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Sweden

Sophisticated modern-day Sweden is a far cry from the ancient days of bloodthirsty Vikings. Stereotypes abound but there are far more layers to Sweden's cultural mx than images of Volvos, Vikings, ABBA and IKEA might lead you to imagine. [See Sweden itinerary ideas]

Summer sees a Sweden that's lush and green whilst in winter it's a magical land of snow and sparkling ice, where you can speed through powder-covered pine forests on a sleigh pulled by reindeer or a team of huskies, go in search of the Northern Lights or stay in an Ice Hotel built from ice blocks cut from the River Torne.

Built on a series of islands where the freshwater Lake Malaren meets the salt water of the Baltic, Stockholm is Sweden's charming capital. Explore the attractive Old Town area and visit the nearby national parks; in the evening sample a restaurant scene that competes with the best in Europe and join the locals as they let their hair down.

Travel to Gothenburg to visit some of the 17 museums and 25 theatres found here alongside an opera house, art museum, concert hall and Europe's biggest botanical garden.

Away from the cities explore Halland, a narrow province on the Golden Coast that's lined with sandy beaches fringed with pine forests. Inland the region is characterised by ridges and valleys, forests and moors.

Swedish Lapland, one of Europe's last remaining wildernesses, is a frontier region of jagged peaks, snow-covered meadows and evergreen forests. Visit Lulea to stay in a Treehotel or enjoy some of the many outdoor pursuits and adrenaline activities on offer, including snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice driving and snowshoeing.

WEXAS Travel brochure for Sweden

Bermuda

Our in depth guide packed with background information, sample itineraries designed by our experts and hand-picked suggestions for what to see and do, where to stay and when best to go.


When to go

"There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."
Swedish proverb

For the most part Sweden has a cool, temperate climate. South of the country from Stockholm and the Great Lakes is warmer. Summers are generally sunny, with average temperatures of 20°C in the south and around 17°C in the north, although hot spells with temperatures reaching 30°C or above is not unusual. With Norway's mountains acting as a break, annual rainfall is moderate, though August can be wet. The west coast is warmer than the east, due to the warming Gulf Stream.

The harsh Lapland winter runs from October to April, when temperatures can drop as low as -50°C. Heavy snows make for excellent skiing well into April throughout the north (where many people ski to and from work), and you can even ski beneath the midnight sun at Riksgränsen in Lapland from late May to the end of June. Northern lights viewing within the Arctic Circle is possible from December to February. There are also opportunities for activities like dogsledding and snowmobiling.

Generally speaking, May to September are the best months to visit. Summers are similar to southern Britain, but with less rain and longer daylight hours, though hikers and campers should avoid the peak of the mosquito season in June and July.

Sweden is prone to shut down on public holidays. At midsummer and Christmas even much of Stockholm closes for three days, but the big cities otherwise have year-round attractions. Swedes tend to take their holidays from late June to mid-August, when popular destinations such as Öland can be crowded.

JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
 BEST TIME
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 SOME LIMITATIONS

Essential Experiences

We’ve rounded up our list of recommended sites and things to do. Click on the map to enlarge it and see what we suggest or follow the links in the list to discover how to get the best out of your holiday.


Practical Information

Capital - Stockholm

Size - 450,295 sq km

Language - Swedish (94%); Finnish (5%) and minority languages

Population - 9.6 million (2012)

Religion - 67.5% Lutheran (Church of Sweden); 4% Muslim; 2% Catholic

Currency - 1 Swedish krona = 100 ore

Time zone - GMT + 1 hour

Flight time -London to Gothenburg 2 hours; London to Stockholm 2 hours 30 mins

Festivals

Midsummer is the most important holiday in the Swedish calendar, centring on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice, with countrywide celebrations beginning on the Friday before with the raising of maypoles followed by partying long into the night. During the three-day weekend, many tourist attractions, shops and restaurants are closed. Other festivals and seasonal events include:

January - Kiruna Snow Festival, Lapland. Snow-sculpting competitions, reindeer-sled racing and other traditional and non-traditional events in Sweden's northernmost city.

January - Gothenburg International Film Festival. Feature, documentary and short film screenings and other events, seminars and parties.

February - Jokkmokk Winter Market. 400-year-old annual Sami market, featuring folk dancing, reindeer races and traditional food just inside the Arctic Circle.

February/March - Vasaloppet. Annual week-long ski festival centring on a 90km cross-country ski race between Sälen and Mora, commemorating future king Gustav Vasa's flight on skis from Kalmar Union troops in 1521.

March - House of Metal, Umeå. Two-day indoor hardcore rock festival.

30 April - Walpurgis Night. De facto half-day holiday when bonfires are lit to herald the spring, predominantly in the old university towns of Upsalla and Lund.

June - Sweden Rock Festival, Sölvesburg. Annual three-day hard rock festival.

June - Smaka På, Stockholm. Week-long food festival and cooking competitions in Kungsträdgården.

July - Piteå Dansar, Norrbotten. Street carnival of music, dance, food and crafts.

July - Rättvik Folklore Festival. Celebration of international folk dancing on the shores of Lake Siljan.

July - Storsjöyran, Österjön. Three-day international music festival.

August - Visby Medieval Week. Gotland's medieval city hosts themed markets, games and a huge banquet.

August - Dalhalla Opera Festival, Rättvik. The venue is an amphitheatre with superb acoustics, carved out of an old limestone quarry.

August - Stockholm Pride. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parade and festival.

August - Way Out West, Gothenburg. Three-day rock, electronic and hip-hop festival including after-hours gigs at various venues around the city.

August - Kräftskivor (crayfish parties). Outdoor food and drink parties throughout Sweden mark the end of summer.

September - Öland's Harvest Festival, Borgholm. The island's artists, farmers, craftsmen and restaurants show off the best of Öland's produce over four days.

September - Lindingöloppet. The world's largest cross-country race, with classes for everyone from juniors to veterans aside from the main 30km event in Lindigö, northeast of Stockholm.

October - Stockholm Jazz Festival. International jazz and blues at various venues across the city, including Skeppsholmen island.

October - Hem & Villa, Stockholm. The country's largest interior design fair.

October/November - Umeå International Jazz Festival. Five days of concerts featuring Swedish and international artists.

November - Stockholm International Film Festival. Screenings of new international and independent Swedish films.

November/December - Gamla Stan Christmas Market. An annual institution since 1915 in Stockholm Old Town's main square featuring seasonal handicrafts and delicacies.

Visas

Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.

Passport requirements

Passports must be valid for the full duration of your stay. No additional period of validity is required.

Money

Currency

Bank notes are printed in values of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 kronor, and coins come in 1, 2, 5 and 10 kronor. Öre coins were discontinued in 2010. Goods may still be priced in öre, but sums are rounded to the nearest krona when paying in cash.

There is no limit on the amount of Swedish and foreign currency you can take into Sweden.

ATMs

ATMs are everywhere in towns and cities, and in rural areas you can usually withdraw money at kiosks or petrol stations.

Cash and EFTPOS

Always keep some cash on you for small purchases. If you wish to withdraw or exchange money over the counter, banks are normally open from 10 am to 3 pm from Monday to Friday only, with longer hours on Thursdays to 4 or 6 pm. Credit and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere, even for small amounts like parking fees.

Guideline prices

Sweden is generally a little cheaper than its near neighbours, but with around 10 Swedish kronor to the pound at the time of writing, everyday goods can seem expensive to British travellers. Expect to pay around 30 kr for a coffee, 50 kr for a beer (500 ml draft or 33cl bottle) and 15 kr for a soft drink. A meal for two in a mid-range restaurant is from around 500 kr.

Regions [9]

Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in Sweden, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0618.


Itinerary ideas [26]

The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Sweden. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0618.

Gothenburg’s Christmas Markets

Special offer From £220 pp incl. flights
Short break City History & culture

From the middle of November into early January, the beautiful Swedish city of Gothenburg is transformed into a winter wonderland of festive fun. Millions of …

A winter break in Swedish Lapland

Special offer From £949 pp incl. flights
Activity & adventure Winter Natural world

Overlooking the frozen sea and snow-covered islands of the beautiful Luleå Archipelago, Brändön Lodge - part of the long-established Brändö Adventure Camp …

Lulea & Jopikgarden, Sweden

From £750 pp incl. flights
Winter Natural world Activity & adventure

Travel by snowmobile across the frozen sea ice from the port city of Lulea on the Gulf of Bothnia to Jokipgarden hotel, a romantic retreat on the small island …

Sörbyn Lodge & Aurora Safari Camp

From £1685 pp incl. flights
Northern lights Activity & adventure Winter

A terrific potential for Northern Lights sightings, dogsled touring with purebred Siberian huskies, a stay at Lapland's first African safari-influenced …

Lulea and the Treehotel

From £1835 pp incl. flights
Activity & adventure Natural world Winter

Set just outside the small village of Harads, 60km south of the Arctic Circle, the Treehotel is a high-design, back-to-nature retreat where guests can slow …

Lulea winter break, Sweden

From £440 pp incl. flights
Short break Activity & adventure Winter

The picturesque town of Lulea, on the shores of the Gulf of Bothnea, is fast becoming the number one reason for visiting Swedish Lapland. Set on a peninsula …

Best of Swedish Lapland

From £2195 pp incl. flights
Winter Activity & adventure Natural world

See the best that Swedish Lapland has to offer on this fully-inclusive five-day tour, combining traditional lodge and farmhouse accommodation with the …

Belles of the Baltic - Helsinki, Stockholm & Tallinn

From £530 pp incl. flights
City History & culture

This superb five-day independent tour takes you to three fantastic capitals in just five days. You'll travel from the Swedish capital, Stockholm, to Finland's …

Gothenburg & Stockholm Sweden

From £495 pp incl. flights
City History & culture

Combine Sweden's two largest cities on this five-day tailor-made tour, staying at 4-star superior hotels and travelling across the country by train. Begin in …

Cruising the West Coast of Sweden 6-day independent tour

History & culture Natural world Adventure cruise

The small islets and skerries of Sweden's scenic west coast are a delightful setting for cruising, stopping off in pretty villages and harbours en route where …

Gotland & Stockholm fly-drive

Self-drive City Natural world

Gotland is arguably Sweden's best-kept secret. Surrounded by the Baltic, halfway between Sweden and Latvia, the island boasts around 100 medieval churches and …

A snapshot of Swedish Lapland

From £1395 pp incl. flights
Natural world Activity & adventure Winter

Staying at some of the most charming and unique accommodation in Swedish Lapland, this five-day tailor-made holiday sees you journey through the stunning winter …

Stockholm & Åre

Ski Winter Activity & adventure

The international ski resort of Åre, in western Sweden near to the Norwegian border, is one of Scandinavia's most popular holiday destinations. As well being …

Long weekend in Lapland, Sweden

Winter Wildlife Natural world

With animals as the predominant means of transport you'll not only be immersed in Lapland's natural beauty, you'll also be travelling with the lightest of …

Arctic Adventure in Swedish Lapland

Winter Activity & adventure Natural world

The town of Luleå in Swedish Lapland sits on the Gulf of Bothnia, surrounded by forests and more than 700 islands. In winter, when the gulf freezes over, the …

Historic Hotels of Sweden

Self-drive City History & culture

Historic Hotels of Sweden is an association of nine privately owned manor houses, castles and traditional hotels known for their scenic or convenient locations, …

West coast seafood safari - Sweden

City Safari History & culture

The west coast of Sweden is a foodie's fantasy and this five-day self-drive tour gives a taste of its many flavours. Begin with two nights in Gothenburg, where …

In the footsteps of Wallander

Self-drive Spa History & culture

The southernmost region of Skane is one of Sweden's most popular regions for visitors, with attractive seaside towns, child-friendly sandy beaches, many miles …

Stockholm's Archipelago Exclusive

City Spa History & culture

The Stockholm Archipelago is Sweden's largest and most beautiful. Made up of a maze of more than 30,000 islands and islets, the archipelago stretches 37 miles …

Stockholm & Aland Islands 7-day cruise & self-drive tour

City Self-drive History & culture

The Aland Islands are made up of a staggering 90,000 islands, located in the Baltic Sea between Stockholm in Sweden and Turku in Finland are a renowned as a …

Stockholm city break at Clarion Sign

Short break History & culture Spa

The picturesque city of Stockholm enjoys an enviable location, spread across a series of beautiful islands on Sweden's east coast, at the western edge of the …

Places to stay [7]

The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Sweden. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Sweden, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0618.

Treehotel, Sweden

Superior

What does Superior mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).
£££££

What does this price mean

?
x

WEXAS price guide

£££££ typically more than £400 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £400 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £300 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £200 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £100 per room per night

Note that hotel rates can vary widely depending on factors such as season

Activity & adventure Natural world Northern lights

Set high in a beautiful pine forest, 60 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle outside the small village of Harads, are six unique treehouses created by six …

Elite Plaza Hotel, Gothenburg

Superior

What does Superior mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).
£££££

What does this price mean

?
x

WEXAS price guide

£££££ typically more than £400 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £400 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £300 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £200 per room per night

£££££ typically up to £100 per room per night

Note that hotel rates can vary widely depending on factors such as season

City History & culture Short break

The Elite Plaza Hotel in Gothenburg is located in a palatial building originally designed by top architects of the era. It has now been lovingly restored with …

Ice Hotel - Excursions

Remote and stunningly beautiful, the Ice Hotel and its surrounding landscape offers an amazing opportunity to explore this icy wilderness in Swedish Lapland. As …

Hellsten Hotel

Superior

What does Superior mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

This is a stylish boutique hotel with plenty of charm and character. During your stay you may well meet the charismatic owner, who having travelled extensively, …

Hotel Diplomat Stockholm

Superior

What does Superior mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

The Hotel Diplomat enjoys a superb location in the heart of the capital, overlooking Stockholm’s waterfront at Nybroviken Quay. Housed within an impressive …

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A festive weekend in Gothenburg

Wexas Travel's Content Editor David Ward travels to Gothenburg on Sweden's scenic west coast and … [Read more about A festive weekend in Gothenburg]

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