Sweden… the land of Midsummer and the Norther Lights, is a dream destination for many… Lately, several well-done drama-comedies came over from Sweden, too. These include Oscar-nominated A Man Called Ove (2015), The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013) and Oscar-nominated Swedish-Danish co-production The Square (2017).
For everything you need to know in order to plan your personal, film-inspired trip to Sweden, check out this country guide!
- Films to watch for inspiration
- When to go
- Where to go
- The East Coast and the capital Stockholm
- The West Coast and Gothenburg
- The Middle: Darlana
- The South: Småland
- The North: Swedish Lapland
- How to get around
- What to do: All Sweden Posts at a glance
- Good to know before you go: Six Travel Tips for Sweden
A typical "Swedish view" in Växjö, Smaland
1. Films to watch for inspiration
19 films and series that have been set and / or filmed in Sweden!
All films and series by Swedish bestselling author Astrid Lindgren, including Pippi Longstocking and Emil from Lönneberga (1960s – 1990s)
All Things Fair (1995)
Fucking Åmål (1998)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version, 2009)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Swedish version, 2009)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Swedish version, 2009)
Let the Right One In (Swedish version, 2008)
Let Me In (American remake, 2010)
Easy Money (2010)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US remake, 2011)
Easy Money II: Hard to Kill (2012)
Easy Money III: Life Deluxe (2013)
TV series Vikings (2013-ongoing)
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013)
TV series Welcome to Sweden (2014–2015)
A Man Called Ove (2015)
The Girl King (2015)
The 101-Year-Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared (2016)
The Square (2017)
TV series Bonus Family (2017-)
The Cake General (2018)
TV series Quicksand (2019-)
Scene from Swedish drama-comedy "A Man Called Ove". Photo: © 2015 Music Box Films
2. When to go
Spring: April-Mai are great months to come to Sweden as the days will gradually get longer after the dark period of winter (which can last up well into March). You will also see flowers popping up everywhere.
Summer: If you want to party like a Swede and experience Midsummer (the longest day of the year when the sun stays up almost all night) you have to come for the Midsummer weekend, which is set around the 21th of June and an official holiday in Sweden. July and August are also nice.
Autumn: As most tourists tend to flock Sweden's capital Stockholm in the summer months of June, July and August. September is the perfect time to explore the city at a leisurely pace… If you're lucky, it may even still be really sunny and warm, which was the case during my visit in September 2016.
Winter: If you like snow, come in the winter months of December to February and you'll get lots of it (in Stockholm it's not always guaranteed, but in the North and Swedish Lapland it will be a "winter wonderland" for sure). However, because of the closeness to the Arctic Circle, it's also very dark. December is the darkest month with the least hours of daylight. In comparison, February offers a lot more daylight and the chances to spot the famous Northern Lights are equally high!
Swedish Lapland in winter
3. Where to go
The East Coast and the capital Stockholm
The capital of Sweden is worth visiting all-year-round. If you're there for a short stopover or weekend break only, check out my tips for 72 hours in Stockholm.
The Stockholm Millennium Tour is a must-do for any film fan of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. Not only does it take you to the iconic film locations, but you'll also discover Stockholm's trend district Södermalm and get a great panorama view of Stockholm. Read more about the tour in this post.
Stockholm in summer
Sweden also was one of the original homebases of the real Vikings. So a day trip from Stockholm to the island of Björkö and the viking village Birka is a must-do for all fans of the hit TV series Vikings! Read more in my post Viking for a day – My time travel trip from Stockholm to Birka
The Swedes love their summer island getaways (and their boats). So, in the summertime, a trip to the nearby Stockholm archipelago should not be missed!
The West Coast and Gothenburg
This is an equally great spot for some relaxing boat tours around a beautiful archipelago as well as some Vikings-inspired museum visits!
The Gothenburg archipelago
The suburbs of Gothenburg (Trollhättan) were the main filming locations A Man Called Ove (2015) – a heartwarming tale about an elderly and very grumpy Swedish man called Ove, whose life changes drastically when he opens up to his multicultural neighbours…
The Middle: Dalarna
Dalarna County is said to be "the most traditional area of contemporary Sweden" and the Midsummer celebrations here are famous.
The Swedish film Dalecarlians (2004) is set here. The drama-comedy is about 30-something career-driven Mia, who has left her small hometown in Dalarna to live and work in the capital Stockholm. She comes back to her hometown Rättvik (a real town in Dalarna on the shores of lake Siljan) to celebrate her father's 70th birthday. When her father suggests that she will be the one to inherit her parents' house, her sisters and former neighbours confront her with jealousy, but also with admiration for being courageous enough to leave their small-town home…
Falun in Dalarna is located in the middle of Sweden
The South: Småland
If you know Sweden from the stories and films of bestselling author Astrid Lindgren, you will have to come to Småland! You will find a lot of Astrid Lindgren-inspired holiday activities here, including her own childhood home and a theme park with all her popular book and film characters.
"Emil of Löneberga" in the Astrid Lindgren themepark in Smaland
Furthermore, the South Coast is officially classified as the sunniest spot in Sweden. This makes Småland the ideal destination for a sunny summer holiday with long and sunny days.
Start planning your trip with my two Småland posts:
Quintessentially Swedish – Six reasons to visit Småland
Five reasons to visit Växjö in Småland, Sweden
The North: Swedish Lapland
This is the place to be for all Northern Lights hunters, snow lovers and fans of bumpy sleigh rides with cute huskies!
My tip: The Swedish town of Abisko is known as one of the towns that offers the highest chances to see the famous Northern Lights in Lapland. This was certainly true for me when after a week-long tour around Finland, Norway and Sweden in February 2017, I finally saw the Northern Lights on the very last night in Abisko.
Start planning your winter wonderland trip with this post:
Lapland Bucket List: My Top 10 Things to Do
Husky ride in Swedish Lapland
4. How to get around
Public transport in Stockholm is very quick and convenient. If you know you'll be travelling around the city quite a bit, get yourself an unlimited travel card for 24 hours, 72 hours or 7 days (unfortunately there is no card for 48 hours). With this card, you can use all public transport (the underground network called the "Tunnelbana", buses and even some ferries.
Swedish trains are quick and efficient. Plus, they usually offer a good and free WiFi connection throughout the journey. There are frequent services to the neighbouring Scandinavian countries (for example Oslo in Norway and Copenhagen in Denmark). However, it's worthwhile booking your tickets ahead of time through the official Swedish rail company SJ as last-minute tickets can become quite expensive.
Rental car: Sweden is a vast and in many ways rural country, so if you want to explore the countryside with maximum flexibility, a rental car is your best bet.
Guided bus tours: This option is for you if you like to sit back, relax and take in all the exciting information from your tour guide.
A beautiful lake is never far away in Sweden
5. What to do:
All Sweden Posts at a glance
6. Good to know before you go
Six Travel Tips for Sweden
1. Unisex toilets: I found that there were more Unisex toilets in Sweden than in any other country I have visited so far. For example in Stockholm's main train station Centralen. This can be a bit awkward at times. Another random fact: Sweden was also the only country where I ever saw black toilet paper! You have been warned! 😉
2. Official language: Swedish, but everyone (and I mean everyone) speaks amazing English! This is partly due to the fact that all foreign films in cinemas and on TV are shown in their original language (with Swedish subtitles) and partly to the excellent Swedish education system, which the state invests in a lot. This is, by the way, true for all of the so-called "Nordic countries" (Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland). So don't worry if you don't speak any Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish or Icelandic. English will do just fine!
However, here are some of words, which might come in handy during your trip. Swedes like to say "thank you", so whenever you can, use the word "tack"! 😉
Tack – Thank you
Tack så mycket – Thanks a lot
Hej – Hello
Hej då – Bye
Ursäkta – Sorry (for example when you are in a crowded place and would like someone to step aside so you can pass through)
Förlåt – Sorry
God morgon – Good Morning
God natt – Good Night
3. Credit cards are widely accepted everywhere and the official currency in Sweden is Swedish kronors (SEK): In fact, Sweden wants to become a completely cash-free country in the upcoming years, so as of 2019, paying with cash has become a really rare thing to do. You can literally pay by card everywhere (even the smallest amounts) and every place has the contactless function, too. The conversion from Swedish Kronors to Euros and similarly Dollars is a pretty easy thing to do: Just remove a zero and you have the rough equivalent. So 100 Swedish Kronors are roughly 10 Euros.
4. Accommodation: Although I found Norway, Denmark and Iceland far worse, Sweden is quite expensive. In terms of accommodation, AirBnB is a good alternative for budget travellers who don't want to stay in a crammed hostel. If you've never booked an accommodation on AirBnB before, sign up via this link and you will get a nice discount for your first booking! In terms of a good budget hostel, I can recommend the centrally located Lillabrunn Hostel and the Castanea Hostel in Stockholm's beautiful old town called "Gamla Stan".
5. Cheap Eats: A great thing about Sweden is that many places offer cheaper set menus for lunch on weekdays called "dagens lunch". This menu usually consists of a main dish, sometimes a salad from the salad bar, a drink and a coffee. So it's really good value for money. Buffets are also quite common as the Swedes love them. Otherwise, nothing tops IKEA! You can have a whole meal with a drink, dessert and coffee for roughly 5–6 Euros! Since there is an IKEA in pretty much every Swedish town, your next cheap meal is always around the corner. Plus, the traditional meatballs (there is also a veggie version) are a quintessentially Swedish dish to try, too! In recent years, Sweden has also become very vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, which I have the feeling is mostly because of the fact that vegan options have less impacts on the environment. In any case, this is good news for vegetarians and vegans! 😉
6. Plugs and Driving: Sweden uses the same kind of plugs as the rest of Europe (except for the UK and Ireland) and cars drive on the right side of the road.
A typical Swedish wooden house in red
Got any tips or questions for Sweden? Let me know in the comments below!
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com
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