Sweden is the home of Volvo and Abba, great design such as Ikea and Bodo, of marvellous countryside and stunning island archipelagos. Its capital, Stockholm, is one of the most attractive in Europe built across fourteen islands and with canals that crisscross it, giving it the resemblance of Venice. Out into the Baltic Sea, thousands more islands mean that visitors to the capital can explore by boat, enjoying the fresh sea air and clear, ink blue sea. Gothenburg, its second city, is bulging with cultural attractions including museums with several different themes, art galleries, some of whom are amongst the finest in Scandinavia and several parks and gardens.
For those that love the countryside, the panorama changes the further north you travel with Gotaland in the south, the main food producing area of the country, flat and fertile before moving north into Svealand where much of the country’s forestry takes place. Further north still, the tundra and taiga begin and wild heathland, extensive marshland and natural forests bring mystery to the largely desolate and sparsely populated Norrland. Wintertime brings winter sports and whilst not a top ski destination for foreign tourists, the Swedes come out in their droves at the first sign of winter snow to ski. In the far north, temporary accommodation in the form of ice hotels springs up for those wanting a different experience.
Getting to Sweden is relatively cheap and easy with international flights, including several from UK regional airports, arriving at Stockholm’s three airports including Skavsta, used by the budget airlines, Ryanair and Wizzair. You can also get international flights to Malmo and Gothenburg as well as flying into Copenhagen in Denmark and crossing the Oresund Bridge to Malmo. Within the country distances can be huge but with most of the major destinations being in the south of the country, travel distances between the best places of interest to tourists are relatively short. Internal flights are expensive unless booked well in advance but are still worth considering if your journey will take you from Ulea to Malmo for example.
Trains are a good option, especially for travel in the south, where good network coverage can be enjoyed. The further north your journey takes you, the less likely you are to find a train as the settlements are often few and far between. The northernmost route operates from Lulea on the Gulf of Bothnia, northwest through Kiruna and across the Norwegian border to Narvik and was built to service the mining industry although passenger services also operate there. Beyond this there are no further opportunities for train travel. Trains again can be expensive and tourists wishing to use this means of transport are recommended to buy an InterRail card to lessen the cost.
Cheaper still are buses with regional companies operating in the south and between the south and the north. Travel times are comparable with trains, especially as trains can often be delayed on longer routes. Locally, small bus companies offer routes around populated areas and out into the countryside and are often the only means of transport in these areas. Hiring a car and driving through Sweden is an interesting option and in the south, travelling by car is quick and painless. Further north the roads can be less well maintained and distances between signs of life are often much longer. The monotony of the journeys often lead to accidents as do encounters on the road with wild animals such as deer and moose.
If you’re thinking of visiting the country of very polite people who design household goods with very strange names, then take a look at our ideas for what to do in each part of the country, close to the regional airports, and plan your itinerary carefully to see as much as you can whilst in Sweden.