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Country Profile: Sweden

In Sweden, love of nature is a way of life. Peaceful, tidy, and progressive, this decidedly eco-friendly country is constantly striving for lagom—harmonious balance—and nowhere is this more clearly expressed than in Sweden’s seamless blending of urban and natural environments. Swedes have a universal passion for the great outdoors, mingling with nature in urban parks, summer cottages, and community gardens, and celebrating the natural world even in their largest cities, making this a wonderful place to walk.

In the 2000 years since the early Swedes first settled here, Sweden has seen Viking incursions, royal dynasties, and a short-lived empire, all of which have left their mark. Walking here brings you face to face with ancient runes and palace gardens, pretty clapboard villages and Stockholm’s picturesque medieval city center. Wherever you go, you’ll be struck by Sweden’s timelessly beautiful landscape of lakes, forests, channels, and islands—preserved not just in the countryside but also in the welcoming green parks and waterside footpaths of Stockholm—and by the country’s modern-day penchant for cutting-edge design, sophisticated modern cuisine, and green living.

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Country Facts

About Sweden:

Western Europe’s third largest country (roughly the size of California), Sweden occupies the eastern portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, with a landscape that ranges from verdant farmland in the south to Alpine tundra in the northwest. Forests of Scots pine, Norway spruce and other Nordic species cover more than half of the land, and the countryside is speckled with nearly 100,000 lakes, including Lake Vänern, largest in the entire European Union. Along the western border with Norway run the Scandinavian Mountains, home to Sweden’s highest peak, Kebnekaise (6882 feet). At Sweden’s opposite extreme is the sunny southeastern island of Gotland, where the climate is mild enough to support profusions of wild orchids. Even Stockholm, the country’s capital and largest metropolis, stands out for the beauty of its natural setting, on an archipelago of fourteen main islands and countless smaller islets.

U.S. citizens: Passports are required and must be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of travel. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days. For more information, see travel.state.gov.

Sweden uses the Swedish krona (Skr or SEK). For current exchange rates, visit oanda.com.

Some international businesses no longer accept credit cards without PIN numbers (chip and pin cards). Always contact your bank or your credit-card company for details on fees and card use when traveling.

Sweden is on Central European time, six hours later than Eastern Standard Time. For more information on worldwide time zones, see: worldtimezone.com.

Sweden country code: +46

Cell phone coverage throughout Sweden is extensive, but cannot be guaranteed to be accessible on all American mobile carriers or to function at all times while on the trail or in remote areas. For more information regarding international phone use, please refer to https://www.countrywalkers.com/best-phone-options-for-travelers/.

Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages, and Wi-Fi is available at all hotels used on tour. For more details, please refer to the Tour Itinerary Overview.

Swedish is Sweden’s official language.

While knowledge of the local language is not necessary, you may want to learn some fun and useful phrases; see www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/swedish.shtml.

Alternating current of 230V and 50Hz is used in Sweden. Wall outlets generally take plugs with two round prongs. For a full listing of electrical outlets worldwide, see electricaloutlet.org.

Spanning a wide range of latitudes (from 55°N to 69°N), Sweden has a highly variable climate. Temperatures are warmest in southern Sweden and along the west coast, where the Gulf Stream exerts a tempering influence. In these more temperate zones, summertime highs can exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, while Lapland in the far north sees winter lows plunging to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The Stockholm region, where we’ll spend the entirety of our tour, experiences average highs of 74 degrees Fahrenheit in July and lows of 26 degrees Fahrenheit in January and February. There are six to 10 rainy days per month, with spring (March to May) being the driest season, and fall (October to December) being the wettest.

For up-to-date forecasts, see qwikcast.com. For historical average temperatures and rainfall, see weatherbase.com.

No immunizations are required to enter Sweden. Always consult a travel clinic at a local university, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and/or your personal physician for the most up-to-date recommendations. Routine vaccinations—including MMR (measles, mumps-rubella), DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis), varicella (chickenpox), and polio—are generally advisable for all travelers. Be sure to let your physician know what parts of Sweden you plan to visit, as recommendations may vary depending on the regions you are visiting.

Swedish cuisine will most certainly be a highlight of your walking adventure. Today’s innovative new crop of Swedish chefs is mixing traditional ingredients with international influences in exciting new ways, even as traditional Swedish home cooking (locally known as husmanskost) remains universally popular. The Swedish table draws its ingredients from the country’s farms, forests, lakes, and Baltic Sea waters; menus typically include local fish such as herring, salmon, Arctic char, and löjrom (bleak roe); wild game such as reindeer, elk, and ptarmigan; fresh vegetables in summertime and root vegetables in winter; and foraged foods such as mushrooms, truffles, and wild berries.

Beyond the ubiquitous köttbullar (Swedish meatballs, served with boiled new potatoes and lingonberry jam), you’ll find a wealth of other snacks and comfort foods such as pea soup, räksmörgås (open-faced shrimp sandwiches with lettuce, cucumber, boiled eggs, lemon, and dill), and sill (herring)—served smoked, fried, or pickled, with capers, onion, mustard, and other accompaniments. Sweden also offers abundant temptations for your sweet tooth. Don’t miss the delicious kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) and kardemummabullar (cardamom buns) served with coffee in the daily Swedish ritual known as fika, and be sure to try at least one dessert made with hjortron (cloudberries)—tart, juicy, reddish-golden berries harvested from Sweden’s northern marshes.

At breakfast, hotels typically lay out a delicious cold buffet featuring breads, cereals, pastries, crispbreads, cheeses, yogurt, boiled eggs, meats, pickled or smoked fish, fruit, and berries, accompanied by coffee or tea. Swedes traditionally eat their biggest meal at lunchtime, when many local restaurants offer the dagens rätt, a good-value fixed-price menu.

Locally brewed beers and apple or pear cider (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) are widely available. Swedes are also very fond of brännvin, a stronger category of alcoholic beverages distilled from potatoes or grain. These include vodka and Sweden’s classic aquavit or snaps—flavored with caraway, dill, coriander, anise, fennel, citrus peel, or other spices, and served in conical long-stemmed glasses, or in smaller shots known as nubbe. Coffee is also extremely popular throughout Sweden.

Travel Tip: In outdoor markets, bargaining is appropriate and expected. If moderate bargaining does not conclude with a fair and acceptable price, there is no obligation to buy the item. Always agree on prices in advance of purchasing goods or services. Often merchants do not have abundant cash on hand, so try to have an ample supply of small bills.

Shopping hours

Shops and stores are generally open Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Department stores and supermarkets keep longer hours, with many also opening on Sunday. Banks are open Monday to Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with some big city branches keeping longer hours.

Meal times

Breakfast is served at hotels from around 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. In restaurants, lunch is usually served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and dinner is served from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Many restaurants close on Sunday and/or Monday.

Tipping

In restaurants, service is typically included in the bill, so there is no expectation of a tip—though a gratuity for good service will not go unappreciated. There is no expectation of a tip in taxis, although some Swedes round up the fare as a courtesy to the driver. As a general rule, don’t tip in U. S. coins, as they don’t have much value in Sweden.

Travel Tip: We recommend that you do not acquiesce to the temptation of rewarding children who beg for sweets, pencils, or spare change. As difficult as this may be, you can make a more positive impact by giving donations of school supplies or books to your guide, who will ensure that they reach an appropriate organization, or by making a donation to a non-governmental organization working in Sweden.

A wealth of information is available at www.visitsweden.com.

Airports

Most international flights arrive at Stockholm Arlanda Airport (www.swedavia.com/arlanda), 40km north of Stockholm.

Ferries

An extensive network of local ferries serves Stockholm’s archipelago. Tallink & Silja Line (www.tallink.com) operates long-distance ferry service from Stockholm to neighboring capitals including Helsinki (Finland), Tallinn (Estonia), and Riga (Latvia).

Trains

Sweden’s government-operated railway, SJ, offers dependable, efficient service throughout the country and on international routes to Copenhagen, Oslo and beyond.

Other local transportation

Swedish bus companies, including Swebus Express (www.swebus.se) and Svenska Buss (www.svenskabuss.se) offer good, reasonably priced service in the Stockholm region and beyond. Car rentals are readily available in Sweden, and visitors for fewer than 90 days can rent a car and drive with a valid U.S. license.

The national Swedish tourist board official site
Public holidays

To assist in travel planning, it may be helpful to be aware of public holidays, festivals, or calendars of events. Visit the Swedish tourist board’s website, www.visitsweden.com, for a list of public holidays and festivals.

Photos

Fun Facts

Fika: Cinnamon rolls, coffee, and conversation

No coffee break is sweeter than Sweden’s beloved fika. This quintessentially Swedish custom is all about socializing over leisurely sips of coffee and fresh-baked pastries like kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) or kardemummabullar (cardamom buns). Swedes enjoy pausing for fika any time of day—sharing the moment with friends, colleagues, family members, new acquaintances, or prospective sweethearts, at home, work, or at the neighborhood café. For walkers, it’s the perfect complement to a day on the trail—indeed, it may just become your favorite daily ritual!

Swedish Cinnamon Buns, Kanelbulle
Allemansrätt: Freedom to roam

Imagine a world where you could follow your whim and wander wherever you liked. In Sweden you can. Thanks to the age-old custom of allemansrätt (literally, “everyone’s right”), you can stroll down any side path that catches your fancy—even on privately own land—as long as you respect a few basics: don’t disturb wildlife, local residents, or your fellow adventurers. That’s it! So go ahead: swim, fish, camp, pick berries, explore! In Sweden, your walking options are truly boundless / this land truly is your land.

Sweden - 1 Tour Available

Guided Walking Sweden, Old Town from Stockholm, City Hall
Europe

Sweden & Finland: Stockholm to Helsinki

Activity level: Easy Terrain

3-6 miles daily

Flight + Tour

10 days, 9 nights

From $6,798 USD

per person

Tour Only

7 days, 6 nights

From $5,598 USD

per person

Tour Highlights:
  • Explore the Finnish sea fortress of Suomenlinna and the Swedish royal gardens of Drottningholm, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Ferry across picturesque channels to the urban island oases of Djurgården and Långholmen, and soak up Swedish history while wandering the medieval lanes of Sigtuna and Gamla Stan.
  • Sample reindeer, herring, lingonberries, and other flavors of the far north in atmospheric, top-of-the-line restaurants.

Have Questions?

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Departure Dates
Flight + Tour Combo

2019

  • Aug 31
  • Sep 7
  • Sep 14
Tour Only

2019

  • Sep 2
  • Sep 9
  • Sep 16
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