Sweden Road Trip

5 ways of getting to Sweden

When planning a trip to Sweden (or anywhere else for that matter) your natural first step is probably figuring out what to see, what to do and where to stay. But perhaps also how to get there. Depending on where you live in the world, this might be pretty much obvious as your options are often limited, and flying may very well be your only alternative.

However, many European citizens (and people planning to stop by Sweden’s neighbouring countries on their way) will find that there are several other great ways of getting to and from Sweden that will suit just about every travel itinerary. So if you’re stuck between different options of how to get to Sweden – it may be worth your while to consider what they are. But, first things first:

1. Flying to Sweden

For most global and distant visitors, air travel is understandably the main way of reaching Sweden. It’s conveniently easy and you will have to trouble finding departures to Sweden from almost anywhere in the world (at least if you’re ok with a connecting flight).

Four of the main airports used when travelling to Sweden. There are many more (in fact around 40 open to public flights), but they are predominantly used for domestic departures.

Flying to Stockholm
When searching for flights to Sweden, you’ll quickly notice that Arlanda airport outside Stockholm is the primary hub in the country, with over 23 million passengers passing through each year (2015). While several other airports in Sweden also have international departures and arrivals (primarily to and from other European cities), Arlanda is your most reliable option when planning your trip and the only feasible airport for direct intercontinental flights to Sweden.

Arlanda is located 40 km north of Stockholm and the quickest way of getting to the city is by the shuttle train Arlanda Express, which takes 20 minutes. It’s definitely the most convenient option but it’s unfortunately quite expensive. Two cheaper alternatives are the regular shuttle buses or the public commuter train, both of which takes you to the Stockholm central station in about 40 minutes.

A few airlines (Ryanair among others) flies to Skavsta airport instead of Arlanda, which is considerably smaller and located further away from Stockholm. There is no express train, and getting from Skavsta airport to Stockholm city by bus takes roughly 1 hour & 20 minutes. While losing some convenience, Skavsta is still a very popular option as it usually limits your aviation expenses.

Flying to Gothenburg
Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, is a fantastic city indeed and a destination that’s quickly increasing in popularity. International departures to Gothenburg’s airport, Landvetter airport, are more limited than to Stockholm but you shouldn’t have any trouble getting there by a connecting flight somewhere in Europe.

Other ways of flying to Sweden?
Another very good option of getting to Sweden by air travel (and one that is often overlooked) is flying to Kastrup airport outside Copenhagen in Denmark. It’s a relatively big airport with over 25 million passengers every year (2015) and with plenty of international and intercontinental flights. In fact, chances are you’ll be suggested to connect here when booking flights to and from Arlanda.

When you’ve landed, it’s surprisingly easy getting to Sweden from Kastrup and the direct train only takes about 30 minutes to Malmö central station.

2. Trains to Sweden

Taking the train is usually a well-rounded option between price, comfort and travel time (and worth mentioning; getting to Sweden by train is perhaps the “greenest” means of transportation, apart from walking and biking). The rail network is quite well-expanded in Sweden and the surrounding countries, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding suitable departures when travelling along the regular routes.

Trains from Norway
Quite naturally, there are lots of trains going between Norway and Sweden every single day, as the countries share a 1630 km long border. Many people are commuting both ways for work, and you will find it easy to reach cities such as Gothenburg and Stockholm from the Norwegian capital of Oslo. It’s not that far and departures are quite frequent.

Trains from Denmark
Another highly busy line is the train from Copenhagen in Denmark to the city of Malmö in southern Sweden. This train crosses the spectacular Öresund Bridge that is connecting the two countries over the narrow strait with the same name. When in Malmö, you can easily continue by train north to pretty much everywhere in Sweden.

Trains from the rest of Europe
The rail between Denmark and Sweden is actually connected with the rest of the European continent. This means that you can take the train to Sweden through this route from almost anywhere in Europe, for example from Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands or the UK.
This is hands down your best option if you’re travelling to Sweden with an interrail card.

For trains within Sweden, tickets can be booked at the SJ website.

railway in sweden
(Taking the train to Sweden is a joyful experience. A clear advantage compared to many other means of travel are the view and the changing scenery that can be enjoyed along the ride. Photo by: V. Svensson)

3. Driving to Sweden

This option is almost self-explanatory and by simply looking at a map of Scandinavia you’ll find that there are plenty or routes to Sweden from Norway, Finland and Denmark (and through Denmark from the rest of Europe). Crossing the borders should not be a problem as all countries in Scandinavia are part of the Schengen Area.
Find out more about local traffic regulations while driving in Scandinavia.

However, there are also a few routes that aren’t visible on any map, as you can easily travel to Sweden by car using boats and ferries from several other countries – read more in section 4 below.

4. Boats, ferries and cruises to Sweden

The car ferries and cruise lines, as mentioned above, are a quick and easy way of getting to Sweden across the Baltic Sea – it’s a very popular option as departures are frequent and the cost is not too steep, and as compared to flying; you can bring your own car with you and enjoy the freedom of exploring Sweden and getting around as you please.

Historically, Sweden has always had an important loaction within the Baltic Sea and many Swedish cities has acted as strategic maritime nodes throughout the years. For a few cities, Stockholm especially, this is still true today and ferries and cruises operates between Sweden and almost all nearby countries accessible by water, including Germany, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Finland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Most ferries and cruises from the “east”, such as the ones from Russia, Finland and the Baltic states, uses Stockholm as the final destination in Sweden, which gives you a beautiful entry through the scenic Stockholm archipelago.

The southern lines, such as the ones from Germany and Poland, lands in the southern parts of Sweden and if you’re heading up to Stockholm you will have to continues by car, domestic train or bus. If you’re looking to rent a car when you’ve landed, you’ll find more information here.

viking line
(A cruise ship sailing across the Baltic Sea. Viking Line is just one of several ferry companies operating in Swedish waters.)

Ferrylines is a very useful site for finding ferries and cruises to and from Sweden. It’s easy to browse all different maritime routes available in the Baltic Sea, as well as the corresponding ferry operator, travel time, departure schedule and much more.


5. Buses and coaches to Sweden

This alternative is perhaps best suited for the most adjacent travellers, as it is not the quickest. It is however possible to find good deals if you wish to limit you travel expenses. Most buses from the European continent crosses the Baltic Sea by ferries before continuing to the end destination in Sweden, which is often Stockholm or Gothenburg. Pre-arranged tours may take you there directly even if you’re travelling quite far, otherwise if using a standard route, you may require an indermediate connection closer to Sweden (for example in Germany).

Try busradar.com to find and compare bus and coach departures in Europe.

Whichever option you choose, we hope that you’ll have a great trip to Sweden!

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