Although Sweden still suffers from being generally expensive like the rest of Scandinavia, recent devaluation of the Swedish Kroner has made Sweden a lot more affordable. Sweden is a large country although it is quite sparsely populated; this means that there is plenty of unspoilt scenery and the northern part of the country is well in the Arctic circle where you will be able to find year long skiing and stunning glacial vistas.
Sweden has a reputation for being cosmopolitan and cities such as Gothenburg and the capital Stockholm offer a host of facilities, services and cultural attractions. It is, of course, impossible to go to Sweden without sampling a Smorgasbord or indulging in a little of Sweden's world famous Absolut vodka.
- Currency: Swedish Krone (Skr) = 100 Ýre
- Time Zone: GMT + 1
- Language: Swedish
- Telephone Services: Country code +46, International Access code 009
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
The summers in Sweden can be relatively warm especially further south but there is frequent light showers of rain particularly in the area around Gothenburg. The winters are cold, ports are often iced in and the northern area receives a lot of snowfall. The temperature during winter is typically about freezing point, even colder in the arctic north and Lappland.
Things to see and do
Sweden's medieval capital, Stockholm is situated on an archipelago making it best seen from the water on one of the myriad guided tours available. The old town, Gamla Stan is situated on the island of Stadshomen and is the site of the Royal Palace which is well worth taking time out to see its impressive collection or weapons and armour from the middle ages. Just east of the main city of Stockholm is the Island Djurgarden which boasts the worlds first open air museum whose exhibits include a zoo.
Gothenburg is Sweden's second largest city and being slightly warmer than Stockholm attracts a lot of visitors many can't resist spending some time in Lisberg which is Gothenburg's amusement park. Once you drag yourself away from the various rides you will find plenty to see and do, the Konstmuseet will satisfy your thirst for culture with its collection of artwork including exhibits by Rubens, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. To see something a little more modern the Sjofartshistoriska is a museum of Maritime history and contains exhibits reaching right up to the present day.
The city of Malmo in the province of Skane is a good alternative attraction, the city has ample park lands and architecture as well as a beautifully preserved renaissance castle. Malmo really comes alive however in the second week of August where is is host to the Malmo festival. This yearly festival combines live music, theatre, sports, film, dance and even comedy in a hectic week of culture. The festival generally has zones put in place to cater for different age groups so you can be sure to find something which is to your taste.
History lovers might like to take a trip to Gamla Uppsala which is the site of three huge 6th century burial mounds. Uppsala also boasts cathedral ruins and an imformative outdoor museum. For those interested in history there is enough to see to spend at least half a day here and would make an interesting diversion on route to another location.
Sweden's rail network is one of the most efficient and most advanced in Europe. The network is run by SJ and major routes are serviced by the X2000 high speed trains. These trains travel at up to 125mph and allow a traveller to get between Stockholm and Gothenburg in under 3 hours. Other routes are serviced by more conventional Intercity trains. A seat reservation is required on X2000 and overnight trains so you will have to book these in advance. Tickets are available from train stations.
SJ offer flexi-pass to allow cheaper travel in Sweden, these are available in first and second class flavours and allow between three and five days of travel during a opne month preiod. These passes start at just over £100 for a 2nd class 3 day pass and can make travelling much more affordable. Scanrail also offer a flexipass which allows up to 10 days of travel in a 2 month period. This pass is also valid throughout Scandinavia and entitles the bearer to discounts on many ferry journeys within Scandinavia.
The bus routes reach the few places that the rail network doesn't and are generally of good value and quality. Each country operates its own local bus network each with its own set of discounts. However most travellers will find the long distance express services operated by Swebus and Svenska Bus are much more useful. Eurolines operates a range of international coach trips stopping in Sweden and going to other major European cities. Those planning to visit Sweden will find http://www.tagplus.se/ tagplus an invaluable aid, although this website doesn't allow online booking from outside Sweden it has comprehensive information on all forms of public transport throughout Sweden. The site will let you select a destination and a departure city and will calculate a host of routes including changes and even give you up to date accurate travel information.
Hotels although expensive tend to be very high quality in Sweden, many organise excursions for their guests during the holiday seasons and during the summer the higher end hotels will almost certainly have swimming provision for their guests. A comprehensive list of Swedish hotels can be found at hotelsinsweden.net. There is no grading system as such but hotels which belong to the Swedish Hotel & Restaurant Association display an SHR logo on their signs. This is generally a sign that the hotel is of a very good standard.
For those watching their budget there are nearly 300 youth hostels in Sweden and you should have no trouble finding one close to your destination, members of the UK Youth Hostel Association will often qualify for a discount in Swedish hostels so be sure to take your card with you. A comprehensive list of Swedish hostels can be found at the Youth Hostel Association's web site.
The standard of health in Sweden is high and the UK has a reciprocal agreement with the Swedish health service entitling British nationals to free emergency medical treatment. Further treatment cover can be obtained by bearing a completed E111 from. You should still take out travel insurance however as these two levels of cover will not extend to some medical treatments. The drinking water in Sweden is considered safe and there are no vaccinations required or recommended before visiting.
The Swedish Travel and Tourism board dispenses advice for visitors travelling to Sweden.
The Youth Hostel Association's website holds details of hostels throughout the world, including in Sweden.
Hotelsinsweden.net maintains a comprehensive list of hotels throughout Sweden.
Svenska Bus operates an intercity express coach service
Swebus operates an intercity express service.
SJ operates the rail and X2000 high speed rail networks
Tagplus is an excellent site for planning rail, bus and ferry journeys within Sweden.