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Once a dearly-expensive destination, travel in Sweden has become economically much more attractive in recent years. Now that the nation's midnight sun, slick cities and historical sites can be enjoyed at a more affordable price, tourism is likely to be on the way up for the Scandinavian state. Stockholm, the capital, hits all the right spots: at once modern and medieval, the city bears testimony to its 13th century origins, as medieval streets are woven together through a myriad of stairways, arches and lanes; and a fine collection of museums, including a hugely popular open-air museum, accent the city's appreciation of the past. At Gothenburg, however, we find Sweden's most popular destination: Liseberg, Scandinavia's largest - and one of the world's best - amusement parks.
Main article: History of Sweden
Sweden's prehistory begins in the Allerød warm period c. 12,000 BC with Late Palaeolithic reindeer-hunting camps of the Bromme culture at the edge of the ice in what is now the country's southernmost province.
During the 11th century, Christianity became the most prevalent religion, and from the year 1050 Sweden is counted as a Christian nation. The period between 1100 and 1400 was characterized by internal power struggles and competition among the Nordic kingdoms. Swedish kings also began to expand the Swedish-controlled territory in Finland, creating conflicts with the Rus which now no longer had any connection with Sweden.
During the 17th century Sweden emerged as a European great power. Before the emergence of the Swedish Empire, Sweden was a very poor, scarcely populated, country on the fringe of European civilization, with no significant power or reputation. In the middle of the 17th century Sweden was the third largest country in Europe by land area, only surpassed by Russia and Spain. In the 18th century, Sweden did not have enough resources to maintain its territories outside Scandinavia and most of them were lost, culminating with the 1809 loss of eastern Sweden to Russia which became the semi-autonomous Duchy of Finland in Imperial Russia.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw a significant population increase, which the writer Esaias Tegnér in 1833 famously attributed to "the peace, the (smallpox) vaccine, and the potatoes". Between 1750 and 1850, the population in Sweden doubled. Despite the slow rate of industrialization into the 19th century, many important changes were taking place in the agrarian economy due to innovations and the large population growth. Between 1870 and 1914, Sweden began developing the industrialized economy that exists today.
Sweden remained officially neutral during World War I and World War II, although its neutrality during World War II has been debated. Sweden, like countries around the globe, entered a period of economic decline and upheaval, following the oil embargoes of 1973–74 and 1978–79. In the beginning of the 1990s there occurred once again an economic crisis with high unemployment and many banks and companies going bankrupt. Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1995, after which the country more and more has started to stray from its post-war and cold war neutrality. In a referendum held in 2003, the majority of the population voted against the adoption of the Euro as the country's official currency.
Sweden shares international borders with both Norway and Finland and is connected with Denmark by the Öresund bridge. The country lies west of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and forms the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain (Skanderna), a range that separates Sweden from Norway. Sweden is located between latitudes 55° and 70° N, and mostly between longitudes 11° and 25° E and covers 449,964 km2, meaning it is the 4th largest country in Europe. The lowest point in the country is the bay of Lake Hammarsjön, near Kristianstad at 2.41 metres below sea level. The highest point is Kebnekaise at 2,111 metres above sea level. About 15% of Sweden lies north of the Arctic Circle and the sparsely populated Norrland covers over 60% of the country!. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, with increasing forest coverage northward, especially in the interior of the country. Around 65% of Sweden's total land area is covered with forests. Gotland and Öland are Sweden's largest islands, and Vänern and Vättern are its largest lakes.
Sweden has 25 provinces.
|North||Lappland, Norrbotten, Västerbotten|
|Centre||Ängermanland, Jämtland, Medelpad, Härjedalen, Hälsingland, Dalarna, Gästrikland|
|South||Västmanland, Värmland, Närke, Uppland, Södermanland, Dalsland, Bohuslän, Västergötland, Halland, Smäland, Skane, Blekinge, Öland, Gotland, Östergötland|
In the Ajtte, Sami and Mountain Museum and you can find information about nature in Lapland. There is also lots of focus on the Sami culture and the Swedish seattlers in Lapland. Ajtte is located in Jokkmokk, north of the Arctic Circle.
During the winter the north of Sweden offers lots of different dog sled tours. Check if they take good care of their huskies and that your guide will be the owner of the dogs. Some of the best dog sled companies you will find at Natures Best, eco tourism certification system.
Drottningholm is a small locality in the Ekerö municipality to the east of the city of Stockholm itself. The only reason to come here, makes for a nice half daytrip: The Drottningholm Palace and its gardens. This royal domain is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and was originally built in the late 16th century. It served as a residence of the Swedish royal court for most of the 18th century. Apart from being the private residence of the Swedish royal family, the palace is a popular tourist attraction. Apart from the palace and its gardens, there are also the theater and Chinese Pavilion which deserve a visit. Drottningholm is easily reached by taking the metro to T-Brommaplan and an onward bus (lines 301-323 and 176/177 go there on a regular basis).
Gotland is the largest of the Baltic Islands and one of Sweden's most important historic sights. This wonderful island is dotted with over a 100 medieval churches and home to countless prehistoric sites. A highlight is the medieval city of Visby and its magnificent walls. This Hanseatic town is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There is also wonderful biking to be found between the churches and great day hikes. There are over 30 hostels to travel between that do get booked in the summertime.
Höga Kusten is one of the most beautiful coastline areas of Sweden. This stunning area is located between Härnösand to Örnsköldsvik, which are decent towns. Home to many glacial lakes and rolling hills one can spend days enjoying the fresh sea air and gentle breeze. There are also several nice traditional fishing villages to enjoy also. Höga Kusten is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Laponia is a nature and culture World Heritage area. Sarek National Park, Padjelanta National Park, Muddus National Park and many more are part of this World Heritage. The Sami culture is strong and alive. The best entry to Laponia is via Jokkmokk or Gällivare.
Mount Kebnekaise is the tallest mountain in all of Sweden and is located in Lapland. Its highest peak is 2,104 metres (6,900 feet) and is glaciated. From the summit travellers can see 9% of Sweden's surface area. After climbing the mountain there is a nice lodge to take a break at and have a coffee. Remember to take a break and try to spot some wildlife.
Skogskyrkogården (The Woodland Cemetery) is one of those extraordinary examples of beautiful cemeteries. Scandinavian cemeteries are almost designed to walk in and are an attraction in its own right and this one tops the list for sure. Listed as a UNESC World Heritage Site since 1994, it combines a natural setting with the development of architecture, making a great mix to walk around for a couple of hours. It was designed in 1915 by Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz and work began in 1917. It is located in the Enskededalen, south of Stockholm's Södermalm and easily reached by metro in 5 minutes or so. The cemetery is just east of the metrostation and excess is free of charge. Please not that there are hundreds of funerals each year, so respect the fact that people might not be here to see the cemetery but instead bury a loved one! The most famous person that has its final resting place here, probably is Greta Garbo.
Trelleborg is the collective name for six viking villages and forts that are located in present day northern Denmark and southern Sweden. Most of them were built in the late 10th and early 11th century. These impressive towns helped to rain havoc on most of the Northern Europe for several years. Many of the ones in Sweden are located near present day Borgedy and Trellebrog.
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The Vasa museum is a very special maritime museum as it is build around its mean piece: The Vasa, the only almost complete original warship from the 17th century on display in the world. The warship Vasa sank in 1628 on it's maiden voyage after only a few kilometres in the harbour of Stockholm. The ship was salvaged in 1961 and could be seen in an improvised museum, until the new museum was opened in 1990. In the museum there are guided tours, and it is recommendable to watch the film about the ship that is shown. Besides the ship itself, the collection also shows how it was built, how lives would have been on board and why it sunk. The museum also showcases four other floating museum ships: the ice breaker Sankt Erik (launched 1915), the lightvessel Finngrundet (1903), the torpedo boat Spica (1966) and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson (1944).
In Sweden, there are a lot of music festivals in the summer to enjoy. The biggest one is Peace & Love which is growing every year and has world famous artists like Jay-Z, Journey, Mötley Crüe, Bob Dylan, Kings of Leon, The Strokes and many more as the biggest acts and in the summer of 2011 had around 50,000 visitors. There are many more with more specific music genres around the country.
Two times a year, one in summer and one in winter, the worlds biggest LAN is taking place at the exhibition facility Elmia in Jönköping. This is, according to Guinness World Record Book, the biggest computer festival and it goes by the name Dreamhack.
In Stockholm, there is a famous arena called Globen and they arrange everything from NHL Hockey matches (one or a few per year) to concerts with Britney Spears, Rihanna, Red Hot Chili Peppers and other great world known artists. They arrange around 300 events per year and have 1.4 million visitors. The company Stockholm Globe Arenas have their events either on Globen, Hovet (which is just next to globen), Annexet or Söderstadion.
Sweden has a continental climate in most of the country with generally warm summers and cold winters. Only the southwestern coastal area between Goteborg and Malmo has milder weather during winter because of the influence of the waters from the Atlantic Ocean.
Winters are much colder and from south to north temperatures decrease. The number of mean temperatures below zero increase from 71 in the south, 120 around Stockholm and close to 200 in the upper north. Temperatures in the north are known to drop to around -50 °C in extreme cases, though generally winterdays from December to March are between -10 °C and -20 °C. In the southern parts, Stockholm is around zero during the day, -5 °C at night. Further south, temperatures are even several degrees milder. Summers are warm throughout the country, with around 20 °C or 21 °C in most of the country. Although on average a bit colder, warm days in the north are not less than in the south. Precipitation is quite evenly distributed throughout the year, with some more rain in summer, when heavy showers can occur. Winters have snow, especially in the northern half of the country.
Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) is the national airline of Sweden (and Denmark and Norway) and in Sweden it is based at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN). International destinations with SAS from Stockholm include several dozens of destinations in Europe like Amsterdam, Bergen, Berlin, Brussels, Burgas, Copenhagen, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Helsinki, Istanbul, London, Manchester, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Newark, Oslo, Paris, St Petersburg, Split, Trondheim and Zürich. Most of these are also served with many other airlines from European countries. They also fly from here to Chicagoand seasonally to Athens, Edinburgh, Malaga, Malta, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Prague, Rome and Tromso. The airport has 5 terminals. Other places served outside Europe with several airlines are Bangkok, Baghdad, Tehran, Kuala Lumpur, Addis Ababa, Erbil, Doha, Amman, Aleppo, Damascus, Tel Aviv, New York and Beijing. Many charter airlines and lowcost airlines use the airport as well, like Norwegian Air Shuttle.
To/from the airport
There are two more airports near Stockholm: Stockholm-Skavsta Airport and Stockholm-Bromma Airport. The first is actually near Nykoping, about 100 kilometres south of the capital, while Bromma is nearest to the city centre.
Several other cities in Sweden have international flights as well, including Gothenburg (Göteborg) and Malmö. TUIfly Nordic and Apollo have extensive networks from Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport (GOT).
Sweden has good train connections to Norway, Denmark and Germany, with onward connections further away, for example to London.
NSB (Norwegian State Railways) operates trains between Oslo and Stockholm. There is also a line south to Malmo, which connects to Copenhagen, Hamburg and Berlin. Trains also link Narvik in the north of Norway with Stockholm.
Apart from the connecting lines mentioned above, there are trains roughly every 20 minutes or so between Malmo and Copenhagen, which stop at the Copenhagen Airport as well, travelling via the Öresund Bridge.
There are about 6-8 trains to and from Gothenburg in Sweden, as well as trains every two hours or so to Kristianstad and Karlskrona, all from Copenhagen.
Trains from Hamburg travel directly to Stockholm, via Copenhagen. Berlin Night Express has direct overnight trains to and from Malmo, via the Rodby-Puttgarden ferry, taking 9 hours each way. In Hamburg or Berlin, you can connect to places south, east and west in Europe.
You can enter Sweden from Denmark via the Öresund Bridge on the E20 motorway, paying toll (cash or creditcard). There are also several border crossings in the north of the country, connecting the country with the north of Finland. The main route between Sweden and Finland is the E4 from Umeå to Kemi. Road No 45 from Gällivare to Kaaresuvanto is another popular crossing. Five other minor roads also cross the border.
The main roads between Sweden and Norway are the E6 from Gothenburg to Oslo and the E18 from Stockholm to Oslo. To add, also the E14 from Sundsvall to Trondheim, the E12 from Umeå to Mo i Rana, and the E10 from Kiruna to Bjerkvik are the main crossings, though less used. Many secondary roads also cross the border.
Eurolines, Säfflebusen and Swebus Express all have connections to and from Copenhagen in Denmark. There are also connections from Gothenburg and Stockholm to Oslo with these operators.
Frequent buses travel between Haparanda (Sweden) and Tornio (Finland) in the north of the country, while there are a few direct buses from Stockholm to Tornio each week, provided by Tapanis Buss.
In the north, buses run once-daily from Umeå to Mo i Rana and from Skellefteå to Bodø in Norway. Länstrafiken i Västerbotten and Länstrafiken i Norrbotten travel these routes respecitvely.
The Icelandic cargo ship Eimskip has two vessels, the Dettifoss and Goðafoss which travel the route Rotterdam-Hamburg-Göteborg-Århus-Fredrikstad-Tórshavn-Reykjavík. It takes 8 days in total and the return trip goes via eastern Iceland and Tórshavn only. The vessel can take a maximum of 3 passengers but only between mid-April and mid-October.
SAS is the main domestic carrier in Sweden and service about 30 airports in the country, mainly from Stockholm.
Swedish State Railways runs an excellent network of fast, reliable, comfortable and efficient trains throughout most of the country. Although most lines are concentrated in the south, there are services to the forested areas in the central and northern parts of the country. There are sleeper and restaurant cars on many trains.
There are X2000 high-speed trains from Stockholm to Gothenburg and other destinations include Jonkoping, Sundvall, Gavle, Malmö and Harnosand.
In summer, there are sleeper trains with services to bring your car from Malmo, Gothenburg and Vasteras in the south of Sweden to Kiruna and Lulea in the north of the country.
The Inland Railway is a popular and beautiful railway from Kristinehamn in the south to Gällivare in the north.
Sweden has a well maintained network of roads, although most highways are concentrated in the south and around Stockholm. All international companies have rental cars on airports and bigger cities and a national driver's licence is sufficient. Traffic drives on the right and headlights should be used at all times. Be careful with animals, like reindeer, especially when it's dark. Sufficient insurance (green card) is recommended.
Connex and Swebus are the main operators on a number of efficient bus connections throughout the country. Even more remote smaller towns are linked regularly with bigger cities in the south. They also offer bus passes in the Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo areas.
There aren't that many passenger ferries in Sweden, except from a number of lines useful when visiting the archipelago around Stockholm.
Destination Gotland operates a three-hour ferry ride from Oskarshamn in Småland and Nynäshamn near Stockholm. During summertime the ferry also runs to Grankullavik on Öland. The Gota Kanal travels from Gothenburg to Stockholm. Note that some ferry services might not operate in winter.
If you are a European Union (EU) citizen, you may enter without any restriction as per your EU citizenship rights. If you are not an EU citizen, you will need to obtain a Schengen Visa. This visa is valid for any country in the Schengen zone. See http://www.migrationsverket.se/english.jsp for more (official) information on swedish visa and immigration policy.
See also: Money Matters
The krona (plural kronor, SEK) is the official currency of Sweden One krona is subdivided into 100 öre. Banknotes are in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 kronor. Coins come in 1, 5 and 10 kronor. The 50 öre has been removed by the government and is no longer in use.
EU and EEA citizens are allowed to work in Sweden without a permit. Citizens of some non-EU countries are permitted to work in Sweden without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. Working Holiday visas are available for Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and South Korean citizens aged between 18-30, permitting the holder to work for one year. Citizens of other countries need a work permit, and getting one can be quite a hassle. Swedes, foreign citizens already living in Sweden, and EU/EEA citizens have preference over others in obtaining work in Sweden. Also, if the offer of work is for more than three months, you will also require a Swedish residency permit.
When reaching the age of six, most Swedish children enter their first year of school. During the next four years they pass four different grades, nollan - trean, the zero - the third grade. In one word you would say Lågstadiet, the first part of Elementary School. The second part is entered when ten years old and finished when twelve. The fourth, fifth and sixth year of school, Mellanstadiet. The last mandatory years in school are started at the age of thirteen and finished three years later when fifteen years old, Högstadiet.
After that you are no longer obliged to go to school in Sweden. Though there are yet three years of school called Gymnasiet before university.
In Gymnaiset there are numerous possibilities to choose from when deciding which courses and program to choose. Some of them prepare the students for work and others for further studies.
Grades in Sweden stretched from IG to MVG with two levels in between, G and VG. IG, Icke Godkänd - Not Passed, was the lowest. G, Godkänd - Passed, was next on the list upwards. VG, Väl Godkänt - Well Passed, was the next highest grade and MVG, Mycket Väl Godkänt - Very Well Passed, was the top grade.
During 2012 the grading system changed and students are now graded with letters from A-F.
Also check the Official Studying in Sweden website for more information.
Swedish is a Germanic language, and as such, presents a lot of similarities with modern German. If you speak the latter, you should be able to understand a reasonable amount when travelling to Sweden. Here are some useful words:
Swedish cuisine is mostly meat or fish with potatoes, derived from the days when men needed to chop wood all day long. Besides the ubiquitous potatoes, modern Swedish cuisine is to a great extent based on bread. Sweden has more varieties of bread than most other countries. Many of them are whole-grain or mixed grain, containing wheat, barley, oats, compact and rich in fiber. Some notable examples are tunnbröd (thin wrap bread), knäckebröd (hard bread - might not be an interesting experience, but is nearly always available), and different kinds of seasoned loaves. Bread is mostly eaten as simple sandwiches, with thin slices of cheese or cold cuts. Some more exotic spreads are messmör (whey butter) and leverpastej (liver pâté).
Some of the main food in the country include meatballs (köttbullar), which are served with potatoes, brown sauce and lingonberry jam, hash (pytt i panna) consisting of meat, onions and potatoes, all diced and fried, pea soup (ärtsoppa) with diced pork, followed by thin pancakes (crepes) afterwards, pickled herring (sill), available in various types of sauces, blodpudding, a black sausage made by pig's blood and flour, gravlax, a widely known and appreciated cold appetizer made by thin slices of salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill, falukorv, a big baloney from Falun, tunnbrödrulle, a fast food dish, consisting of a bread wrap with mashed potatoes, a hot dog and some vegetables, Kroppkakor, a potato dumpling stuffed with diced pork and Ost, a hard cheese.
Sweden is not a particularly cheap country, but there are some good deals if you shop around on the internet. You can find decent midrange rooms in Stockholm for about US$100 or even a bit less if you are lucky. Hostels are an economical way to spend the night and are usually of good quality. Camping (only advisable from late May to mid September) is surprisingly affordable and camping grounds are generally big, well equipped and located in beautiful natural surroundings.
Swedish people love their coffee and together with their neighbours from Finland coffee consumption is amongst the world's highest.
Beers are popular as well. Ordinary beer and lager is readily available in supermarkets at a reasonably low price. But access to strong alcoholic beverages is, as in Norway, Finland and Iceland, quite restricted and expensive. The only place to buy strong alcohol including starköl (beer which contains more than 3.5% ABV) over the counter is in one of the state-owned shops called Systembolaget (also sometimes referred to as simply "Systemet" or "Bolaget"). The most famous Swedish alcoholic beverage is Absolut Vodka, one of the world's most famous vodkas. There are several brands of distilled, and usually seasoned, liquor, called brännvin. Brännvin does not have as high requirements on distilling as for Vodka and it is distilled from potatoes or grain. Liquor seasoned with dill and caraway is called akvavit.
See also: Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Sweden. It is recommended to have a vaccination against tick borne encephalitis when you go hiking and/or camping for 4 weeks or more in the period of March to November in the southern half of the country.
See also: Travel Safety
Sweden enjoys a comparatively low crime rate, and is generally a safe place to travel with violent crime being rare. Use common sense at night, particularly on weekend nights when people hit the streets to drink, get drunk, and in some unfortunate cases look for trouble. Mind that it is likely that your home country is less safe than Sweden, so heed whatever warnings you would do in your own country and you will have no worries. Pickpockets are rare but not unheard of. They usually work in tourist-frequented areas, such as airports, rail stations, urban rail, shopping areas and festivals. Other than that, some extreme cold during the dark winter months, especially in the north, can be a danger if not prepared.
Internet is widely stretched out in a very modern way and you can find 3G network (and soon 4G as well) almost everywhere, though in the higher northern parts and in the mountains it is of course harder or impossible. Some cafés do offer free wifi and this is getting more and more popular. Almost every household does have internet and it is fast and modern. You barely see any internet cafés because of the influence by high-tech phones with internet access and the cheaper and more comfortable internet at home, but there are some places like Pressbyrån that offers computers with internet access (not free). Some buses for longer distances have free wifi and most of the trains do have it as well but at a pretty high cost.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Posten AB is the Swedish postal service, with fast and reliable services. They have a wide range of services including a track and trace system and different options regarding the sending of postcards, letters and parcels. There are both express and economy services and if you are not in a hurry the latter option is fine enough. The postal service was abandoned at the public post offices in 2001. The public today deals with its postal business at Postal Service Points. Mail and parcels can now be picked up at a number of places, including gas stations, supermarkets and kiosks. Look for the blue and yellow sign above or by the entrance of outlets providing this service. You can also buy stamps and there are quite a few more services in these places, many of which stay open late in the evening and on weekends. Yellow post boxes are for national and international letters and blue for regional letters.
Postal Service Centres are maintained for business clients and Svensk Kassaservice, a chain which deals with simple financial transactions but offers no postal services. There are also traditional post offices offering the full range of services. They are usually open between 9:30am and 6:00pm and may have extended opening hours once or twice a week.
On of their competitors is Bring Citymail AB, formerly privatised but now nationalised by Norway.
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Ask sofiasvard a question about Sweden
I live 2 hours away from Gothenburg, and have lived here all my life. The town I live in is called Mariestad and is quite a small town. Therefore, I know mostly things about living in a Swedish small town.
But since Internet is available I will try to help out with everything that I possibly can so feel free to ask!
And if you didn't know, Sweden's got the best candy in the world!
Ask marcusgrip a question about Sweden
Because I am born there and have traveled a lot of places and know much about it.
Ask NinjaSmurf a question about Sweden
I grew up in Australia and have also travelled throughout Australia quite extensively. I have also lived in Sweden for a couple of years and have travelled much of Europe, in particular Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. I have also done some travel in Asia. I would be happy to provide travel advice, particularly on places I have travelled and the gastronomic aspect of travel.
Ask snatterand a question about Sweden
Since I'm Swedish and have lived here for most of my life, I think I know what there is to know actually! Also, I'm really in to outdoor stuff so if you have questions about that I could probably help you.
Ask htdg a question about Sweden
I've been living in Stockholm for all my life and i know the city inside out. You need tips of what to see, where to go etc. Just ask and i'll gladly help out.
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