Five Things First Time Travellers To Sweden Should Know
- Not everyone speaks English. The official language is Swedish, and it's spoken by the vast majority of the population. That being said, the Swedish rank best in the world at speaking English and for the most part, you shouldn't have trouble communicating.
- Respect the locals' personal space. In Sweden, people keep their distance and even avoid standing too close to each other in lines. Keep this in mind when travelling on the bus. Don't sit next to people unless there aren't available seats anywhere else.
- You can drink the tap water. As an environmentally conscious country, many Swedes avoid buying bottled water and stick to drinking water straight from the tap.
- Be aware of the speed limits. The country's speed signs change a lot. Keep an eye out for them so you can adjust accordingly and avoid a fine.
- Cash is not king in Sweden. It's not uncommon to see "cash not accepted" signs at bars and shops. Not only is it safer, but it's more convenient. You'll just need to make sure to tell your bank to allow swipes from Sweden while you're in the country.
Best Time To Visit Sweden
The most popular time of year to visit Sweden is during its summer months. If you want to avoid the crowds, book your trip in June. There are great outdoor events like Midsummer's Eve, and you'll get to experience the famous Midnight Sun.
From July to August, prices will increase, and the country's top attractions will be overflowing with tourists. If you plan on visiting during this time, you'll need to book your accommodation a few months in advance. But it's worth it if you want to take advantage of the warm weather and swim at one of the country's beautiful beaches.
For budget travellers, the best time to visit is from August to September. Flights into the country will be significantly cheaper, and hotel rates will drop as the summer crowds make their way home. Plus, the winter chill has yet to set in so you can still enjoy Sweden's many outdoor attractions.
But if you want to see the Northern Lights, you need to book your trip during Sweden's winter months. This is the best time of year to see them as the sky is dark enough to witness the colourful display.
With over 200 ski resorts, winter is also the start of Sweden's second high season. Expect prices to increase as the ski resorts start to fill up from December to March.
Stockholm is the capital city of Sweden and one of the largest in Scandinavia. Established in the 13th century, the city has transformed into a bustling metropolis that is home to the prestigious Nobel Prize awards.
Its historical highlights include the Royal Palace, the Royal Armoury and Skokloster Castle. You'll also not want to miss the Swedish History, Vasa or Modern Art museums.
If you're looking for a year-round destination to visit, head to Malmo. It's known for its mild weather, even in winter and there is no shortage of things to do and see in the area.
Malmo is also one of Sweden's most diverse cities. Over 150 different ethnicities call the city home, creating a vibrant multi-cultural destination.
Spend your day exploring Malmo's three main squares, Malmohus Slott castle and Sweden's most talked about building, the Turning Torso.
Gothenburg is Sweden's second largest city and is the place to go if you want to escape the crowds. While it's usually overlooked by tourists, that doesn't mean the city has nothing to offer.
Gothenburg's parks date back to the 19th century, the city hosts the region's' largest film festival, and it boasts one of the biggest amusement parks in Scandinavia.
Uppsala is a university town that's known for its nightlife. It's a hot spot on the backpacking route and has tons of events throughout the year for those that want to party the night away.
But the city also has a long and fascinating history. In Uppsala, you'll find the ruins of an 11th-century church, a Viking burial ground and the Uppsala Cathedral which is the seat of the archbishop.
Top Attractions in Sweden
Located on the island of Lovo, Drottningholm Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 17th century.
Built for Queen Eleonora, it's still used as the official residence of the Swedish Royal Family. Inside the complex, you'll find a range of historical relics. The most famous are bronze sculptures found in the terraced park, brought back as trophies of war from Bohemia and Denmark.
There is also the 18th-century Palace Theatre that is still frequently used for performances. Visit the museum to see displays of scenery and costumes used throughout the centuries.
The Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in the country. Each year it attracts over a million visitors, and it's not hard to see why.
The museum contains a 1628 Vasa battleship. Once the pride of the Swedish Imperial fleet, it sank on its maiden voyage. Centuries later, the ship was salvaged and is now on display in the museum.
If you want to avoid the crowds, plan your visit in the early morning or the late afternoon. But keep in mind that the museum has a cap on capacity, and you could be denied entry during its busiest times.
The Gota Canal
The Gota Canal dates back to the 19th century and is 190 km long. It's considered one of Sweden's biggest construction projects and a top tourist attraction. Each year, more than two million people make their way to the canal to sail down its waterways.
Stretching from Sjotorp to Soderkoping, the canal features 47 bridges and 58 locks. It's best explored by hiring a boat and navigating yourself on its tranquil waters.
It's also called the foodie canal due to one of its most popular tours. Visitors can pick up a map of all the farm shops, and you can taste your way down the canal all the way to the coast.
Abisko National Park
Located in the Lapland region, lies Abisko National Park. It's 200 metres from the Arctic Circle making it one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Sweden.
The park also features a range of trails. The most famous one being the Kungsleden hiking trail. It's nearly 500 km long and takes eight days to complete. The route features a variety of different landscapes such as forests, valleys, lakes and mountains.
Keep a lookout for the Nordic wildlife such as bears, wolverines, lynx and reindeer.
Founded in 1080, Lund Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Sweden and the Nordic area. It's renowned for its Romanesque architecture and attracts 700,000 tourists each year.
Its most famous attraction is the astronomical clock featuring the figures of Three Kings. Built in the 14th century, it still works, and visitors can see the kings emerge twice a day at noon and 3:00 p.m.
Inside the cathedral, you'll also find an ancient crypt that's home to a pillar embraced by a giant called Finn. According to local legend, he built the church and was tricked and turned to stone.
While there is no entrance fee, guided tours are available on request.
Major International Airports in Sweden
- Stockholm Arlanda Airport
- Goteborg Landvetter Airport
- Malmö Airport
- Stockholm Skavsta Airport
- Stockholm Bromma Airport