Sweden Travel Tips: 7 Things You Need to Know
These Sweden travel tips cover the top things you need to know when traveling to Sweden — from saving money to attractions you won’t want to miss!
Ice floes and rocky shores, quiet forests and the northern lights — Sweden is a beautiful country that attracts more than five-million tourists per year. We just returned from our first trip to West Sweden and since we didn’t do much research before we departed, we were both in for a few surprises.
Keep these Sweden travel tips in mind while planning your trip to this Scandinavian country. Here are 7 things you need to know when visiting Sweden!
Sweden Travel Tips: 7 Things You Need to Know
You won’t be able to pronounce the names of places, but that’s okay.
Every time we thought we had the pronunciation of a word correct, we still managed to butcher it when talking to locals. Thankfully, even if you can’t wrap your tongue around the Swedish language, you can still travel easily in Sweden.
Outside of native anglophone countries, Sweden consistently have one of the largest and most fluent English speaking populations in Europe! Thanks to early-education English courses and the popularity of English speaking movies and television shows, communication becomes much easier than you might expect traveling in a foreign country.
Island-hopping is a must.
Sweden’s coast is dotted with thousands of islands that can either be reached by car or ferry. For many travelers, hopping through the islands is a great way to enjoy not only the amazing scenery but also to experience the quaint peace of the local hamlets.
There is an alcohol monopoly.
If you’re looking to buy alcohol (above about 3%) outside of a restaurant or bar, you’ll have to find the nearest Systembolaget — a government owned and run retail chain that is the only legal option for buying take-home booze in Sweden. This system of alcohol sale was enacted in 1905 during the prohibition movement to reduce both price gouging and overconsumption.
We definitely missed the closing hours of these stores a few times during our trip (some close at 6pm) and there can be a long line, depending on when you go. Our advice? Plan ahead and bring some alcohol from home. It will be less expensive and you won’t have to search for one of these stores when you should be enjoying your vacation.
Floating saunas are awesome!
Not sure whether to go for a swim or head to the spa? Why not both? Sweden’s floating saunas are steam rooms built on pontoon-like barges, allowing you to spend a relaxing day on the lake, ocean, or river in style. These steam rooms have become incredibly popular in Sweden and bring an all-new level to your island-hopping vacation.
Tap water is better than bottled water.
It’s the social, ecological, and financial norm to drink water straight from the tap. Sweden’s water supply is well filtered and incredibly clean, so the majority of the environmentally-conscious country’s citizens choose to pass on drinking water from plastic bottles. The same goes for using both plastic and paper bags at the grocery, so if you want to avoid having to pay for them, bring your own bag.
The speed limits change constantly!
In 2008, Sweden introduced new speed signs to their roads and highways. While before this year the standard speeds were 30, 50, 70, and 110km/h, the areas between these speed changes had even-interval halfway km/h signs added to encourage a more gradual change in speed. Keep your eyes open for these signs, as they change often.
There’s no shortage of seafood.
As a coastal and island-heavy country, Swedes love their fish! Caviar, lutfisk, herring, surstrӧmming—a number of fishy specialties make Sweden a smorgasbord for seafood lovers. If you’re not an adventurous eater, don’t worry — the variety means you’ll still find something you like. Come with an open mind and you’ll leave with a full stomach.
When we travel, we love to craft our journey with different kinds of food, and this means trying almost anything. Sweden definitely allowed us to be adventurous when it came to the cuisine. I’m not normally a huge fan of fish so having fish every day felt a little strange at first, but all of the fish dishes tasted extremely fresh.
Our favorite meal of the trip included baked cod smothered in a carrot puree and a light shellfish sauce. Even if you don’t love fish, I highly recommend trying it in Sweden.
Sweden Packing Essentials
Winter Gear: If you plan on visiting in the winter months, then it’s best to load up with the best cold-weather gear. We recommend a plush down jacket, a heavy-duty pair of gloves or mittens, and a thick beanie that will cover your ears!
Layers: No matter what time of year you visit Sweden, packing layers is a must. In the winter, or if you are headed to Northern Sweden, plan to pack items such as fleece-lined leggings, thermal underwear, and a moisture-wicking base top to keep you warm and dry. Likewise in the summertime, think camisoles and cardigans, and no matter what the forecast says, it’s always smart to pack a pashmina!
Waterproof Gear: The only thing worse than being cold is being cold and wet! Make sure you invest in some quality water-resistant shoes or boots, a raincoat for the summer months, a rain cover for your backpack, some waterproof pants, and a windproof travel umbrella.
Sun Protection: Sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses are two essentials I never leave home without!
Swim Gear: Whether you’re headed to the lake in the summer or feel like indulging in a sauna break, make sure you bring along a swimsuit (this is my new favorite one-piece!) and a quick-drying towel.
Plan Your Trip to Sweden
After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.
- Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.
- Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.
- We never travel out of the country without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust Visitors Coverage, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.
Our family is trying to decide between traveling to Seattle and Sweden for our trip next year. I realize these are very different destinations, but we are at an impasse. Our children are 14 and 16 and we have traveled to a few cities in the US. We aren’t into museums, but rather getting immersed in the culture. We have two weeks to travel early summer next year. And we have a moderate budget
That alcohol monopoly game is actually called drinkopoly. Just kidding! Great tips and I can’t wait to drink tap water, because in my country I only drink bottled water. What do you think about visiting smaller towns like ostersund compared to Stockholm? I plan to visit Sweden this winter.
I actually haven’t been to Stockholm, but I LOVE the smaller towns.
You can’t go wrong with Sweden. There is something for everyone.
Also remember if you are gonna live in Gothenburg, Stockholm or Malmö dont be outside to much at night
Any bad experiences?
If you call spending an arm and a leg for alcohol a bad experience, then yes. 😉
I’m curious about this too. I have friends from Stockholm and they have never mentioned this. Besides the fact that it’s cold in the winter and that might keep some people from going out at night.
Oh this is disgusting! It’s not about visiting Sweden, it is about your sponsor! This is only one big advertisement. You brought alcohol from USA to Sweden! Yes, we don’t have any here in Europe..
Something helpful: tip is included in your restaurant bill. No need for additional tip! And Stockholm is a must see city. So beautiful and so many things to see!
That’s a great tip to add! Thank you for stopping by!
Those floating saunas look ace!
Sweden is one of my very favorite European countries. There’s nowhere better than Stockholm on a warm summer day. Glad you loved it!
I didn’t make it to Stockholm, but I’m more of an island girl anyway. 😉
I’ll be honest, with most of these ‘things you should know’, I’m hearing: ‘reasons to go to Sweden’. For instance, floating sauna? Yes please!! 😀
Haha. Yes, I definitely could have titled the post differently, but there’s a few things in here that would have been helpful to know beforehand. Sweden IS awesome and I don’t consider any of these a negative.
Definitely helpful! Helpful to know before I book my trip there! *starts googling flights to Sweden* 🙂
Sauna in Sweden? Enjoy your time. I was never there.