Fairytale ice plains, snow-capped mountains and the occasional sighting of the incredible Northern Lights… Not to mention having one of the highest standards of living for any country anywhere. Visit Sweden and find out what all the fuss is about!
Make sure to read up on everything you should know before you go below!
Dive into our (free) travel guides below!
The Key Info
Attracting more than five million tourists each year, Sweden is a small country located in the north of Europe. Known as the land of contrasts, enjoy coastal islands, dense forests, snow-topped mountains, and deep blue archipelagos.
At 250, 295 sq. km it is the largest country in northern Europe and it has a population of around 10.3 million. Bordering Norway to the west and north and Finland to the East, there are three major regions: Götaland to the south, Norrland to the North, and Svealand in the center. The climate and geography vary wildly across the country. In the far north you can discover the arctic conditions of the tundra and the northern lights, and to the south, evergreen forests. Wherever you visit, this Scandinavian nation offers a chance to glimpse some of the best scenery that nature has to offer.
Country in Numbers
- Population number: 10, 272 518
- Total size of the country: 450 295 sq km
- Capital city: Stockholm
- Currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)_
- Language: Swedish
- Religion: Church of Sweden (63.2%), Islam (1.4%), Catholics (1.2 %), Other Protestants (3.8%), Non- Religious (28.4%)
The 5 Largest Cities in Sweden
Sweden’s capital is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Set amongst canals, waterways, and bridges, Stockholm is built across fourteen small islands and is often portrayed as being the ‘Venice of the North’. The city is centered on Gamla Stan, the old town, a medieval enclave of sights, attractions, bars, and shops. This is the ideal spot to embrace Stockholm’s café culture. Across the city, there are multiple museums and galleries, including the Vasamuseet, Sweden’s most famous attractions. Explore the city by public transport; it is fast, reliable and affordable. Plus, 90 subway stations are decorated with phenomenal subway art. Stretching over 110 kilometers, this is officially the world’s longest art gallery.
Located on the west coast of Sweden, Gothenburg (Gøteborg) is a beautiful city, known for its food, music, and fashion. It is a popular student city, and it has a bright and vibrant nightlife as well as culinary delights and world-class restaurants. Whereas thrill-seekers would love a visit to Scandinavia’s biggest theme park, the Liseberg. For those who appreciate art, the Konstmuseet is a must, with original pieces by Rubens, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Munch.
Connected to central Europe via the Öresund Bridge, Malmö is a diverse multi-cultural and cosmopolitan city. Whilst it is only small, it is a modern city that is eco-minded, liberal, and has some of the best bars and restaurants in the country. Spend sunny days relaxing in Sweden’s oldest public park, Folkets, and enjoy the entertainment, rides, and animals.
Uppsala is a university town that is rich in history and culture. Considered to be the spiritual heart of the country, the cathedral is considered to be Sweden’s most important church. Dating back to the 3rd century, the Uppsala Cathedral offers an eclectic mix of architectural style and the building is beautifully ornate, both inside and out. The city is filled with museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants, as well as relaxing green spots and open-air exhibitions.
A city in central Sweden, Västerås is the fifth largest city in Sweden, with a population of just over a hundred thousand. With weird and wonderful architecture, fragrant flower gardens, and excellent museums and attractions, you are bound to fall in love with this unique and charming city. Although not massively popular amongst tourists, it is a beautiful place to visit and one of the country’s oldest cities.
Top Tourist Attractions
1. Vasa Museum, Stockholm
With more than 1 million visitors annually, the Vasa Museum is Sweden’s top tourist attraction. Opening in 1990, the museum included a well-preserved fully-intact 17th-century ship. The pride of the Swedish Imperial fleet, the ship was originally supposed to be a symbol of their might, but unfortunately, it sunk on its maiden fleet. The cold icy waters preserved the ship, providing a 6 level glimpse of marine life in the 1620s.
2. Drottningholm Palace
Drottningholm Palace is reminiscent of a fairy tale. A lavish royal residence based on the island of Lovö, this is a UNESCO world heritage site as well as being the official residence of the Swedish royal family. Set amongst stunning royal gardens, you can also enjoy summertime performances at the palace theatre as well as wonder at the costumes and props in the Theatre Museum. The best way to get there is by boat from Stockholm.
3. The Ice Hotel
Founded in 1989 the world’s first-ever ice hotel is in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden’s most northern town. Everything in the hotel is constructed from snow and ice, including the bar which serves up top quality food and drink. Every year the theme changes but it is always elaborate and definitely worth a visit. A stay in the Ice Hotel is pretty pricey, but it is open for tours during the day.
4. The Gota Canal
Dating back to the early 19th century, The Gota canal is 190 kilometers in length and includes 46 bridges and 58 locks. It offers a stunning glimpse into the heart of Sweden, with hundreds of experiences along the way. Rent a bicycle for a lovely ride down the waterside or choose from one of the many passenger cruise vessels.
5. Northern Lights
Although not the best place to spot the northern lights, many tourists head to Sweden’s northern reaches for a chance to witness this natural light show. On many a bucket list, a trip to Lapland is a chance to spot the auroras amongst the tundra-like landscape.
Best Time to Travel
Well, that will depend on the purpose of your trip. Although there is some variation in weather across the country, there are generally four distinct seasons. Tourists tend to visit the country between May and September as winter is particularly cold. If you are visiting in the winter months, you will need to wrap up warm, with temperatures often falling below freezing. However, this is the best time if you want to see the northern lights or check out Sweden’s quality snow sports scene.
Alternately, in the summer it can get relatively warm, providing the perfect climate to explore the islands and lakes as well as Sweden’s breath-taking coast. Midsummer is also a great time to visit, with the celebrations for the Summer Solstice being the biggest party of the year!
Holidays in Sweden
- 1 January: New Year
- 7 January: Orthodox Christmas
- 15 February: Serbian National Day
- 19 April: Good Friday
- 26 April: Orthodox Good Friday
- 29 April: Orthodox Easter Monday
- 1 May: Labour day
- 6 June: Swedish National Day
- 21 June: Midsummer eve
- 24 December: Christmas Eve
- 25 December: Christmas day
- 31 December: New Year’s Eve
Sweden is part of the European Union, so EU citizens will not require a visa to enter the country. Citizens of Non-EU countries can stay for a maximum of 90 days and may need to apply for a Schengen visa. This will allow travel across the 26 countries in the Schengen zone. Your Passport needs to be valid for at least 3 months after the end of your trip and health insurance may be required.
The monetary unit in Sweden is the Swedish Krona, and the different bank notes are 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000. Paying by card is popular, and some areas are even cash-free. Always make sure you check your bank’s international commission rates before you travel, and let them know that you will be leaving the country. Tipping is not really a part of Swedish culture. It is always welcome but there are no expectations and you are not obligated to in any way.
What you pack for your trip will depend on when you are visiting and for what purpose. In winter, Sweden gets pretty freezing, and you will need appropriate winter gear. Think ski- and snow-wear, especially if you are visiting the north. Sunglasses are required at most times of the year, as well as sunscreen to protect from the sun’s harmful rays. At all times of the year, Swedish weather can be changeable, and we recommend checking the forecast before you pack for your trip, as well as each day before you head out.
DOs and DON’Ts in Country
|Fika with friends: In Sweden, to fika is a social institution and it often involves coffee with cake or a sweet bun as well as excellent conversation.||Assume people speak English: Although 80% of the population of Sweden do speak English, and often to a high level, you cannot assume that everyone does.|
|Keep it quiet: Respect other people around you, keep your voices down and try to avoid highly animated body language.||Flash the cash: It is important to avoid shows of wealth or talking about money as the Swedes appreciate modesty and discretion.|
|Get a city tourism card: Allowing access to public transport and free entrance to many museums and attractions, a tourism card for the city you are visiting is definitely worth it.||Litter: Littering is not done in Sweden. It is a country that is passionate about protecting the environment, and Swedish people have a strong sense of civic duty.|
|Book public transport in advance: Like most things, public transport in Sweden can be pretty pricey, but you can save some money by booking a couple of months in advance.||Be late: Punctuality is the politeness of kings, and in Sweden, being late is considered rather rude. If you are going to be late for a meeting, let the person know as soon as possible.|
Secret Tips From Bloggers
- The Gulf of Bothnia offers a magical experience that is often underrated – The Local
- Have a nature trip like no other with a stay in Sweden’s Treehotel – TheTravel.com
- Keep your eye out for restaurants that have a sign saying ‘Dagens ratt’ or dish of the day for a cheaper meal option at lunch – Slow Travel Stockholm
7 Instagrammable places
- City Hall, Stockholm (500k)
- Varberg (283k)
- Kiruna (170k)
- The Ice Hotel (75k)
- Ribersborg (21k)
- Faroe Islands (471k)
- Gammelstad Church (6k)
Fun Facts about Sweden
Did you know?
- In Stockholm speed cameras capture good behaviour as well as bad. Good drivers get entered into a lottery!
- Sweden has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
- They are the world’s third-largest exporter of music.
- Donald duck is a favorite character in Sweden, with no Swedish Christmas being complete without Donald Duck Cartoons on Christmas Eve.
- The country is made up of 24,000 islands and it has over 1000 lakes.