Public transport is heavily subsidised and well organised. It’s divided into 21 regional networks (länstrafik), but with an overarching Resplus system (www.samtrafiken.se), where one ticket is valid on trains and buses. Timetables are available online.
Domestic flights link various towns and cities in Sweden and can be a fast, if not particularly cheap, way of getting around. There are 30-odd small regional airports located throughout the country.
Airlines in Sweden
Flying domestic is expensive on full-price tickets, but discounts are available on internet bookings, student and youth fares, off-peak travel, return tickets booked in advance, and low-price tickets for accompanying family members and seniors.
Airlines catering to domestic air travel include the following:
Braathens Regional Airlines Reaches 17 Swedish destinations, including Gothenburg, Halmstad, Kalmar, Kristianstad, Malmö, Ronneby, Stockholm (Bromma), Sundsvall, Umeå, Visby, Växjö and Ängelholm-Helsingborg and Östersund. It also flies to Helsinki and Berlin (Tegel).
SAS Scandinavia's main international airline also offers domestic flights. Destinations within Sweden include Ängelholm-Helsingborg, Gothenburg, Kalmar, Kiruna, Luleå, Malmö, Ronneby, Skellefteå, Stockholm (Arlanda), Sundsvall, Umeå, Ängelholm-Helsingborg and Östersund.
- Like most of Scandinavia, Sweden is an extremely bike-friendly country with a well-developed network of cycle paths in and around its towns and cities. There are also well-marked cycle routes around the country.
- Comprehensive cycling maps showing scenic trails are published by the Swedish Cycling Society and available in bookshops.
- Helmets are compulsory for all cyclists under age 15.
Canals provide cross-country routes linking Sweden's main lakes. The longest cruises, on the Göta Canal from Söderköping (south of Stockholm) to Gothenburg, run from late May to August, take at least four days and include the lakes between.
Rederiaktiebolaget Göta Kanal operates three ships over the whole distance at fares from 13,595kr to 20,450kr per person for a four-day cruise, sleeping in a double cabin and including full board and guided excursions. A six-day tour is also available; see the website for all options.
An extensive boat network and the five-day Båtluffarkortet (Boat Hiking Pass; 420kr) 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 Gothenburg tourist offices.
There is a comprehensive network of buses throughout Sweden and you can travel on any of the 21 good-value and extensive länstrafik networks as well as on national long-distance routes. In general, travelling by bus is cheaper than by train.
FlixBus connects numerous cities and towns across Sweden, including Stockholm to Gothenburg. The network extends north as far as Umeå and Östersund. Book tickets early and online for the best prices. Reduced fares are available for children; see the website for details. Ybuss also runs services as far north as Umeå, with other northern destinations including Hudiksvall, Sundsvall, Umeå and Sollefteå.
Nettbuss Express connects many southern towns and cities with Stockholm and Gothenburg, while Svenska Buss runs between Stockholm and Malmö via Kalmar, Karlskrona and Lund. See their respective websites for route details, prices and discounts.
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 if they are within one to four hours. Fares on local buses and trains are often identical, though prices can vary wildly depending on when you travel and how far in advance you buy tickets.
Good-value daily or weekly passes are usually available from local and regional transport offices, and many regions have 30-day passes for longer stays or summer travel. Contact tourist offices for details.
Car & Motorcycle
Sweden has good roads, and the excellent E-class motorways rarely suffer traffic jams.
The Swedish national motoring association is Motormännens Riksförbund.
Bringing Your Own Vehicle
If you’re bringing your own car, you’ll need vehicle registration documents, unlimited third-party liability insurance and a valid driving licence. A right-hand-drive vehicle brought from the UK or Ireland should have deflectors fitted to the headlights to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic. You must also carry a reflective warning breakdown triangle.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) isn’t necessary; your domestic licence will do.
To hire a car you have to be at least 20 (sometimes 25) years of age, with a recognised licence and a credit card.
International rental chains have desks at Stockholm Arlanda and Göteborg Landvetter airports and bus stations, and offices in most major cities.
Mabi Hyrbilar (www.mabi.se/english) National company with competitive rates.
In the north, elk (moose) and reindeer are serious road hazards; around 40 people die in collisions every year. Look out for the signs saying viltstängsel upphör, which mean that elk may cross the road, and for black plastic bags tied to roadside trees or poles, which mean Sami have reindeer herds grazing in the area. Report all incidents to police – failure to do so is an offence.
In Gothenburg and Norrköping, be aware of trams, which have priority; overtake on the right.
- Drive on and give way to the right.
- Headlights (at least dipped) must be on at all times when driving.
- Seatbelts are compulsory, and children under seven years old should be in the appropriate harness or child seat.
- The blood-alcohol limit in Sweden is 0.02% – having just one drink will put you over. Random checks are not unheard of.
- The use of a mobile phone without a hands-free kit while driving is illegal.
- The maximum speed on motorways (signposted in green and called E1, E4 etc) is 110km/h, highways 90km/h, narrow rural roads 70km/h and built-up areas 50km/h. The speed limit for cars towing caravans is 80km/h.
- Police using hand-held radar speed detectors have the power to impose on-the-spot fines.
Hitching is never entirely safe, 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 always 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.
In Sweden, local transport is always linked with regional transport (länstrafik). Regional passes are valid both in the city and on rural routes. Town and city bus fares are around 20kr, 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.
Sweden has an extensive and reliable railway network, and trains are almost always faster than buses, although not necessarily cheaper. (Exceptions include local commuter trains in large urban and suburban areas, which make frequent stops.)
- Inlandsbanan One of the great rail journeys in Scandinavia is this slow and scenic 1300km south to north route from Kristinehamn to Gällivare. It takes six days with stops including culture-rich Vilhelmina in Lapland and Östersund. Check the website for more package tours, including a trip to Norway.
- Sveriges Järnväg State-owned national network covering most main lines.
Ticket prices vary depending on the type of train, class, time of day and how far in advance you buy the ticket. Full-price 2nd-class tickets for longer journeys cost about twice as much as equivalent bus trips, but there are various discounts available for advance or last-minute bookings. Students, pensioners and people aged under 26 get a discount. When buying in advance, you pay more for the flexibility to change your ticket.
All SJ ticket prices drop from late June to mid-August. Most SJ trains don’t allow bicycles to be taken onto trains (they have to be sent as freight), but some in southern Sweden do; check when you book your ticket.
The Sweden Rail Pass and international passes, such as Interrail and Eurail, are accepted on SJ services and most regional trains.
The Eurail Scandinavia Pass (www.eurail.com) entitles you to unlimited rail travel in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden; it is available for three, four, five or eight days of travel within a one-month period (prices start at AUD$345 for three days). Discounts are also offered on numerous ferry routes within Scandinavia.
Sveriges Järnväg offers an Arctic Pass (364kr), a three-day hop-on, hop-off ticket allowing 12 stops on the train line connecting Kiruna and Narvik (Norway). These include Abisko and Björkliden. The pass can be purchased at SJ travel centres or by calling SJ directly.
Some of the main rail routes across the country:
- Stockholm north to Uppsala–Gävle–Sundsvall–Östersund
- Stockholm west to Örebro–Karlstad–Oslo
- Stockholm west to Örebro–Gothenburg
- Stockholm south to Norrköping–Malmö–Copenhagen