Getting Around Sweden

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Getting Around Sweden

The ancient right to roam (allemansrätten) grants everybody a right to move freely in nature on foot, swimming, by horse, by ski, by bicycle or by boat, even on others' private property. However, with this right comes an obligation to respect the integrity of nature and the privacy of others. It is therefore important to understand the limitations.

Swedish common carriers use a coordinated ticket system named Resplus, allowing booking of door-to-door tickets at many places. Resrobot is an ad-free on-line tool for finding the best modes of transport between two locations, without booking features, though. Instructions are in Swedish, but that should not be too much of a problem.

By Plane

Domestic flights are mainly for travellers with more money than time, and the vast distance in northern Sweden. There are also low-price tickets, but they must be bought well in advance.

The most important domestic airlines:

  • SAS - the international airline, and flag carrier, has many domestic routes as well.
  • Blekinge Flyg - the most south east airport in Sweden and the only one in Blekinge.
  • Nextjet - has many domestic routes to smaller places, has taken over some of Skyways routes.
  • Direktflyg - several domestic routes and also flights to Norway.
  • Norwegian - several domestic and a few international destinations.
  • Malmö Aviation - serves domestic destinations, Brussels and Nice.
  • Gotlandsflyg - connects Stockholm and the island of Gotland.

By Train

Sweden has an extensive railway network. Most major lines are run by the government-owned company SJ. To buy a railway ticket, or to obtain information, phone +46 771 75 75 75 or check their website. As of summer 2009, the cheapest SJ tickets are released exactly 90 days before departure, so time your online ticket purchases carefully if your itinerary is set and don't buy tickets earlier than 90 days before your trip. SJ recently started auctioning last minute tickets on the Swedish eBay site Tradera (site only in Swedish), available from 48 until 6 hours before departure. Because point-to-point tickets are quite expensive, for more train journeys in Sweden InterRail (for European citiziens) or Eurail (for non-European citiziens) pass might be useful.

Unlike most European countries, however, bicycles are generally not allowed on trains. The list of trains transporting bicycles is on SJ website. The bicycle surcharge is 149 SEK and you should buy it at least one day in advance.

Regional public transport is usually operated by companies contracted by the counties. For instance, when travelling regionally in the province of Scania (Skåne in Swedish), one should refer to Skånetrafiken. For travelling in the region of [Mälardalen] (the "Lake Mälaren Valley"), you can check all train and bus operators on a mutual website, Trafik i Mälardalen. This regional traffic cooperation includes many of Sweden's major cities, such as Stockholm, Uppsala, Västerås, Linköping,Norrköping, Örebro and Eskilstuna, and reaches more than three million people. Connex provides affordable railroad transportation up north. If you're on a tight schedule, be aware that trains, especially those bound for far destinations (i.e. the Connex and SJ Norrland trains), sometimes have quite significant delays (up to 1-2 hours).

By Bus

Swebus and gobybus runs a number of bus lines in the southern third of the country, Götaland and Svealand. They tend to be a little cheaper than going by train if you can't take advantage of SJ's youth discounts. Y-buss and Härjedalingen operate between Stockholm and Norrland.

Swebus also operates from Stockholm and Göteborg to Oslo. At the county or län level, buses are a good method for traveling short distances from town to town, as they are more frequent and cheaper than trains. It is best to check with the local transportation authority for routes and schedules. A newcomer on the bus market is Bus4You.

By Car

In Svealand and Götaland driving takes you quickly from one place to the other. In Norrland the distances tend to be larger. Unless you really like driving, it is often more convenient to take the train or fly to the sites, particularly in Northern Norrland. Traveling by night can be dangerous due to wild animals on the roads, and the cold nights during the winter. Collisions with moose, roe deer, or other animals are a not uncommon cause of car accidents.

Taxi rip-off alert!

Never step into a Swedish taxi without checking the yellow price sign on the rear window first! Taxi drivers are legally allowed to charge rip-off prices as long as they are stated clearly on the sign. The taxi to the left is twice as expensive as the one to the right, and there are cases where tourists have been charged around 30.000 SEK for a trip to the airport! The price tag should say around 300 SEK for a Stockholm cab.

By Thumb

Sweden has a reputation for being a pretty difficult country to hitch in, though it's still quite possible to hitchhike (but not assured to be risk-free). Ordinary people are often reluctant to pick up strangers. Truck drivers are probably most likely to pick up hitchhikers, so target them. Asking at gas stations works pretty well. Bus stops are common places to attract attention, position yourself before the actual bus stop so the vehicle can stop at the stop. This works best if the road is widened at the bus stop, allowing cars to pull off easily.

By Bike

Most Swedish cities have excellent bicycle paths, and renting a bike can be a quick and healthy method of getting around locally. Some cities have bikes for borrowing. Inter-city cycling is a good option for the experienced cyclist.

By Foot

Cars are by law required to stop at any unattended crosswalks (zebra stripes in the road without red-lights) to let pedestrians cross the road. But keep in mind that you are required to make eye contact with the driver so that they know that you are about to cross the street.

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