Sweden Travel Tips

Sweden Travel Tips 2014-10-16T11:08:40+00:00

Sweden is a Nordic country sandwiched between Norway and Finland. Back in February 2010 I traveled to Stockholm via Nyköping airport for a couple of days and fell in love with the city and Sweden. Sweden is a mix between old and modern, has some charming people, and winters are absolutely beautiful! Most people come to Sweden in the summer, which I still want to do, but winter in the Nordic countries can be magical. When I traveled in February 2010 it was one of the coldest winters for Europe and it was especially cold for Sweden. Most people asked, why are you going to Sweden in the winter time? But for me it was awesome to see the not so perfect summer side of a European city that most people only see. I saw cross-country skiers, shopped at the original Ikea, snow fall in the cute old-time of Stockholm, people ice skating in the middle of a park, and a blanket of white from the Ericsson Globe. It was so cold in Stockholm that the Ice Bar was warmer inside than it was outside and the Baltic sea was completely frozen over. Not your everyday mini vacation is it?

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Noteworthy Places
Getting to/around Sweden
Breakdown of Costs
Swedish People
Swedish Language
Definitely Do’s and Don’ts
From Splurging to Saving
Good for Gay Lifestyle?
Random Advice

Noteworthy Places I’ve Been To

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Stockholm –  I flew into Nyköping which is about an hour bus ride south of Stockholm. RyanAir offers flights from London direct to Nyköping and then there are bus services to downtown Stockholm. First off Sweden and Stockholm is expensive. I stayed in a hostel and it was around 80 euros a night! Nights are long in the winter time and the sun sets around 4 in the afternoon. I visited the original Ikea that is in the suburbs of Stockholm and has 5 floors of pure Ikeaness. Gamla Stan is the center of Stockholm and is known as the old city (it’s adorable)! Make sure to check out the Ice Bar at the chic Nordic Hotel, Royal Palace, Stockholm Archipelago, Swedish Parliament building, and the Ericsson Globe (you can see all of Stockholm from the top).

Getting to/around Sweden

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By Plane – Stockholm Arlanda is a major European airport that can be reached from most European cities and a couple of North American cities. You could do what I did and fly into Nyköping (an hour south of Stockholm), and then bus your way into downtown Stockholm.

By Bus – Bus services are offered from Copenhagen, Berlin, Oslo, Prague, Budapest, and other minor cities in Sweden. You can check bus routes at the Cityterminalen (The City Terminal).

By Train – From Stockholm there are several trains to smaller Swedish cities like Gothenburg, Malmö, and Sundsvall. International routes go to Oslo and Copenhagen.

By Ferry – Viking, Silja, and Tallink offer services from Helsinki, Mariehamm, Turku, Latvia and Estonia to Stockholm. It took one to Helsinki and you can get your own cabin and it’s pretty nice!

Like most European cities you can rely on public transportation in Sweden. Stockholm has a metro system that is reliable, a great bus system, and great train service. You can also see much of the stores through walking tours or bus tours. Like most European countries Sweden also has mostly walk-able cities.

Breakdown of Costs

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Hotels – Expect to pay a minimum of 100 US dollars for any type of decent hotel. I stayed at a hostel and it was 80 euros a night!! 80 and this was in the winter time. Compared to the US, Sweden is quite expensive especially in Stockholm. If you’re looking for a budget hotel/hostel I would recommend Old Town City Hostel or a hostel in Gamla Stan because that is the center of Stockholm and the major tourist attractions are all in walking distances. In general a normal hotel is expensive to the US dollar and it has been said that Stockholm usually always has vacancies due how expensive it actually is to get a hotel.

Food – Food is also expensive and it can be hard to find any cheap meals in Sweden (I didn’t find any). The cheapest meal I had was at the original Ikea in the burbs of Stockholm. And it was delish! Traditional Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, potatoes, bread and some strange desert that was still really good. Cheapest meal and it was probably the most authentic Swedish meal I had for the trip. In cosmopolitan Stockholm you can find international restaurants and you don’t even have to have a traditional Swedish meal. Seafood and fish are quite popular as well as potatoes and different types of meats.

Other Activities – If you have been following along than you probably know that everything you do in Sweden is expensive. Bar, coffee shops, nightclubs, shopping, etc. are all more expensive than the States. If you’re going out you may have to pay around 15 – 30 dollars to get into a club and then you still have to buy drinks which are around 8 – 12 US dollars. It starts to add up quickly.

There is an extensive amount of shopping in cities like Stockholm and the average Swede is nicely dressed. I would try to look the part while in Sweden! You can go cross-country skiing in the winter time or enjoy the beaches in the summer time. Tours are also offered in Stockholm for sightseeing and understanding the city. If you have the chance you might want to go to the Swedish country side to get a different view than just the city.

Swedish People

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My personal experience with Swedish people are that they are some of the nicest, most understanding, polite, and one of the most progressive people in the entire world. I can strongly make that statement. Swedish people are generally helpful and almost always speak English. Swedish never crowd, try to jump queues, and always stand to the right when on an escalator. Homophobia and discrimination on minorities is highly looked down upon. Also, in my opinion, Swedish people are some of the most beautiful people in the world. Because everybody dresses so nice, they all look like tall and blond models (okay maybe not everybody).

Swedish Language

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Swedish is part of the Germanic languages and is a pretty difficult language to learn and speak. The good thing about Sweden is that everything is posted in Swedish and in English and most people know how to speak a pretty good English. There is also some Finnish spoken but that is not very common as Finnish is an even harder Nordic language to learn. Most of the time you won’t need to know Swedish but you will pick up some phrases like Hej, Tack, Valkommen, Galma Stan, etc.

Definitely Do’s and Don’ts

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Do appreciate the people of Sweden. They are polite, attractive and helpful.

Don’t expect a bargain to be found in Sweden.

Do try some lignonberries and traditional Swedish food. It’s sometimes hard to find and can be expensive but it’s always worth it to try native foods.

Don’t go to Sweden only in the summer, even though it’s the most popular time to go. In the winter there are great festivals and you can even stay in an ice hotel and watch the northern lights.

Do go clubbing if you can. Sweden is one of the most liberal and best night club scenes in all of Europe. The Swedes are known for their poppy club music.

Don’t forget that you need to pay for toilets and they are located in big malls or department stores.

Do take a Fika or a traditional coffee with a biscuit!

From Splurging to Saving

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Sweden is not really a backpackers paradise because it isn’t cheap. And anybody coming here trying to be cheap probably came to the wrong place. Most things here are high priced but the city is nice and the public transportation is fantastic. All in Gamla Stan there are the typical souvenirs that are usually high in price. I would recommend try to find a souvenir that is authentic, if that can be found. Splurging would be staying in a hotel as crazy as that sounds. But prices are so high that the average American would feel like this is splurging. Going out for a meal is expensive, especially in Stockholm, because most Swedes don’t eat out. Brace yourself for the amount that you need to get by in Sweden.

Saving can only really be done if you’re willing to stay in a hostel and honestly the hostels are nice in Sweden. For food, I really never found a place that was that cheap to buy food. The cheapest I ever came was at the Ikea and that was about 6 – 7 dollars for the meal. Recently the prices in Sweden compared to the US dollar have gone up so expect to pay a little more. Some things are free to do but a lot of the time you will need to walk to get there or take public transportation. If you’re on a budget I really don’t recommend Sweden as you will have a hard time to do anything.

Good for Gay Lifestyle?

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Yes! Sweden is one of the most liberal countries in the world (if not the most liberal) and their views on homosexuality are of tolerance and acceptance in every aspect. Sweden was the first country to remove homosexuality as an illness and has one of the best pride parades in Europe. Same-sex marriage is fully legal in Sweden and now Sweden has become a campaigner of gay rights.

Stockholm is the big city for Swedish and not surprisingly this is where the highest concentration of gay bars are in the country. One can easily walk around holding hands or showing public displays of affection. Most Swedes won’t even glance or think twice. In terms of LGBT rights Sweden sweeps the board for giving the same rights to gay people as to the rest of the population. That is something very few countries can boost about.

Random Advice

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It is very cold in the winter time, although not that I live in Chicago it’s probably comparable. Bring winter clothing if you’re heading there in the winter.

Bring snow boots that are comfortable to walk in and don’t cause you to slip in ice.

Understand the conversion rate from Swedish Krona to US dollar. Sweden does not use the Euro.

Spend some time in the shops in Sweden and try to look the part while in the city!

It is hard to find public toilets and you always have to pay!

 

 

 

images by: shawnvoyage, christopher