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.
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 TheLocal.se “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