Travel Jottings

My wanderings are urban as well as rural, and several have taken me overseas around Europe and to North America. All have needed at least some planning: knowing what to see and where to stay remain ever present needs. That and remaining ever open to new possibilities have contributed to what you find here. Everything builds up over time, and I hope that the horizons continue expanding to mean that I can continue to share new things with you here.

Plotting a Visit to Sweden

Riddarholmen from across Riddarfjärden, Stockholm, Sweden

Though continually updated, the basis of this article dates from 2010 when my overseas travel beyond the shores of Britain, Ireland and the Isle of Man was work-related. That changed in 2015, and I spent around a week in Sweden for leisure purposes. This allowed me to retrace old steps around Stockholm that were made originally on a business trip in July 2010. Then I got exploring Södertälje as well. All this was more than I could say after a business trip to Lund in 2006, so things have been progressing with each visit.

One thing that I have noticed over the years is that getting Swedish visitor information in English has improved. When I started this collection, a remark about there being a sizeable body of quality Swedish literature without much of it being translated into English rang true. Most of the information referenced here now is in English, but the services of Google Translate once were a godsend.

Within the last decade, my explorations of the world have taken me to diverse places in Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Spain with a return to Sweden joining these overseas escapades. Having an SLR the latest time around should mean that improved photos appear on here in time. The photos from the compact camera I had with me in 2010 now look noisy to my eyes, but it was better to have it, given my luck with the weather back then.

So, with an eye on a possible future visit, here is a living compilation of the sorts of things that you need to know before you go. After all, you always need to have an idea of what to see and where to go, while also sorting out such necessities as accommodation and travel arrangements. All of these are here and anything else that I find could be added too, for life's explorations do continue for as long as it does. More adventures may await...

Deciding Where to Visit and What to Do

Every nation-state should have portals from which to start figuring out what there is to see and experience. Here are a few, with Visit Sweden being the official tourist portal for the country and the other two being private endeavours. Between these, you should be able to get going on turning plans into realities and there is Information om Sverige, where you can find more general information on Swedish society in a number of different languages.

For a first visit, the country is the fourth largest in Europe and is very diverse too, so you have to choose where you go rather than going all out savouring as much as you can at a single sitting. It helps to your homework beforehand and going there should inspire and inform future visits, always a good thing.

National Parks

There have been National Parks in Sweden since 1909 and there now is a wide variety of landscapes being preserved in these, though some land was removed from a National Park for a hydroelectric scheme in the early days and the controversy appears to have had an impact on later thinking. The network includes two near Stockholm that are among the more accessible ones, as well as others that are so wild that there are no roads and helicopter drops are common. Those within the Arctic Circle rightly are well known, but that are many others, as I discussed in a souvenir book from a business trip in 2010. There is a lot to get to know.


Having visited the city twice, I can attest to Stockholm's visitor appeal. Even with the second one involving nearly a week there, there still is plenty that I have yet to see. The city is laden with green areas that often feel so wild that you would not think that you were that near civilisation, a factor that confused me near the end of a walk along the Sörmlandsleden after darkness fell. Still, it makes for a city area where escapes from a busy city centre are only a bus, tram, train or ferry ride away.

Speaking of the latter brings us to the Stockholm Archipelago (also known as Skärgården) and sightseeing trips are operated by the companies like Stromma too. There is plenty to see since Ängsö was Sweden's first National Park and there are reserves owned by The Archipelago Foundation too. Much of this is contained within two regions: Sörmland to the south and Roslagen to the north, an area that includes Vallentuna on its mainland portion.

Returning to the mainland, Sörmland also includes the Tyresta National Park just outside Stockholm's boundaries, so the city has more than one National Park nearby. It is as if there is an embarrassment of riches to complement what is to be seen in the heart of the place and experienced in its numerous city parks. As much as I would recommend seeing more of a country than its capital city, it appears that doing so could need to wait for another time.

Gothenburg (Göteborg)

West Sweden is where you find the country's second-largest city, and there appears to be a lot to see and experience here too. If you fancy making it a hub from which to explore the nearby area, there also is  Kungsbacka, Marstrand and Borås for starters, and there also is the Tanum World Heritage Site on the same side of Sweden. Included among these is the 614 km Göta Canal that crosses Sweden, so that is a long tour if you decide to follow it all the way and shorter spells are possible too.

Visit Lund

Business travel took me here too, but no personal exploration happened for a single reason: the timing was wrong because I was there with others when hours of daylight were in short supply. With the nearest international airport being across the Öresund in Denmark, a history of Danish rule followed by Sweden's reassertion of its sovereignty shouldn't sound so surprising. In fact, it was the Danes who established Lund as one of Sweden's oldest cities, and it is one famed for its university life too.

Swedish Lapland is one of the county's wilder corners, and it includes the Abisko National Park. Kiruna is one access point, especially for those arriving by air, and it has a railway station too. At certain times of the year, it is the Aurora Borealis that draws people, but the Kiruna Mountains must have their allure as well. The location within the Arctic Circle helps with sightings of the Northern Lights, and it also makes for summers that are short and intense with long hours of daylight in a land of the midnight sun.

In Swedish, this is known as Höga Kusten and offers various outdoor pursuits. Walking and climbing, as well as kayaking, all get a mention, and it was an article featuring the first of these that drew my attention to the area in the first place.


History seems a calling card in this region to the south of Stockholm, though there is some hiking and kayaking to be had too. The former includes pilgrim trails dating from the Middle Ages, while the latter is thanks to the area having its own archipelago. In addition to all that outdoor living, this is a place that associates itself with Sweden's early history, so there should be plenty to occupy everyone.

Sorting a Place to Stay

STF (Svenska Turistföreningen or Swedish Tourist Association)

This is Sweden's answer to the YHA/SYHA in the U.K. or An Óige in Eire, and it goes under an unusual name that may be more consistent with the large range of age groups that usually frequent hostels (I was the youngest in the room one night at Lochranza on the Isle of Arran in Scotland!). Their properties come in all shapes and sizes, with one in an old train in Lund and an old sailing ship in Stockholm. These are the unusual ones, with more conventional buildings forming the mainstay of the network.

In some respects, this may appear an odd entry under this heading, but there are parts of Sweden where camping is unavoidable since there is no other option. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am talking about wilder spots here, but the website is about more formal facilities than you would get with wild camping. Also, it does include hut rentals together with spaces for camper vans and caravans before introducing some of the attractions that are there for you to enjoy. The variety makes this portal worth a look.

Arranging Travel


SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System)

There was a time when this was a flag carrier for all of Denmark, Norway and Sweden; these are the main nations comprising Scandinavia. This means that it gets you to and from destinations in Denmark, Sweden and Norway and the service level remains above that of a no-frills operator. Even today, the aforementioned nation-states still have a share in the operation along with private investors, and that may be reflected in its ethos.


This is the operator of many if not all of Sweden's airports, and each airport gets its own section of the website with departure and arrival times listed along with other information on practicalities. Though physical geography means that the country is not as challenging for speedy land travel as near neighbour Norway, this still is a large place, so internal air travel remains useful when you need to go to its more remote corners.


SJ (Sveriges Järnväg)

This is one of Sweden's state railway companies and seemingly is the main one to use for long-distance journeys, with overnight train services going north and south from Stockholm. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they serve other countries in Scandinavia too, with my seeing a train bound for Oslo at Stockholm Central station. While you can plan journeys on their website as you would expect, you need to go to ResRobot for their timetables if you fancy a service overview.


Though they also run concessions for local public transport organisations, this appears to be MTR's only commercial operation in Sweden, competing with SJ on the Stockholm to Göteborg (Gothenburg) high-speed route. Their red and black trains look newer, even if I used the services of SJ on my most recent Swedish trip for a day trip between the country's two major cities.

Arlanda Express

If you are travelling from Stockholm's main international airport to its central railway station by train, chances are that you may happen on the Arlanda Express rather than local train services because there are stations serving the terminals themselves (Terminal 5 has its own while Terminals 2, 3 and 4 get to share one between them). The speedy travel times (20 minutes), frequent departures (every 15 minutes at times) and comfortable surroundings do not come cheap though, with single tickets costing 280 SEK when I visited Sweden in August 2017. Still, it is very handy and just works, so it could be worth the additional outlay and the service is well-used without feeling in any way overcrowded.


This is a system whereby you can travel on buses and trains on a single ticket, a Swedish answer to the U.K.'s PlusBus system. It also is a good jumping-off point for Sweden's main train companies, as well as being a good place to find train timetables as well. Anything that stops you from getting lost while planning your travel has to be a good thing. As if that weren't enough, there's a list of travel service providers too, so it's an invaluable port of call. The same people also operate ResRobot, a multi-modal journey planning tool.

Language Note: Mainly Swedish but parts available in English.


Here, I have collected some bus companies that operate in addition to the services offered by local public transport coordinating companies like SL (see below). Of these, Flygbussarna offers express shuttle services between airports and their nearest city; an example is Arlanda and Stockholm. Nettbuss (which also operates within Norway since it is part of NSB; uses Google Translate to provide information in English and other languages) and Swebus (part of Nobina) offer long-distance services to and from airports as part of their networks, but they also connect other places that trains may not serve.

Local Travel

SL (Storstockhoms Lokaltrafik)

Stockholm County's wholly owned bus, tram and commuter train (including the underground Tunnelbana) company does contract out some of its operations to private concerns like MTR, but that takes nothing away from a level of integration that has a lot to teach British counterparts. Ferries between islands in the Stockholm Archipelago are part of the system too, and that makes it really multi-modal. Having a single travel card (called Access) for all of these makes the whole system user-friendly too, and the cost is between £30 and £35 for a week of travel across the whole network in 2017. That may sound expensive, but I thought it was good value and SL also is a partner in Trafik i Mälardalen (TiM), which is even better.


If you want to get about Gothenburg and its hinterland, you need to have a look at this website. It's set up with an eye on the foreign visitors too, a handy thing for a network of buses, trams, trains and ferries. With a nearby archipelago of its own, the latter could be very useful, given how many of the islands only accept passenger traffic.

Language Note: English with some Swedish.


While on a business trip to Lund in 2006, I got to see a few of the buses operated under the auspices of this local government agency during the limited time that I was found to be around the streets of the university city. Time was insufficient to allow me to explore, so I cannot say anything about the experience of using these services.

Language Note: Swedish, with Google Translate button.


Stockholm is a city spread across innumerable islands, and some of these feel wilder than you would expect for a city. One even plays host to the country's first-ever National Park. Getting around them is where this company will help, and it provides services on behalf of the local council too.