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Sweden

Getting around

Public transport is heavily subsidised and well organised. It's divided into 24 regional networks (länstrafik), but with an overarching Tågplus (www.tagplus.se) system, where one ticket is valid on trains and buses. The three-part Rikstidtabellen gives timetables for all domestic services: buy it at railway stations or large newsagents for Skr80. Handier local timetables are available free of charge or for a nominal fee from tourist offices or the operators.

Holders of International Student Identification Cards (ISIC) will get discounts with some operators - it pays to ask.

Hitching

Hitching is never entirely safe in any country, and we don't recommend it. Travellers who decide to hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk; consider travelling in pairs and let someone know where you're planning to go.

Hitching isn't popular in Sweden and very long waits are the norm. It's prohibited to hitch on motorways.

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Bus & tram

Bus

You can travel by bus in Sweden on any of the 24 good-value and extensive länstrafik networks, or on national long-distance routes.

Express buses

Swebus Express (0200 21 82 18; www.swebusexpress.se) has the largest network of express buses, but they only serve the southern half of the country (as far north as Mora in Dalarna). Svenska Buss (0771-67 67 67; www.svenskabuss.se in Swedish) and Säfflebussen (0771-15 15 15; www.safflebussen.se in Swedish, Danish & Norwegian) also connect many southern towns and cities with Stockholm; prices are often slightly cheaper than Swebus Express, but services are less frequent.

North of Gävle, regular connections with Stockholm are provided by several smaller operators, including Ybuss (0771-33 44 44; www.ybuss.se in Swedish) which has services to Sundsvall, Östersund and Umeå.

You don't have to reserve a seat on Swebus Express services. Generally, tickets for travel between Monday and Thursday are cheaper, or if they're purchased over the Internet, or more than 24 hours before departure. If you're a student or senior, it's worth asking about fare discounts; however most bus companies will only give student prices to holders of Swedish student cards (the exception is Swebus Express, where you can get an ISIC discount).

Regional networks

The länstrafik bus networks are well integrated with the regional train system, with one ticket valid on any local or regional bus or train. Rules vary but transfers are usually free within one to four hours. Fares on local buses and trains are often identical.

In remote areas, taxis may have an arrangement with the county council to provide a reduced-fare taxi trip to your final destination. These fares are only valid when arranged in advance (they cannot be bought from the taxi departure point). Ask the regional bus company for details.

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Car & motorcycle

Sweden has good roads, and the excellent E-class motorways don't usually have traffic jams.

Hire

To hire a car you have to be at least 20 (sometimes 25) years of age, with a recognised licence and a credit card.

Fly-drive packages may save you money. International rental chains (such as Avis, Hertz and Europcar) are more expensive but convenient; all have desks at Stockholm Arlanda and Göteborg Landvetter airports and offices in most major cities. The best car hire rates are generally from larger petrol stations (like Statoil and OK-Q8) - look out for signs saying biluthyrning or hyrbilar.

Avis (0770-82 00 82; www.avisworld.com)

Europcar (020-78 11 80; www.europcar.com)

Hertz (0771 211 212; www.hertz-europe.com)

Mabi Hyrbilar (08-612 60 90; www.mabirent.se) National company with competitive rates.

OK-Q8 (020-85 08 50; www.okq8.se in Swedish) Click on hyrbilar in the website menu to see car-hire pages.

Statoil (08-429 63 00; www.statoil.se/biluthyrning in Swedish) Click on uthyrningsstationer to see branches with car hire, and on priser for prices.

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Train

Sweden has an extensive and reliable railway network and trains are certainly faster than buses. However, many destinations in the northern half of the country cannot be reached by train alone.

Costs

Travel on the super-fast X2000 services is much pricier than on 'normal' trains. Full-price 2nd-class tickets for longer journeys are expensive (around twice the price of equivalent bus trips), but there are various discounts available, especially for booking a week or so in advance (förköpsbiljet), or at the last minute (for youth and pensioner fares). Students (with a Swedish CSN or SFS student card if aged over 26), and people aged under 26, get a 30% discount on the standard adult fare.

X2000 tickets include a seat reservation. All SJ ticket prices are reduced in summer, from late June to mid-August. SJ trains don't allow bicycles to be taken onto trains (they have to be sent as freight).

Station luggage lockers usually cost between Skr20 and Skr30 for 24 hours.

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Tours

Recommended tours include those run by the following companies:

Svenska Turistföreningen (STF; Swedish Touring Association; 08-463 21 00: www.svenskaturistfore ningen.se; Box 25, SE-10120 Stockholm) Offers scores of events and tours, mostly based on outdoor activities (eg kayaking and hiking).

Sweden Booking (0498-20 33 80; www.swedenbooking.com; Österväg 3A, SE-62145 Visby) Can organise rail tickets as well as interesting package trips, like a traditional Christmas in Dalarna or canoeing in Värmland.

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Water

Ferry

An extensive boat network and the 16-day Båtluffarkortet boat passes (Skr420) open up the attractive Stockholm archipelago. Gotland is served by regular ferries from Nynäshamn and Oskarshamn, and the quaint fishing villages off the west coast can normally be reached by boat with a regional transport pass - enquire at the Göteborg tourist offices.

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Air

Airlines in sweden

Domestic airlines in Sweden tend to use Stockholm Arlanda (code ARN; 08-797 60 00; www.lfv.se) as a hub, but there are 30-odd regional airports. Flying domestic is expensive on full-price tickets (usually between Skr1000 and Skr3000 for a single ticket), but substantial discounts are available on Internet bookings, student and youth fares, off-peak travel, return tickets booked at least seven days in advance or low-price tickets for accompanying family members and seniors. It's worthwhile asking about stand-by fares.

The following is a small selection of Sweden's internal flight operators and the destinations they cover. Skyways has the best offers.

FlyMe (airline code SH; 0770-79 07 90; www.flyme.com; hub Göteborg Landvetter) Stockholm to Göteborg, Ängelholm (near Helsingborg), Malmö and Östersund.

Malmö Aviation (airline code TF; 040-660 29 00; www.malmoaviation.se; hub Stockholm Bromma) Göteborg, Stockholm and Umeå.

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS; airline code SK; 0770-72 77 27; www.scandinavian.net; hub Stockholm Arlanda) Arvidsjaur, Borlänge, Gällivare, Göteborg, Halmstad, Ängelholm-Helsingborg, Hemavan, Hultsfred, Jönköping, Kalmar, Karlstad, Kiruna, Kramfors, Kristianstad, Linköping, Luleå, Lycksele, Norrköping, Malmö, Mora, Örnsköldsvik, Oskarshamn, Oskersund, Skellefteå, Stockholm, Storuman, Sundsvall, Sveg, Torsby, Trollhättan, Umeå, Vilhelmina, Visby, Västerås and Örebro.

Skyways (airline code JZ; 0771 95 95 00; www.skyways.se; hub Stockholm Arlanda) Arvidsjaur, Borlänge, Göteborg, Halmstad, Hemavan, Jönköping, Karlstad, Kramfors, Kristianstad, Linköping, Lycksele, Norrköping, Mora, Skellefteå, Stockholm, Storuman, Sundsvall, Trollhättan, Vilhelmina, Visby and Örebro.

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Local transport

In Sweden, local transport is always linked with regional transport (länstrafik). Regional passes are valid both in the city and on the rural routes. Town and city bus fares are around Skr15, but it usually works out cheaper to get a day card or other travel pass.

Swedish and Danish trains and buses around the Öresund area form an integrated transport system, so buying tickets to Copenhagen from any station in the region is as easy as buying tickets for Swedish journeys.

Stockholm has an extensive underground metro system, and Göteborg and Norrköping run tram networks. Göteborg also has a city ferry service.

Beware of getting ripped off in taxis. It's best to agree to a fare before the trip. In Stockholm, flag fall is around Skr32, then Skr7 per km; most taxis in the capital will take you to Arlanda airport for between Skr350 and Skr450.

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Bicycle

Cycling is an excellent way to see Sweden and a very common mode of transport for Swedes. Most towns have separate lanes and traffic signals for cyclists.

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