Most people know Sweden best for its exports: Ikea; ABBA; mobile phones; and football managers. But Sweden’s greatest attractions – cosmopolitan cities, sprawling coastline, scattered archipelagos, midnight sun, the aurora borealis, lakes, forests, mountains – cannot be exported. It is a varied place. Southern Sweden’s rolling plains are rich with culture and architecture, from ancient castles to state-of-the art design. One of the most attractive capital cities in the world – Stockholm - stretches over 14 islands on the east coast. Mountains rise in the west, whilst northern Sweden is one of Europe’s last great wildernesses, offering treks, wildlife and acres of peace.


Swedish is spoken throughout the country. Though most Swedes speak English as their second language, it’s polite to use a few basics. Say hej for hello, and tack for thank you.


The Swedish krona (Skr) is still Sweden’s currency, following a recent 'no' vote in the Euro referendum. One Swedish krona equals 100 ore. Paper notes come in denominations of Skr 1000, 500, 100, 50 and 20, whilst coins are Skr 10, 5 and 1, and 50 ore. At the time of writing (August 2006) £1 converts to around 14 kronor.


Sweden isn’t as cold as its northern location might suggest. The south is temperate throughout the year. It usually snows in winter but can get fairly hot (30°C) in summer. The northern climate, though, is subarctic – cool in summer (but the sun doesn’t set for 45 days) and plummeting as low as –50°C in winter, along with metres of snow and almost continual darkness.


Explore the hundreds of historic towns, castles, royal palaces, ruins and medieval churches in southern and central Sweden, or island-hop around Stockholm to enjoy the cafés, museums, shopping and nightlife. Outdoor pursuits are a must - Sweden has 28 national parks, 10,000km of trekking and cycle paths, and 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the country. The Bohuslan Coast, Lake Siljan and the desolate Sarek National Park are particular highlights. Brave visitors can spend a night in north Sweden’s famous hotel, built entirely from ice.


Sweden’s reputation for brilliantly designed furniture is entirely justified. You can pick up the latest designs from stores in the major cities. For something that fits better in your suitcase, souvenirs and handicrafts are available all over the country, from painted wooden toys to silver and amber jewellery. You can buy traditional glassware (jugs, vases, ornaments) from the Galsriket factories.


Sweden’s strict regulations mean any bar has to be attached to a restaurant – they’re plentiful in cities but alcoholic drinks are expensive. In the big cities clubs are open every night of the week, but in smaller towns the action is only on the weekends (clubs are usually for over 20s only.)

During the summer, Sweden is brought to life by a rash of festivals across the country, which take advantage of the long, light evenings to put on outdoor concerts and performances. Almost every town has its own festival – check out www.musikfestivaler.se for details of some of the best.


  • Drive on the right and give way to the right.
  • Headlights should be dipped but on at all times when driving.
  • Seatbelts are mandatory and children under 7 must wear a special harness or child-seat.
  • Speed limit in cities is 50kph. On open roads it goes up to 90kph, and on highways 110kph. Police use hand-held equipment to detect speeding and the fines are severe.
  • Most petrol stations are open from 7am to 10pm, but automatic pumps, marked "sedel automat," operate after business hours and accept paper money.
  • The blood-alcohol limit is 20mg, a quarter of the limit in the UK.
  • If parking on a street, only park on the right. Most Swedish cities have metered on-street parking and timed ticket machines from 8am to 6pm. High fines are imposed for parking violations.
  • Elk are a big driving hazard in the north (no, seriously.) Drive carefully, and if you knock one down, report it. You’d be breaking the law if you didn’t.

Food and Drink

The most famous Swedish food tradition is the smorgasbord – a buffet comprising lots of small hot and cold dishes. Meat, game and poultry are the mainstay of Swedish food. Look out for elk or reindeer fillets, kottbullar och potatis (meatballs and potatoes) and pytt i panna ('Swedish hash' – a mixture of fried sausage, beef or pork with sliced beetroot and a fried egg.) Fish comes fried, grilled, smoked, pickled or fermented. A favourite Swedish pudding is warm cloudberry jam served with a dollop of ice cream.

The government monopolises the sale of alcohol, and deliberately sells it at a high price to discourage over-consumption. Beer and pear ciders are popular, as are Swedish vodka brannvin, snaps and aquavit.

Tourist Information

Swedish Travel and Tourism Council5 Upper Montagu StLondonW1H 2AGTel. +46 (0)2 078 705 600www.visitsweden.com


Sweden has 42 airports. The major ones are:
  • Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport (the largest in Scandinavia.)
  • Gothenburg International Airport
  • Malmö-Sturup International Airport
  • Stockholm-Skavsta Airport
  • Stockholm-Bromma Airport
  • Luleå Airport
  • Umeå Airport

All car hire locations in Sweden