Lonely Planet guide to Sweden

Published: 01 August 2007

For the Lonely Planet guide to Norway, click here

For the Lonely PLanet Guide to Finland, click here

Since the devaluation of the Swedish crown, Sweden has become much more affordable, and the simple joys of fresh air, landscape and culture are free.

Its forests are starkly beautiful, its lakes giant. Stockholm, the country's capital, is a progressive city with pockets that maintain a village feel.

Gothenburg and Malmö beckon with urban delights, and away from the cities, Sweden takes in vast areas of scenic coastline and idyllic islands. The wilderness areas of Norrland have the legendary midnight sun in summer, Arctic Scandinavia's highest mountain and marvellous hiking trails.

When To Go:

If you want sunshine, visit between late May and late July, bearing in mind that August can be both hot and wet.

Many youth hostels, camping grounds and attractions open only in summer, from late June to mid-August. Swedes are big on holidays, and even Stockholm shuts down for two or three days around Christmas and midsummer, so plan accordingly.

Most Swedes take their vacations from late June to mid-August, so hostels are crowded, but this is also when most hotels offer discounts of up to 50 per cent.

Travel in winter is somewhat restricted and requires some planning as well as serious winter clothing, but there are good opportunities for activities like skiing, dogsledding and snowmobiling.

The big cities are in full swing all year, but the smaller towns almost go into hibernation when the temperatures begin to drop (the notable exceptions being popular ski resort towns like Åre, and Jukkasjärvi, home to the Ice Hotel).


Sweden - Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Kingdom of Sweden
  • Capital City: Stockholm
  • Area: 449,964 sq km / 173,731 sq miles
  • Population: 9,024,186
  • Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1 ()
  • Daylight Saving Start: last Sunday in March
  • Daylight Saving End: last Sunday in October
  • Languages: Swedish (official), English (other) widely spoken, Finnish (other), Sami (other)
  • Religion: predominantly Lutheran (87%)
  • Currency: Swedish Krona (Sk)
  • Electricity: 230V 50HzHz
  • Electric Plug Details: European plug with two circular metal pins
  • Country Dialing Code: 46