Top events in Sweden

February
05

The huge Gothenburg Boat Show takes over two floors of the Swedish Exhibition Centre with stalls flaunting the latest super yachts, motorboats,...

Knights Island, Stockholm, Sweden
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Knights Island, Stockholm, Sweden

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Sweden Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

449,964 sq km (173,732 sq miles).

Population

9,851,852 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

21.8 per sq km.

Capital

Stockholm.

Government

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state

King Carl XVI Gustaf since 1973.

Head of government

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven since 2014.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are standard.

Sweden is a land of incredible contrasts, from the dense pine forests and craggy mountains of the north, to the rolling hills and glossy golden beaches of the south. But the diversity doesn’t stop at the suburbs, with each of Sweden’s seven major cities boasting its own character, history and unique architectural style.

Bordered by Denmark to the south, Norway to the west and Finland to the east, Sweden, the largest of the Scandinavian countries, boasts a long mercantile history that has made it one of the most culturally open and welcoming in Europe.

The instantly likeable capital Stockholm has long been synonymous with style and its sharply tailored brand of chic has percolated throughout the wardrobes of the world. Hipsters notwithstanding, Stockholm, with its 14 islands and medieval beauty, has much to offer those in search of culture, art and historical treasures. However, perhaps the most surprising city is Malmö, which has belied its unfairly grim reputation to become one of the country’s liveliest destinations.

Beyond the cities, Sweden’s countryside has a gentler charm than the rugged landscapes of neighbouring Norway. Much of Sweden is forested and there are thousands of lakes, including the large stretches of water between Gothenburg and Stockholm. The border with Norway is home to the spectacular Skanderna (Scandinavian) mountain chain, while in the far north you’ll find wonderfully bleak Arctic tundra, where you can see the Northern Lights.
The south is dominated by emerald forests, the cerulean waters of the Gulf of Bothnia and the jagged Baltic coastline. Of all the lovely spots in Sweden though, the awe-inspiring panoramas of the Stora Sjöfallet National Park take some beating. Part of the UNESCO-listed Laponian region of northern Sweden, the park’s majestic waterfalls, soaring peaks and crowded clumps of fir trees make it one of the country’s greatest natural treasures.

The Swedes are proud of their green country and believe the great outdoors should be available to everyone. Allemansrätten – the everyman’s right – is a constitutional right that allows the public access to public and privately owned land for recreation. As long as you do not disturb or destroy nature, or infringe on the privacy of others (such as by walking too close to their house), you are free to roam the countryside. This right even allows people to pick wildflowers, berries and mushrooms – unless they are endangered.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Sweden on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Commercial flights to and from Sweden remain limited. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements for details of the latest entry rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic and what you will need to do when you arrive in Sweden.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19 in Sweden you should follow the advice of the Swedish authorities.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Sweden

The Swedish government is not restricting domestic travel. However, there are temporary recommendations which include keeping your distance, avoiding public transport and crowded areas, check guidance for more information. Individuals without symptoms are urged to continue to follow the Public Health Agency’s advice and restrictions related to COVID-19.

The Swedish Public Health Agency advises that it is important for everyone to maintain physical distance from other people, both while travelling and at the destination. Public transport is in operation, but frequency and capacity may be limited. The Swedish Public Health agency recommends face masks on public transport during peak hours (on weekdays between 07.00–09.00 and 16.00–18.00).

Public spaces and services

There has been a widespread increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Sweden. National local recommendations are in place, check guidance for more information.

There are also legal restrictions on the number of people allowed in premises and to attend events and public gatherings. The government encourages working from home. The Public Health Agency recommends facemasks on public transport.

Accommodation

Accommodation remains open in Sweden. General advice and recommendations regarding minimising the spread of infection apply.

Healthcare in Sweden

Check Sweden’s Public Health Agency website for up to date information in English about COVID-19 in Sweden.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, Sweden’s Public Health Agency advises calling the national health hotline on +46 771 1177. For general information on developments in Sweden related to the COVID-19 pandemic call the national crisis hotline +46 77 33 113 13.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be reductions in healthcare services. Do not visit a health centre (“vårdcentral”) if you have any symptoms associated with COVID-19.

For contact details for English speaking doctors, visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Sweden.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Sweden

We will update this page when the Government of Sweden announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Swedish national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and uses the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. The Swedish authorities have issued guidance in English about the vaccine programme in Sweden (please choose your region at the top of the page for local information). Vaccination is voluntary and free of charge.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Sweden, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Sweden, you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the national authorities. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

Further information on visiting Sweden during the COVID-19 pandemic is available from the Swedish Authorities.

Sign up for travel advice email alerts and follow the British Embassy Stockholm on Twitter and Facebook.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

Crime levels are low although there is some petty crime. Pickpocketing can be a problem in the major cities when tourists are targeted for passports and cash.

Violent crime does occur; instances of gang related crime, including knife crime, shootings and explosions, have been reported in Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Employment

You should check carefully whether any offers of employment for asphalting or seasonal work are genuine. Contact the British Embassy in Stockholm for further advice if necessary.

Winter travel

Sweden deals with its harsh weather very well, but delayed trains and flights are difficult to avoid during severe weather conditions. Snow and ice on the roads cause accidents daily. Consider starting your journey earlier to avoid rushing to your destination. Be prepared for harsh conditions particularly in the north during the winter.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 221 road deaths in Sweden (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 2.2 road deaths per 100,000 of population. This compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

If you are planning to drive in Sweden, see information on Driving Abroad.

Licences and documents

You can drive in Sweden on your UK driving licence.

If you’re living in Sweden, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a GB sticker or a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September UK stickers will replace GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK before, on or after 28 September 2021.

Driving regulations

From 1 December to 31 March and when weather conditions are wintry, all Swedish and foreign registered vehicles, both light and heavy, are required by law to have either studded tyres or un-studded friction tyres bearing the following mark, M+S, M-s, M.S, M&S, MS or Mud and Snow.

The road conditions are considered to be wintry when there is snow, ice, slush or frost on any part of the road. The Swedish police decides whether there are wintry conditions on a certain road.

In Sweden everyone travelling in a car is required to wear a seat belt. Children who are shorter than 135cm must use a special protective device – either a baby car seat, child car seat, booster seat or booster cushion. All long-distance buses are equipped with seat belts, which passengers are required to use by law. Bicycle helmets are mandatory for children under 15 (but not for adult cyclists). It’s illegal to use a mobile phone in your hand when driving.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Sweden.

Road safety

Rail travel

You can find information about rail travel on the website of the Swedish train operator SJ.

Terrorist attacks in Sweden cannot be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

There are heavy punishments for importing illegal drugs.

All forms of physical punishment of children have been outlawed since 1979 in Sweden. Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce legislation of this kind. Any public action with the potential to be interpreted as physical punishment is likely to, at minimum, attract strong criticism from on-lookers.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The Swedish government sets and enforces its entry rules. For further information contact their UK based embassy. Check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.

If you are travelling to Sweden for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Sweden

The Swedish Government has announced that travellers who can present a UK vaccine certificate are exempt from the ban on entry to Sweden and the COVID-19 test requirement.

Entry to Sweden if you are fully vaccinated:

If you are fully vaccinated, you can enter Sweden for all purposes, without the need to test or self-isolate if:

  • you received your second vaccine dose more than 2 weeks before you arrive
  • the vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency

You must provide proof that you have been fully vaccinated.
Children (under 18 years) accompanying fully vaccinated adults are exempted from all travel restrictions, including testing.

Entry to Sweden from if you are not fully vaccinated:

If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need the following:

  • Proof you are exempt from the current travel ban under another exemption. See the Swedish Police website for further details
  • A valid test taken in the last 48 hours or proof you are exempt from the testing requirements. See the Swedish Police website for further details.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Sweden will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Entry to Sweden before 11 October

If you are travelling from the UK before 11 October, you will need both:

  • Proof you are exempt from the current travel ban. See the Swedish Police website for further details

  • A valid test taken in the last 48 hours or proof you are exempt from the testing requirements. See the Swedish Police website for further details.

On arrival

Everyone entering Sweden from the UK is recommended to get a PCR test for COVID-19 upon arrival. Those who have been vaccinated at least three weeks before arrival in Sweden are exempt from this recommendation.

Restrictions for neighbouring countries

Check country-specific FCDO Travel Advice for details.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:

  • you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.
  • if you are travelling to Sweden and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.
  • to stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Swedish government’s entry requirements. Check with the Swedish Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit, if any, you may need
  • if you stay in Sweden with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit

Any time you spent in Sweden or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

At Swedish border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Sweden. If you are resident in Sweden, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on these requirements, see our Living in Sweden guide.

Passport validity

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.

Make sure your passport is:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Sweden, or any other Schengen country
  • less than 10 years old

The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum 3 months needed.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Sweden.

Travelling with children

If you’re travelling with children other than your own, you should carry a letter of consent from the child’s parent or guardian.

Pets

Check guidance before travelling with pets.

Border controls

Border controls are in place in Sweden for people travelling from Denmark via the Öresund crossing and arriving on ferries from Denmark and Germany. Make sure you carry a passport or national ID card when entering Sweden. More detailed information is available from the Swedish authorities.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Sweden on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have COVID-19 while in Sweden.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Healthcare

You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Swedish nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

If you’re living in Sweden, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Sweden guide.

Pharmacies are usually open during normal shop opening hours. You can also get an emergency prescription at hospitals.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

If you’re visiting remote areas, consider the relative inaccessibility of the emergency services.

The currency for Sweden is Swedish Krona, not the Euro.

Large numbers of British nationals travel successfully and safely in and around the Arctic each year. The Arctic is, however, a vast region, comprising the northerly areas of Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Alaska (United States). In addition to reading the specific travel advice for each of these countries, prospective visitors to the Arctic should also consider carefully the potential remoteness of certain destinations from search and rescue, evacuation and medical facilities. Independent travellers are particularly advised to develop contingency arrangements for emergency back-up.

The most popular way of visiting the Arctic is by ship. As some areas of the Arctic -specifically the more northerly and remote regions - can be uncharted and ice-covered, you should check the previous operational experience of cruise and other operators offering travel in the region. You should also consider the on-board medical facilities of cruise ships and talk to cruise operators as appropriate, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

The eight Arctic States take their international search and rescue obligations very seriously, and have recently signed a binding agreement on search and rescue co-operation in the Arctic. However, in the highest latitude regions of the Arctic, cruise ships may be operating in relative isolation from other vessels and/or inhabited areas. You should be aware that in these regions, search and rescue response will often need to be dispatched from many hundreds of miles away, and assistance to stranded vessels may take several days to arrive, particularly in bad weather. Search and rescue assets are also likely to offer only basic transport and basic medical care, and are unlikely to be capable of advanced life-support. Responsible cruise operators should happily provide additional information relevant to the circumstances of the cruise they are offering, and address any concerns you may have.

Consular assistance and support to British nationals in the Arctic will be affected by the capacity of national and local authorities. You should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or potential repatriation.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.