Sweden Solo Travel Guide

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Sweden is truly a captivating country and should be at the heart of any solo Nordic adventure you’re planning. I’ve returned to Sweden over and over for the cosmopolitan charm of Stockholm, the laid-back coastal chic of Gothenburg and for long summer nights in the wonderland of Lapland. Sweden’s natural beauty and inclusive society has so much to offer.

If you’re a first-timer, where should you begin in Sweden? I’d start in Stockholm, the city of islands. Spend an hour or two wandering the charming cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan, get a selfie at the Royal Palace and book a boat trip through the archipelago. If smaller cities are your vibe, Gothenburg and Malmö have their own unique blend of old-world charm and modern vibe. To get away, go North to see the Northern Lights in Lapland or explore the wilderness by hiking the Kungsleden trail. If you’re working while travelling, the main cities have digital nomads covered with super fast internet and coffee house culture.

Sweden has long been a progressive beacon, which has made it a favourite destination for gay visitors. Paired with its respect for nature and sustainability, Sweden is about welcoming people, but minimising its ecological footprint. With that in mind, I’ve written this Sweden Travel Guide to help you plan what to do, where to stay and what to budget for your next Swedish holiday.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN SWEDEN

1. Explore Stockholm’s Archipelago: Just a short boat trip from Stockholm, the archipelago offers beautiful scenery, charming villages, and great opportunities for kayaking, hiking, and cycling. I chose this shorter 3 hour cruise starting right in the city centre.

2. Experience Gothenburg: Known for its Dutch-style canals and leafy boulevards, Gothenburg has more of a laid-back vibe than Stockholm. You might want to check out the Liseberg amusement park, Universeum science center, and the hipster-chic Haga district. A private walking tour of Gothenburg costs way less than you’d expect and will get you settled, fast.

3. Hike Kungsleden: If you’re outdoorsy, the 440-km-long Kungsleden trail offers breathtaking views of Sweden’s pristine wilderness. Kungsleden is best hiked in summer, as the trail snakes through the most northerly part of Sweden, its least populated part with untouched scenery. (Keep a budget for transfers, refuge fees and food – this blog explains it so well).

4. Witness the Northern Lights in Lapland: Lapland, the northernmost region of Sweden, offers the chance to see the magical Northern Lights (although it’s never quite guaranteed). Visit between September and March for the best chance of catching this natural spectacle.

5. Party at a Midsummer Festival: Experience Swedish culture at its finest by taking part in a Midsummer Festival. The festival, which celebrates the summer solstice with dancing, food, and the raising of a maypole, is a lot of fun (as well as a cool insight into traditional Sweden).

Guide Books

Sweden – Lonely Planet

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Sweden – Rough Guide

Kindle or Print

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Swedish Phrase Book

Some basic phrases go a long way!

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6. Discover Medieval Visby: Located on the island of Gotland, Visby is a well-preserved medieval city. I’d pick this hop-on, hop-off bus tour to get oriented first. Then experience the cobblestone streets, medieval walls, and old churches on foot.

7. Have a Fika: Have you heard of fika?! Yes, it’s coffee and cake, but is more like a social institution in Sweden. Fika is taking a slow moment in your day to enjoy a coffee and a cinnamon bun, and hang out with friends. You can have a fika at any coffee shop across the country.

8. Stay in the Ice Hotel: This is a truly unique experience (and fairly expensive!), but if it’s in your budget, consider booking a night at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi. The hotel, made entirely of ice and snow, is reconstructed every winter, and staying in its chilly but beautiful rooms is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve tried to book it three times, and it was sold out on the dates I selected, but I hope you get luckier!

9. Immerse yourself in Sami Culture: While in Lapland, take the opportunity to learn about the indigenous Sami people. You can visit a traditional Sami camp, take a reindeer sleigh ride, or learn about the Sami’s close relationship with nature.

10. Visit Uppsala’s Historic Sites: Just a short train ride from Stockholm, Uppsala is rich in historic sites. Visit Uppsala Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Scandinavia, and the Gustavianum, Uppsala University’s oldest building, which contains an impressive museum. Depending on your tastes, add in Uppsala Botanical Gardens and Uppsala Castle, which has panoramic views of the city.

CITY GUIDES

For further details on cities to visit in Sweden, check out my city travel guides:

Malmö (coming)


GETTING HERE & GETTING AROUND

Getting Here

Reaching Sweden is a pretty straightforward process for most international visitors. Arrivals from outside of Europe will most likely fly into Stockholm Arlanda Airport, the largest airport in Sweden. You can use Skyscanner to scout for direct flights from North America, Asia, and other parts of the world, making it a convenient entry point.

If you’re travelling from within Europe, you have heaps of options. Budget airlines service all the Swedish cities (or near them!), plus train travel is possible via Norway, Denmark and Germany. Ferries are available too, which connect Sweden with Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Poland. And of course, you can drive here (which I did via campervan), which can be great for scenic adventures, especially when crossing the famous Öresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden.

This is the Anker power bank that I use when travelling.

An essential to keep your phone and camera juiced up.

Buy a power bank

Getting Around

Sweden is a long country, meaning distances are far, particularly if you want to head to the North. Getting between some cities will require a long journey or flight. Here’s your options:

The long distances in Sweden mean there’s an extensive network of domestic flights. Major carriers like SAS and budget airlines such as Norwegian Air Shuttle connect larger cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo with northern locations like Luleå and Kiruna. Use Skyscanner to explore the options. You need to know: flights can be quite expensive, particularly if booked last minute.

The Swedish railway network stretches across the country and it’s super convenient. There are fast intercity trains and regular regional networks. SJ is the main train operator, and you can do all your booking online. Prices are cheapest well in advance. For a scenic treat, consider taking the Inlandsbanan railway that winds through Sweden’s stunning inland and Arctic landscapes.

With its archipelagos and countless islands, ferries are an integral part of Sweden’s transportation system (as for most of Scandinavia). Regular services connect the mainland with major islands, including Gotland and the islands in the Stockholm Archipelago. Ferry prices can vary massively (book ahead).

Renting a car is sensible if you need to get out of the cities. All the major rental companies operate from both airports and larger towns. Prices start around 500 SEK per day. You need to know: Sweden drives on the right, and you might encounter wildlife crossing roads, especially in rural areas. Did you know you can use Booking.com to compare Car Rental prices?

A popular option for those wishing to explore everything Scandinavian, camper vans are ubiquitous, especially as you head North. Numerous rental companies are available, and you’ll find many campsites throughout the region.

Sweden has a really good long-distance bus network. Companies like FlixBus and Swebus are affordable and usually clean and comfy. You’ll find regional and local options around most towns and cities (see my city guides). Public transport is relatively reasonable in Sweden.

Taxis and Uber are widely available in larger cities. I have found both relatively expensive, especially given Sweden’s efficient public transport. You need to know: always check the price before getting in, as taxi fares are not regulated in Sweden.

Sweden is a bike-friendly country with well-developed cycling infrastructure in the main cities and a network of long-distance cycle routes throughout the countryside. You’ll find bike rental in most cities.

Swedish cities, particularly Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, are quite pedestrian-friendly, with extensive networks of well-maintained pavements (sidewalks) and hiking trails. Plus it’s healthy and a good way to get into the vibe of a place!

Guided tours can be a great way to see the sights without worrying about navigation, especially in the wilderness areas of the north. My advice to you is to explore the options on Get Your Guide and/or Viator. Both sites have options at a range of budgets and durations.

SWEDEN DAILY EXPENSES & SMART BUDGETING

I plan my solo travel finances around the idea of daily “smart budgeting”, including a mid-priced hotel, one main meal in a proper restaurant and 1-2 excursions in a city stay of a few days. The idea is to be flexible, leaving some cash to splash on memorable luxuries like a night in a fancier hotel, or lunch at a famous restaurant.

For Sweden, I would allow a ‘smart budget‘ of 1750 SEK per day for a typical 5-7 night visit. That should include your hotel, included breakfast, light lunch from a stand or market, and a proper evening meal. I keep snacks of fruit and oatmeal in my room. Expect that to cover 1-2 excursions too.

Sweden has a reputation for expense, but backpackers can manage on a budget of 1000 SEK per day. That will include a shared dorm in a hostel, buying and cooking your own food, making the most of free excursions and taking the bus.

If you’re on the trip of a lifetime, and have a lot more cash in the pot, Sweden has everything you need for a luxurious trip. There are wonderful 5* hotels in Stockholm (and the Ice Hotel), unique experiences in Lapland and fabulous seafood restaurants. Expect to budget from 3000 SEK per day (and up) for a Luxury Budget.

Practical Tips

  • Local currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)
  • Exchange Rates: $1 USD = 10.45 SEK | £1 GBP = 13.48 SEK | €1 = 11.56 SEK
  • SIM Cards: it may be more economical to purchase a local SIM card for data usage. Key suppliers in Sweden include Telia, Telenor, and Tele2.
  • Emergency Services: 112
  • Power voltage: 230 V 50 Hz. Power sockets are Type F.

I used this Universal Adapter in Sweden both for plugs/sockets & USB chargers

Works for any plug/socket combo. A must-have.

Buy an adapter

SWEDEN ACCOMMODATION & FOOD

Accommodation

Prices fluctuate significantly between different regions in Sweden. A moderate hotel rate in Stockholm = a luxurious 4-star room in a smaller town like Visby.
Basic Hotel: expect to pay around 800-1300 SEK;
Mid-range 3*: can range from 1300-2200 SEK
Luxury/Historic: mostly cost 2200 SEK and up.
Airbnb: a basic ‘entire place’ starts at 700 SEK per night (including wifi) in Stockholm.

Note: add up the “total cost” of a room (room + amenities + breakfast) to ensure you compare like with like. Swedish hotels include free Wi-Fi, sometimes breakfast and often a sauna or gym. If breakfast is extra, it’ll run 100-200 SEK per person. Here are my top picks for a stay in Sweden, at every budget:

Property Name
Location
$$$
Type

Ett Hem: A luxury hotel in a beautiful townhouse that feels more like a private residence. Each room is uniquely decorated. Find rates here.

Stockholm

$$$

Luxury

Grand Hotel: An iconic hotel known for its luxurious rooms, a great spa, and a restaurant with Michelin stars. Find rates here.

Stockholm

$$$

Luxury

Scandic Gamla Stan: Set in a 17th-century building in Stockholm’s old town, this hotel offers comfortable rooms and a great breakfast. Find rates here.

Stockholm

$$

Mid-range

Hotel Vanilla: Cute boutique hotel located close to shops and restaurants. Find rates here.

Gothenburg

$$

Mid-range

Vadstena Klosterhotel: A historic hotel set in and around a former monastery and castle with a peaceful atmosphere. Find rates here.

Vadstena

$$$

Historic

Icehotel: World-famous hotel where rooms are made of ice and snow, offering a unique Arctic experience. Find rates here.

Jukkasjärvi

$$$

Unusual

Treehotel: An architectural wonder, with individual ‘tree rooms’ suspended in the forest canopy. Find rates here.

Harads

$$$

Unusual

City Backpackers Hostel: Housed in a 19th-century building, it offers comfortable dormitory rooms and a fully equipped guest kitchen. Find rates here.

Stockholm

$

Hostel

Linneplatsens Hostel: Central to everything you want to see in Gothenburg, with both private rooms and dormitories. Find rates here.

Gothenburg

$

Hostel

Food: Swedish cuisine might not be as renowned as other national foods, but don’t listen to clichés as you’d miss out on high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients. Of course, you’ll know about classic Swedish meatballs, but there’s also reindeer and cloudberries in Lapland, and excellent seafood along the coasts. You might want to try the customary “fika” break in the day to enjoy coffee and a cinnamon bun.

An evening main course starts around 150 SEK, maybe a bit less for takeaway. If you opt for more upscale dining, expect to pay 250 SEK and upwards for a main course. It’s worth checking out the growing vegan and vegetarian options too. Grocery shopping is more expensive in Sweden than other parts of Europe, but you should find that quality is top notch. One must-try is the traditional Smörgåsbord, a buffet-style meal with a variety of cold and hot dishes, including different types of pickled herring, cured salmon, meatballs, and much more.

Find detailed accommodation options and food recommendations in each City Travel Guide.

BEST TIME TO GO TO SWEDEN

The best time to visit Sweden depends on your interests and plans for your visit. If you are touring Stockholm, Gothenburg, or the charming island of Gotland, the summer months from June to August are probably best. The weather will typically be warm and pleasant, with temperatures from 20°C to 30°C. Plus you’ll get to experience the Swedish Midsummer Festival, one of the most significant cultural events of the year. This is also an excellent time to enjoy the beaches of Gotland and boat tours.

For outdoor enthusiasts who want to tackle the Kungsleden trail or other hiking paths, late summer, specifically in August, is usually best when the weather is agreeable, and the mosquitos have died down.

However, if you’re drawn to the mystical beauty of the Northern Lights, you’ll want to visit Lapland between September and March, when these celestial displays are most visible. Keep in mind, though, that winter in northern Sweden can be harsh, with temperatures falling below freezing, and daylight hours are minimal.

Off-season travel in the spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) can also be rewarding, with fewer tourists and beautiful natural scenery. The autumnal colours in Lapland are breathtaking.

Like my homeland of Ireland, Sweden (particularly Stockholm) has a reputation for rain, so keep an umbrella or raincoat in your backpack.

SOLO TRAVEL TO SWEDEN

If solo travel is made easier by good organisation and ease of navigation, then Sweden is an excellent location. There are decent options for solo adventures in most parts of Sweden: medieval Visby on Gotland, trekking the Kungsleden hiking trail, or enjoying the cultural (and fika!) offerings of Stockholm or Gothenburg. Three other things help too: the public transport is well established and frequent; people are highly proficient in English; there’s a widespread culture of politeness that helps make solo travel quite straightforward.

If you’re keeping to the well-trodden routes in the South, Sweden is easy. By venturing to Lapland or elsewhere in the North, you’re adding distance and cost (but it’s well worth it). It’s occasionally fun to join in with group activities and a visit at Midsummer would give you a chance to join with Swedish people and visitors having cultural fun. I’d also add in guided tours of Stockholm’s archipelago or hiking expeditions in Lapland in the summer. In winter, consider taking part in a group tour to see the Northern Lights or a snowmobiling adventure.

Exploring Sweden solo can be more than just sightseeing; by embracing some of the Swedish ways of life when you visit, you’ll get a glimpse into a different way of experiencing everyday life.

DIGITAL NOMADS IN SWEDEN

I have to admit it, as an EU citizen, Sweden’s progressive culture, strong economy, and superb tech infrastructure makes it very appealing to visit as a digital nomad. Everything hinges on the boxes you need to tick for remote work, but a high standard of living, decent public services and work/life balance are important to me.

Let’s talk through the options. Stockholm is a hub for tech startups (“Silicon Valletta”). You’ll find high-speed internet is standard and there’s more coworking spaces and cafes than you can shake an iPad Pro at. And then there’s the backdrop. Inspiring or a distraction? I’d say, inspiring!

The two serious alternatives are Gothenburg and Malmö, both known for quality of life, good access to culture and friendly locals. There’s plenty of coworking spots, and coffee shops comfortable with you setting up your mobile office. Could you work even more remotely? Probably. Areas like Gotland are tranquil and have good infrastructure, but if you need more of a buzz, a city will be easier.

While Sweden is desirable for digital nomads, it’s not cheap, so the budget-conscious will need to plan accordingly. Some nomads will argue that the quality accommodation, food and excursions are expensive, but the quality of life makes it worth it.

Sweden Digital Nomad Visa

While Sweden offers a great environment for digital nomads, as of now, it does not provide a specific digital nomad visa. So if you turn up to work in Sweden under a tourist visa or during a visa-free stay, you’re technically outside the law.

Non-EU citizens: to work remotely in Sweden, you should be employed by a Swedish company or have Swedish clients, and apply for a work permit accordingly.

EEA, EU, Schengen area citizens: there’s more flexibility. You don’t need a visa or residence permit to work remotely in Sweden, but, if you’ll stay >3 months, you must register at the local tax registration office (Skatteverket) to make sure you’re compliant.

LGBTQ+ TRAVEL TO SWEDEN

Sweden is one of the most progressive and LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world. Sweden ranks highly on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index, which measures equality and non-discrimination for LGBTQ people.

The cities are a good starting point for visitors, particularly Stockholm, with its plethora of gay bars, clubs and shops, particularly the areas of Gamla Stan and Södermalm. There’s Pride events every summer in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö and the latter two cities also have thriving LGBTQ scenes. In Gothenburg, check out the scene around the lively Avenyn and Haga districts, while in Malmö, Möllevången is known as the city’s ‘rainbow quarter.’

Sweden’s open-mindedness extends into smaller towns and rural places too. You should feel welcome in Lapland, e.g., the Ice Hotel has hosted same-sex weddings. All of this means that LGBTQ visitors can expect the same respect as anyone else visiting Sweden, whether checking into their hotel, hiking the Kungsleden, or visiting an art gallery.

HOW SAFE IS SWEDEN?

Sweden is considered a very safe country to visit. The main cities (Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö) have comparatively low crime rates. In general, visitors should feel pretty secure in cities, even at night. The progressiveness of Sweden means that solo (female) travellers and LGBTQ people should feel welcome in most places. Like anywhere, using common sense and taking basic precautions (keep your bag with you and being aware of your surroundings) will contribute to a safer trip.

You could face weather-related safety issues; weather can be harsh in winter. Ensure you’ve got the right equipment, a reliable phone with coverage, and let a friend know your route before setting out on a wilderness hike.

Sweden is virtually cashless, so cards are the standard way to pay. Make sure you have funds you can access on your credit or debit card. So in summary, the risk of crime is pretty low. But stay aware, stay informed by browsing local news online, and take responsibility for keeping yourself safe too.

SWEDEN TRAVEL GUIDE: BOOKING RESOURCES

I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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