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The Kingdom of Sweden, famously known these days as a centre for meatballs, flat pack living, its royal family, their glorious northern lights and Vikings. Choosing a destination such as this is leaving yourself open to history, adventure and awe. From the safest cars in the world to the most breath taking natural surroundings on the planet, Sweden has it all. Head there to get into some much needed Fika, breathe in the cleanest air that has been put on the worlds books and find yourself some Viking relics to wander through, they have it all.
- Sweden is located to the north of the Baltic Sea and South of the Atlantic. It shares borders with Norway and Finland. It is officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden.
- The current population of Sweden is over 10 million with the majority of those people living in the south of the country.
- The capital of Sweden is Stockholm. The population of the nation’s capital is over 1.6 million.
- The capital is made up of a collection of islands, fourteen in total.
- The official language of Sweden is Swedish.
- Local currency, despite the country being a member of the EU since 1995, is the Swedish Krona.
- Home to the Nobel Prize, named after Albert Nobel who founded a method for handling Nitroglycerin by mixing it with black powder and adding a fuse. He is the inventor of Dynamite. The Nobel Prizes were initially earned through achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and the everlasting struggle for peace.
- Among one of the most famous Swedes, lesser known for his name more known for his invention, is Nils Ivar Bohlin. Nils in 1951 invented what we all know now as the three point safety belt, a global life-saving invention.
- Sweden is not simply a home to landscapes, islands and flat pack furniture, it also plays host to around 39 Universities the majority of which are held in high regard throughout the world. Some of the more famous alumni that have studied in Sweden at the Karolinska institute, a university that prides itself on world-class medical research, are Nobel Prize winners Torsten Nils Wiesel a neurophysiologist, Ulf von Euler a physiologist and Lars Leksell the inventor of radiosurgery. Another notable university in this grand land is Stockholm University where Annika Falkengren, a Swedish banker best known for being one of the seven managing partners of banking firm Lombard Odier, she has been consistently ranked by fortune magazine as one of the most powerful women in global business.
- Sweden is home to one of the most famous people on the planet at the moment, Greta Thunberg, the environmental activist that gave up her childhood to save the planet. It’s also home to Avicii and PewDiePie.
- The speed limits in Sweden are in km/h. The limits range from 30km/h all the way up to 120km/h. 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70km/h are reserved for within towns and cities changing at different junctures so keep an eye out for the change. There is mostly a 90km/h speed limit for rural areas and then between 110 and 120km/h for motorways.
- The drink driving limit is 20mg which translates to 0.02. This means that little to no alcohol is allowed in your system when driving.
Guide to Sweden
With so many airports to choose from its hard not to go for the most popular first but how about if you ended in Stockholm but started in Malmö, the seaside city in the far south. It’s only 20 minutes by train from Copenhagen and you can see the great Øresund Bridge that connects the two countries. The weather is mostly warmer than the rest of the country and the stone streets that snake through the ancient and modern of the city whisk you into the past. There are boat tours to take you round the city, in and out of its many canals, passed the sights that include the famous Malmöhus Castle where James Hepburn, third husband to Mary Queens of Scots, was held after his boat ran aground here. The castle is also home to the museum of natural history and the art museum, well worth the entry fee. This city is also a hub for food and drink and Far I Hatten has been voted best beer garden in the city by the drunken feet that stumble out of there. Here they serve up local ingredients on their pizzas (Sundays Only) and their smaller dishes on other days, like the sausage with accessories (Mustard, cabbage etc.) keep belly happy whilst liver processes beer.
Of course part of the reason for even entering these northern lands are to see the lights they provide, the event that is caused by rays of the sun bouncing off atoms in the atmosphere. This can be seen best from Abisko in Sweden’s north, there are tours that set off to there and although it’s quite a hike it is definitely worth seeing once. The southern cities have been able to witness the same great phenomenon but only at very lucky times in the year, keep your eyes on the sky at night or just watch for the people stargazing.
Gothenburg could be more of a family destination with it being home to the largest and most exciting amusement park in the Scandinavian region, Liseberg, well worth the journey to it, especially at Christmas time when its overflowing with cheer, lights and of course beer. They have Europe’s longest dive coaster the Valkyria which drops you straight through the ground and the long Helix that flips spins and twirls you around the park. Plenty of places to eat as well. If amusements are too boring for you and you would prefer to try your Swedish out on some bargaining head to Feskekôrka Fish Market, known to most as the ‘Fish Church’ here you will find all the local produce your bag can take home and the freshest fish known to these ex Vikings. Dine at the tables of Restaurant Gabriel a popular fish restaurant with a daily changing menu, they work in the mornings catch. You can still grab some Swedish classics like fried herring with mash and lingonberries but make sure to leave your gullet open for the catch of the day, little more pricey but none more Swedish than it.
Stockholm is where we’ve all been waiting for. Start with the time of year you wish to visit, if you want the city to your lonesome then head there during the Summer, after July, as all the locals head out to spend time in the villages. First stop is very close to Humlegarden, great garden for somewhere to relax, Sture hof is a restaurant that prides itself on the ability to cater to all types of seafood lovers, they ensure that they stay Swedish by following the seasons and also keep traditional fare on the menu like three sorts of herring or even their famous deep fried langoustines. Next up a bar that has stepped craft beer into a position at the gentlemen’s table, Tweed, here you can book yourself a Chesterfield arm chair and while away the afternoon with one of their 15,000 bottles of wine or sup as much craft beer as your upper class tongue can handle. No way can you leave Stockholm without visiting the Vasa Museum, the ship sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and it took over 300 years to raise it again, a lot of work, so pay your respects to those who brought it back to its glory.
History of Sweden
With Sweden being around since 8000 BC there is a long list of Swedish historical facts, they literally span millennia. In the early stages of this country the inhabitants lived the old ways of hunting and gathering, they delighted in the plentiful fishing opportunities and used stone tools to complete daily tasks. Being the innovative bunch they are now, when the Bronze Age came around they embraced and created although most of this was lost when they moved quickly into the Iron Age. It was around 500 BC when the Swedes started to settle and turn their attention to agriculture.
It was during the Viking age that the population began to prosper beyond its borders. The Swedish alongside Norwegians and the Danes sacked cities across the world. They looted, pillaged, plundered and destroyed villages and cities Europe wide. They started off with smaller advances then around 794 AD moved out into the surrounding countries and further abroad ruling some of them till well into the 11th Century. There was a short stint at the helm of England for some Danes and at one point they almost sacked the jewel of France, Paris.
The end of the Viking rule brought about the foundations of the kingdoms of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Once the fighting with outsiders stopped, the fighting within the ranks started and the three countries warred for land and power for most of the 15 and 1600s. Sweden was the heavy hitter up until its defeat and subsequent retreat around 1721 to where its borders are drawn today.
The 20th Century was a time for Sweden to remake its name to a country of progression and peace. Movements were strong and included the free churches, the temperance and women’s movements and of course the labour movement.
Sweden has had in place a policy of non-alignment since World War I during peacetimes and they strive to stay neutral during wartimes. They have been members of the EU since 1995 and has held the EU presidency twice. They have also won Eurovision 6 times.
Getting to and from Sweden
With a whopping total of over 41 commercially operating airports, Sweden is incredibly accessible by plane. The majority of these airports are domestic for travel within the country. When it comes to the main international airports, that are dotted all over the country, Sweden has 4. By region they are Stockholm – Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN), Stockholm Bromma Airport (BMA), Gothenburg - Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT), Malmö – Sturup Airport (MMX). This means that depending on where you are wanting to visit you should be specific about the ticket you purchase.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) - is situated about 40kms Noth of the capital. It is around a 30 minute drive or a 20 minute train ride. This is the main airport for Sweden handling over 26 million passengers in 2018, 81 airlines fly from there to a total of 180 destinations. Built in 1952 as a support for handling air traffic of the Bromma airport, Arlanda opened its first runway that year, a simple concrete runway due to the economy being in a mild slump. This is now referred to as ‘The Hump Runway’ due to its shape, it’s rarely used. It wasn’t until 1962 that it was officially opened and international flights were moved from Bromma to Arlanda. Today it operates 4 terminals, 2, 3, 4 and 5 which are split into 2 and 5 for international flights, 3 and 4 for domestic flights.
Stockholm Bromma Airport (BMA) – The more central airport of the two. This one is around 10kms west of the city centre which is about an 18 min drive or 20 min train ride. This airport handled just over two and a half million passengers in 2018. Only 4 airlines fly from Bromma to a total of 17 destinations, 4 international and 13 domestic. Being a city location it has only 1 terminal where all check-in, security, departures, arrivals and shopping are located. The following rental car companies operate out of here Europcar, Mabi, Avis, Hertz, Sixt and Budget.
Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT) – On the complete opposite side to Stockholm this west Swedish airport handled close to 7 million passengers in 2018 from 100 destinations. It is a single terminal airport with 20 different gates and one runway. Despite only having 1 runway and terminal it is the second largest airport in Sweden, it was opened in 1977 and has undergone numerous refurbishments to keep up with the growing amount of customers. Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt all operate from beside the multi-story car park.
Sturup Airport (MMX) – Opened in 1972, Sturup airport is a single passenger terminal airport with one runway. It’s located about 30kms east of the coastal city of Malmö. This is about a 28 minute drive from the city centre or a 48 minute train and bus ride. The airport handled over 2 million passengers in 2018 and flights left to over 40 destinations both international and domestic. Popular with film productions due to its space, light and unique environment. Car companies operating from beside the multi-storey carparks are Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Mabi and Sixt.
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