Sweden Travel Guide
🗝️ Key Facts
💶Currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)
🕙Time Zone: +1 GMT
📞Phone Code: +46
✈️Best time to visit: Sept to Nov
🍴Eat: Köttbullar (small meatballs)
🍷Drink: Akvavit (spirit)
🗺️Don't miss: Nordiska Museum (stockholm)
🗺 Menu of Contents:
Located in Scandinavia, Northern Europe, Sweden is one of the most popular destinations to travel to, for its advanced quality of life, it's beautiful scenery, it's art and music history amongst the highlights. It is the land of the ancient Vikings and the birthplace of Nordic crime fiction.
In the summer, idyllic weather allows tourists and locals alike to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, swimming and other sports late into the evening, as the Midnight Sun shines until nearly 11pm.
However, a winter holiday in Sweden is full of other kinds of activities, like dog sledding, ice fishing, skiing, and snowshoeing, as the cold weather brings icy wind, deep snow, and long dark nights.
Sweden's obsession with the outdoors is only one aspect if the country's personality. Millions of visitors enjoy the sophisticated cultural delights of the cities, especially in the capital of Stockholm. With a proud history going back several millennia, the many museums and royal buildings around the city are fascinating to visit. Stockholm's modern attractions are just as engaging, with a lively nightlife, and a plethora of excellent restaurants and shops.
But Stockholm isn't the only city in Sweden worth visiting. Smaller towns like Gothenburg, Malmö, Uppsala, and the northern Kiruna all offer unique attractions for tourists in Sweden, ranging from amusement parks to historical churches and boat tours of the archipelagos in the Baltic Sea.
Getting to Sweden is very easy from Europe and neighbouring countries, which connect via ferry, plane, bus or train. The main city, Stockholm, is well connected by air to other countries in America and Asia, making it a good destination to travel direct.
The national airline is Scandinavian Airlines which has a hub in Stockholm Arlanda airport. From there it's easy to reach key destinations in America and Asia. Naturally all major cities in Europe offer direct links to Stockholm.
If you are travelling within Europe then it's also worth checking with low cost airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet or Norwegian for better fares, and connect other cities to the Swedish capital. As an alternative, it's not necessarily to fly if you coming from Estonia, Norway or Finland, as you can easily get ferries or busses which connect the northern capitals.
Within the country it's quite common to travel by air, specially to other regions in Sweden if you don't have much time to explore. Scandinavian Airlines offers the best times and connections. It's also possible to travel within Sweden by bus and train. Fares can still seem expensive, but that's because of the high value of the country's currency. Try to book in advance for better fares and promotions.
The main advantage of travelling by ground is the views and the beautiful scenery which can be seen as you leave the urban cities and go up north exploring the forests, mountains and lakes. Services are very punctual, so always make sure to be at stops at least 30 min before your bus or train leaves.
Big cities are well connected with public transportation, both underground and overground. However smaller towns and isolated communities have very limited transport links, specially in the winter, where travelling by plane is sometimes the only way of reaching these communities.
Sweden has an interesting mixture of temperatures, it can be pleasantly warm in the summer but extremely cold in the Winter. However it can be a paradise in winter also due to the snow blanket which decorates every corner of the country. Also many visitors come in Winter to enjoy sport activities. Winter's are naturally cold, with temperatures going below -15 °C at times in January and February. The further north you go it will be also colder and darker.
In contrast the Summer's in Sweden are very pleasant with warm climates in the south with an average temperature of 20 °C, but it can get hotter easily. There is plenty of sunshine during the Summer and from June to August is the high season, so it's good to take that into consideration when you travel as it will be more expensive. Spring and Autumn are good seasons to travel, however it often rains a lot in Sweden so it's possible not to see the sun in many days or weeks during this time.
The best time to travel would be from September to November.
❗Attention: Take into consideration that during the Winter you can see as little as 6 hours of sunshine per day, but about 18 hours in the Summer!
They appear around the beginning of September (Kiruna) to around the end of March all over the Swedish Lapland. So if you are visiting for winter activities such as skiing, dog sledding, snowmobile tours etc there’s a fair chance you will see them. But for the very best chance of seeing the Northern Lights you should make the trip to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park. It is not guaranteed that you will see them, but being surrounded by mountains, Abisko is known for its clear skies, so there’s a good chance.
A chairlift takes you up to the observation tower, as well as the station’s Northern Lights exhibition, café and souvenir shop. Do dress warmly for your visit!
While Swedish food isn’t known for its sophistication, it does have a simple, wholesome charm all of its own. Locally produced and organic ingredients take pride of place in the kitchen and wild food such as mushrooms, blueberries and elderberries crop up seasonally. A long coastline and numerous freshwater lakes mean fish is a staple part of the diet along with meat and root vegetables.From every day Swedish cuisine, or husmanskost, ärtsoppape (pea soup) is a staple and a heart-warming choice on cold winter days, particularly when followed by pancakes doused in Swedish punch – a very sweet (and very strong) local liqueur. Waiter service is common although there are many self-service snack bars.
Specialities include: Smörgåsbord, the classic Scandinavian cold table includes a starter of pickled herring with boiled potatoes followed by smoked salmon or anchovies, cold meats, pâté, sliced beef, stuffed veal or smoked reindeer. Jansson’s temptation, sliced herring, potatoes and onions baked in cream. Köttbullar, small meatballs. Rotmos med flask, pork with potatoes and rutabaga, a root vegetable like turnip. Pyttipanna, a bubble and squeak-style blend of fried diced meat with potatoes and onion, usually served with a fried egg and sliced pickled beetroot. Gravlax, salmon that has been specially prepared and marinated. Ostkaka, Swedish cheesecake.
As for drinks you can find: Akvavit: A Scandinavian spirit traditionally drunk chilled with smörgåsbord. Flavours vary from practically tasteless to sweetly spiced.
From a tour around other European capitals, I had the opportunity to visit Sweden and it's capital, Stockholm. It was a good visit to admire the city's history, enchanting old town and scenery. The city has come a long way since it's medieval roots, and now Stockholm is a truly multicultural mixed society, with many social benefits and a high quality of life which is reflected in the wealth of the country with many businesses established in the capital and a good economic growth system. The style in which the people dress, the category of the restaurant's, the general cleanliness of the city are just some of the things which stand out in this modern society, where there is ample freedom of expression.
But at the same time there is reservation amongst the people, respect and things are always done quietly and patiently.
Away from the city life, Sweden is a beautiful country which has so much to offer. Definitely a trip to the countryside is next on the list when coming to Sweden!
Stockholm Tourism Information Guide
The City of Stockholm is situated on fourteen islands and on the banks to the archipelago where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. The city centre is virtually situated on the water. For the visitor, Stockholm has a obvious peacetime benefit, space. There is an airy feel to the downtown that comes from the waters pretty much having been left alone to provide breathing space between neighbourhoods. The city is a great cultural centre with more than 100 museums and attractions, and Europe’s largest royal palace.
The capital of Sweden has been centre for many events, specially for the Novel price awards. It's also famous for a high quality of life, an open and tolerant society which is evident when coming to the city. In the last decade, Stockholm has taken the largest number of immigrants than any other city in Europe. However the city is still open for business as usual and traditional Swedish customs have not faded away. It's a great city to start your exploration in Sweden, visit some great Museums, taste some authentic dishes or take a bath in the typical Swedish hot tubs.
Although Stockholm has a fairly northerly location in Europe, the climate is generally fairly temperate and not necessarily as cold as many visitors expect. The warm summer months are always popular with plenty of sunny weather to go around. Additionally, both June and July experience almost 19 hours of daylight. Making it the best time to visit for general city tourism. Temperatures range from 16°C to 26°C in the Summer.
However, by the time that winter arrives, the daylight hours soon begin to reduce, with December and January featuring around six or seven hours only, when the sun sets as early at 15:00 in the afternoon. The seasonal climate changes in Stockholm are extremely distinctive. January and February tend to be the coldest months and snowy weather is most likely. But temperatures are not that extreme so in the Winter you can experience from -3°C to 7°C.
Arriving to Stockholm by air you have two options where to land:
- Either the main airport, Arlanda (ARN) which is connected to the city centre by a frequent bus service, Flygbussarna Airport Coaches, which takes 45 min to reach the central train station. Fares can be bought online or at the airport. One way is 99 SEK (€10). Unfortunately, that's the cheapest option to travel into the city centre.
It's also possible to travel by train from Arlanda airport. The cost is 280 SEK (€30) one way and takes only 20 minutes.
- The other airport is Stockholm Skavsta (NYO), (Not to get confused with New York in USA!) which is quite far from the city and is only possible to reach by bus or taxi. The bus is operated by Flygbussarna Airport Coaches also. Trip duration up to 80 min and costs 139 SEK (€14.50) one way.
Once in the city centre, there are multiple options to travel around. Public transport is easy to get and well signed. However if you are in the city centre you can easily walk from the main train station. You can travel around Stockholm in trains, metro and trams. Visit Sl.se/en/ for more information!
Below you will find the metro map:
Stockholm has many different attractions to visit, like the old town, shopping streets and markets or museums and galleries. Below are the highlights of the city:
- The Old Town, is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe, and one of the foremost attractions in Stockholm. This is where Stockholm was founded in 1252. All of the old town, named Gamla Stan, and the adjacent island of Riddarholmen are like a living pedestrian-friendly museum full of sights, attractions, restaurants, cafés, bars and places to shop. It's is also popular with handicrafts, and souvenirs. The narrow winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings in so many different shades of gold, give Gamla Stan its unique character. There are several beautiful churches and museums in Gamla Stan, including Sweden’s national cathedral Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum (Price 100 SEK).
- The Royal Palace, the Palace is the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden, with over 600 rooms. The Palace is open to the public and offers five museums. The Palace was largely built during the eighteenth century in the Italian Baroque style. You can also see Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, the Tre Kronor Museum and the Treasury. Make sure not to miss the parade of soldiers and the daily changing of the guard. Price is 160 SEK. Location: Slottsbacken 1.
- The Vasa Museum, The Vasa is the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world. The 69 meter-long warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628, and was salvaged 333 years later in 1961. Price is 130SEK. Location: Galärvarvsvägen 14.
- Moderna Museet, featuring works by artists including Picasso, Dali, Derkert and Matisse.The museum's large collections and temporary exhibitions present contemporary art side by side with the modern classics. Moderna Museet is located on Skeppsholmen island, a setting of natural beauty. Free entrance. Location: Exercisplan 2
- The City Hall, with its spire featuring the golden Three Crowns, is one of the most famous silhouettes in Stockholm. The 106 meter tall tower has the three crowns, which is the Swedish national coat of arms, at its apex. Behind the magnificent facades are offices and session halls for politicians and officials. The great Nobel banquet is also held in City Hall.The City Hall is open to the public through guided tours only. Guided tours are held daily in Swedish and English at certain hours. During the same period you can also climb up inside the tower and enjoy a fantastic view over the city. Price 70-100 SEK. Location: Hantverkargatan 1
- Nordiska museet, dedicated to the life in Sweden from past to present.Sweden’s largest museum of cultural history. Situated on the Djurgården island in the center of Stockholm, the magnificent museum building is one of Stockholm’s true landmarks and well worth a visit in itself. Discover a variety of exhibitions on fashion and textiles, furniture and interiors, china and table settings, folk art, jewellery, photography, trends and traditions. Price 100 SEK.
- ABBA The Museum & Swedish Music Hall of Fame, the music, the clothes, the lyrics, musicals, and films of ABBA have been gathered in Stockholm and are on display in a permanent exhibition. Swedish popular music has also been honoured with a dedicated museum in the Swedish Music Hall of Fame. The museum is modern, interactive, and of course, with non-stop music. The ticket system is based on entry slots to avoid long lines and give every visitor the ultimate experience. In other words, your tickets will state a specific entry time. Book in advance on the web site at www.abbathemuseum.com
- Boat sightseeing, the fact that Stockholm is built on 14 beautiful islands connected by 57 bridges, makes a sightseeing tour by boat a great idea on a bright sunny day. You can stay aboard for the whole tour or hop on and off as you please. Prices start at 200 SEK per adult.
- · Spa in Stockholm, Swedes are generally considered health-conscious and nature-loving. The city offers a broad selection of spa and fitness facilities in the city centre as well as in the archipelago. Try different types of hot and cold baths, have a refreshing spa treatment, or get a classic Swedish massage.
Stockholm has a vibrant nightlife with a multitude of bars, clubs, and jazz venues to enjoy. Admission and drinks prices are quite high in Stockholm but the opening hours are long (many nightclubs stay open until 3am or 4am, and big clubs stay open as late as 5am). Stockholm has a busy theatre calendar that runs from mid-August to mid-June, with a few special summer performances in between.
The most popular nightlife venues in Stockholm are in Stureplan and surrounds, while many of the most popular indoor and outdoor events are held in Djurgården.
It's very popular to go and have a drink at Stockholm's permanent Ice Bar, located near the Central Station. There is a busy jazz scene in Stockholm, and there is plenty of live music of all types to enjoy, with a number of popular festivals. There is something happening seven days a week, so make sure to check out online listings to plan your trip.
🌈There is also a thriving gay nightlife in Stockholm, with many nightclubs and bars concentrated on the island of Södermalm. Stockholm Pride attracts tens of thousands of people to Stockholm in August every year, for the massive party and parade centred on Pride Park in Södermalm.
Shopping in Stockholm can be expensive, with treasured souvenirs from Stockholm include Swedish glass products, wooden furniture in blond pine or birch, and of course wooden and ceramic Swedish clogs.
There are a number of shopping areas in Stockholm, some of the trendiest being Gamla Stan, Sergels Torg, Kungsgatan, and SoFo (South of Folkungagatan).
Other good shopping districts in Stockholm include Drottningsgatan, Harrngatan, Hotorget and Stureplan.
Västerlånggatan Street in Gamla Stan has good antique shops, while Kungsgatan is home to the Drottninggatan pedestrian mall. The renowned Gallerian shopping centre in Sergels Torg has a variety of high-street and brand-name outlets to browse through, and nearby department stores include NK and Åhléns. The PUB department store is located in Hötorget.
However, much of Sweden's pop-cultural influence is designed and sold on Södermalm Island, in a little area known as SOFO. SOFO is home to some of the most impressive boutique and concept stores to be found anywhere in the world, where shoppers can delight in minimalist, edgy Swedish fashion, or find organic, local cosmetics. But don't be fooled by some of the high prices, SOFO is for the youth and is home to plenty of well-priced vintage stores where some interesting classics can be found with acceptable prices.
Stockholm is an expensive destination for a budget traveller, it's elegance, style and category is presence in much of the city centre, so if you're looking for cheap options you will need to travel further from the centre. However hostels and guesthouses are widely available if you don't mind sharing. Airbnb is popular in Sweden and offers private accommodation with locals who can be of good help if need any advice or extra tips. The average hotel price starts at €60 per room per night.
The city is not huge to stay that long, so thankfully the budget won't be blown away! It's pleasant to walk around the city during daylight, visit museums or take a board ride.
The centre can be walked within a couple of days but we suggest 3 nights would be a good time to discover the city and enjoy all it can offer.