One of the most equal societies in the world, Sweden boasts pristine nature, island beaches, indigenous people and short but intense summers. Not a destination for budget travelers, visitors will non-the-less be rewarded with lovely coastal areas, plenty of activities, the proverbial ‘blonde Swede’ and lots of meatballs.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Summer nights in Stockholm, midnight sun, boating on Göta Canal, roaming elks, the right to set up camp on private property, tall blonde girls, everyone speaks English, lots of snow, great skiing, summers, public transport, island capital and everything’s clean.
What’s Not: Expensive alcohol and weird laws related to its consumption, long dark winters, blood pudding, cold winters, reserved people, accidents with elks, parking in Stockholm, drunks, low speed limits and marauding youth in cabriolets.
When to Go
Sweden is generally cold with four distinct seasons.
Spring (April to May) still sees some snow on the ground.
Summer (June to August) sees the country comes alive, but is way too short.
Autumn (September to November) is cold with shorter days.
Winter (December to March) can be depressing, but is great for winter sports.
Getting There & Away
Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport is the main flight hub. Domestic flights are relatively cheap, while the excellent railway network is concentrated in the south. Ferries travel to the islands off Stockholm as well as Gotland and Öland. The road network is well maintained and bus travel is cheap and well-organized. Public transport within cities and towns is efficient, comprehensive and well integrated and the Stockholm underground is known for its arty stations.
Health & Safety
Sweden is a very safe place to travel with a low crime rate, but watch out for drunken youth on weekend nights. When driving, marauding moose are known to put a sudden end to your trip. Tap water is fine to drink. The cold may get to you in winter, so be sure to bring some thermal underwear.
Food & Hospitality
The unique ‘Every Man’s Right’ law allows anyone to set up camp on anyone’s fallow property for one night. Bring a can of spaghetti and meatballs, and you’re self-sufficient. Save your crowns for a gourmet meal of cured salmon as part of a smorgasbord. Good quality first class and mid-range hotels can found in every Swedish town. They are mainly private, but often operated by hotel groups.
One week is the least you can get away with to enjoy some of the highlights.
Three or four days to see the capital and its outlying islands.
Two days in Gothenburg, with its strong seafaring traditions.
Two days in Småland to see the famous glassmaking factories.
A week to visit Gotland and Öland islands and their beaches and medieval and Viking heritage.
Four or five days in northern Lapland to see Sami art and culture.
A week in the Lakeland region, with huge lakes, plains, meadows and huge areas of wild natural scenery.
Old Town in Stockholm: with well-preserved historic buildings lining cobbled streets.
Vasa and Skansen Open-Air museums: with a famous Viking ship, lots of animals and Swedish handicraft.
Gothenburg: has lots of interesting museums and canals.
Malmö: offers plenty of parks, gardens, town squares and a beautiful beach.
Gotland and Öland: are islands with Viking heritage and great beaches.
Skåne: features medieval towns and the spectacular Öresund Bridge.
Lapland: in the north offers Sami culture, midnight sun and the Ice Hotel.
Cultural sightseeing: is a must, with all the historical landmarks, fine museums and Viking remnants.
Boat trips: to the islands off Stockholm or along Göta Canal.
Cycling: is easy with lots of flat land and cycling paths.
Sea fishing: off Norrbotten’s Baltic seashore.
Canoeing and kayaking: on the Vänern and Vättern lakes.
Winter sports: including skating, tobogganing, snow-mobiling, ice climbing and dog sledging can be done everywhere.
Ice fishing: on the lakes. You need an ice drill, a folding chair and a bottle of schnapps.
Festivals & Events
Sweden has some strange festivals, many of which herald the coming of summer.
April: Walpurgis Night celebrates the end of winter with bonfires and fireworks.
April: Easter sees kids dress up as witches and decorated eggs hung up.
June: Midsummer, held at summer solstice, features maypole dancing and lots of schnapps.
December: Lucia Festival commemorates the martyrdom of a pious Sicilian girl, Lucia.