Sweden is a land of incredible contrasts, from the dense pine forests and craggy mountains of the north, to the rolling hills and glossy golden beaches of the south. But the diversity doesn’t stop at the suburbs, with each of Sweden’s seven major cities boasting its own character, history and unique architectural style.
Bordered by Denmark to the south, Norway to the north and Finland to the east, Sweden, the largest of the Scandinavian countries, boasts a long mercantile history that has made it one of the most culturally open and welcoming in Europe.
The instantly likeable capital Stockholm has long been synonymous with style and its sharply tailored brand of chic has percolated throughout the wardrobes of the world. Hipsters notwithstanding, Stockholm, with its 14 islands and medieval beauty, has much to offer those in search of culture, art and historical treasures. However, perhaps the most surprising city is Malmö, which has belied its unfairly grim reputation to become one of the country’s liveliest destinations.
Beyond the cities Sweden’s countryside has a gentler charm than the rugged landscapes of neighbouring Norway. Much of Sweden is forested and there are thousands of lakes, including the large stretches of water between Gothenburg and Stockholm. The border with Norway is home to the spectacular Skanderna (Scandinavian) mountain chain, while in the far north you’ll find wonderfully bleak Arctic tundra, where you can see the Northern Lights.
The south is dominated by emerald forests, the cerulean waters of the Gulf of Bothnia and the jagged Baltic coastline. Of all the lovely spots in Sweden though, the awe-inspiring panoramas of the Stora Sjöfallet National Park take some beating. Part of the UNESCO-listed Laponian region of northern Sweden, the park’s majestic waterfalls, soaring peaks and crowded clumps of fir trees make it one of the country’s greatest natural treasures.
449,964 sq km (173,732 sq miles).
9,851,852 (UN estimate 2016).
Head of state:
King Carl XVI Gustaf since 1973.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven since 2014.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are standard.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime levels are low although there is some petty crime. Violent crime does occur; instances of gang related crime, including shootings and explosions, have been reported in Malmö and Gothenburg. Pick pocketing can be a problem in the major cities when tourists are targeted for passports and cash.
Sweden deals with its harsh weather very well, but delayed trains and flights are difficult to avoid during severe weather conditions. Snow and ice on the roads cause accidents daily. Consider starting your journey earlier to avoid rushing to your destination. Be prepared for harsh conditions particularly in the north during the winter.
From 1 December to 31 March and when weather conditions are wintry, all Swedish and foreign registered vehicles, both light and heavy, are required by law to have either studded tyres or un-studded friction tyres bearing the following mark, M+S, M-s, M.S, M&S, MS or Mud and Snow.
The road conditions are considered to be wintry when there is snow, ice, slush or frost on any part of the road. The Swedish police decides whether there are wintry conditions on a certain road.
In 2015 there were 259 road deaths in Sweden (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 2.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015.
See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Sweden.
You can find information about rail travel on the website of the Swedish train operator SJ.
You should check carefully whether any offers of employment for asphalting or seasonal work are genuine. Contact the British Embassy in Stockholm for further advice if necessary.