Welcome to a comprehensive Sweden travel guide! From its vibrant cities to its pristine landscapes, this guide is your key to experiencing the Nordic charm, cultural richness, and culinary delights that Sweden offers.
Fast Facts About Sweden
- Climate: Sweden experiences a varied climate, with cold winters and mild summers. Northern regions have subarctic climates, while southern areas enjoy temperate conditions.
- Local Currency: The currency used is the Swedish Krona (SEK). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, but carrying some cash for smaller transactions is recommended.
- Power Voltage: The standard voltage is 230V, and the plugs are of the Europlug Type C variety. Don’t forget to bring a universal adapter to charge your devices.
- Language: The official language is Swedish. While many Swedes speak English fluently, learning a few basic Swedish phrases can enhance your experience.
- Religion: The majority of Swedes are non-religious or Lutheran Christians. Religious practices are generally private, and visitors are encouraged to respect local customs.
- Safety: Sweden is known for its safety. Violent crime rates are low, but normal precautions should still be taken. Keep belongings secure, especially in crowded areas.
- Cultural Etiquette: Swedes value personal space and privacy. Greetings are typically brief, and maintaining eye contact while toasting is customary. Remove shoes when entering homes.
- Tipping: Tipping isn’t mandatory, as service charges are often included in bills. However, rounding up the bill or leaving a small tip is appreciated.
Best Time to Visit Sweden: Seasons and Festivals
- Summer (June – August): Experience the midnight sun in the northern regions, where days are long and temperatures are pleasant. Midsommar celebrations in June are a highlight.
- Autumn (September – November): Witness the stunning fall foliage and enjoy fewer crowds. The Stockholm International Film Festival takes place in November.
- Winter (December – February): Embrace the magic of Swedish winters with activities like ice skating and winter sports. The Skansen Christmas Market in December is a festive treat.
- Spring (March – May): As the snow melts, witness the rebirth of nature. Easter celebrations in April and Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis Night) in April are culturally significant.
Top Attractions and Things to See and Do in Sweden
- Stockholm: Immerse yourself in the beauty of Sweden’s capital city. Explore the historic Gamla Stan, visit the Vasa Museum, and stroll along the scenic waterfront.
- Icehotel: Experience a truly unique stay at the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi. Marvel at the ice sculptures and sleep in rooms made entirely of ice and snow.
- Northern Lights: Chase the mesmerizing Northern Lights in northern Sweden. Witness the ethereal dance of colors illuminating the Arctic skies.
- Gothenburg: Discover the charming coastal city of Gothenburg. Wander through Liseberg amusement park, explore the Gothenburg Archipelago, and savor fresh seafood.
- Kiruna: Journey to Kiruna for a chance to witness the iconic Icehotel and experience dog sledding and snowmobile adventures in the pristine Arctic landscape.
- Visby: Step back in time in the medieval town of Visby on Gotland Island. Walk along cobblestone streets, explore medieval ruins, and soak in the history.
- Swedish Lapland: Embark on a husky safari, go snowshoeing, or enjoy the thrill of ice fishing in the stunning landscapes of Swedish Lapland.
The Best Ways To Get Around Sweden
- Train: Sweden boasts an efficient and well-connected train system. The SJ high-speed trains make traveling between major cities comfortable and scenic.
- Flygskam (Flight Shame): Consider eco-friendly alternatives to domestic flights, such as trains or buses, to reduce your carbon footprint while exploring Sweden.
- Public Transportation: Utilize buses, trams, and subways in cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg. The SL Access card in Stockholm offers convenient access to public transit.
- Car Rentals: For remote areas and scenic drives, renting a car provides flexibility. Remember that driving in Sweden is on the right side of the road.
- Biking: Embrace Sweden’s bike-friendly culture by renting a bike to explore cities and countryside at your own pace. Many cities have dedicated bike lanes.
Accommodation Tips: Sweden
- Hotel Variety: Sweden offers a range of accommodation options, from modern hotels to charming guesthouses and boutique lodges. Choose accommodations that align with your preferences and budget.
- Unique Stays: Consider memorable experiences such as staying in a traditional Swedish cottage, a cozy cabin, or even a treehouse for a touch of Nordic charm.
- Booking in Advance: During peak seasons, it’s wise to book accommodations in advance, especially in popular tourist areas. Reliable online platforms like Booking.com or Expedia can help secure your stay.
- Hostels: If you’re a budget traveler, hostels are a great choice. They provide a sociable atmosphere and are often located in prime areas.
- Airbnb: Explore Airbnb listings for unique stays and local insights. Renting an apartment or house can offer a more immersive experience in Sweden’s neighborhoods.
Sweden Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
- Free Museums: Make the most of free entry to many museums and attractions. The Swedish History Museum and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm offer free admission.
- Cafeteria Dining: Opt for cafeteria-style dining in restaurants and university campuses for affordable and filling meals. The quality is high, and the price is right.
- City Cards: Investigate city cards like the Stockholm Pass or the Gothenburg Pass that offer access to multiple attractions and public transportation at discounted rates.
- Public Transportation: Utilize public transportation to save money. Sweden’s efficient networks of buses, trams, and trains make it easy to explore without breaking the bank.
- Picnics: Purchase fresh produce from local markets and create your own picnic. Enjoying a meal outdoors can be cost-effective and a pleasant way to savor local flavors.
Culinary Delights and Traditional Cuisine in Sweden
- Smörgåsbord: Delight in a traditional Swedish buffet featuring a variety of dishes, from herring to meatballs and scrumptious desserts.
- Kanelbullar: Indulge in kanelbullar, delectable cinnamon buns enjoyed with coffee. They’re a staple in Swedish bakeries and cafes.
- Surströmming: For the adventurous eater, try surströmming, fermented herring known for its pungent aroma and unique taste.
- Lingonberries: Sample lingonberry jam, a popular accompaniment to Swedish dishes. Its tangy sweetness adds a burst of flavor.
- Fika: Experience the Swedish tradition of fika, a coffee break accompanied by pastries. It’s a cultural moment to relax and socialize.
Souvenir Ideas: Bringing a Piece of Sweden Home
- Dala Horse: A traditional carved wooden horse known as a Dala horse makes for an iconic Swedish souvenir.
- Swedish Design: Consider bringing home Scandinavian design pieces, whether it’s glassware, textiles, or home accessories.
- Local Treats: Pack Swedish sweets like Marabou chocolate, salty licorice, and knäckebröd (crispbread) to share the flavors of Sweden.
- Swedish Cosmetics: Explore skincare and beauty products from Swedish brands known for their quality and natural ingredients.
- Swedish Crafts: Seek out handmade crafts like woolen mittens, Viking-inspired jewelry, and ceramics that reflect Swedish heritage.