Revised April 6, 2008
Though its people are friendly and its scenery is beautiful, Sweden is off the beaten track for most north Americans visiting Europe. Its cold dark winters intimidate tourists; its cool wet summers don't make the tourism board's job very easy. But for those who love the outdoors and nature, Sweden is a visually stunning land of lakes, mountains, forests and islands that is filled with Nordic history. The friendly people of Sweden will make you feel quite welcome and you'll have a great, more affordable vacation if you head out of Stockholm and enjoy the country from the convenience of a campground.
As you look online at the cost of travel activities and lodging in Sweden, you will be stunned. Not long ago, the US Dollar traded at about 10 Krones per dollar. As I write, it has dropped to less than 6 Krones to a dollar. So the travel pass that once cost $35 USD per day, has climbed to around $55 USD per day. Because the Swedish did not adopt the Euro and because the value of the US Dollar relative to Swedish Krone has dropped faster than the dollar has against the Euro, you'll need to shop carefully to make your time in Sweden affordable.
Travelers are advised to be careful when driving and parking in Sweden. Strict laws on drinking and driving and strict enforcement of speed and parking laws can result in an expensive fine or even criminal prosecution. In light of that you may want to travel through Sweden by rail.
The capitol of Sweden will charm you with its mix of royal palaces, historic architecture and trendy new buildings. Like Venice, the city of Stockholm is built on a number of connected islands separated by canals and other waterways. And a pleasant way to get oriented is to take one of the many boat tours of the city. There are a number of companies including:
To stretch your dollar in Stockholm,
Start your visit to Stockholm at the Royal Palace. Its armory houses a collection of vintage weapons while the treasury is where the crown jewels are held. Check the website to see when the changing of the guard is scheduled. Continue west to Riddarholms Church where many of the Swedish Kings are buried. Then jump on a ferry or take a surface route to Skansen where you'll see many traditional buildings that have been moved to this open-air museum and preserved for visitors to learn about Scandanavian history.
If you are traveling with children, introduce them to Pippi Longstocking before your trip and them take them to the fantasy house built by Astrid Lingren, the author of those amusing stories.
A short excursion from Stockholm takes you to the charming Gripsholm Castle. It can be reached by boat or train and will provide a relaxing day of entertainment in addition that will teach you much about the Swedish monarchs.
About an hour before sunset, if the weather is good and you'll have visibility, head to Kaknastornet, the large television and radio tower that provides transmission services to all of Sweden and climbs over 540 feet into the sky. The view of the Swedish archipelago is spectacular on sunny days.
For those truly wanting to learn about medieval life in Sweden, the town of Uppsala is the best starting point. The area has been inhabited for more than 1500 years with some of the sites dating back to that period.
Camping in Sweden
The stunning natural beauty of Sweden is a great backdrop for outdoor activities and camping. There are many places to camp throughout the area. At the time of this revision, the US Dollar is worth less than 6 Swedish Krones. That exchange rate makes Sweden fairly expenisve to visit, even when you camp. But as you check rates at many of the campgrounds, you'll find that there are often substantial discounts if you book and stay for a week rather than stopping at the campground for only a day or two. Keep in mind, however, as you plan your trip that temperatures are likely to be cool and rain is frequent so if you are holding down your travel costs by camping, be sure you have the supplies you need to stay warm and dry.