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Sweden Travel Guide

Malmo
Malmo Sweden

Spending time in Sweden on loan was one of the best things I ever did.”

Peter Crouch
Malmo Sweden

Top Five Destinations In Sweden

  1. Stockholm Is the picturesque capital city of Sweden, home to the Nobel Prize, 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 cosmopolitan thriving culture.
  2. Malmo and environs A medieval city with a strong modern pulse. It has a rich history while being a multicultural melting pot. With a lovely old town, fantastic squares full of Swedes enjoying life, the Malmohus Castle, and a young vibe, it has something for everyone. Malmo links to Denmark via the fascinating Oresund Bridge. Outside the city, there is this lovely countryside dotted with castles and inviting towns.
  3. 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, fascinating neighborhoods dotted with colorful wooden houses, and in the midst of a city that is the gateway to archipelagoes and charming fishing villages. Gothenburg also has the region’s largest film festival as well as numerous music festivals throughout the year.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

Sweden Stats

  • 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%
  • US 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%.

Funs facts

  • 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 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 that it has run out of garbage and imports 80,000 tons a year 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.

Sweden Map

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 there is no tip expected or required. Tipping has never been a part of the culture in Sweden.
  • Credit cards are accepted everywhere.
  • Overall, clothing is stylish and fashionable. Swedes wear subdued clothes and preferred dark and muted colors. They dress casually but with class. 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 full winter gear and 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. A debt of any kind, 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 common. 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 quiet by nature, so speak in a subdued tone of voice. They don’t like flashiness or people who brag.
  • Swedes will 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 are made up of meat, seafood, dairy products, bread, vegetables, and fruits. They love their coffee and dairy. 
  • Swedish meatballs are really a traditional dish of 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 as the fifth largest consumer of chocolates globally. The average Swede is reports to eat almost 15 pounds of chocolate each year. Considering they have one of the longest life expectancies is 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 the 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; you will find excellent English spoken everywhere.
  • It is a very safe country.

Sweden Essential Info

US Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a US Phone 1-888-407-4747
Outside of US 011-202-501-4444

US Embassy Stockholm
Dag Hammarskjölds Väg 31,
SE-115 89 Stockholm, Sweden
Telephone: +(46) (8) 783-5300
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(46) (8) 783-5300
Fax: +(46) (8) 783-5480
Email: [email protected]

Emergency Numbers
GENERAL 112

Country Code
+46

Time Zone
UTC+1

Driving
Right side

Adaptors
“Standard” Euro plug
Type C or F

Tourism Office
visitsweden.com

When to go to Sweden

Sweden is mostly 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. There are various outdoor events and activities, including swimming at some of Sweden’s fantastic beaches. This includes many clothing-optional beaches if you are into that. High season, summer, can be quite 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 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!

Travel Books/Guides

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

Full disclosure, 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 Scandanavian guide. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach, together with his independent travel philosophy, matches 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

1. Sweden tourism site

2. US 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 US Federal Government addressing the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency US 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

Michelin Sweden Map 753

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, along with accommodation providers, and things to do. Find 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 on your local app store.

Duolingo-Language Lesson Audio lessons that help improve your listening and speaking skills. Find on your local app store.

Google Translate We use this often to practice proper pronunciations of Swedish words. As we always encourage, it is essential to learn the basics to greet and thank people in the local language. 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

© 2021 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

Our Sweden Posts

Squaremouth.com

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 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.

MedjetAssist

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 US 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 $295. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.

Expedia.com 

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, cruises, to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  

Booking.com

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)

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 also has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family, with no problems to date.

Tripadvisor

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 around the world 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 delicious 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.

Rail Europe

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 train and bus tickets for Europe. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.

Amazon.com

An excellent source for travel essentials and guides

Amazon is one of the most extensive shopping online 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 it is their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com that provide extensive options for 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.

Travelpro Luggage

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 very resistant to rough handling. Their luggage is the best, and we could not recommend it enough. It is our go-to luggage.

iVisa

Travel documentation made more accessible

iVisa.com is dedicated to providing customers with a simple, fast, and reliable way to get travel documentation for their journey. Their online application process makes getting visas, health declarations, or passport photos a breeze, all from your home’s comfort. As a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry, they take pride in making global travel more accessible for everyone. In the end, it is a simple and affordable travel resource to get the necessary entry documents complete for your international travel.

This section contains affiliate links. If you use these links (the ads with photos are NOT affiliate links) to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

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