Sweden: A First-Time Visitors Guide

Sweden: A First-Time Visitors Guide

 


This post is not a comprehensive guide to Sweden, but I'll try and cover some tips about what to do if you're visiting for the first time.

 

Getting There: Flights to Stockholm from the US

 

There are flights from many different cities in the US, so it's easy enough to get there. I think it's best to look at Skyscanner and Expedia for flight prices – they're usually pretty accurate and you can see all of your options on one website. I would recommend flying into Skavsta Airport because it's close to Stockholm and very cheap (especially if you fly with Norwegian Air). From there, just take a bus or train into town! If you're flying into Arlanda Airport, make sure you have a good idea of how long it takes from there – buses go back and forth from Arlanda every hour or two, but they don't run as late as the trains/subway do. You can also take buses back from town (they leave every 20 minutes) but those only run until around 3AM on Friday-Sunday nights. Remember that Sundays are weird in Sweden – everything closes early! So catch your bus one stop earlier than usual if possible. I don't know much Swedish culture, but I'm guessing it's because everything is closed on Sundays. Also, save some room in your suitcase for beer and gifts! You can get really good deals at Systembolaget (the Swedish liquor store) if you're planning on buying alcohol. I would recommend buying sweets/candy/chocolates in the airport when you land, because they are much cheaper than they are anywhere else!

 

Getting Around: Traveling Around Stockholm

 

I highly recommend getting an SL travel card when you arrive in Stockholm (you can buy one at Arlanda Airport). These cards let you take the subway, busses, and commuter trains around town for free! If possible, try to buy this card inside of Skavsta Airport after clearing customs. There will be a kiosk outside of baggage claim that sells them – once again, just look for "SL". If there isn't one around the baggage claim area then head into the main terminal and look for a ticket counter or something similar. It might be hidden behind some other counters so just keep looking around. The process is pretty simple – they'll ask for your passport and you'll have to put in a PIN number. Once you've got your SL card, it's time to get on the subway! You can take busses but I don't recommend it because they're much slower and more likely to get stuck in traffic. The SL card will allow you to ride the subway for free once it's been activated, so make sure that people aren't going through the gates before you do! Now let me give some tips about riding the subway: Firstly, I would avoid taking a train with a large amount of people on it. This is especially true during rush hour (7-9AM & 5-7PM). If possible, find an empty train because those are much quicker than trains with lots of people.

 

If someone goes through a gate before you, don't panic! You can just follow them onto the platform or wave at them from behind/underneath them until they let you pass.

 

Sweden is very safe, but just to be on the safe side I would avoid wearing flashy jewelry or clothing while traveling. It's not that you'll get robbed or anything, it's just that everyone is used to seeing people in plain clothes and it makes them feel a little more vulnerable.

 

While the subway system is pretty straightforward, I will say that not all of the stops are obvious from the outside. Sometimes there are multiple exits from a station and those exits might not be labeled at all! If you're planning on going somewhere that isn't a major attraction (i.e: Gamla Stan) then I recommend looking at a map beforehand so you can see which exit leads where. I have been to sweden three times and I still get confused sometimes!

 

If you're going to central Stockholm (Gamla Stan, City Hall, etc.) then I recommend exiting at T-Centralen. This station is right in the center of Stockholm and it also has a skybridge that goes over all of the other lines! It will save you a lot of time if you're going to Gamla Stan or City Hall. The skybridge is very convenient because it allows you to skip the endless amount of stairs that are at most subway stations. Another thing about traveling around Stockholm: once again, it's very safe, but just be aware that people will look at you funny when they see your face/hair/clothing for the first time.

 

I hope that this post has been helpful – I love writing about sweden and I really enjoyed writing this. If you have any questions then feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @Hue_Dewey. Also, if you're planning a trip to Sweden and you want somebody with local knowledge to show you around, check out the website Travel Stockholm! They organize tours for all kinds of interests and they can help arrange transportation as well. They also do guided hikes through various National Parks in Sweden – it's a great way to see the country!

 

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