Sweden is a model country when it comes to transportation. In fact, there's no wrong option when it comes to getting around this Scandinavian country -- every method of transport available is efficient, comfortable, clean, safe and reliable.
From point to point, Sweden is 978 miles at its longest, so air travel enables you to cover ground quickly if destinations in the extreme north and south are in your itinerary. Train rides in Sweden, meanwhile, are among the most charming in Europe, revealing the country's pretty landscape at every turn. Buses are the most budget-friendly option, and the roads are well paved and well marked enough to drive a rental car with ease.
One tip: If you're planning to travel in Stockholm, be sure to purchase a Stockholm Card at a tourist office or online; it includes free public transportation, including a few ferry rides.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport is the main hub for both international and national carriers. The airport, which claims it never closes because of snow (though delays are always possible), is 23 miles north of Stockholm and 25 miles southeast of Uppsala. There are three other airports in the Stockholm region, serving smaller airlines and private charters. It's possible that if you fly to Sweden from another European nation using a budget airline, you may arrive at an airport other than Arlanda.
The high-speed train Arlanda Express whizzes you from the airport to the center of Stockholm in 20 minutes; a 38-minute commuter train is also available, as are buses and fixed-rate taxis.
Goteborg Landvetter Airport is the nation's second largest international airport and primarily accommodates flights to and from other European destinations.
If the city of Malmo is your destination, you might consider skipping a flight to Sweden and arriving at Denmark's Copenhagen Airport instead. It's a mere 35-minute train ride to Malmo across the Oresund Bridge and adjoining tunnel.
Regional airports abound throughout Sweden, and in-country flights are a safe and reliable option for travelers short on time. SAS, Norwegian Airlines, Malmo Aviation and Nextjet offer the majority of internal flights.
Sweden's rail passengers enjoy ultra-modern, comfy trains that are practically impervious to poor weather, thanks to excellent engineering of the rails. Sweden has a state-run railway called the Statens Jarnvagar, or SJ for short, and several private rail companies, including Arriva (which operates in 14 European countries) and Oresundstag, which connects with neighboring Denmark.
Summertime tourists also can take advantage of the 808-mile Inlandsbanan scenic train, which runs from Kristinehamn in the south to Gallivare in the north. You can design your own itinerary or opt for a tour package.
Booking in advance and opting for second-class seats over first-class ones will result in lower fares. SJ also operates high-speed trains that are pricier than the slower ones. Either way, it's essential to purchase tickets ahead of time if you are planning to travel during the holidays or in the summer. A Sweden Rail Pass can save you money if your plans include multiple train journeys.
Long-distance trains usually have couchettes, sleeping cars and a self-serve dining car. Most night trains even boast an onboard cinema. If your final destination isn't served by train, there's typically a connecting bus.
Road tripping in Sweden is easier than in many other European nations. Traffic is generally light, road conditions are superb, signs are easily understood and there are no tolls.
Car rental agencies are plentiful and include Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz. Look for rental counters at the international airports and in main city centers. The minimum age for a driver is typically 20 years old, but confirm with your rental agency. There's no need for an international driver's license; your license from home along with a passport and credit card will suffice.
A few points to remember:
- Headlights are required at all times of day, and snow tires are compulsory from December through March.
- More than half of the country is covered in forest, so moose and other wildlife in the road are a major concern, particularly during sunrise, sunset and nighttime.
- Main highways have speed limits of 110 kph (68 mph). Smaller roads have speed limits of 70 kph (43 mph), and in cities stay below 50 kmh (31 mph).
- Sweden's tough drunk-driving laws mean a glass of wine could put you over the legal limit (and result in fines or even jail time). If you're getting behind the wheel, avoid alcohol completely.
Traveling by bus in Sweden is a great option for shorter trips and, for travelers willing to trade speed for price, long-distance journeys as well.
With some 150 destinations, Swebus is the country's largest express bus travel provider. For the cheapest tickets, book online in advance and avoid traveling on Fridays and Sundays, which are the busiest travel days. You can also purchase tickets by phone and at Swebus stores along with a few other retailers, including 7-Eleven. Other long-distance bus companies, including Svenska Buss and GoByBus, offer fewer routes but are sometimes cheaper.
If you're spending time in a particular region, local bus services are readily available. For those traveling on to other European destinations, Eurolines connects Sweden with 25 other countries.
To look at bus routes, the website ResRobot.se is useful; it also has a handy smartphone app that independent travelers may want to download if they plan to travel frequently by bus.
Taxis in Sweden can be ordered by telephone, found at taxi stands or hailed on the street. Some companies, such as Taxi Stockholm or Taxi Kurir, operate by meter, while others have fixed fares (for example, the fare from Stockholm Arlanda Airport into the city is fixed).
There is no regulation on the taxi industry in Sweden, so fares for the same route can vary. Look at prices posted on the rear passenger windows or confirm cost with the driver before leaving.
Customers typically tip by rounding up the bill or giving a few additional kronor.
TaxiKurir.se (Swedish only)
Sweden has thousands of small islands along its coast, and passenger ferries and public speedboats are a fantastic way to explore them. Ferries serving Stockholm's archipelago offer single tickets along with five-day and monthly passes for those wanting to island hop. Tickets should be purchased in advance through Waxholmsbolaget.
Taxi boats are also an option, though an expensive one.
Gotland, in the Baltic Sea, is Sweden's largest island and a popular tourist destination, connected to the mainland cities of Nynashamn and Oskarshamn via ferry and catamaran. In summer, advance reservations are strongly recommended.
Multiple ferry companies, including Tallink Silja and Viking, offer passenger travel from Stockholm to other countries in the Baltic Sea region. Check one-way ticket prices against those for round trips, which can actually often be cheaper.
--written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma