Why Sweden is one of the safest and best Nordic destinations in 2021

22/06/2021 By Frederic Servieres

Why Sweden is one of the safest and best Nordic destinations in 2021  

An Exclusive Interview with Gabriel Dorch, Travel Trade Manager, Visit Sweden      

Unlike most European nations, Sweden has chosen not to impose strict lockdowns measures since the start of the pandemic. What are the current entry conditions for EU and British nationals visiting Sweden this Summer and what sanitary measures are in place to guarantee all visitors' safety. 

Foreign nationals from EU/EEA countries aged 18 or older must present a certificate proving a negative Covid-19 test no more than 48 hours old in order to travel into Sweden. There is a ban on non-essential travel to Sweden from countries outside the EU/EEA. The ban applies to foreign nationals from countries outside the EU/EEA and will remain in effect until 31 August 2021. Certain individuals who have particularly urgent needs or who are going to carry out essential services in Sweden may be exempt.

General advices are in place as sanitary measures to guarantee all visitors' safety. These recommendations are to be followed by everyone, also by those having been vaccinated against Covid-19, those who have antibodies or who can show that they have had the disease. Masks are recommended in public transport during rush hours. Long-haul buses and trains limit the number of passengers to half the seats that are normally available.  

Once in Sweden, can visitors expect most restaurants, bars, museums and attractions to be open? Is there a nationwide curfew or regional measures in place? 

At hotels and restaurants there is a maximum limit of four people at the same table. The service provider has a responsibility to make sure a safe distance can be kept between people. From 1 June, restaurants and other venues can serve food and drink until 22.30 but takeaway of food and non-alcoholic beverages is allowed later than that. The serving of alcohol is permitted until 22.00. 

From 1 June, new limits on the number of participants are in effect. The number of participants allowed depends on whether the event will take place indoors or outdoors, if there is designated seating or not, and the kind of event. 

Shops must calculate the number of visitors so that each person is given ten square meters of space. There should be clear signage of the maximum number of visitors allowed. 

Can British and English speaking visitors expect most services in English and is it true that most places in Sweden no longer accept cash?   

Travellers can leave their phrase books at home when they go to Sweden since most Swedes speak English. Most restaurant, bar and cafés have English menus and museums and attractions have English signs and information. 

Sweden is widely regarded as the most cashless society on the planet. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash; many shops, museums and restaurants now only accept plastic or mobile payments. Most terminals in stores are supporting the use of paying with contactless cards. But no need to worry. Major credit cards (some restriction may apply to American Express) are widely accepted throughout Sweden at banks, hotels, stores, restaurants, taxis, car rental companies, and for air, ship and rail tickets. 

Stockholm, also known as the Venice of the North, boasts a large number of indoor and outdoor attractions, great parks and museums. What would you recommend to visitors who are spending a long weekend in the capital? In your opinion, what are the Must See and Must Do activities over 2 to 3 days?  

Stockholm is known as one of the most inclusive and welcoming cities in the world. Its contemporary, urban appeal is balanced with centuries-old history and closeness to nature. As for the things to do in Stockholm, the list is endless. 

Travellers are never far from nature in Stockholm. The Stockholm archipelago – Sweden’s largest – is a draw for visitors and locals alike. Your clients can take a ferry to one of the islands, such as the idyllic archipelago town of Vaxholm with its village-y feel, defined by wooden houses dating back to the end of the 20th century. Here, your clients will find a range of shops, restaurants and cafés.  

If your clients fancy a spot of nature within walking distance of downtown, I recommend to head for Royal Djurgården – the world’s first national urban park. With a history stretching back to the 15th century, there’s plenty to see and do on this stunning island.  

Travellers enjoy the open spaces and wander among the centuries-old oak trees along the canal. Your clients will be sharing this idyllic country-like setting with deer, hares and many species of rare birds that thrive here. 

Djurgården is also home to a diverse range of major national attractions such as Gröna Lund funfair, The Nordic Museum, Rosendal Palace and Skansen – the world’s oldest open-air museum. There are a number of on-site cafés and restaurants – let your clients travel back in time in taverns like Ulla Winbladh, Villa Godthem and Rosendal or opt for a Swedish fika or a light meal at Café Flickorna Helin, housed within the Skånska gruvan attraction. 

One of most famous and must see atttraction is the Vasa Ship in the Vasa Museum.  This huge and magnificent warship sank in 1628 in Stockholm harbour before the very eyes of the king. Discovered and recovered in the 1960s in almost perfect condition, it takes centre piece inside the vast museum, I also recommend a guided tour of the city Hall to admire the magnificent architecture and the sheer opulence of the rooms where the Nobel prize award ceremonies take place.  

For visitors enjoying a week or more in the Swedish capital, what are the most popular day trip activities in and around Stockholm?  

There are lots of things to do in Stockholm. The city has a vibrant restaurant scene in which Michelin-starred restaurants mingle with more casual but equally delicious options. Make sure your clients try a Swedish fika in one of the city’s excellent cafés.  

There are a number of museums and art galleries in Stockholm. The Vasa Museum is a must if your clients are into history, while the Moderna Museet and Fotografiska are top choices for art lovers. The ABBA Museum is perfect for those who are interested in Swedish pop music history. 

Situated just an hour’s drive away from Stockholm, Dufweholms Manor in idyllic Sörmland, is the perfect get-away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The manor house boasts of beautiful rooms full of character and history, as well as a modern spa overlooking the surrounding lake. Here your clients can relax in the sauna, get a spa treatment or brace the chilly weather for a hot dip in the outside bubble pool. 

Why should tourists add Malmö and Gothenburg to their Must See destinations while visiting Sweden?  

All roads in the gorgeous southern province of Skåne lead to Malmö, Sweden. The perfect blend of old-world charm and ultra-modern cosmopolitan vibes, this seaside city offers something for everyone. 

There is a wide array of hotels, hostels and vacation rentals available throughout Malmö, the third largest city in the country after Stockholm and Gothenburg. The Grand Circus Hotel is arguably one of the most unique sleeping experiences in Malmö, allowing your clients to spend the night in an elaborately decorated circus wagon. Ohboy Hotel in the Västra Hamnen district is another innovative hotel that offers apartment-style duplexes, each room featuring a fully stocked kitchenette, lounge corner and workspace. Sustainability is a central theme at Ohboy, and each room includes a free foldable bike. And for those looking for more traditional accommodation, the four-star MJ’s Hotel is located right in the heart of Old Town. 

Malmö has a wealth of museums, including several in the Malmöhus Castle. A kayaking tour or hiring a pedal boat is also an ideal way to explore the city. As the city is full of shops, restaurants and galleries, simply wandering around the Old Town can become the highlight of your clients’ trip. 

Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden’s second biggest city, combines vibrant urbanity, a friendly vibe and seaside charm. It also has culinary prowess and a world-class craft beer scene. 

There are hotels for every taste and budget in Gothenburg. Five-star Upper House SPA – perched atop Gothia Towers – encompasses a luxury hotel and spa. Rooms and suites are designed in a refined Scandinavian style, and the hotel also houses a restaurant – Upper House Dining. Boutique hotel Flora is located near the historic centre of Gothenburg. The rooms are uniquely designed, mid-century style, by Swedish interior designer Rasmus Larsson. Clarion Hotel Post, located near the central station, also has plenty of character. Set within an old postal office, its rooms are stylishly contemporary. 

Gothenburg offers a host of museums and attractions. The notable Gothenburg Museum of Art boasts Nordic collections dating from the 15th century. Gothenburg Botanical Garden is another must-see - over 16,000 species of plants thrive here. Dubbed the culinary capital of Sweden, Gothenburg currently has five Michelin-star restaurants – including Bhoga, Koka and Thörnströms Kök. And fashionistas and fans of Swedish design will enjoy some retail therapy in the trendy neighbourhood surrounding Magasinsgatan. To get to the heart of the action, your clients should visit Avenyn, the city’s ‘main street’ that serves as a hub of activity – from shopping to dining, theatre to nightlife.   

Beyond the 3 main cities of Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg, what can visitors to Sweden expect when visiting the southern, central and northern parts of the country, away from the large urban areas? It is a well-known fact that Swedes have a love affair with the countryside and are eco-tourism pioneers.   

Sweden set up ‘Nature’s Best’, Europe’s first eco-label that assures the quality of hundreds of tours run by nearly hundred eco-certified tour operators around the country. This means if you book a trip for your clients with one of Nature’s Best tour operators you know that they have to adhere to a strict code of conduct, and you make a positive contribution to the environment where your tour or activity is taking place. Nature’s Best tours, trips and active holidays are the best way to enjoy Sweden’s great outdoors responsibly and to benefit the environment your clients find themselves in, local business, local people and their culture. The range of activities on offer beyond the 3 main cities of Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg is amazing. They include dogsledding in the Arctic Circle, timber-rafting in Värmland, oyster and lobster ‘safaris’ in West Sweden, sea kayaking and a host of others. 

Swedish cuisine is renowned for the quality and freshness of its ingredients. Can you recommend some of the most famous dishes and sweet treats? 

Sweden is a large country with varied geography and climate, which has given rise to a wonderfully diverse food culture. Traditional Swedish cuisine is geared towards sustainability and high-quality local produce. Travelling from south to north, your clients will discover many different types of food, all worth trying for their unique character alone. Delicious beef and pork meat balls, venison, open sandwiches topped with fresh prawns, herring, salmon, mussels, oysters and mouthwatering pastries are among some of the most popular foods.  

The west coast of Sweden is known for its fresh fish and seafood, and it’s easy to see why it’s celebrated as a culinary hotspot – top class restaurants, chefs and food producers thrive in this picturesque part of Sweden. The region’s seafood experts are more than happy to welcome your clients into their world. Why not offering your clients to join a lobster or mussel safari, touring the seafood-rich waters around the Bohuslän archipelago accompanied by a local fisherman? With expert help at hand, your clients will get to harvest oysters and mussels – or any other type of seafood that takes your fancy – before sampling their mouth-watering catch. 

Fika, the delightful custom of enjoying a coffee and a treat with friends, is as Swedish as ABBA. Swedish people of all ages and genders are partial to the custom, enjoying it casually at work with colleagues or opting for a more elaborate outing with friends at the weekend. The treats typically include blueberry tart with vanilla cream and cinnamon buns.  If your clients fancy trying as many different Swedish cafés as possible within a tight radius, Alingsås is the place to visit, the so-called “capital of fika”. In this cosy town – located in Västra Götaland county, a 45-minute train ride northeast of Gothenburg – there are some 30 cafés to discover. Café Viola is one example. Opened in 1899, it’s the oldest café in town. Your clients have to try its famous meatball sandwich; it’s as Swedish as it gets. Or, offer your clients to discover several of the town’s most popular fika spots on the caffeine-fuelled Fika Tour.  

What is the Best Time of the year to visit Sweden? Are Winters a little too cold for a city break?  

Sweden is one of maybe a handful of countries and locations that still enjoys defined seasons. With snowy winters, a short but delicate spring, bright summers under the midnight sun and gorgeous colours to enjoy during the autumn, there isn’t a bad time of year to visit Sweden. The most pressing question for you is, what do your clients want to see and do in Sweden? Their choice of activity will govern the time of year that is most favorable for their trip. 

A popular time of the year to visit, Winter in Sweden lasts from November to February. If your clients are looking for a magical winter wonderland, these are the months to visit. Typically, the most snow falls in December and January, but we frequently see additional snowfall in February. In the northernmost part of the country, it can snow up until April. It can get as cold as -30 Celsius above the arctic circle and has been known to get to -10 Celsius in and around Stockholm but fear not as the cold is a crisp and dry sensation thanks to very low humidity in the air. Tell your clients to pack warm clothes, or plan to buy some when they arrive. Although the coastal areas are somewhat milder, it can get very windy so it’s also worthwhile ensuring your clients have windproof coats with them. 

How would you sum up, in a sentence, what British and European travellers can expect while visiting your beautiful country in 2021 and why there has never been a better time to come to Sweden?  

If your clients are looking for a holiday which is not only unique and exciting but is also environmentally friendly and has a positive and lasting impact on the communities that they visit, then a trip to Sweden is perfect for them.  A perfect example is our Drinkable Country Initiative launched this June, with Sweden’s beverage experts.   

To learn more about Sweden, become a qualified agent to sell this amazing destination or simply refresh your skills and knowledge, click here to start the OTT Course  of visit the official Visit Sweden website.   

Author: Frederic Servieres (4 posts) 

Frederic was raised in Paris and in the UK, where he graduated from the University of London with a bachelor degree in history and politics. He has 15 years of experience in the travel industry, focusing on business development, feasibility studies and market expansion. He has travelled all over the world, combining his passion for new thrills with his love of food. languages and literature.He is currently responsible for the expansion of OTT in French speaking markets.