Helping you plan your vacation to Sweden
Sweden is a land of great culture and tradition, and we get to experience it on our tours to this exquisite country. In the capital city, Stockholm, we see Drottningholm Palace and its lavish gardens, as well as Skogskyrkogården, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stockholm is also the base of the Museum of Modern Art, which houses works by some of the most iconic artists throughout history, including Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso.
Of course, no trip to Sweden would be complete without a chance to see the beautiful Aura Borealis - the Northern Lights. These dancing spectacles are best seen in Scandinavia thanks to its lack of light pollution, meaning you can get an unimpeded view of the night sky as it comes alive with flickering ribbons of green, blue, and sometimes purple.
It's impossible to mention the music of Sweden without mentioning ABBA. This Swedish band shot to worldwide fame after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Since then, they have become one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of music, selling hundreds of millions of records and inspiring a Broadway musical and a film. Today, people of all ages know the songs of ABBA, including 'Dancing Queen', 'Waterloo', and of course, 'Mamma Mia'.
Sweden is also notable in Academia, being the homeland of Alfred Nobel, and therefore the Nobel Prize. The prizes for Chemistry, Literature, Physics, Economics and Medicine have been awarded in Stockholm, Sweden since 1901, when the awards first commenced, and over 900 Laureates have been created as a result. The Nobel Peace Prize, although created by Alfred Nobel, is awarded in Norway.
Visit the Sami people, a tribe who has no borders, and experience first-hand how they have managed to survive in the harsh Scandinavian climate, as well as hear the folk stories that have passed down through the generations. We also experience Sami dinners, and visit a reindeer herd.
Sweden's highly-efficient rail network spans the entire country, and some of the most modern trains in Europe ensure that a rail tour of Sweden is easily the most comfortable and relaxing way to enjoy the best views of landscapes which feature magnificent fjords and cascading waterfalls, dense forests, dramatic cliffs and grassy mountain meadows.
Helping you plan your vacation to Sweden
The food served in Sweden is, quite literally, a smörgåsbord. This is usually a buffet of delicious traditional Swedish foods, which include various breads, butters and cheeses, as well as fish dishes. Because Sweden is a mainly seafaring nation, fish makes up quite a large part of the diet, with delicious cold fish including pickeled herring, eel, and salmon, often served with a side of sauerkraut, potatoes, or even berries.
If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you may also attempt to try the sour herring, or Surstömming, which is a fermented 16th century delicacy. This snack is so infamous because of the awful smell, it was nearly banned completely in the 1940's, and is completely banned on a few airlines.
Swedes have a sweet tooth and favourite snacks and desserts include cinnamon buns, and the vibrant green Prinsesstårta (princess cake); a sponge layered with jam, vanilla custard and whipped cream and carefully wrapped in a thin skin of green marzipan.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Sweden isn't as cold as you might think. The summers are usually between 55 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit, so light layers with light waterproofs will suffice. The days in summer can average 19 hours long, but in the evenings it can get cooler so remember to bring warm clothes.
The winters are extremely cold, and temperatures can drop to -22 °F in the coldest month, February. In the winter, the average day length is 6 hours, and at night it can get bitterly cold. Thick woollens and waterproof clothing is recommended during this time.
The official language of Sweden is Swedish. Some useful words and phrases to know are 'hello', which is hej (hey), and 'goodbye' - Hej då (hey doh). Tack is used for 'please' (if said at the end of the sentence) and 'thank you'. For cheers, say 'skål' (skawl).
In a restaurant, the tip is usually added to the bill. You may tip other services, but it is not expected.
The accents in England are broad and varied, and can change dramatically within very few miles. There are around 30 distinct accents in England, that range from Cockney in London, to Geordie in the North East, and every accent comes with a different colloquial vocabulary.
England is a fairly reserved country, and the social culture rests upon politeness, good manners, and a sense of fair play. Mentioning anything about the weather is a good way to spark a conversation, but the English also have an excellent, if very particular, sense of humor.