“Spending time in Sweden on loan was one of the best things I ever did.”Peter Crouch
Top Five Destinations In Sweden
- Stockholm is Sweden’s picturesque capital city, home to the Nobel Prize, and often referred to as Scandinavia’s most beautiful capital. In the 13th century, this medieval city spans 14 islands and rocky islets connected by old and modern bridges that take you on a memorable, intriguing adventure. Discover the Old Town, magnificent churches, incredible architecture, world-class museums, charming cobblestone streets, and thriving cosmopolitan culture.
- Malmo and its environs A medieval city with a strong modern pulse. It has a rich history while being a multicultural melting pot. It has something for everyone: a lovely old town, fantastic squares full of Swedes enjoying life, the Malmohus Castle, and a young vibe. Malmo links to Denmark via the fascinating Oresund Bridge. Outside the city, there is this lovely countryside dotted with castles and inviting towns.
- Gothenburg Is a lovely port city on Sweden’s west coast known for its green spaces. It is a city that lies on the Gota River, where you will find the city center full of dutch inspired channels and fascinating neighborhoods dotted with colorful wooden houses, amid a city that is the gateway to archipelagoes and charming fishing villages. Gothenburg also has the region’s largest film festival and numerous yearly music festivals.
- Ystad Is a southern coastal town known for its sandy beaches and an impressive example of Gothic architecture, such as Greyfriars Abbey, one of Sweden’s best-preserved medieval monasteries, and the Medieval Church of the Virgin Mary. Wander the alluring cobblestone streets that lead you to unique pastel-colored half-timbered structures. Near Ystad, there is the famous megalithic monument of Ales Stenar, which consists of 59 boulders forming a stone ship.
- Gotland Is the largest island in Sweden. The Baltic sea surrounds it. The island draws many visitors and is a favored destination. The city of Visby is a beautiful walled Hanseatic town that has preserved most of its original design and historic buildings. There are close to 100 medieval churches and too many to count prehistoric sites on the island.
Did you know?
- Population: 10.2 million
- Capital City: Stockholm
- Currency: Swedish kronor (SEK)
- Government type: Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
- Monarch: Carl XVI Gustaf
- Prime Minister: Stefan Lofven
- Ethnic groups: Swedish 80.9%, other 19.1%
- Languages: Swedish (official)
- Religions: Church of Sweden (Lutheran) 60.2%, other (includes Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) 8.5%, none or unspecified 31.3%
- U.S. State Department Risk Level: 3 due to Covid
- Terrorist groups: Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) (2019)
- GDP $563, 882 billion
- The Svear people gave Sweden its name over 2,000 years ago.
- The Swedish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world.
- National Anthem: “Du Gamla, Du Fria” (“Thou Ancient, Thou Free”)
- The land area of Sweden is the 4th largest in Europe (174,000 square miles).
- The tallest mountain in Sweden is Kebnekaise is 7000 feet.
- Sweden has 30 national parks.
- Over one-half of Sweden is covered by forest.
- 85% of Swedes live in cities.
- The National Animal of Sweden is the Moose.
- The Silver birch is the National tree.
- IKEA, Spotify, Ericsson, Volvo, and H&M are Swedish companies.
- Inventions originating from Sweden include a pacemaker, blow torch, zippers, Tungsten, ship propeller, plumber wrench, ball bearing, modern refrigerator, three-point safety belt, Minecraft, dynamite, modern telecommunications, and milk separator.
- Major industries in Sweden are music, agriculture, manufacturing, machinery, tourism, trade and finance, biomedical, food, metals, automobile, refined petroleum, and plastics.
- Life expectancy is 82.5 years old. They have one of the longest in the world.
- The literacy rate is 99%.
- The Nobel Prize ceremonies are conducted in Stockholm, Sweden, each year. (Nobel Peace Prize is in Norway)
- Swedes are reputed to love paying taxes, some of the highest in the world. They believe it is their civic responsibility and espouse the benefits. All Swedes benefit from a well-respected socialized medical system, free medical dental, and optical care up to the age of 21, both parents getting 480 days of parental leave, subsidized daycare, five weeks of paid vacation per year, and there is no need to file taxes as taxes are based on income.
- The 8-10th century Vikings of Sweden were a formidable group, highly skilled at warfare; they conquered and dominated much of Northern and Eastern Europe.
- The spectacular northern lights, or aurora borealis, appear above the Arctic Circle and are visible from late September and March. This phenomenon draws visitors from all over the world.
- Sweden excels at recycling because it has run out of garbage and imports 80,000 tons annually from Norway.
- Sweden has the most number of McDonald’s’ outlets per capita than the rest of Europe.
- Moose (over 300,000), reindeer (over 260,000), lynx, bears, and wolves can be found in the wild throughout Sweden. Most of the indigenous animals are thriving and even expanding.
- Sweden and Norway formed the United Kingdom from 1814 to 1905.
- During both World Wars, Sweden managed to remain neutral.
- Sweden Is the World’s Third Largest Exporter of Music.
- Sweden leads the world in foreign aid providing over 1% of its gross national income, focusing on promoting the welfare and economic development of nations needing aid.
- Low unemployment, a low birth rate, and a strong welfare system contribute to Sweden having one of the highest standards of living in the world.
- It was the first country to ban spanking by parents in 1979.
- Sweden was the first country in Europe to establish national parks.
Good to know before you go
- In Sweden, tourists do not need to worry about tipping. The general rule is that Swedes are paid higher wages, so no tip is expected or required. Tipping has never been a part of the culture in Sweden.
- Credit cards are accepted everywhere.
- Overall, the clothing is stylish. Swedes wear subdued clothes and prefer dark and muted colors. They dress casually but with class. The jeans are worn but are in good condition. Swedes prefer natural fabrics. The weather is cold much of the year and can even get cold in the summer. Layers are always a good idea. With so many cobblestone streets, comfy flat shoes are suggested. Rain is common year-round, so prepare accordingly in the winter; pack winter gear, thermal underwear, and boots.
- Driving in Sweden is quite good but, of course, can be challenging in the winter months. Highways are some of the best in Europe and are well-maintained along with secondary roads. Roads and bridges are tolled, with bridges being quite expensive. Speed cameras are used on secondary roads. Some of the most spectacular parts of Sweden are only seen by car. Traffic is minimal outside of the cities but beware of wildlife. They do have an excellent public transportation system. Please keep in mind this is a country with an enormous amount of cyclists, be very careful as they have the right of way. Headlights must always be on.
- In Sweden, self-sufficiency and autonomy are all. Any debt, be it emotional, a favor, or cash, is to be avoided at all costs. The Swedes don’t even like to owe a round of drinks.
- Sweden is a humanitarian-based culture. Quality of life and environmental issues are highly valued.
- The Swedes are proud, hardworking, and honest people. They are generous by nature.
- Greetings are usually a handshake firm and quick when arriving and leaving. Eye contact is brief, and smiling is not typical. Other than that, you will not see much physical contact, even among close friends. PDA is frowned upon.
- Swedes like their personal space. It is best to stand a bit further apart during interactions and keep your body language and hand gestures to a minimum. Keep your emotions cool and calm. Swedes are quiet by nature, so speak in a subdued tone. They don’t like flashiness or people who brag.
- Swedes avoid arguing over sensitive topics, politics, and religion, especially with visitors. If a discussion of this kind begins, a Swede may quickly close the conversation.
- It is important to be prompt in Sweden. Being late reflects disrespect or lack of concern for others other than oneself.
- Swedish dishes include meat, seafood, dairy products, bread, vegetables, and fruits. They love their coffee and dairy.
- Swedish meatballs are a traditional dish of the country. It is served with gravy, boiled potatoes, ad lingonberry jam.
- You don’t take food home from restaurants in Sweden.
- If you are lucky enough to be invited to someone’s home, it is expected to come bearing a gift. Flowers, liquor, wine, cake, or chocolates are appropriate gifts. You may also bring candy for the children.
- Swedes adore their chocolates and sweets. Known for its sweet tooth, the country ranks globally as the fifth largest consumer of chocolates. The average Swede is reportedly eating almost 15 pounds of chocolate yearly. Considering they have one of the longest life expectancies, it doesn’t seem to do much harm.
- Table manners are Continental — the fork is in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. Use a knife and fork to eat all food, including sandwiches and pizza.
- In restaurants, you draw the attention of your server with eye contact.
- Music is central to Swedish culture. Seek out local musical events. Traditional fold instruments include accordion, fiddle, harmonicas, and clarinet.
- Alcohol is costly because of taxes; about 60% go to the state. You won’t find many paying the rounds of drinks.
- 89% of Swedes speak English; excellent English is spoken everywhere.
- It is a very safe country.
When to go to Sweden
Sweden is primarily temperate, even with its northern latitude. While Stockholm is warmer and milder, the mountains in the north are sub-Arctic. The north has a long, harsh winter lasting more than seven months, while the south has winter weather for only two months and summer for more than four months. It does rain but not exceptionally so, but preparation is prudent.
While Sweden has so many wonders to offer visitors any time of year, the best time to visit is May through September, especially if you prefer warm weather. In these months, the days are longer, and its natural beauty is at its peak. Various outdoor events and activities include swimming at some of Sweden’s fantastic beaches. This includes many clothing-optional beaches if you are into that. The high season, summer, can be pretty expensive. If you hope to extend your travel dollar, aim for the shoulder season, April/May, and September/October. If you like winter sports, skiing and dogsledding are highly attractive. Some are searching for those mind-blowing Northern lights.
- Summer 45-82 °F (7-28 °C)
- Spring 25-70 °F (4-21 °C)
- 5Fall 35-60 °F (2-16 °C)
- Winter 8-42 °F (-13-6 °C)
Our Favorite Sweden Resources
This resource section contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
Sweden was part of our seven countries’ two-week trip. Sweden was a day trip from Denmark, so we did not even begin to give this amazing country justice. We have every intention to return as the little we did see tapped our thirst to explore more. In preparation for this trip only looked at two travel guides and only one map that included Denmark. We note these below.
Lonely Planet’s Sweden (Country Guide) by Lonely Planet
A passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice that all Sweden has to offer and what hidden discoveries await you. Visit the beautiful, stylish capital of Stockholm, the seaside cities of Sweden, or the arctic wasteland. Let this beautifully illustrated guide be your travel partner. Great photography and lots of details to aid in planning. Discover this travel guide here.
Rick Steves Scandanavia by Rick Steves
We are huge Rick Steve fans; it will be rare not to recommend one of his wonderful guides. There is a guide dedicated to just Sweden, but you will still find a wealth of info on Sweden in this Scandinavian guide. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach and his independent travel philosophy match well with how we travel. The guides never disappoint. This book made it into our suitcase and was a fantastic resource. Find this must-have guide here.
Our favorite Sweden websites
2. U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs Sweden Country Info
We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. This is the U.S. Federal Government addressing the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency U.S. and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, special circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation in Sweden. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this important info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.
Sweden International Travel Information (state.gov)
3. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers Health Resource
This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool, you can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for Sweden.
CDC’s Travelers Health Page for Sweden
Our favorite maps
Renowned for over 100 years for their clear, accurate, and easy-to-read mapping. Michelin gives travelers an overall picture of their route, practical road and travel information, and city maps containing extensive street indexes. Major sites and landmarks are well-marked. Though we default to Google maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here.
Our favorite apps
Rome2rio: Trip Planner Trip and Holiday Organizer Enter any address, landmark, or city; the app will instantly display all your travel options, booking info, accommodation providers, and things to do. Find it on your local app store.
Rick Steve’s Audio Europe This app includes a vast library of Rick Steve’s audio content. Get cultural and travel info. Includes self-guided tours of top attractions and historic walks. A must-have. Find it on your local app store.
Duolingo-Language Lesson Audio lessons that help improve your listening and speaking skills. Find it on your local app store.
Google Translate We use this often to practice proper pronunciations of Swedish words. As we always encourage, learning the basics of greeting and thanking people in the local language is essential. Google translate was an easy app to use. If needed, you can enter text in English, and it will speak back in Swedish to aid in communicating with locals. Furthermore, it came in very handy to translate text into images instantly.
Do you have a favorite Sweden travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or
Our Sweden Posts
Malmö Sweden Visitor Guide
You’re off to visit friends in… Stockholm and you find yourself telling people you’re…
Our Sweden Gallery
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Our Recommended Travel Resources
Our favorite travel insurance site!
If you are booking a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be stronger advocates of being well-insured. Not just for the little stuff but the big stuff like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Over the years, we have used many sites but have now found our go-to place. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, they use top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover Covid medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy.
To empower you as a consumer, we suggest you read our blog post on the importance of travel insurance and how to get the best coverage from top-rated companies for an affordable price.
Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world
They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover Covid-related transports as well.
Medjet carries its own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for around $300. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.
To learn more about how Medical Evacuation membership with Medjet Assist works, check out our blog post for a more detailed review.
Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours
Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Whether planning a family vacation, booking for business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are a fantastic resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you would need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, and cruises, to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.
Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours
Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.
We always start with Expedia to check prices, but it sometimes says it is sold out. We then try Booking.com, and we find it lists plenty of rooms. It could be they are a Europe-based company. Try both before booking accommodations.
Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)
Are you traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination?
With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, VRBO connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The VRBO community offers families or groups various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, etc.
VRBO is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about, but it hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network that has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family with no problems.
As the leading marketplace for travel experiences, Viator believes that making memories is what travel is all about. And with 300,000+ experiences to explore—everything from simple tours to extreme adventures (and all the niche, interesting stuff in between)—making memories that will last a lifetime has never been easier.
With industry-leading flexibility and last-minute availability, it’s never too late to make any day extraordinary. This one site has it all and has experiences throughout the world. We use them often during our travels, especially for food tours. We especially take the time to read the reviews provided.
Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travelers worldwide use the Tripadvisor site and App to discover where to stay, what to do, and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.
With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions from nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at popular restaurants, and discover great places to see nearby. We use them for guidance and research on every trip; it is a valuable app for the independent traveler.
(Airport and sightseeing service)
A global leader in ground transportation for travelers. They help hundreds of companies around the world enhance their services and boost their revenue with our 5-star ride experiences and hassle-free automation
Founded in 2015 in Athens, Greece, Welcome Pick-ups goes above and beyond the standard transfer service as the first company to deliver a holistic, in-destination travel experience. From the moment a traveler arrives at a new destination until they return home, Welcome accommodates all their travel needs (transfers, travel products, things to do, information) as the easiest, friendliest, and most personalized solution.
Discover Europe by Train
Rail Europe sells train and bus tickets for travel across Europe. They cover 24 countries, 105 rail operations, and 20,000 stations. They are the official rail and bus operations agents in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Rail Europe continues to add coverage all the time.
It is a fast, easy, and economical way to purchase European train and bus tickets. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.
An excellent source for travel essentials and guides
We now have our own Amazon Storefront with all our favorite travel accessories and gear in one place. Check out our travel store at the link below.
Amazon is one of the most comprehensive online shopping sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com provide extensive options to customers.
We buy most of our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We have ordered up to two days before travel and get what we need.
Thoughtfully Designed | Meticulously Constructed | Quality Guaranteed.
We have used this luggage for years, left briefly to try others, and returned to Travelpro. Travelpro luggage is carried by crews from over 90 airlines worldwide.
Travelpro takes the time to learn what travelers want and need, then builds it. The key factor for us is that it must be lightweight upfront and resistant to rough handling. Their luggage is the best, and we could not recommend it enough. It is our go-to luggage.
This article contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
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