Sun setting early over the ice hotel (Lyn Hughes)


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Sweden travel guide, including map of Sweden, top Sweden travel experiences, tips for travel in Sweden, plus the best islands in Sweden

Home to ABBA, IKEA and the Nobel Peace Prize, but also uninhabited islands, pristine national parks and Arctic wilderness, Sweden is a fascinating place. Here, the mood of the nation depends on light. Summer days are endless and carefree while in winter, at the northerly latitudes, the sun scarcely bothers to raise its head and a gloomier attitude descents – leavened by the sparkle of the northern lights and Christmas markets.

The Swedish are never happier than when outside, making this a great destination if you’re a fan of outdoor fresh-air fun. History buffs can explore Sweden’s stone circles and Bronze Age rock carvings, while fashionistas will love pottering and partying in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

Peddle past traditional windmills on the tiny island of Oland and then gorge on black caviar when you’re done. In the summer, head north to experience the midnight sun or go during winter to stay in a snowy suite at the Ice Hotel.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Stay in the coolest hotel on the planet – Sweden's Ice Hotel, at Jukkasjärvi, is resculpted every season. Drink in the Ice Bar before snuggling under a seriously thick sleeping bag for a chilled night's sleep. 
  2. Herd reindeer with the indigenous Sami – head to Kiruna, in the Arctic Circle, to arrange your trip.
  3. Explore Gothenburg – tour the streets of the fascinating city, then head off to an outlaying island for lazy cycling.
  4. Get lost in Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town, before boarding a ferry to explore the city's stunning archipelago.
  5. Pedal along pretty coastal paths and laze on the beaches on the island of Gotland, in the Baltic Sea

Wanderlust tips for travel in Sweden

Be careful with the Swedish word mil. The Scandinavian ‘mile’ is actually 10km.

Pre-book hostels wherever possible. Swedish hostels often refuse to check people in outside of their reception opening hours.

The idea of a smörgåsbord is that you keep popping back to the table; avoid looking like a glutton by not overloading your plate.

Further Reading

Travel in Sweden: vital statistics

  • Capital of Sweden: Stockholm
  • Population of Sweden: 9.3 million
  • Languages in Sweden: Swedish, Finnish, most people speak English
  • Time in Sweden: GMT+1
  • International dialling code in Sweden: +46
  • Voltage in Sweden: 230V/50Hz
  • Visas for Sweden: Sweden visa
  • Money in Sweden: Swedish krona (SEK). Service charge and tips are usually included in restaurant bills and taxi fares.
  • Sweden travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Sweden tourist board: Visit Sweden

When to go to Sweden

Sweden is at its best during the long summer days between May and September, although if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outside, you might want to avoid mosquito season (June and July).

To experience the midnight sun you need to be above the Arctic Circle between 31 May and 14 July.

Winters are very cold, but offer a different range of activities – head north for husky-sledding, Ice Hotel stays and the northern lights between November and March.

Sweden international airports

Arlanda (STO) 45km from Stockholm; Skavsta (NYO) 100km from Stockholm.


Getting around Sweden

Sweden has an excellent network of public transport. The bus and regional train networks are integrated. ScanRail has a flexible rail pass which covers travel in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Domestic flights can be expensive.

Cycling is a joy in Sweden and cyclists are well respected by other road users.

Boats are also popular. Gotland is served by regular ferries.

Sweden accommodation

Swedish people love the great outdoors making camping and country cabins far more popular than drab hotels. Campsites with excellent facilities are everywhere, although most are only open between May and September. Sweden has a a good hostel network too.

Tourist offices have lists of homestays. Look out for the sign ‘Rum & Frukost’ when driving – it indicates cheap B&B-style accommodation. Hotels are mostly operated by big chains.

Sweden food & drink

Fermented herring, reindeer stew, meatballs, stuffed pike with horseradish – Swedish cuisine may not be to everyone’s taste but you can’t fault the quality of the produce. Fresh fish is abundant in Sweden and wild berries and mountain-reared meat are staples. If you’re short on time, a smörgåsboard is a great introduction to Swedish food.

Alcohol is expensive in Sweden but it’s an important part of the culture – just be sure not to start necking your drink until your host or hostess has toasted you with a resounding ‘Skål!’

Sweden is a great destination for vegetarians: most major towns have a selection of veggie restaurants.

Health & safety in Sweden

Check with your GP before travelling that your immunisations are up to date. Tap water is safe to drink.

Bring mosquito repellent if you’re planning to be in Sweden during the summer.

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