Sweden travel guide
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).
21.8 per sq km.
King Carl XVI Gustaf since 1973.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven since 2014.
Last updated: 20 February 2018
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.
There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.
Over 857,000 British nationals visited Sweden in 2016. Most visits are trouble-free. If you need to contact the emergency services in Sweden call 112.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Sweden. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Safety and security
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.
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.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Sweden. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
There are heavy punishments for importing illegal drugs.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Border controls are in place in Sweden for people travelling from Denmark via the Öresund crossing and arriving on ferries from Denmark and Germany. Make sure you carry a passport or national ID card when entering Sweden. More detailed information is available from the Swedish authorities.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Sweden.
You don’t need a visa to enter Sweden. As a British passport holder you can stay as a visitor for up to 3 months. If you intend to stay for a longer period you should contact an office of the Migration Board.
Travelling with children
If you’re travelling with children other than your own you should carry a letter of consent from the child’s parent or guardian.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Pharmacies are usually open during normal shop opening hours. You can also get an emergency prescription at hospitals. If you are visiting remote areas consider the relative inaccessibility of the emergency services. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
If you’re visiting Sweden you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Swedish nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
The currency for Sweden is Swedish Krona, not the Euro.
Large numbers of British nationals travel successfully and safely in and around the Arctic each year. The Arctic is, however, a vast region, comprising the northerly areas of Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Alaska (United States). In addition to reading the specific travel advice for each of these countries, prospective visitors to the Arctic should also consider carefully the potential remoteness of certain destinations from search and rescue, evacuation and medical facilities. Independent travellers are particularly advised to develop contingency arrangements for emergency back-up.
The most popular way of visiting the Arctic is by ship. As some areas of the Arctic -specifically the more northerly and remote regions - can be uncharted and ice-covered, you should check the previous operational experience of cruise and other operators offering travel in the region. You should also consider the on-board medical facilities of cruise ships and talk to cruise operators as appropriate, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
The eight Arctic States take their international search and rescue obligations very seriously, and have recently signed a binding agreement on search and rescue co-operation in the Arctic. However, in the highest latitude regions of the Arctic, cruise ships may be operating in relative isolation from other vessels and/or inhabited areas. You should be aware that in these regions, search and rescue response will often need to be dispatched from many hundreds of miles away, and assistance to stranded vessels may take several days to arrive, particularly in bad weather. Search and rescue assets are also likely to offer only basic transport and basic medical care, and are unlikely to be capable of advanced life-support. Responsible cruise operators should happily provide additional information relevant to the circumstances of the cruise they are offering, and address any concerns you may have.
Consular assistance and support to British nationals in the Arctic will be affected by the capacity of national and local authorities. You should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or potential repatriation.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.