The climate in Sweden is milder than it should be (as far as its latitude is concerned). The Gulf Stream has a warming effect, and Norway shields Sweden from the worst of the weather. The south has a warm, temperate climate, although the weather in the south west of the country – from Gothenburg to Malmo – is influenced by the ocean. On the east coast, the Baltic Sea often freezes in winter (see trip skating, below) and is much colder. In the north, the climate is sub-Arctic.
When to fly to Sweden
The geographical position means that most of Sweden has very long days in summer and very short days in winter. The best time to search for flights to Sweden visit is between June and August. Spring and autumn can also be pleasant. North of the Arctic Circle, there are 24 hours of sun in midsummer and 24 hours of twilight in midwinter.
Sweden celebrates Midsummer, the summer solstice, in a big way. Walpurgis Night on 30 April is a night for lighting bonfires to ward off evil spirits. The feast of Saint Lucia the light giver, who fed famine-stricken Sweden centuries after her death, (so legend says) falls on 13 December and marks the start of the Christmas season.
Winter (November to March, with the exception of Christmas) is, unsurprisingly, off season.
Getting around Sweden
The rail network is extensive. SJ is Sweden's largest railway company and offers inter-city trains and overnight sleeper trains. Other rail companies include Tagkompaniet, BK Tag, Connex and Inlandsbanan.
Swebus Express is the largest bus operator, which serves 300 destinations throughout Sweden.
Car rental is available at airports. The motorways and roads are well-maintained and it is possible to drive the length of the country.
For a different way of seeing the country, there is the Gota Canal, which has 58 locks and 47 bridges. It runs from Mem/Soderkoping on the Baltic Sea to Sjotorp at Lake Vanern. There are also ferries that run along the coast – the Stockholm archipelago, the islands of Gotland and Oland and the West coast.
Sweden insider information
- From about November, the Baltic Sea freezes around the islands off the coast around Stockholm and the Swedes go skating. "Trip skating" is a very popular sport. Skaters can cover up to 200km (124 miles) a day. Less-experienced skaters should hire a local guide to take them onto the open ice.
- Gotland in the Baltic Sea is Sweden's largest island. Visby is the capital, considered to be the best-preserved medieval town in Scandinavia. It dates from the 10th century. Of most interest there is the ring wall that encircles the town and its “saints” ruins including St Mary Cathedral. In total, there are the ruins of 23 churches and abbeys. In August, Visby goes back in time to 1361 (when it was a powerful Hanseatic town) for the Medieval Week. During the week there are tours and talks, markets, mystery plays and a jousting tournament.
- Tanum in western Sweden is where you will find ancient rock carvings depicting men, ships and animals (including reindeer). The rock carvings are Unesco World Heritage sites and date from the Bronze Age. There is a famous rock in Vitlycke that is more than seven metres (23 feet) high and 20 metres (65 feet) long.
- Dala Horses are the souvenir to bring back from Sweden. The small wooden horses, usually painted red with colourful harness and other details, hail from the province of Dalarna. Tourists can visit workshops there to see how the horses are carved and painted. The world’s biggest "Dalahast" stands near Avesta. Unveiled in 1989, it is 13 metres (42 feet) high.
- Abisko National Park is in Norrbotten County in the north. Things to see include the Abisko Canyon and Mount Nuolja, which can be scaled by chair-lift (runs year-round). From the mountain, tourists can experience the midnight sun between 27 May and 18 July.
- Trivago is a handy resource for recommendations on accommodation in Sweden. Take a look at the user reviews on hotels in Stockholm, hotels on the Baltic coast or hotels in Visby.