Given the extremely long distances and journey times involved in reaching Sweden overland, flying will not only save you considerable amounts of time but money too. The main gateways are Stockholm and Gothenburg, as well as Copenhagen in neighbouring Denmark, just a twenty-minute train ride from Malmö.
Air fares are generally cheaper when booked as far in advance as possible. Midweek travel is less expensive than weekend departures.
Flights from North America
Three airlines operate from the US to Sweden: SAS (Scandinavian Airlines; w scandinavian.net) from Newark and Chicago, Continental from Newark and Delta (w delta.com) from JFK. Less expensive tickets can sometimes be found on European airlines routing via their home hub, for example British Airways (w ba.com) via London or Icelandair (w icelandair.net) via Keflavík, the latter very often being a source of reasonable fares to Sweden. From New York, a return ticket midweek fare to Stockholm (8hr) will cost around US$900 in high season, US$740 in low season. From Chicago (9hr), prices are roughly US$150 more than from New York; from the West Coast (journey time at least 12hr), you’ll pay around US$200–300 more.
There are no direct flights from Canada, so the best way of reaching Sweden is from Toronto via Helsinki with Finnair (w finnair.com; summer only). Several other airlines also operate flights from Toronto and Vancouver to European cities, with connections on to Stockholm. Fares from Toronto (journey time 9–13hr depending on connections) are Can$1150–1350 in high season, Can$950–1150 in low season. From Vancouver (13–18hr), they’re around Can$500 higher.
Flights from the UK and Ireland
Flights for Stockholm, Gothenburg and Copenhagen leave from several UK airports; in winter there are also direct flights from London Heathrow to Kiruna (available only through Discover the World). Flying to Sweden with Ryanair (w ryanair.com) is usually the cheapest way of getting there. Single fares can be a low as £10, though in peak season a return price of £70–100 is more realistic, depending on how early the booking is made. The other main airline serving Sweden is SAS (w scandinavian.net), whose return tickets start around £130. The Scandinavian low-cost operator, Norwegian (w norwegian.com), is also an option; its fares are generally midway between those of Ryanair and SAS. For southern Sweden, try easyJet (w easyJet.com) who operate into Copenhagen. From Ireland, there are services from Dublin only, and fares are roughly the same as from the UK.
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
There are no direct flights to Sweden from Australia, New Zealand or South Africa and by far the cheapest option is to find a discounted air fare to London and arrange a flight to Sweden from there. All air fares to London from Australian east coast gateways are similarly priced, with the cheapest deals via Asia and Helsinki starting around $1850. From Perth or Darwin, flights are around $100 less. From New Zealand reckon on NZ$2500 as a starting point from Auckland, NZ$250 more from Wellington. From South Africa, count on around ZAR6000 for the cheapest return from Cape Town.
Getting to Sweden by train is much more expensive. There are no through tickets and the total of all the tickets you’ll need is likely to cost around £300–400. Hence, it’s worth buying a rail pass instead; a global InterRail pass (from £238) or Eurail pass (from US$625) are the best options. From London, trains to Sweden go via Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg and Copenhagen. A typical journey will involve changing trains four or five times and takes around 24 hours.
Don’t be put off by the idea of an inclusive package, as it can sometimes be the cheapest way of doing things, and a much easier way of reaching remote areas of northern Sweden in winter. City breaks are invariably less expensive than if you arrange the same trip independently. There are also an increasing number of operators offering special-interest holidays to Sweden, particularly Arctic expeditions.
Abercrombie & Kent US t 1 800 554 7016, w abercrombiekent.com. Top-end tours of Scandinavia by land and sea.
Bentours International Australia t 1800 221712, w bentours.com.au. The leading Australian specialist to Sweden offering air, ferry and rail tickets and a host of (often upmarket) escorted and independent tours throughout Scandinavia.
Contiki Tours US t 1 888 CONTIKI, w contiki.com. Budget tours of Scandinavia for 18- to 35-year-olds.
Discover the World UK t 01737 214250, w discover-the-world.co.uk. This long-established, professional and upmarket company knows the country like the back of its hand. It is the only company selling a direct flight from London Heathrow to Kiruna and the world’s largest tour operator to Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi.
Nordic Experience UK t 01206 708888, w nordicexperience.co.uk/sweden. Mid-priced holidays to various regions of Sweden, including Lapland and Icehotel, and trips out to lakes and mountains.
Scanam World Tours US t 1 800 545 2204, w scanamtours.com. Specializes in mid-range Scandinavian tours and cruises for groups and individuals. Also offers cheap weekend breaks.
Scantours US t 1 800 223 7226, w scantours.com. Major Scandinavian holiday specialists offering upmarket vacation packages and customized itineraries, including cruises and city sightseeing tours.
Taber Holidays UK t 01274 875199, w taberhols.co.uk. A wide range of Swedish holidays from this Yorkshire-based tour operator – everything from tours in the Stockholm archipelago to trips on the Inlandsbanan.