Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Sweden? Here you will find information on working in Sweden, entry visas, Sweden hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Sweden
- Entry Visas for Sweden
- Foreigner Work Permits in Sweden
- How to Say Common Phrases in Swedish
- Sweden Hostels
- Sami in Sweden
- SI Courses in Sweden
Facts About Sweden
Although Sweden still suffers from being generally expensive like the rest of Scandinavia, recent devaluation of the Swedish Kroner has made Sweden a lot more affordable. Sweden is a large country although it is quite sparsely populated; this means that there is plenty of unspoilt scenery and the northern part of the country is well in the Arctic circle where you will be able to find year long skiing and stunning glacial vistas.
Sweden has a reputation for being cosmopolitan and cities such as Gothenburg and the capital Stockholm offer a host of facilities, services and cultural attractions. It is, of course, impossible to go to Sweden without sampling a Smorgasbord or indulging in a little of Sweden’s world famous Absolut vodka.
- Currency: Swedish Krone (Skr)
- Time Zone: GMT + 1
- Language: Swedish
- Telephone Services: Country code +46, International Access code 009
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
The summers in Sweden can be relatively warm especially further south but there is frequent light showers of rain particularly in the area around Gothenburg. The winters are cold, ports are often iced in and the northern area receives a lot of snowfall. The temperature during winter is typically about freezing point, even colder in the arctic north and Lappland.
Things to see and do
Sweden’s medieval capital, Stockholm is situated on an archipelago making it best seen from the water on one of the myriad guided tours available. The old town, Gamla Stan is situated on the island of Stadshomen and is the site of the Royal Palace which is well worth taking time out to see its impressive collection or weapons and armour from the middle ages. Just east of the main city of Stockholm is the Island Djurgarden which boasts the worlds first open air museum whose exhibits include a zoo.
Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city and being slightly warmer than Stockholm attracts a lot of visitors many can’t resist spending some time in Lisberg which is Gothenburg’s amusement park. Once you drag yourself away from the various rides you will find plenty to see and do, the Konstmuseet will satisfy your thirst for culture with its collection of artwork including exhibits by Rubens, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. To see something a little more modern the Sjofartshistoriska is a museum of Maritime history and contains exhibits reaching right up to the present day.
The city of Malmo in the province of Skane is a good alternative attraction, the city has ample park lands and architecture as well as a beautifully preserved renaissance castle. Malmo really comes alive however in the second week of August where is is host to the Malmo festival. This yearly festival combines live music, theatre, sports, film, dance and even comedy in a hectic week of culture. The festival generally has zones put in place to cater for different age groups so you can be sure to find something which is to your taste.
History lovers might like to take a trip to Gamla Uppsala which is the site of three huge 6th century burial mounds. Uppsala also boasts cathedral ruins and an imformative outdoor museum. For those interested in history there is enough to see to spend at least half a day here and would make an interesting diversion on route to another location.
Sweden’s rail network is one of the most efficient and most advanced in Europe. The network is run by SJ and major routes are serviced by the X2000 high speed trains. These trains travel at up to 125mph and allow a traveller to get between Stockholm and Gothenburg in under 3 hours. Other routes are serviced by more conventional Intercity trains. A seat reservation is required on X2000 and overnight trains so you will have to book these in advance. Tickets are available from train stations.
SJ offer flexi-pass to allow cheaper travel in Sweden, these are available in first and second class flavours and allow between three and five days of travel during a opne month preiod. These passes start at just over Skr 100 for a 2nd class 3 day pass and can make travelling much more affordable. Scanrail also offer a flexipass which allows up to 10 days of travel in a 2 month period. This pass is also valid throughout Scandinavia and entitles the bearer to discounts on many ferry journeys within Scandinavia.
The bus routes reach the few places that the rail network doesn’t and are generally of good value and quality. Each country operates its own local bus network each with its own set of discounts. However most travellers will find the long distance express services operated by Swebus and Svenska Bus are much more useful. Eurolines operates a range of international coach trips stopping in Sweden and going to other major European cities. Those planning to visit Sweden will find http://www.tagplus.se/ tagplus an invaluable aid, although this website doesn’t allow online booking from outside Sweden it has comprehensive information on all forms of public transport throughout Sweden. The site will let you select a destination and a departure city and will calculate a host of routes including changes and even give you up to date accurate travel information.
Hotels although expensive tend to be very high quality in Sweden, many organise excursions for their guests during the holiday seasons and during the summer the higher end hotels will almost certainly have swimming provision for their guests. A comprehensive list of Swedish hotels can be found at hotelsinsweden.net. There is no grading system as such but hotels which belong to the Swedish Hotel & Restaurant Association display an SHR logo on their signs. This is generally a sign that the hotel is of a very good standard.
For those watching their budget there are nearly 300 youth hostels in Sweden and you should have no trouble finding one close to your destination, members of the UK Youth Hostel Association will often qualify for a discount in Swedish hostels so be sure to take your card with you. A comprehensive list of Swedish hostels can be found at the Youth Hostel Association’s web site.
The standard of health in Sweden is high and the UK has a reciprocal agreement with the Swedish health service entitling British nationals to free emergency medical treatment. Further treatment cover can be obtained by bearing a completed E111 from. You should still take out travel insurance however as these two levels of cover will not extend to some medical treatments. The drinking water in Sweden is considered safe and there are no vaccinations required or recommended before visiting.
The Swedish Travel and Tourism board dispenses advice for visitors travelling to Sweden.
The Youth Hostel Association’s website holds details of hostels throughout the world, including in Sweden.
Hotelsinsweden.net maintains a comprehensive list of hotels throughout Sweden.
Svenska Bus operates an intercity express coach service
Swebus operates an intercity express service.
SJ operates the rail and X2000 high speed rail networks
Tagplus is an excellent site for planning rail, bus and ferry journeys within Sweden.
Entry Visas for Sweden
A valid passport is required for everyone except EU Nationals with a valid ID card. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 3 months. If you intend to stay for longer than 3 months or wish to work in Sweden you should contact your local Swedish Embassy for further details.
For information regarding visas, immigration or work permits you should contact the local Swedish Embassy:
Royal Swedish Embassy 11 Montagu Place London W1H 2AL Tel (020) 7 917 6400 Fax (020) 7 724 4174.
If you require assistance from UK representation whilst in Sweden you should contact the British Embassy:
British Embassy Skarp gatan 6-8 Box 27819 115 93 Stockholm Sweden Tel: + (46) (8) 671 9000 Fax: + (46) (8) 662 (46) (8) 661 9766
There are also British Consulate-Generals in Gothenburg, Malmö, and Sundsvall.
The Swedish Tourist Board dispenses travel advice for visitors to Sweden:
Swedish Travel and Tourism Council 11 Montagu Place London W1H 2AL Tel: (0171) 724 5868 Fax: (0171) 724 5872.
Foreigner Work Permits in Sweden
For a stay of longer than three months, EU nationals must get a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd). To obtain a permit you will first need to show proof of employment, a passport and photos, and a SIV 1040.U form. Non-EU nationals may experience endless problems with obtaining a permit because of the reluctance with which they are given out.
In large tourist areas such as Stockholm check hotels, bars, and restaurants for vacancies in kitchen staff, cleaning, waitressing etc. Most jobs are found by enquiring in person. If working in a city doesn’t appeal to you, try seaside resorts, particularly along the coast between Malmö and Goteborg. Wages for casual seasonal work are often low; many Swedish nationals are reluctant to take these jobs and so employers find many foreign travellers wanting to earn money, whatever the rate.
Avalon Au-Pairs and Childcare International Ltd are two agencies that have links with au pair vacancies in Sweden. With both companies you can expect to earn about Skr40 per week, and to work 6 days each week. Most au pair positions require you to look after the children as well as performing general domestic duties. Childcare International Ltd can provide placements for up to three months in the summer, and six months or more throughout the rest of the year. As with most agencies, you will be expected to fund your own travel expenses and often a registration fee is charged, but given the nature of the job you will be provided with accommodation and food by your host family.
For casual seasonal work, Skåne in the south of Sweden is a good place to start looking for crop-picking jobs. As with most work of this kind you should not expect to earn a lot even though it is often difficult and intensive in its nature. The Young Farmers’ Clubs International Farm Experience Programme offers positions on farms in Sweden. Projects last between three and twelve months and you are paid for the work that you do, which will usually compensate you for funding your own travel. To join a programme you must be aged between 18 and 28 and have at least two years’ experience in the agricultural industry.
For work of up to one year, Camphill Communities offers placements to volunteers on their workcamps around the world. Work involves assisting in the running of community centres for adults with special needs, and further education centres. For a 6-day working week you can expect to receive pocket money of about Skr29, as well as free accommodation and food. Staffansgarden, near Stockholm, is one of Sweden’s Camphill communities working with handicapped children. Placements here last between six and twelve months and work includes cooking, farmwork, and woodwork activities. As well as working you will be expected to participate in language classes.
The International Voluntary Service (IVS) offers a range of opportunities for volunteering abroad. Short-term ‘workcamps’ are set up to focus on a community issue, which may include work with those with special needs, the elderly, or environmental conservation projects. Most workcamps are organised for summer months and last only a few weeks, during which time you will be provided with food and accommodation. You must pay a membership fee of Skr15 to IVS.
- National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs
- The International Farm Experience Programme
- YFC Centre
- National Agricultural Centre
- Stoneleigh Park
- Warwickshire CV8 2LG
- Aupairsbyavalon.com for more information on Avalon Au Pairs.
- Callan Projects provides a database of links to various Camphill communities around the world
- Sci-ivs provides information about the International Voluntary Service.
How to Say Common Swedish Phrases
- thank you
- you are welcome
- ursakta mig
- hej da
- Good morning
- god morgon
- Good night
- god natt
- I do not understand
- Jag forstar inte
- Do you speak…
- Tala ni…
- What is your name?
- Vad heter du?
- Nice to meet you
- trevligt att rakas
- How are you?
- Hur mar du?
- straight on
- rakt fram
Methods of Transport
- Where is…?
- Var ar…?
- How much is the fare?
- Hur mycket kostar biljetten?
- A ticket to…,please
- En biljett till…,tack
- Where are you going?
- Vart ar du pa vag?
- Where do you live?
- Var bor du?
- train station
- bus station
- underground station
- what time is it?
- vad ar klockan?
- Are there any vacancies?
- Finns det nagot ledigt?
- No vacancies
- post office
- police station
- How much does this cost?
- Hur mycket kostar det har?
- I will buy it
- Jag koper det
- I would like to buy…
- Jag skulle vilja kopa…
- Do you have…
- Har ni…
- the bill please
- notan tack
Buy phrasebooks online at Amazon.co.uk
Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers. We have compiled a list of hostels in Sweden to help you plan your journey. If you are looking for a hostel in Sweden, you’ve come to the right place.
Sami in Sweden
If you are looking for an adventure experience then Lapland is the place for you. It has been credited as a top tourist destination due to its scenic beauty and many National Parks. Lapland covers the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The inhabitants of Lapland are known as Sami and their total is around sixty thousand. Their culture is very traditional and their isolated way of life is a distinctive characteristic to their nomadic and subsistence lifestyle.
Tourism is a source of income for the Sami people but their culture is very important to them so you wont find them tryting to sell you mountains of tacky merchandise. Almost erverything you buy will be handmade so a visit to their community is an authentic source of fascinating and original souvenirs. There are cases where materials may be substituted for others in accordance with the law, an example is fur. However, there is protection for genuine Sami handicraft which is a special unique seal that only licensed Sami craftsmen are allowed to use to mark their products. The land and nature are their main sources of income.
There is a good transport network so dont worry about being stranded in the wilderness. Hiking trails cover the backcountry and National Parks. On these trails there are tourist stations, cabins and shelters offering cheap accommodation. It is not necessary to be an experienced hiker thanks to this efficient and affordable tourist network. However, during winter it is advised that only experienced hikers venture along the trails due to dangerous weather conditions.
The Swedish Touring Club has all the information and help you can need for a visit to Lappland. Sftturist.se gives several touring suggestions and heaps of accommodation options. For any backpacker who wants to explore Lappland this site is the perfect guide, giving a list of loads of youth hostels, mountain huts and mountain stations. The tour suggestions are very detailed and cover places all over Lappland in Sweden. One recommended route which appears outsatnding is the summer route from Vaisaluokta to Staloluokta which covers the Sarek and Paadjelanta National Parks. You can reach the starting point of Vaisaluokta by flying to Ritsem, and then hiking along the marked ice trail. On this trail you begin by walking across moorland and later come face to face with Sweden’s largest glaciers in the Sulitelma massif and magnificent slopes of Stuor Titer and Unna Titer. You dont have to worry about lack of accommodation because there are hostels at regular intervals along the trail. By doing a trail such as this you have the opportunity to walk across masses of unspoilt land.
For those who would like to remain settled in one place, the Arvidsjaur district in Sweden, and in particular a town called Arjeplog, is one of the most common tourist destinations for those who want to live alongside Sami and experience Sami culture. Arjeplog is situated in the far north of Sweden, in the middle of Lappland, and is surrounded by striking mountain ranges, beautiful forests and wonderful lakes. There are daily flights between Arvidsjaur Airport and Arlanda Airport Stockholm. To find out more detailed information you can email the Arjeplog Tourist Office.
There is a wide variety of accommodation options open to backpackers in Arjeplog ranging from Hotel Lyktan which has standard rooms and a youth hostel and Kraja Vardshus whcih offers chalets and a caravan site. Arjeplog embodies the true spirit of Lappland and is an exceptionally lively town. There are many tourist attractions available but one of the most well-known is The Silvermuseum which has the collective works of a doctor, Einar Wallquist, who settled in Arjeplog in the early 1900’s and was so moved by the Sami culture that he documented his findings. For information and bookings consult their website or call 0961-612 90. There is also Arjeplog Church which is very original and artistic with its wooden architecture and attractive colours. For information and bookings you can call 0961-612 50. You can also go and see Rapatjarn Lake which is famous for its six kilometre long boulder ridge which formed during the Ice Age. Here you can walk along a scenic nature trail which has artefacts from the Stone Age such as cooking pits and game traps.
There are many activities and sports to do in Arjeplog, the favourite is often a husky ride and Peter Virding is reputedly one of the best. He runs an experienced dog team and you can contact him for information and bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also the chance to go skiing, snowboarding, hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and climbing- the list is endless! Taking a couple of these activities, Galtis Ski Slope is ten kilometres from Arjeplog and here you can have lessons in skiing or snowboarding. In Miekak, which is near Arjeplog, there is Miekak Hunting and Fishing Camp, where you have the opportunity to indulge in these traditional activities which are used by the Sami people as a method of subsistance to this very day. They offer accommodation, with for example, the option to stay in a self-catering cabin with on-site shop, or you can also go into the mountains and camp in a tent. The same follows for fishing in Miekak, which has the reputation of being one of the best in Sweden. For more information and for booking enquiries you can visit the Miekak Webpage.
Arjeplog Turistbyra provides information for travellers to Arjeplog
Arvidsjaur Turism provides travel information relevant to the whole Arvidsjaur district.
SI Courses in Sweden
The Swedish Institute is renowned for its outstanding reputation in all aspects Swedish culture. The summer courses it runs are of no exception; there are a number all over Sweden held in folkhögskolor (Folk High Schools). Every course is run with the aim of efficiently promoting the Swedish language and culture to the world. The advantages of attending one of these courses are infinite and unique as you can experience every day Swedish life and penetrate the true Swedish culture in a provincial milieu.
The courses are very good value for money. The average length of a course is three weeks and although it is necessary to pay a deposit of around seventy pounds when you accept your place, you are able to pay the remaining six hundred or so pounds as late as one month before your course starts. This total amount of about seven hundred pounds covers accommodation, meals and excursions in addition to the lessons themselves. Of course it is a large amount of money but if you take into account that you receive an inclusive package it is clear that it is great deal for money.
The application procedure is very easy; you simply write to the Swedish Institute and request an application form. Among other questions, you are asked to say why you would like to be given a place on one of the Swedish Institute courses, your personal preference of specific destination and also your level of mastery of the language. It is reasonably competitive as only about a third of applicants are successful but this is no reason not to apply!
The schools themselves are extremely modern and well equipped with all necessary academic and leisure facilities. Moreover, the accommodation and restaurants are within the scenic school grounds and both are of a very high standard which is coupled with the incredibly efficient and friendly staff. The Swedish Institute have decided to serve predominantly Swedish food so one can expect a lot of potatis (potatoes)! To a certain extent the food is quite simplistic, but extremely healthy and well presented, at a push it could be considered on par with some hotel cuisine. Vegetarians are catered to with a separate and varied vegetarian menu with vegan options.
The accommodation is more than adequate being comfortable, study orientated and homely. Due to the busy timetable students don’t spend too much time in their rooms except to perhaps do the appropriate homework set. There are rooms with private toilet and basin, but showers are communal. Some students will have to put up with a room without a toilet or basin and there is the chance that one may have to share a twin room, but the Swedish Institute are in the process of building more accommodation to cater to the increasing demand. It is possible to state that you would prefer a single room and the Swedish Institute do try to accommodate for you if you feel strongly about your privacy. Of course, there is an advantage of sharing a room as you have someone to speak Swedish to in fact for this very reason the Swedish Institute have the policy to place different nationalities together!
The classes themselves normally take place in the mornings and cover a wide range of subjects such as Swedish culture, history, literature, grammar and most importantly spoken language. The one rule is that everyone tries their best to speak Swedish all the time. This is an immense challenge but the end result is incredible as it feels completely natural to communicate fluently in Swedish. The Swedish Institute accommodates for a variety of levels of Swedish. In general, there are about forty students in every course and the majority are eastern European. However, there is a definite cross-section of nationalities who partake in the courses and this creates the possibility to make some very close friends who can teach you about their own culture. Somewhat unexpectedly even during leisure time communication is almost solely in Swedish especially as many students come from backgrounds where there is no English spoken. The age of students also varies greatly, from about twenty years old to sixty years old, and everyone mixes and bonds with one another by making the most of the wonderful opportunity.
The focus on these courses is not to spend all your time with your head in a book but rather to talk as much as possible. This is where the included organised activities are very significant to the package as not only do the excursions allow all students to talk about a specific subject, but all excursions are extremely well-organised and enjoyable. Obviously, the specific excursions are dependant on the location but wherever the course is held the Swedish Institute maintains its reputation of immense enthusiasm and offers the best opportunities possible. Examples of excursions are day trips to central cities, visiting museums, going on boat-trips, canoeing and many, typically Swedish, scenic walks. In the evenings there are organised film viewings and sing-songs of Swedish folk music. There is certainly enough to make sure your evening are varied, lively and exciting.
When travelling to Sweden you will find Stockholm and Gothenburg are the most accessible destinations. In Stockholm there is Arlanda airport, situated forty kilometres north of the city centre. This is the main airport and then there are also the three smaller airports of Bromma, Skavsta and Vasteras. In Gothenburg, there are two reasonably sized airports which are Landvetter and Gothenburg City. From the UK you can also travel from Newcastle to Gothenburg by ferry which although a long journey is a cheap and direct option. On average the cheapest flights from the United Kingdom to Gothenburg are around two hundred pounds and often have changes, mostly in Amsterdam. Flights to Stockholm are often slightly cheaper. Once in Sweden there is a fantastic and efficient transport service network. For rail travel you can find timetables online at tagplus and for bus services Swebus operates express coach services.
Swedish Institute Summer Courses have a very credible reputation and many people take the opportunity attend one of these courses to experience the heart of Swedish culture. It is definately evident that Sweden is an incredibly beautiful country and the people are very welcoming and friendly. Although Sweden is known to have many English indentations on its culture it retains an immensely individual identity and a course in their language is one way to get started discovering this identity!
The Swedish Institute runs language courses for foreign students throughout Sweden
SVEFI runs course on Swedish language as well as a whole host of other subjects from classic to contemporary
Sweden.se has general tourist advice
There you have it, the ultimate Sweden backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Sweden.