Rookie Wednesday: When should you visit Sweden? What is so different about Sweden?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

amazing swedish coastline

This November I will have been blogging for 5 years and by then the blog will have been viewed over 7 million times. One of the main reasons I started the blog was due to my flying Skyteam for so many years on my many trips to Sweden and understanding the Delta / Northwest system inside and out.

Having said that, I also have a fairly good understanding about Sweden having spent most summers of my life there as well as a full year in high school (it’s funny, in Sweden “High School” is college). I was also inspired this week by a recent post on “Five Swedish summer habits that confuse newcomers” that you should take a look at and this is what I am building my post on top of. If you are Swedish or have Swedish background you will giggle over most of the points they make.

But that post, while funny, misses a few points that could be expanded on and are great to know about Sweden both good, and from a certain perspective, bad.

July really is “Summer” in Sweden. The nation, for the most part, is gone to the countryside somewhere. It really starts the week of “midsummer” (summer solstice in late June) and ends early August as kids go back to school early. Keep in mind Swedes get 5+ weeks of vacation and they take it (en masse). Oh and it gets better because if you get sick on your vacation, you can call in to work, go on sick time, then when better go back on vacation. No need to miss vacation time if you sick. I get it this (sorta)!

July is a special month as it is warm (one coat most days vs two in winter). No really, it can be very warm in July (for Sweden). And, if you are in the big cities, there should be only you and other tourists in town. Just be ready for many small shops and such to be summer closed. So…

Think about the month of May or August to visit Sweden. Everything is in bloom in May and much of the glorious light has returned. Not as much as midsummer on but still you will “feel” the difference. Oh and if you do decide to head out to the countryside vs the city spots you will find no one is there other that those brave few who are traveling on weekends to “open” their summer homes. The only downside is you will be traveling during “pre-summer” or “late-summer” timetables that are much more frequent than winter ones but no where near as “all the time” as the summer ones. Just know trains, busses & boats will be somewhat limited to some locations during these times.

Yes, in Sweden, it is all about public transport. Sure you can rent a car and that can be very useful if exploring the countryside but in town it is just not a smart idea. Parking can be a real challenge and if you park in a spot that “looks” like a good spot (it said P) it may be only for those who live nearby. Just because you paid at the automated machine will not save you from an expensive parking ticket (or two or three).

Another big tip is you really don’t need cash just about anywhere. Sweden is just about cashless but it is smart to have a real chip-N-pin card like the Barclays   BANK   Arrival+ card. It will still default to chip-N-signature most times but works on gas pumps and train kiosks etc.

Sweden is all about water and boats. I have been told there are more boats than people in Sweden. I went to two sailing schools as a kid (as well as windsurfing). One for small boats and one was a ship where we, in teams, worked the sails with ropes etc. Many summer spots will let you rent a small sailboat but it is good if you know what you are doing before you do so. On the top of water, expect the water to be somewhat, shall we say, cool-ish. I always say it is warm when you don’t scream when you jump in. Brave it and enjoy it!

Should you visit Sweden in winter? If you are a night person it can be very special but to me, say in January, only a few hours of “graylight” vs almost round the clock daylight in summer makes all the difference. How about I put it this way – make your first visit ever in summertime and save winter for another visit!

Lastly, while this post is meant to poke a little fun over the culture in Sweden, I thought it could also be a good one for Q&A. So, planning a trip over or have any other questions just fire away in the comments below! – René


  1. Sweden is great both winter and summer! Love never needing to rent a car and still getting everywhere I need to go! More American friendly than some countries.

  2. Thanks for the tips. Will be taking a 1-week cruise from Stockholm that begins June 29. So I would like to spend a week or more in Stockholm and environs either pre or post cruise. Assuming hotels are too expensive, so I will be looking into Airbnb. Is there a particular Stockholm neighborhood that you recommend? Also, do you have any tips on reasonable hotels or other types of accommodations? But not camping. Thanks.

  3. @Fran – Hotels are expensive in downtown. Traffic across the bridges can be a nightmare early and late so can be worth it vs saving for outside of town. You can take mass transit to avoid most of this if you are not driving so location then matter much less. I would make sure you see VASA, the old town including the palace. Enjoy lunch near the water and there are many parks where eating a sandwich is just amazing and special.

  4. It’s one of the most expensive places in the world… although Norway still takes that KRONA!

    It’s nice and safe and clean and all.. just be prepared for sticker shock on everything and get a hotel that has free breakfast so you can load up at 10am!

  5. Our entire family is planning on going to Gothenburg via Stockholm next midsummer. We plan to visit an exchange student from Stockholm who lived with us last year, and then head to Gothenburg for a work-related conference. Looking at Delta (and other airline) flights now. Hoping we can manage public transportation for the entire trip. Really looking forward to midsummers celebrations

  6. How widely is English spoken in Stockholm? Would I have any trouble not knowing any Swedish?

  7. @Ken – In any of the major city’s in Sweden they speak better English than we do. You will have ZERO issues.

  8. I agree about most Swedes being gone from midsummer until the second week of August, but that may also be generational and socio-economical. The Swedes I know, all millennials with advanced degrees, spread their length vacations over an entire year. I’ve been to Stockholm in July and August. While it’s quieter than normal, there are still people — to say nothing of gorgeous blonde women with perfect tans and beautiful blue eyes.

  9. heading to gothenburg for labor day weekend (being an airline free agent really helps when some deals pop up) – couldn’t be more excited

  10. Unfortunately, we could not do “midsummer” but we will be in Stockholm next year for the first two weeks of June. Would you recommend an overnight ferry to Helsinki, seeing Helsinki for 6 hours, then coming back on the overnight ferry again that night?

  11. Enroute to Malmo now [DFW-JFK-CPH summer route]. I’m there several times each year for work. This is a short 6-day visit, however. With the way Swedes take vacation, our [Lund-based] company gets almost nothing done for 6 weeks out of the year. then we have to rush to meat our targets in the fall. Annoying as all get out to those of us who work elsewhere. 🙁

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