What is Sweden known for - a complete travel guide

Sweden is known for many things across the world: meatballs, Chef from the Muppets, Northern Lights, its sustainable approach, you name it.

This guide is full of practical information about anything you need to know if you plan to travel to Sweden.

What is Sweden known for - Quick Guide

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Where is Sweden?

Sweden is one of 3 kingdoms in Scandinavia along with Norway and Denmark. It’s made up of thousands of islands and lakes, and is well known for its eco-friendly approach, especially in the 3 largest cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

Malmö, the city of parks, is the 3rd largest city in Sweden. It is the most sustainable and eco-friendly city in the country, having won many awards for its ecological development approach. Located in the south of Skåne, Malmö is connected to Copenhagen in Denmark via the Öresund bridge.

Sweden uses Central European Summer Time, or GMT +2 hours and also operates daylight savings time. The summers are long because Sweden is so close to the North pole, but during the winter months the daily average of sunlight is only around 6 hours.

Drone view of Gammelsatden just outside of Lulea in Northern Sweden.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Sweden, is during spring and summer. The weather is warm enough to walk around and explore the city and the chances of rain are minimal. Swedes are crazy about the outdoors so a lot of events are happening during the summer. Malmöfestivalen for example is an outdoor festival with food, arts and live music that’s hosted every year in August in Malmö.

Tip: dress in layers because the weather can be unpredictable!

Kayaking on a lake in Swedish Lapland.

How to get to Sweden

The easiest way to travel to Sweden is to fly to one of the main airports, Stockholm-Arlanda, Gothenburg Landvetter or Copenhagen Kastrup airport. From there take the train which conveniently departs right underneath the airport.

Tip: find the best flight deals on skyscanner!

Entry requirements

To enter Sweden you need to have a valid passport. Beside the regular checks at the airport you may also be required to show your passport when crossing into Malmö via train from Copenhagen. EU passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Sweden and can even live, study or work in Sweden without a residence permit.

Tip: Some countries do require a visa so check that here before you go!

How to get around

If you’re already in Sweden and want to visit any city the best way is to take the train. Sweden’s train system SJ is amazing (but pricey) so you can travel anywhere you want.

Tip: if you use the Skånetrafiken app you get a 20% discount on all bus and train tickets within Skåne. And you can save even more if you travel as a group! Public transport apps exist in all major cities.

Within cities getting around is easy, too. All the main sights are usually within walking distance and there is a great bus and train network connecting points of interest.

Road trip in Lapland.
A woman taking an old tram through Gothenburg, Sweden.

Currency and how to pay

The currency in Sweden is the Swedish Krona (SEK) and there are exchange bureaus at airports or at any bank or ATM.

Prepare yourself for an expensive trip because Sweden (and all other countries in Scandinavia) is not cheap. Decide what you want to do and where you want to eat before you travel and plan your budget accordingly. Almost all restaurants and shops take credit cards. In fact, Sweden is nearly cash free, it’s going to be difficult to pay with cash so keep that in mind when exchanging money.

Tip: I recommend budgeting at least 500-800 SEK per person per day for food, transportation and entry to sights and museums!

When you’re out and about there are no specific expectations for tipping staff at restaurants or taxi drivers. If you were happy with the service tip whatever you are comfortable and feel is relevant.

Read also: (Almost) free things to do in Malmö

Quick Swedish lesson

If you speak Swedish, great. But English will do just fine. Everyone understands and speaks it, even older people. Most TV programs are in English except the locally produced ones. Nadine doesn’t speak Swedish fluently but can get by with some common phrases and words. Swedes are generally very friendly and happy to help if you ask.

Tip: take a quick Swedish lesson:
Hej (hey) – Hello, hi
Tack (takk) – Thank you
Ja (ya) – Yes
Nej (ney) – No
Förlåt (furlot) – I’m sorry
Ursäkta (ursekta) – Excuse me
Hej då (hey duh) – Goodbye

Where to stay

There are lots of great places to stay in Sweden, the more central the better. Gamla Stan, the old town, is a feature of the big Swedish cities and always has nice hotels like Scandic or Best Western Plus.

Tip: use booking.com to find great deals for your stay!

Safety and emergency contacts

Sweden is a very safe destination to travel. You don’t have to worry walking around the city in the dark or taking public transport.

For emergencies in Sweden you need to call 112 for police and medical help. If it’s not an emergency but you need medical advice or support call 1177. The operators will be able to tell you if you should call emergency services instead or send you to the next hospital.

Traveling to Sweden doesn’t require any vaccines but having travel insurance is always a good idea, no matter where you go.

Tip: World Nomads travel insurance covers all kinds of activities while you travel!

Culure and traditions

Sweden has a rich history full of viking stories, Norse gods like Odin and celebrations connected to nature. One of the biggest celebrations in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries is Midsummer, which is typically celebrated in June. Dancing around a midsummer pole wearing flower crowns, enjoying a buffet full of pickled herring, potatoes and lots of schnapps are just some fun activities happening on this day.

Tip: go out into the fields and pick flowers to make your own flower crown!

Sweden’s national day is June 6th and most stores are closed.

Another tradition is fettisdagen (in February) which is celebrated with semla, a delicious bun slathered in almond paste and whipped cream.

Fika in Northern Sweden.
A woman eating a large cinnamon bun in Gothenburg, Sweden.

All images in this post are edited with my Adobe Lightroom presets from the Conscious Collection.

I hope you enjoyed my guide about Sweden and what it’s known for.
I would love to hear your feedback, comments or questions!
XO, Nadine