Regime: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Area: 450 295 km2
Population: 9 775 301
Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
Time Zone: GMT +1 (winter) / GMT +2 (summer)
Official language: Swedish
Calling Code: +46
GDP (PPP per capita): $ 47 229
Malmo is the biggest city in the county of Skane with its old town and people’s park. Lilla torg is the area where all the fun is to had, be it the nightlife, food or crafts you’re sure to find entertainment and experience Malmo the way the locals do. The city hall and residence is another must see, with a restaurant in the basement and architecture dating from the both the 16th and the 19th century.
An absolutely beautiful city, that also happens to be the capital. A capital that is often shown off as having all the qualities of the major international cities without any of the negatives. Nature, culture and history are available in huge quantities, whether you choose to explore the centre of town or the archipelago with close to 30 000 islands. These islands offer excursions of different length and ride on the rather unique steam powered archipelago boats.
Quaint canals, museums and more than enough cafes to make this town the perfect city getaway destination. With an amusement park, the largest botanical garden in Sweden and a close up glimpse of the Swedish lifestyle while the students of Chalmers University of Technology show you the way to celebrate with their annual parade and fancy dress.
With its gothic cathedral dating back to the 13th century and the burial grounds of the pagan kings and the Norse gods, Upsalla has enough history and beauty to charm any tourist. On top of all the history is the nightlife, bars and restaurants that can be expected when dealing with a student town which was once called home by the Vikings.
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Weather/ When to leave:
Due to the Gulf Stream, Sweden has a climate that changes dramatically depending on which region you visit. If it’s a summer vacation you’re after, the best month would be from June to august, with the equally beautiful May and June showing off the flowers of spring.
One factor that could change the time of the year you are willing to visit Sweden is the rather strange behaviour of the sun. The rather unnerving midnight sun during the summer months and the black days of winter effect mainly the northern parts of the country, but the entire of Sweden has a unique amount of lighting throughout the day/night.
Sweden is one of the three countries that make up Scandinavia. As being such their history is full of Viking and chieftain-led tribes that often fought against each other.
Swedes are a very patriotic people, who are very proud of their nation. Which makes sense when looking at their outstanding social security system which allows a high standard of living.
Originally a country that adhered to Norse paganism, Sweden “converted” to Christianity in the 11th century. This remained the main religion until church and state were separated and Lutheranism took the place as the number one religion. The freedom of religion was introduced in 1951 and allowed people to stand outside of any religious denomination. Today close to 70% of the country belong to the church of Sweden (Lutheran).
Meatballs, mini sausage, smoked salmon and pickled herring. That’s already a rather impressive list of original dishes, but in fact they’re all part typical Swedish buffet, or smorgasbord. From crispbreads to Surströmming (soured herring), Sweden has a collection of unique and sometimes rather strange dishes that really need to be tried:
- Räkor (Swedish shrimp)
- Princesstårta (Princess cake)
- Surströmming (soured herring) – for the brave, you’ll love or hate it.
Freedom to roam:
Otherwise known as Allemansrätten, this right which is included in the Swedish constitution allows everyone to enjoy the outdoors with free access on public as well as private land. The people remain responsible with this right and go about their activities with a “do not disturb, do not destroy” attitude. This ancient practice allows camping, boating and hiking on any and all land.
Places not to miss:
The residence of Their Majesties the King and Queen, is a palace of French influence built by the architect Nicodemus Tessin. The entire of the palace and its grounds, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, are open to the public, with the exception of the south wing which is reserved for the royal family.
Located on the island of Djurgården lies a museum with a rare 17th century warship. The 64 gun Vasa sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. Since then the ship has been meticulously cared for and in 1990 the museum was opened. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit a real piece of history, which could explain why this is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, with more than 25 million visitors since its opening.
A cathedral that was constructed in 1080, and renovated during the 16 and 19th century. In 1424 the installation of a horological artistic masterpiece took place. This machine continues to work and display time and date.
An entire hotel constructed from ice. 100 000 tonnes of ice and 30 000 tonnes of snow are used each year to create walls, beds, bars and glasses in order to create the 80 rooms, entrance hall and bar. This magical hotel can be visited from December to April in the village of Jukkasjärvi, which is approximately 17 km from Kiruna.
Things to do:
Just outside of Kiruna lies a perfect location for viewing the northern light, otherwise known as Aurora Borealis. The Abisko National Park is one those prime locations that offer a microclimate free from clouds right over the Tornetrask Lake. Although nature puts on this amazing shows for most of the night during the winter months, when the sun decides to set, the lights will be at their strongest between the hours of 22:00 and 23:00.
- Walpugisnacht (best venue is Gothenburg, but it’s across the whole country) : a modern version of the pagan spring celebration (30 April)
- Umea Kulturnatta (24 May)
- Stockholm’s Parkteatern (June – August)
- Medieval Week on the Island ofGotland(02 – 09 August)
- Kivik Apple Market (27 – 28 September)
Passport and Visa:
If visiting Sweden for longer than 3 months a visa will be required unless you hold a European passport. Once over this limit a Schengen visa will allow access to countries within Europe. If there is no Swedish diplomatic mission, Sweden is represented by another Schengen state.
Sweden offers an amazing public transport system that includes: coach, taxi, train, canal and metro. These public transportation networks are wide reaching, but if you prefer to rent a vehicle, the roads are relatively free of traffic, when compared to other counties within Europe and are well maintained. Just watch out for the deer.
Health and safety:
This country can get cold, properly cold. For this reason it is warm clothing should be worn in order to fight off hypothermia, as it really isn’t a pleasant experience. some its wonderful symptoms exhaustion, numb skin, shivering, slurred speech, irrational or violent behaviour, lethargy, stumbling, dizzy spells, muscle cramps and violent bursts of energy. People suffering may also claim that they are warm and try to take off their clothes.
- European emergency number: 112
- Information about mishaps: 113 13
Sweden’s electricity is provided with a type F socket at a voltage of 230V. This socket takes two prong plugs that are found throughout Europe, but tourists from other countries will require adapters if they do not use plug types C, E or F.
- At dinner parties it is not unusual for the food to be served immediately without a cocktail hour.
- Once a toast has been made, look into the person’s eyes and say: Skål (Skohl). After this the men will wait for the women to put down their glasses before they put down their own glasses.
- Personal space is important and unnecessary contact is appreciated
- Awkward pauses are in fact comfortable pauses and small talk is not always welcome, and you will not often hear lots of small talk