When traveling to Sweden, here is some important and useful advice to enhance your experience:
- Respect Swedish culture and customs: Swedes value privacy, personal space, and punctuality. It’s important to be polite, considerate, and respect their personal boundaries. Avoid loud conversations in public places and always arrive on time for appointments or meetings.
- Learn a few Swedish phrases: While many Swedes speak English fluently, learning a few basic Swedish phrases like greetings and polite expressions can go a long way in showing respect and building rapport with the locals. They will appreciate your effort to communicate in their language.
- Embrace the concept of “lagom”: Lagom is a Swedish term that roughly translates to “just the right amount.” Swedes value moderation and a balanced lifestyle. Try to adapt to this mindset by avoiding excessive behavior and being mindful of your impact on the environment and society.
- Prepare for the weather: Sweden experiences distinct seasons, with cold winters and mild summers. Check the weather forecast for your travel period and pack appropriate clothing. Layering is key, as weather conditions can change throughout the day.
- Enjoy Swedish nature: Sweden is known for its breathtaking landscapes and pristine nature. Take the time to explore the country’s national parks, forests, lakes, and coastlines. The Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) allows you to roam freely in nature, but remember to respect the environment and leave no trace.
- Try Swedish cuisine: Swedish cuisine has its own unique flavors and specialties. Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional dishes such as meatballs, herring, gravlax, and cinnamon buns. Explore local food markets and restaurants to get a taste of authentic Swedish cuisine.
- Use public transportation: Sweden has an efficient and well-connected public transportation system, including trains, buses, trams, and ferries. Opt for public transportation whenever possible, as it is convenient, environmentally friendly, and allows you to experience the country like a local.
- Be mindful of alcohol regulations: In Sweden, the sale of alcohol is heavily regulated. Alcoholic beverages are only sold in state-owned stores called Systembolaget, which have limited opening hours. If you wish to purchase alcohol, plan accordingly and familiarize yourself with the local regulations.
- Stay safe and take care of your belongings: Sweden is generally a safe country, but it’s always important to take precautions. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas or tourist hotspots. Be aware of your surroundings, follow any safety guidelines, and trust your instincts.
- Explore beyond Stockholm: While Stockholm is a beautiful and vibrant city, Sweden has much more to offer. Consider exploring other regions such as Gothenburg, Malmö, the Swedish Lapland, or the picturesque archipelagos. Each region has its own unique attractions and cultural experiences.
Remember to check the latest travel advisories and guidelines before your trip to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Sweden.
- Cashless society: Sweden is known for being a highly cashless society. Most places, including shops, restaurants, and public transportation, prefer electronic payments such as credit or debit cards. It’s advisable to carry a card with you for most transactions. However, it’s always good to have some cash on hand for emergency situations or smaller establishments that may not accept cards.
- Saunas and spa culture: Sauna culture is deeply ingrained in Swedish society. It’s common for Swedes to enjoy sauna sessions for relaxation and socializing. If you have the opportunity, try experiencing a traditional Swedish sauna, either in a public facility or as part of your accommodation. Many hotels and resorts offer spa facilities with saunas, hot tubs, and massage services.
- Midsummer celebrations: Midsummer is one of the most important holidays in Sweden, celebrated around the summer solstice (late June). It’s a time when Swedes gather to celebrate the long days and enjoy outdoor activities, traditional dances around the maypole, and feasting on herring, strawberries, and other seasonal delicacies. If you visit Sweden during this time, consider joining in the festivities.
- Fika culture: Fika is a beloved Swedish tradition that involves taking a break to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea accompanied by a pastry or snack. Fika is a social activity and an essential part of Swedish daily life. Embrace the fika culture by indulging in this relaxing ritual at local cafes and bakeries, and take the opportunity to connect with locals over a cup of coffee.
- Northern Lights: If you’re visiting Sweden during the winter months, particularly in the Swedish Lapland region, you may have the chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). The best time to see this natural phenomenon is from September to March, and there are several tour operators that offer Northern Lights excursions for optimal viewing opportunities.
- Outdoor activities: Sweden offers a wide range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. From hiking and camping in national parks like Abisko and Sarek, to kayaking in the Stockholm Archipelago, to skiing and dog sledding in the winter, there’s an abundance of opportunities to explore and enjoy Sweden’s beautiful landscapes.
- Design and fashion: Sweden has a strong design and fashion culture, known for its minimalist and functional approach. If you’re interested in design, consider visiting design museums and boutiques, and exploring the trendy neighborhoods of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, where you’ll find a mix of local and international fashion brands.
- Public holidays and closures: It’s important to be aware of public holidays and their potential impact on your travel plans. On public holidays, many shops, restaurants, and attractions may have limited hours or be closed entirely. Additionally, the summer months of July and early August are popular vacation times for Swedes, and some smaller businesses and restaurants may have reduced operating hours during this period.
By immersing yourself in Swedish culture, embracing the natural beauty, and exploring the unique traditions, you’ll have a memorable and enriching experience during your trip to Sweden.
- Archipelagos: Sweden is famous for its stunning archipelagos, particularly the Stockholm Archipelago, which consists of thousands of islands and islets. Take a boat tour or hop on a ferry to explore the picturesque landscapes, swim in the clean waters, and enjoy the tranquility of the archipelago life. Many islands have charming villages, cozy cottages, and opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking.
- Viking history: Sweden has a rich Viking heritage, and there are several historical sites and museums dedicated to this fascinating era. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Birka, an ancient Viking trading center, or explore the Viking Ship Museum in Stockholm, where you can see well-preserved Viking ships and artifacts.
- Sami culture: In the northern parts of Sweden, particularly in Swedish Lapland, you’ll find the indigenous Sami people. Discover their unique culture, traditions, and reindeer herding practices by visiting Sami villages, participating in reindeer sledding or Sami cultural experiences, and learning about their way of life. It’s an opportunity to gain insights into the indigenous culture of northern Sweden.
- Icehotel: Located in the village of Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland, the Icehotel is a world-renowned hotel made entirely of ice and snow. Each year, artists from around the world create stunning ice sculptures and architecture for the hotel. You can spend a night in an ice room, enjoy ice-themed activities, and witness the beautiful Northern Lights during the winter months.
- Swedish design: Sweden is known for its exceptional design, which includes furniture, glassware, textiles, and more. Visit design museums like the Swedish Design Museum in Stockholm or the Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg to explore the history and influence of Swedish design. You can also find numerous design shops and boutiques throughout the country where you can purchase unique Swedish design pieces.
- High-speed trains: Sweden offers an extensive and efficient railway network, including high-speed trains known as “SJ High-Speed” or “X2000.” These trains connect major cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, making it convenient to travel between different regions of the country. Enjoy comfortable and scenic train journeys while exploring Sweden.
- Wildlife spotting: Sweden is home to diverse wildlife, including moose, reindeer, brown bears, wolves, and various bird species. Consider joining wildlife safaris or guided tours in national parks like Fulufjället National Park or Sarek National Park to increase your chances of encountering these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats.
- Music festivals: Sweden hosts a variety of music festivals throughout the year, catering to different genres and tastes. Some popular festivals include Way Out West in Gothenburg, Peace & Love in Borlänge, and the Stockholm Jazz Festival. If you’re a music lover, plan your visit around these festivals for a unique cultural experience.
- Swedish Christmas markets: If you’re visiting Sweden during the holiday season, explore the enchanting Christmas markets that pop up in various cities. These markets offer a festive atmosphere with traditional crafts, food stalls, and seasonal decorations. The markets in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (Old Town) and Liseberg in Gothenburg are particularly popular.
These are just a few more highlights of what Sweden has to offer. The country’s natural beauty, cultural richness, and warm hospitality make it an excellent destination for travelers seeking diverse experiences and unforgettable adventures.
- Lagom lifestyle: The Swedish concept of “lagom” goes beyond moderation and balance; it embodies a sense of contentment and sufficiency. Embrace the lagom lifestyle by appreciating simple pleasures, practicing sustainability, and enjoying a healthy work-life balance. Take cues from the locals and embrace a more balanced and mindful approach to life during your stay.
- Unique accommodations: Sweden offers a range of unique accommodations that allow you to experience the country in a special way. For example, you can stay in a traditional red-painted cottage in the countryside, a treehouse nestled in the forest, or an eco-friendly hotel that prioritizes sustainability. These options provide a chance to immerse yourself in the Swedish landscape and culture.
- Outdoor adventures: Sweden is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, biking, canoeing, and fishing are popular activities, with an abundance of well-marked trails, pristine lakes, and rivers to explore. The Kungsleden (King’s Trail) is a famous long-distance hiking trail that takes you through breathtaking scenery in the Swedish Lapland. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a challenging adventure, Sweden has something for everyone.
- Winter activities: Sweden truly comes alive during the winter months. If you visit during this season, you can enjoy a host of winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowshoeing. The ski resorts in Åre and Sälen offer excellent slopes and facilities, while ice skating on frozen lakes or joining a dog sledding excursion provides a magical winter experience.
- Swedish craftsmanship: Sweden has a long tradition of craftsmanship and artisanal skills. Explore small towns and villages known for their craftsmanship, such as Dalarna for its wooden Dala horses or Visby for its handmade ceramics. You can find unique souvenirs and gifts that showcase the exquisite craftsmanship and design aesthetics of the country.
- Swedish festivals: Sweden hosts a variety of festivals that celebrate music, culture, and traditions. One notable event is the Midnattsloppet, an annual midnight run held in Stockholm in August, where thousands of participants take to the streets for a vibrant and energetic race. Additionally, the Stockholm Culture Festival features a week-long celebration of music, dance, theater, and art in various locations across the city.
- Health and wellness: Sweden places a strong emphasis on health and wellness. Take advantage of the numerous opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation, such as visiting spa resorts, enjoying saunas, or practicing yoga in serene natural surroundings. Many wellness retreats and centers offer programs focused on mindfulness, meditation, and holistic well-being.
- Swedish literature and design: Sweden has a rich literary heritage, with many renowned authors and a thriving literary scene. Visit bookstores and libraries to explore Swedish literature, or attend literary events and readings. Additionally, Swedish design extends beyond furniture and fashion to include graphic design, architecture, and industrial design. Explore design museums and exhibitions to appreciate the Swedish design aesthetic and its global influence.
These additional insights into Swedish culture, outdoor activities, craftsmanship, festivals, and wellness opportunities will help you make the most of your trip to Sweden. Remember to immerse yourself in the local customs and enjoy the unique experiences the country has to offer.
- Culinary delights: Swedish cuisine offers a variety of delicious and unique dishes. Try classics like Swedish meatballs (köttbullar), gravlax (cured salmon), and smörgåsbord (a buffet-style meal with various traditional dishes). Seafood lovers can indulge in fresh herring, crayfish, and shrimp. Don’t forget to sample Swedish pastries like cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) and cardamom buns (kardemummabullar) during your visit.
- Stockholm’s Gamla Stan: Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm, is a must-visit destination. Wander through its narrow cobblestone streets, explore medieval architecture, and visit historical sites like the Royal Palace and Stockholm Cathedral. The area is also known for its charming cafés, restaurants, and boutique shops.
- Göta Canal: The Göta Canal is a remarkable feat of engineering and a popular tourist attraction. Stretching from Gothenburg to Stockholm, this 190-kilometer-long canal connects numerous lakes and rivers. You can take a boat tour or even rent a canal boat to leisurely cruise through the serene countryside, passing through locks and picturesque landscapes.
- Gotland: Gotland is a beautiful island located in the Baltic Sea, off the southeastern coast of Sweden. It’s known for its medieval architecture, charming coastal towns like Visby (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and stunning beaches. Explore the island’s rich history, visit ancient ruins, and enjoy the laid-back island atmosphere.
- Swedish glass art: Sweden has a long-standing tradition of glassmaking, and the glass art scene is vibrant and renowned worldwide. Visit glassworks such as Orrefors and Kosta Boda to witness the craftsmanship firsthand, see glassblowing demonstrations, and browse exquisite glass art pieces. You may even have the opportunity to try glassblowing yourself.
- Midsommar celebrations: Midsommar, the Swedish celebration of the summer solstice, is a festive occasion where Swedes gather to celebrate the long days and light summer nights. Traditional celebrations include dancing around a maypole, singing songs, and feasting on traditional foods. Join in the festivities and experience the joy and enchantment of this special holiday.
- Swedish fashion brands: Sweden has gained international recognition for its fashion industry and innovative designers. Explore Swedish fashion brands like Acne Studios, H&M, Filippa K, and COS, known for their minimalistic and contemporary designs. Visit flagship stores and boutiques in major cities to find unique pieces and get a taste of Swedish fashion.
- Viking heritage sites: Apart from museums, you can visit Viking heritage sites scattered throughout Sweden. Birka, located on Björkö Island, was a significant Viking trading center and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Trelleborg Fortress in southern Sweden is another Viking site worth exploring, with reconstructed Viking-era buildings and a museum.
- Swedish music: Sweden has made significant contributions to the global music scene, particularly in the realms of pop and electronic music. The country is known for producing world-renowned artists like ABBA, Roxette, Avicii, and Swedish House Mafia. Immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene, attend concerts, or visit music venues and clubs to experience the Swedish music culture firsthand.
These additional insights into Swedish cuisine, Stockholm’s Gamla Stan, the Göta Canal, Gotland, glass art, Midsommar celebrations, Swedish fashion, Viking heritage sites, and Swedish music will enhance your understanding and appreciation of Sweden’s diverse offerings. Enjoy exploring the country’s rich cultural heritage and creating unforgettable memories during your visit.
- National Parks: Sweden boasts several stunning national parks that offer breathtaking natural landscapes and opportunities for outdoor activities. Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland is famous for its pristine wilderness, hiking trails, and the chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Sarek National Park is a remote and untouched wilderness that attracts experienced hikers and adventurers. Other notable national parks include Padjelanta, Fulufjället, and Tyresta.
- Northern Lights: Sweden’s northernmost regions, such as Swedish Lapland, provide excellent opportunities to witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. Plan your visit during the winter months, from September to March, for the best chances of seeing this natural phenomenon. Stay in remote locations away from light pollution, take guided tours, or even sleep in glass igloos for an unforgettable Northern Lights experience.
- Stockholm Archipelago: The Stockholm Archipelago consists of thousands of islands, islets, and rocks, making it a paradise for boating enthusiasts and nature lovers. Take a ferry or rent a kayak to explore the archipelago’s picturesque landscapes, discover hidden coves, and enjoy swimming in the Baltic Sea. Many islands offer charming accommodations, waterfront restaurants, and opportunities for nature walks and birdwatching.
- Swedish Saunas: Saunas are an integral part of Swedish culture and a popular way to relax and unwind. Embrace the Swedish tradition of sauna bathing by visiting public saunas or sauna complexes called “bastu.” Many hotels, spas, and wellness centers offer saunas with varying temperatures and amenities. After a rejuvenating sauna session, cool off with a refreshing dip in a nearby lake or the sea.
- Swedish Lakes: Sweden is known for its abundance of crystal-clear lakes, providing opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing. The largest lake in Sweden is Lake Vänern, located in the southwest, while Lake Vättern is the country’s second-largest lake. The Siljan area in Dalarna is home to several scenic lakes, including Lake Siljan, which is surrounded by charming towns and picturesque landscapes.
- Sami Festivals: The Sami people, indigenous to the northern parts of Sweden, have vibrant cultural festivals that provide a glimpse into their traditions and way of life. The Jokkmokk Winter Market, held annually in February, is one such festival where you can experience Sami culture, reindeer races, traditional crafts, and authentic Sami cuisine. It’s a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Sami people.
- Swedish Royal Palaces: Sweden has a monarchy, and several royal palaces are open to the public. The Royal Palace in Stockholm is the official residence of the Swedish monarch and offers guided tours where you can explore opulent halls, royal apartments, and the Royal Armory. Other palaces worth visiting include Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred.
- Swedish Summer Houses: Swedes have a tradition of owning summer houses, or “sommarstugor,” in rural areas or by the coast. These charming cottages provide an escape from city life and offer opportunities for relaxation, outdoor activities, and spending time in nature. Renting a summer house can be a fantastic way to experience the Swedish countryside and enjoy the slower pace of life.
- Swedish Fika: Fika is a beloved Swedish tradition that involves taking a break to enjoy coffee or tea along with a sweet treat. It’s an important social ritual and a time to connect with friends, family, or colleagues. Whether you visit a cozy café or enjoy fika in someone’s home, embracing this tradition will give you a taste of Swedish hospitality and a chance to savor delicious pastries and treats.
These additional insights into Swedish national parks, the Stockholm Archipelago, the Northern Lights, Swedish saunas, lakes, Sami festivals, royal palaces, summer houses, and the tradition of fika will enrich your understanding of Sweden’s diverse offerings and cultural traditions. Enjoy exploring the country’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and warm hospitality during your visit.
- The Icehotel: Located in the village of Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland, the Icehotel is a unique and iconic accommodation. It is rebuilt every year using ice and snow from the nearby Torne River. The hotel features intricately carved ice art, ice sculptures, and even an ice bar. Staying at the Icehotel offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a chance to sleep in a room made entirely of ice.
- Swedish Design: Sweden is renowned for its design aesthetics and innovative approach to design. The country has produced influential designers and design brands such as IKEA, HAY, and Svenskt Tenn. Explore design-focused districts and stores in cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö to discover minimalist furniture, functional home decor, and sleek Scandinavian designs.
- Swedish Castles: Sweden is home to numerous impressive castles and palaces that showcase its rich history and architectural grandeur. Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a stunning 17th-century palace with beautiful gardens and a Baroque theater. Kalmar Castle, Gripsholm Castle, and Vadstena Castle are also notable examples of Swedish castle architecture that are worth visiting.
- Swedish Wildlife: Sweden is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including majestic animals like moose, reindeer, brown bears, and wolves. Explore national parks and nature reserves for the opportunity to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. Wildlife safaris and guided tours can provide unique encounters and insights into Sweden’s natural heritage.
- Swedish Christmas Markets: During the festive season, Swedish Christmas markets come alive with traditional crafts, delicacies, and a warm and festive atmosphere. Liseberg Christmas Market in Gothenburg and Skansen Christmas Market in Stockholm are popular destinations where you can experience the magic of Swedish Christmas traditions, shop for handicrafts and local products, and enjoy traditional holiday treats.
- Swedish Islands: In addition to the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden has numerous other beautiful islands worth exploring. The islands of Öland and Gotland in the Baltic Sea are known for their scenic landscapes, medieval architecture, and cultural events. The West Coast islands, such as the Väderöarna and the Koster Islands, offer rugged coastlines, charming fishing villages, and opportunities for sea kayaking and wildlife spotting.
- Swedish Music Festivals: Sweden hosts a vibrant music festival scene, attracting both local and international artists and music lovers. The Way Out West festival in Gothenburg combines music, film, and food, creating a unique cultural experience. Other notable festivals include the Peace & Love Festival in Borlänge and the Bråvalla Festival near Norrköping, which feature a diverse range of music genres and performances.
- Swedish Technology and Innovation: Sweden is known for its technological advancements and innovation. The country has produced successful tech companies such as Spotify, Skype, and Ericsson. Explore Stockholm’s “Silicon Valley” in the district of Kista, where you can visit tech hubs, innovation centers, and museums dedicated to Swedish technological achievements.
- Swedish Craft Beer: Sweden has a thriving craft beer scene, with a wide variety of locally brewed beers to try. Microbreweries and brewpubs can be found in cities across the country, offering unique and flavorful beers that showcase the creativity and craftsmanship of Swedish brewers. Take a beer tasting tour or visit beer festivals to discover new and exciting brews.
These additional insights into the Icehotel, Swedish design, castles, wildlife, Christmas markets, islands, music festivals, technology and innovation, and craft beer will provide you with a deeper understanding of Sweden’s cultural, natural, and technological offerings. Enjoy exploring the diverse facets of Sweden and creating memorable experiences during your visit.
When traveling to Sweden, it is important to keep in mind the following advice:
- Exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of terrorism13.
- Use official taxis and confirm the rates before your journey or pre-negotiate fares2.
- Camping on public land in Sweden is permitted under the “Allemansrätten” or “Freedom to Roam” law, but camping is not permitted within 70m of a dwelling2.
- A Schengen visa is required for persons of certain nationalities who wish to visit the Schengen countries4.
- Visitors to Sweden are advised to follow the guidance of national and local authorities and stay fully informed of any current issues by monitoring local news and social media6.
- Crime remains relatively low in Sweden but you should take sensible precautions, such as not carrying your credit card, travel documents, and money together6.
In addition, Sweden has an extensive high-speed railway network that connects main cities and rural areas, a metro (subway) rail service in Stockholm, and a regional commuter rail network that serves the Southern part of the country. Most cities have good public bus systems, and long-distance bus lines are also available