Driven by flight shame (Flight shame) trend to change from short-haul flights to trains, Swedish train travel flourished before the pandemic. Now that the travel restrictions have been lifted all over Scandinavia, it is the perfect time to discover the joy of Sweden’s railways yourself.
Despite the reduced demand for domestic flights, Sweden still has many small regional airports. Even if it saves time to fly around Sweden, it is often an expensive alternative.
If you are not in a hurry, the train is an affordable travel option if you want to see Sweden on a budget, especially between the cities.
The centerpiece of Sweden’s 9,324 km long national railway network is the high-speed lines that connect the major cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö several times a day.
Traveling between the two major cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg takes just over three hours. It’s about an hour faster than driving a car and usually faster than flying when you take into account the travel time to and from the airport and the waiting time at the gate.
In addition to the major intercity lines, there are plenty of other lines of interest to tourists as well. Here are some of the most notable, from the sunny south to the arctic north.
Stockholm and eastern Sweden
The capital is the starting point for most travelers, but your train experience does not have to start here. There are direct connections to Stockholm from Copenhagen in Denmark and Oslo in Norway.
Sweden’s busiest railway lines start in Stockholm, including the Södra stambanan to Malmö via Linköping and Norrköping. There are plenty of day trips on the rails as well, such as the historic university city of Uppsala with its magnificent 13th century cathedral.
Malmö and southern Sweden
From Malmö, it is easy to visit the Danish capital Copenhagen on a day trip thanks to the Öresund Line which crosses the iconic Öresund Bridge. By train, the two city centers are only 40 minutes apart.
Other routes of interest to tourists in southern Sweden include Malmö to Helsingborg and Malmö to Ystad, the southern coastal city that is a must for fans of the fictional Swedish detective Wallander.
Gothenburg and Western Sweden
The Gothenburg area is well served by train, including a direct connection from Oslo, Norway. Important routes within the region include the route to the border town of Strömstad, which is a popular summer destination and has direct ferries to the islands Kosterhavet, Sweden’s first marine national park.
Elsewhere in the region, the Kinnekulle line was named Sweden’s best railway line by passengers from the state train operator SJ. The stretch Lidköping to Mariestad offers views of Kinnekulle and Lake Vänern.
From Central Sweden to the Arctic
To see the real Sweden, consider a journey of 800 km long Inlandsbanan which cuts through the heart of the country from Kristinehamn in central Sweden to Gällivare in the north, beyond the Arctic Circle.
While individual seats can be booked for single journeys just like any other train, the service offers summer package deals aimed at tourists. A 6-day trip including five nights at a hotel, entry to various attractions along the route and a host on board starts at $ 860.
However, the journey does not have to end there. From Kiruna there is a fantastic route all the way to Narvik on the Norwegian coast. The landscape includes mountains and the vast lake Torneträsk before the exciting descent down to Ofotfjorden.
Wherever you plan to travel, book tickets at least a week in advance for the best deals. Just like traveling by train in Norway, daily prices are much higher. Timetables and prices are available from sj.se.