ETIAS - Traveling to Sweden
U.S. citizens can travel to Sweden using an ETIAS visa waiver:
Country of Sweden
- Swedish krona
- UTC+1 (CET)
Emergency Sweden Telephone Numbers
112 (112 is the equivalent to 911 in the US)
Sweden: An Overview
The Kingdom of Sweden has brought the world ABBA, Volvo, Minecraft, The Skarsgårds, and IKEA as well as many other inventions like zippers or three-point seating belts. Located in the north of Europe, this creative Scandinavian nation has gorgeous nature with almost 100,000 lakes, countless islands and glaciers, as well as aromatic coniferous forests. Holding their natural resources in high esteem, Swedes continuously invest in the preservation of their forests which currently account for about 70 percent of the country’s sprawling land. Remaining close to nature, the Swedish tradition is “Midsommar” which is the nationwide celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Deeply rooted in old pagan traditions, these joyful festivities usually take place in the countryside and include abundant eating, drinking, as well as cheerful dancing and singing around the maypole. If you are visiting Sweden at the end of June, you will want to join the locals in this centuries-old tradition.
With approval of ETIAS, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, beginning in 2021, you can plan for cross country explorations from the worldly capital of Stockholm to the countless islands of Sweden’s roughhewn archipelago, to magical Swedish Lapland which boasts both the Northern Lights and summer midnight sun. And, with the 90-day limit of the ETIAS visa waiver program, you can take your sweet time in Sweden.
Primary languages: Swedish. Secondary languages include Sami, Meänkieli, Finnish, Romani Chib, and Yiddish. English is widely spoken for tourists, though not by Swedes to one another. As a courtesy, American travelers may want to learn a few common Swedish phrases as niceties.
Where to Go
The Swedish capital Stockholm is not what you would expect from a nation with a population of 10 million. The city is spread across an astounding 14 islands interconnected by more than 50 bridges and is covered in huge parks and lush woodlands. Among the greenery and the scenic waterfronts, you can find the contrasting modern skyscrapers, wide broadways as well as elegant neoclassical buildings of the past centuries. Stockholm dining choices are diverse and interesting. Dine the way the locals do (which does not involve meatballs). Lots of incredible fish presentations, and a fusion of influences from Asian to Nordic play a role in the cuisine. From small eateries featuring Dagen (today’s specials) to Michelin-starred haute cuisine the food in the city is excellent. For local eats at lunch, try Raggmunk: Thin pancakes of seasoned grated potato, onions, and garlic, served with super thick bacon, and topped lingonberry preserve. Attractions are boundless, but museums may be the best draw here. Visit the Nobel, Moderna Museet (Modern Art), and Skansen, Europe’s premier folk museum, which is housed in more than a hundred buildings.
The heart and soul of the city, as well as its main attraction, is Gamla Stan, the capital’s picturesque Old Town. Established in the 13th century, the charming medieval neighborhood is a labyrinth of narrow intertwined cobblestone streets, full of hidden alleys and tucked away courtyards. The sun-faded yet nonetheless gorgeous 17-18th century buildings are now homes to the buzzing cafés, restaurants, organic markets, and small souvenir shops.
Don’t miss: Drottningholm Palace. A pretty, hour-long boat ride across Lake Mälaren brings tourists to Drottningholm, the private home of the Swedish Royal family. While it may not have quite the gilded ornate majesty of Versailles, it was constructed like a French prototype in 1662 and is quite beautiful. Meander the reception halls, the Chinese Pavillion, and the lovely Palace Park.
The Arctic - Swedish Lapland
Swedish Lapland is the country’s northmost province. With its characteristic rock-faced mountains, roaring rivers, and ancient forests, Lapland offers a unique opportunity to experience Swedish contrastive nature at its best―magnificent, pristine, and undisturbed. The warmer months are perfect for outdoor hiking adventures and to witness the midnight sun, a natural phenomenon that only occurs above the Arctic Circle. To counterbalance the very dark winter months, in summer, the sun hardly sets but for a few magical golden moments. Abisko National Park, located in the heart of Swedish Lapland, is a great destination year-round. In winter, the national park territory is covered with perfectly white snow under clear blue skies. The park offers a wide range of seasonal activities from visiting authentic villages and learning about reindeer, to dog-sledding tours, or snowmobiling― whizzing past the breathtaking scenery, or snow shoeing in the quiet winter calm. However, the absolute highlight is the park’s famous Aurora Sky Station which is arguably the best spot to view the magical northern lights, Aurora Borealis.
The Swedish Coast and Archipelago Stockholm archipelago with its 30,000 islands of all possible sizes is by far the largest in the country. Only a few miles away from Stockholm, the archipelago offers a glimpse into the country’s extraordinary landscapes close to the city yet a world apart. Home to the numerous colorful timber summerhouses, ancient Viking burial sites, fortresses and fortifications built over the past centuries, the collection of islands can be an endless source of adventurous explorations. The islands can be reached by public ferries or on organized island-hopping tours.
Hidden Gem: Kosterhavet Marine Park and the Koster Islands. Off the western coast, north of popular and charming Gothenberg, lies the charming little Koster Islands, which are postcard pretty and filled with tons of nature. Rocky shores, salty fishing villages, lighthouses, quiet beaches, and insta-worthy scenery. Walk, fish, bike, kayak, or dive and snorkel. Kosterhavet is Sweden’s first Marine National Park.
Not only is Sweden the largest Scandinavian country but it is also the vastest in all Northern Europe. On the west, the country shares its longest land border with Norway, whereas in the east, Sweden borders Finland. Denmark, the country’s Scandinavian sister, is connected to Sweden by a scenic five-mile-long Öresund Bridge. The construction of the bridge has strengthened the already existing economic and cultural ties between the two nations and has facilitated tourist flows. The four countries are all members of the Schengen Area and will require an ETIAS visa waiver for visa-free travel beginning in 2021.
Sweden’s eastern border is maritime and is shared with multiple countries across the Baltic Sea inclduing Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Multiple ferry operators run regular routes between Sweden and its Baltic neighbors.
Electrical Outlets and Adapters for US Products
Sweden uses C, F plug types with an output of 230 volts whereas the US runs on 120 (110) volts. Check if your device is labeled as “dual-voltage”, otherwise use a power converter. Typically, laptops and smartphones are dual-voltage.
Pitpockets And Theft
Overall, Sweden has a low crime rate. Big tourist attractions like the Old Town see increased rates of petty theft and pickpocketing. Exercise common sense caution and avoid leaving your valuables in your back pockets, unzipped bags or in your vehicle.
Whether or not you can use your phone and at what cost depends on your service provider. Although free wifi is widely accessible in bigger cities, you will have fewer such options in the countryside.
To stay connected, consider getting a pre-paid SIM card (“Kontantkort”) sold in convenience stores like 7-Eleven. If you travel to other European countries, make sure the card can be used abroad.
Sweden Taxis, Buses And Subways
Sweden has a secure, reliable and extensive network of public transportation which is much more affordable than taxis or car rental due to the high parking fees. You can use trains, buses or airplanes to connect to other cities. In most urban areas there are buses, subways, rail, trams, and ferries. Use the SL website or app to find your connections and buy tickets.
Exchanging Currency in Sweden
Sweden has its own currency - Swedish Krona (Kr, SEK). Some places accept the euro but at disadvantageous exchange rates. If you want to exchange cash, avoid airports and hotels and rather opt for banks or other official services.
Debit Cards and ATMs
Your safest bet is withdrawing local currency in an ATM (“Bankomat”). Make sure you understand your bank’s and the local ATM charges. Always choose to be charged in local currency to avoid poor conversion rates.
Cash vs Credit Cards
Sweden is one of the most cash-free countries in the world, Swedes prefer paying by card rather than carrying cash. Although most credit cards are widely accepted, you might face some restrictions on American Express, as in other European countries.
Tipping in Sweden
Tipping is not mandatory in Sweden, as the service fee is oftentimes already included in the price. As a rule of thumb, you can tip 5-10% in a restaurant or round up to the next bill.
Medical care is of a high standard in Sweden. Non-EU residents are required to pay the full amount by themselves which may then be reimbursed by travel health insurance.
Important Healthcare Hints
- You can bring personal-use prescription medication into the country, but make sure you meet all the requirements set by the Sweden government (e.g. prescription, certificate, dosage, etc.).
- Swedish doctors may not be able to prescribe you the same drug in the same dosage as in the US. If this is critical, bring enough drugs from home.
- Most pharmacies are open during typical shopping hours (10:00 am - 6:00 pm). There is always a designated 24-hour pharmacy in the city.