Backpacking in Sweden

Backpacking in Sweden: The complete guide for Swedish backpackers

Backpacking in Sweden is one of the best ways to explore the natural beauty and incredible landscapes the country has to offer. With the right backpacking strategy, you can explore some of the most incredible parts of Sweden, without having to spend a fortune.

So, where should you start when planning your Swedish backpacking adventure?

The first thing you should know is backpacking in Sweden can often be a lot simpler than backpacking elsewhere in the world. Sweden is an extremely friendly, and safe country, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding cheap and welcoming places to stay.

Additionally, people all over the country speak English, so you should be able to find people to help you when necessary.

Notably, though, Sweden is also one of the more expensive countries in Europe, meaning even if you’re saving money with backpacking, you can lose cash by overspending on food and travel.

Here’s your complete guide to backpacking in Sweden.

Why consider backpacking in Sweden?

Swedish backpackers love the unique, beautiful experiences they can encounter with nothing but a good pair of walking shoes and a backpack. Backpacking in Sweden is your chance to explore one of the safest locations in Europe while simultaneously earning some valuable insights into the amazing culture and history of Sweden.

The Swedish landscape is also very diverse, with lots of things to do and see regardless of what you like. You’ll be able to enjoy city living in places like Gothenburg and Stockholm or check out beautiful architecture in Malmo.

You can check out the Swedish archipelagos and visit some local islands for remote coastal villages and forests or go kayaking in summer.

Each part of Sweden has its own distinct history, cultural identity, and amazing experiences to discover. There are even 29 national parks in Sweden, so if you love trekking and exploring the wilderness, you’re going to be in the right place.

Backpacking in Sweden
Credit: Bahnfrend

Backpacking in Sweden: Finding accommodation

If you decide backpacking in Sweden sounds like a blast, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out where you’re going to lay your head at night. Hostels are probably the cheapest option if you’re not comfortable with the idea of sleeping in a tent when the weather gets cold.

Unlike hostels elsewhere in the world, Sweden’s accommodations are extremely comfortable and welcoming. You can check out Linneplatsens hotel and hostel for a clean and relaxing destination in Gothenburg, or visit the Vandrarhem in Malmo city, where there’s a fully equipped kitchen and mini supermarket for making your own food.

For extra savings, look into some of the Swedish hostels which offer bonus “extras” for visitors. For instance, you can get free breakfast from the StrandNara Organic B&B.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for somewhere really interesting to stay, visit the Jumbo Stay in Stockholm for the chance to sleep in a jumbo jet.

If you’re spending most of your time in the countryside, you’ll probably visit one of the hostels run by STF, or the Swedish Tourist Association. Although some of these hostels can seem a little outdated, they’re clean and cosy, and often located close to great tourist spots.

Prices for a bunk in a dorm can range from $20 to $35 per night. Private rooms usually start at closer to $60 per night.

Don’t forget to consider places like Airbnb too, as you can get a great deal if you’re willing to stay in the home of a Swedish local.

Backpacking in Sweden: Eating and drinking

Staying well-fed is essential when you’re backpacking, as you’ll be using a lot of energy daily. Restaurants, though tempting, can be quite expensive in this country, so it’s best to stick with supermarkets and smaller cafes where you can.

For example, Gunters in Stockholm is a great place to visit for a delicious hotdog.

Takeaways might be a little cheaper than buying from a restaurant too, so if you’re looking for something unique to eat, but you don’t mind taking it back to your hostel with it, then you’ll be fine. Keep an eye out for food halls and food carts where you can get a great deal on some local favorites.

When it comes to drinking, water is your best friend. The taps all offer clean water, so you don’t have to stock up on bottled water. You’ll also be pleased to know tipping isn’t a thing in Sweden, so the price you see is what you pay.

If you want to let loose with a few alcoholic beverages, you might want to consider picking something up from a supermarket, as bars and nightclubs can be extremely expensive. If you are drinking at a bar, stick to beer rather than cocktails.

Backpacking in Sweden

Backpacking in Sweden: Travel

Public transport in Sweden is usually quite cheap. If you’re visiting Stockholm, you can get a “Go City” travel card to cover the cost of all the networks, including busses, subways, trams, ferries, and commuter trains. Similar deals are also available in other parts of the country.

Stay away from taxis, as they’re often extremely costly, and instead use available apps and maps online to plan your public transportation routes. You shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring out all the tram, bus, and boat options after a little practice.

If you want complete freedom to go wherever you want, you can consider hiring a car. This can be a pretty simple way to travel wherever you want with minimal planning, but it does cost a lot more than just getting a bus pass.

Notably, hitchhiking really isn’t very common in Sweden, so expect to be waiting for some time if you want someone to pick you up on the side of the road.

Backpacking in Sweden: Health and safety

The standard of health in Sweden is extremely high, and the UK has an agreement with the Swedish health service which allows British nationals to get free medical treatment in an emergency. The same rules don’t apply to visitors form the U.S, so it’s a good idea to have travel insurance available just in case something goes wrong.

There are no vaccinations required before travelling, but preparation is key to staying safe. Check the weather in Sweden before you travel to determine whether it’s going to be safe for you to go hiking and backpacking in the colder months of the year.

It can be extremely dangerous to hike certain trails during the winter months.

Overall, if you’re cautious about the natural elements of Sweden’s landscape, you should be pretty safe when backpacking in Sweden. You’ll be able to chat to people you meet without worrying about whether they’re looking for opportunities to rob you.

There’s also access to local law enforcement if you have any concerns or need help with something.

Backpacking in Sweden: Connectivity

These days, backpacking is much easier when you have access to the internet. Swedish backpackers don’t have to worry about paying a fortune for mobile data, because Wi-Fi cafes are virtually everywhere.

You’ll be able to find lots of places where you can sit down and relax with your smartphone. Many hostels have their own Wi-Fi too.

If you can’t find a local café to help you out, there’s usually free Wi-Fi available at train stations and on busses too. However, if you’re backpacking in the more rural parts of Sweden, or checking out the surrounding islands, you might want to switch to a Swedish sim card just in case.

Backpacking in Sweden

How much does backpacking in Sweden cost?

As mentioned above, backpacking in Sweden can be a little pricey if you’re not careful, as it’s one of the more expensive countries in Europe. You can usually expect to get by with around $70 to $100 per day if you want to be extremely comfortable.

With this budget, you should be able to rent a car, eat well, get a bed, and even enjoy the occasional beer.

While you can travel to Sweden on around $30-$50 per day, you’ll need to be a lot better organized. A shoestring budget will require more camping, cooking your own food, and watching your money carefully. You could also save cash by couch surfing if you know any locals.

Keep in mind it can be quite difficult to use cash when backpacking in Sweden, so it’s best to have a credit or debit card available which works internationally. Let your bank know you’re travelling if you’re concerned they might try to stop your purchases.

When should you go backpacking in Sweden?

The exact time you should go backpacking in Sweden will depend on what you want to do when you’re there. If you want to check out local festivities and holidays, you’ll need to plan your travel around those events.

You can also find plenty of great festivals in Sweden if you do some prior planning.

If you’re going to be hiking and backpacking at the same time, it’s best to avoid Sweden during the winter months. The colder months of the year can be extremely harsh, and they make it very difficult for you to get around.

Backpacking in Sweden during summer will also mean you don’t have to worry as much about staying warm. Even if you go camping, you should be able to bundle up well and keep yourself protected from the elements.

What to do when backpacking in Sweden

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the wonders of Sweden when backpacking. Probably the most obvious way to spend your time is to explore the great outdoors.

There’s plenty of beautiful scenery to check out, even if you want to stay close to the city, and tons of athletic activities like swimming, hiking, and skiing to enjoy.

Here are just some of the fun things you can do during your backpacking adventure in Sweden:

Backpacking in Sweden

Visit the beach in Gotland

Gotland is one of the many hidden gems of Sweden, with tons of opportunities for sunbathing, surfing, and more. There’s a national park (Gotska) nearby, plus the Sundersand and Tofta strand for white sandy beaches.

You’ll also have opportunities to learn about the Viking heritage of the Swedes or visit the medieval town of Visby. If you’re looking for a cool place to stay, try the Visby Fangelse hostel, which used to be a prison.

Backpacking in Sweden

Seek out the Northern Lights

Most travelers dream of seeing the Northern Lights at some point. If you’re willing to visit Sweden in the winter, and trek out to some of the colder, darker regions in the north of the country, you can try and catch a glimpse yourself.

One of the best places to visit is the Abisko National Park, which is situated far away from the cities, meaning less light pollution. You can also find companies offering dog sledding trips at night to take you out into the wilderness if you have some extra cash.

Backpacking in Sweden

Soak up the culture in Stockholm

Stockholm is an excellent place to visit if you’re looking for culture and city vibes.

One of the best ways to check out the destination without spending a fortune is to explore the Stockholm metro art gallery. There are 90 metro stations located around the city where you can check out beautiful patterns and designs.

Of course, you can also find a host of local cafes to visit when you’re in Stockholm, as well as various shops and even nearby hiking trails.

If you’re planning on staying pretty close to the capital, there’s still no shortage of things to do.

Backpacking in Sweden

Grab Fika

When in Sweden, it only makes sense to relax like the Swedes do. Fika is a tradition involving drinking coffee and enjoying a sweet pastry with family and friends. Fika is very common practice in Sweden, and a great way to see what life in the country is really like.

Do some research in advance to figure out where some of the more affordable cafes and relaxation spots are in your chosen town or city.

Backpacking in Sweden

Check out a local celebration

If you’re visiting Sweden at the right time, you might even get a chance to check out one of the local celebrations. One of the cheapest events to take part in is Swedish Midsommer, which usually runs between the 19th and 25th of June.

You can go out and celebrate with the locals, weaving flowers into your hair and eating as much seafood as you can stomach. A great place to enjoy the magic is at the Skansen open-air zoo and museum, which hosts a huge celebration.

Backpacking in Sweden

Visit Djurgården in Stockholm

Another often overlooked part of Stockholm, Djurgården is a must-see destination for Swedish backpackers. There’s a green island filled with stunning flowers to explore, as well as the fantastic ABBA museum.

You can also stay at the City Backpackers Hostel for free use of the sauna facilities.

Backpacking in Sweden

Check out the archipelagos

Sweden is home to a host of nearby islands you can explore from the coats of Stockholm and Gothenburg. There’s no shortage of amazing destinations to visit, and you can even take a kayak through some of the more closely connected islands if you want to visit a few different places at once.

Speaking of water travel, you can also rent a canoe to paddle across the lakes of Sweden’s lake district in Dalsland. There’s also a host of swimming places in the coastal areas and lakes too.

Backpacking in Sweden

Head to Gothenburg

Gothenburg is among the best places to visit when you’re backpacking through Sweden. Though it’s not the largest city in the country, it’s packed full of amazing things to do and see.

You can walk through the cobbled streets of Haga and check out some beautiful old-fashioned houses or enjoy some delicious local cuisine from a food stall. The street kitchens in the region are generally quite affordable, even on a backpacking budget.

Or why not take a tour of the Gothenburg Museum of Art?

Backpacking in Sweden

Visit an indigenous tribe

If you’re really keen to explore the more raw, untouched parts of Sweden, you can consider backpacking to the northern part of the country.

Though a lot colder than some of the other regions in Sweden, the North is home to lots of unique experiences, from spotting wild reindeer, to enjoying dog sledding rides.

You can also visit the indigenous Sami tribe at Jokkmokk for a historical Swedish experience.

Backpacking in Sweden

Spend a day in Malmö

For another amazing experience you’ll remember forever, take some time to visit Sweden’s third largest city — Malmö. The region is packed full of outdoor restaurants and cafes to enjoy, and you can even eat outside during the summer months.

Check out the cobbled square of Lilla Torg, and visit the Saluhallen indoor market to taste treats from across the globe. It’s also worth venturing a little further west to Gamla Vaster (old town), where you can check out a host of historical buildings and galleries.

An example Swedish backpacker itinerary

Sweden is one of the most incredible places in the world to visit, whether you’re with friends, or going it alone. For backpackers, the location offers a safe and beautiful environment, where you can soak up the sights of nature and rediscover yourself.

The biggest problem with backpacking in Sweden is you’ll often be spoilt for choice. It’s hard to know where you should get started.

If you’re feeling confused, here’s a backpacker itinerary plan which could give you a good starting point for seven wonderful days in Sweden:

  • Day 1: Start by getting your plane straight to Stockholm, where you can spend a night exploring the incredible capital city. You might want to take some extra time out so you can visit the Stockholm archipelago too.
  • Day 2: Travel to Uppsala from Stockholm and check out the Viking history and heritage which comes with it. You’ll have an amazing time taking in the sights here, and there’s plenty of bars to get a beer at too.
  • Day 3: Visit Örebro and the nearby national park to see the nature of Sweden at its finest. If you’re visiting in Summer, you can even spend a night in a tent in the park itself.
  • Day 4: Get to Gothenburg and soak up some of the amazing culture and history the large city has to offer. Don’t forget to visit Haga and enjoy Fika at one of the local cafes.
  • Day 5: Take a trip to Skåne and explore the wonders of the Swedish coast. You might even want to hire a boat, or take a short fishing trip.
  • Day 6: Travel to Malmo and spend some time wandering around the Lilla Torg square. You might want to visit some local museums and galleries while you’re here too.
  • Day 7: Get back to Stockholm and finish your vacation with a couple of drinks and a local Swedish sauna experience. Bliss!

Backpacking in Sweden

You should now have everything you need to prepare for an amazing backpacking trip in Sweden. Remember to plan in advance, and check the weather conditions before you go, so you can pack your bags full of warm clothing. You don’t want to be left shivering in a hostel.

While it can be expensive to travel through Sweden, a little prior preparation is really all it takes to discover some of the best places in the region on a shoestring budget.

Now it’s time for you to start packing your bags!

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