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