expensive – if you can book in advance and avoid busier times, tickets for the quickest services cost around 190 SEK each way in standard class.
However, if you book last-minute and want to travel at peak time, you can pay up to about 600 SEK.
So, our advice is to be flexible and book as early as possible – there’s more advice on bagging a good price here.
The fastest trains are run by SJ trains, but there are also trains run by MTR Express, which take a little longer (3 hours, 20 minutes). MTR trains are sometimes cheaper, though not always.
Note that SJ also runs stopping services that can take up to around five hours, so check that you’re booking the non-stop service if you want a faster trip.
The Omio website lists departures and prices for both companies in English, so you can easily compare prices, and allows you to book online.
All trains leave from Stockholm’s main train station and arrive at Göteborgs Centralstation, right in the centre of Gothenburg.
The high-speed, non-stop services have comfy seats and free wifi, as well as a bistro serving snacks, alcohol and soft drinks.
Note that on high-speed trains between Stockholm and Gothenburg, you will need a seat reservation. These are not always included in the ticket price, but if you book through Omio a seat reservation will be added automatically.
Journey time: 3–5 hours
Approximate cost: 190–1000 SEK
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Taking the bus
If your primary objective is to get to Gothenburg as cheaply as possible (and you’d rather avoid hitchhiking) then taking the bus is an option.
However, if you are booking in advance and travelling off-peak it’s unlikely to be much cheaper than the train.
At busy times and if you’re booking last-minute tickets may cost less than the train, but bear in mind that the journey is about twice as long!
There are two private companies running buses between Stockholm and Gothenburg. Vy bus4you has between five and nine departures per day and offers free onboard wifi and decent legroom.
If you’re flexible with your dates and times, you should be able to get a one-way ticket for about 300 SEK.
Rival firm Flixbus runs fewer services a day, but fares tend to be cheaper, starting at around 200 SEK each way.
You can expect the journey with both companies to take between six and seven hours, depending on the time of day and traffic.
Arriving in Gothenburg, the buses stop at Nils Ericson Terminalen, right in the city centre.
Journey time: 6–7 hours
Approximate cost: 200–500 SEK
Flying from Stockholm to Gothenburg
There are direct flights between Stockholm and Gothenburg every day of the week.
Whichever option you go for, you’ll land at Gothenburg Landvetter. The actual flying time is around an hour and prices can be surprisingly low, with one-way tickets from around 160 SEK.
Just bear in mind that, even if you find a cheap fare, you’re going to have to get yourself to or from the airports in Gothenburg and Stockholm, which can take a while and cost quite a lot.
Once you’ve factored in the journey time and cost of getting to and from the airports, it’s unlikely that flying will be any cheaper or quicker than getting the train, if you’re travelling from city centre to city centre.
Driving the whole way
It’s a long old drive between Stockholm and Gothenburg. You should allow around six hours for the journey – more if the weather is bad or if you want to have a quick stop along the way.
The roads are toll-free and there’s some good scenery along the way, including plenty of lakes and forests.
The quickest option is usually to travel via Norrköping, Linköping and Jönköping, but you can also go via Örebro and Mariestad, passing Lake Vänern on the way.
Driving can also be a cheap option, especially if you’ve got carful of adults who can share the rental and fuel costs.
Journey time: around 6 hours
The canal between Stockholm and Gothenburg
Got a few days to spare? Like… four full days? If so, you can travel from Stockholm to Gothenburg in the style of a proper 1800s adventurer.
The scenic Göta Canal cuts right across southern Sweden and from May to August each year you can travel along it on a scenic four-day sightseeing cruise.
Accommodation and all meals are included in the (very pricey) ticket cost. But if you’re a fan of slow travel this can be a fun way of seeing the countryside between each city.
Journey time: 4 days
Approximate cost: From 18,500 SEK
Breaking the journey
Usually the quickest route between Stockholm and Gothenburg is along the E4 and E40, which takes around five and a half hours non-stop.
Alternatively, you can take the northern route via the E18 and E20, which is a similar length but takes about 30 minutes longer.
The southern route
If you opt for southern route, the two most obvious places to break the journey are at Linköping (two and a half hours from Stockholm) and Jönköping (about four hours from Stockholm).
A large univeristy city, Linköping has a lively city square, the Stora Torget, Sweden’s best-preserved medieval cathedral and one of the country’s most popular museums, the open-air Gamla Linköping, with its pretty wooden buildings and cobbled streets.
If you only stop once, however, we suggest Jönköping on the southern shores of Lake Vättern. With its ancient medieval trading centre, long sandy lake beach and around twenty churches to explore, it’s known as the “Jerusalem of Sweden”.
If you want to stay overnight in Linköping, we like the comfortable and characterful Hilma Winblads Bed & Breakfast in a wooden cottage in the Gamla Linköping old town.
And our top choice in Jönköping is the Elite Stora Hotellet in a grand nineteenth-century building overlooking Lake Vättern.
The northern route
If don’t mind a slightly longer journey, we recommend taking the northern route and stopping off at Örebro and Mariestad.
About two hours, fifteen minutes from Stockholm, the historic town of Örebro makes a good first stop.
You can explore its 14th-century castle, and wander around the 17th-century red, wooden houses in the city’s old town of Wadköping.
A further ninety minutes takes you to the small town of Mariestad on the shores of Sweden’s largest lake Vänern. It’s got a well-preserved old town, the Gamla Stan, with pretty wooden houses and cobbled streets centred around the large Gothic cathedral.
If you want to stay overnight, we like the Elite Stora Hotellet in Örebro with great views over the river Svarta and the castle. And in Mariestad, we recommend the good-value STF hostel in a series of converted red wooden cottages in the centre of the town.
What is the best way to get from Stockholm to Gothenburg?
So, what is the way to travel between Sweden’s capital and its second city? We’ve complied a useful table of the pros and cons of the different ways to get from Stockholm to Gothenburg.
|Can be cheap
|Long journey time
|Cheap, quick and green
|Flexible, cheap and you can stop off where you want
|Long journey time
|Expensive and bad for the environment
|By canal boat
Driving is probably the most flexible option, although if you’re travelling solo or with just one other person, it’s not necessarily that cheap once you’ve factored in car rental and fuel costs.
Flying is unlikely to be much quicker or cheaper than the train, particularly if you’re travelling from city centre to city centre and, of course, it’s very bad for the environment to fly on such a short, domestic route.
The bus and train cost about the same if you book well in advance and travel off-peak, so we think the train wins hands-down.
It’s twice as quick as the bus, it’s cheap, there are plenty of departures a day from city centre to city centre and it’s an enviromentally-friendly choice.