Discover Sweden by train – scenic views and climate-friendly travel
Travel by train in Sweden to explore the country in all its vastness – while enjoying breathtaking views from the comfort of your seat. Whether you dream of hiking under the Midnight Sun in Swedish Lapland, or fancy exploring Sweden’s smaller cities as part of a round trip, climb aboard and discover Sweden by rail.
As in Europe, train travel is enjoying a revival in Sweden, and Swedish train operators are meeting the growing interest in sustainable travel by offering a variety of rail holidays and routes. From business commuters riding the high-speed trains between Sweden’s major cities to families boarding the seven-hour Snälltåget sleeper to Åre, more and more Swedes are choosing to travel by train in Sweden. On a route like the Stockholm-Gothenburg express, rail travel may even be more time-efficient than driving or flying and is kinder to the environment, as well as stress-free. No need to keep your eye on the road or queue at airport check-ins – just sit back and take in the views while your train weaves its way through Sweden’s beautiful scenery.
Snälltåget runs from Germany to Sweden. In Sweden, the train company operates several routes, including Malmö, Stockholm and Åre.
How to do Sweden by rail
First of all, you need to get here. The best part? It’s never been easier to take the train to Sweden: Hop on the morning Eurostar in London, change in Brussels and take one of the sleepers that SJ and Snälltåget run from Hamburg – and Berlin during the summer months. You’ll wake up in Stockholm 18 hours later, refreshed and ready to explore the city or embark on a new rail adventure in Sweden.
Sweden’s rail network
Sweden’s rail network covers swathes of the country, all served by different rail companies: Sweden’s national rail company SJ, Snälltåget, Vy and Inlandsbanan operate nationally and internationally. MTRX and FlixTrain operate between Stockholm and Gothenburg. Buy your tickets on each train operator's website or in the station before travelling – keep in mind that tickets cannot be purchased on board. Even if your route is operated by another train company, it’s worth checking the SJ site for an overview of rail routes and destinations.
Trains in Sweden range from SJ’s tilting Express trains (X2000 and X3000) and overnight sleeper trains – courtesy of SJ, Snälltåget and Vy – to rural railway lines like Inlandsbanan. Although wheelchair places can be booked on almost all SJ trains, accessible travel can vary according to train company, it’s best to check ahead.
Ticket discounts and rail passes in Sweden
Tickets are discounted for those under 26 and over 65, with children under 15 often travelling free, depending on the rail company and trip. To get the best prices, be sure to book in advance.
If you want the freedom to hop on and off trains and explore more of the country, opt for a Eurail or Interrail pass – exclusively for international travellers. SJ also sells a rail pass during the summer season – travel to Oslo and Copenhagen is included too – to both Swedish and international travellers.
FAQ travel by train
Travel by train
Travelling by train is one of the most sustainable ways to travel.
Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se
Discover Sweden at your own pace
Two of Sweden’s most popular train routes are the Malmö-Stockholm and Stockholm-Gothenburg lines. Although most Swedes travelling for a city break in Gothenburg will take an express train, it’s well worth exploring the stops en route on a slower train. First though, be sure you have a valid train pass or purchase separate tickets if you want to hop on and off.
Gems on the Stockholm-Gothenburg route
An hour outside Stockholm, alight at Västerås in Västmanland county, a cultural and nature hotspot on the banks of Lake Mälaren. Go wild swimming or drop by Västerås’s fine art museum before getting back on the train. Other route highlights are Örebro – dating back to medieval times, with a wonderful castle – and Kumla, an idyllic little town. Swedish fika lovers will want to stop off at White-Guide listed Alingsås – fondly referred to as the “fika capital of Sweden” – just one stop before Gothenburg. If you’re an experienced hiker and feeling up to it, consider walking some of the 71-kilometre-long Alingsås-Gothenburg hike on Sweden’s famous Gotaleden Trail.
Highlights on the Stockholm-Malmö route
The Stockholm-Malmö train route also boasts a few gems on the way, such as Norrköping in Östergötland, known for its beautifully preserved 19th century industrial heritage buildings. Next, alight in Linköping – visit Linköping’s open-air museum and step back in time to experience Swedish country life a hundred years ago.
Want to do something more active? Get off in Alvesta, Småland and rent a bicycle – do part of the Åsnen Loop (Åsnen Runt), a 140-kilometre cycling trail that goes through Åsnen National Park and around Lake Åsnen.
Beyond the Arctic Circle – Sweden’s epic train journeys
To experience Sweden’s nature at its most impressive and remote, journey north and take the train beyond the Arctic Circle. Two classic train routes serving these far-flung parts include the year-round Stockholm-Luleå-Narvik sleeper train – fondly dubbed the Arctic Circle train – and the Inlandsbanan line, a rural railway that traverses through Sweden’s inland. Covering the distance from Mora in middle Sweden to Gällivare in Swedish Lapland, Inlandsbanan joins the historic Iron Ore line (Malmbanan) that continues to Kiruna and Abisko.
The Arctic Circle sleeper – Stockholm-Luleå-Narvik
Vy currently runs the Arctic Circle sleeper train that goes via Umeå and Luleå where it changes to the Iron Ore line (Malmbanan), continuing the rest of the journey to Narvik in Norway. Look forward to a 19-hour rail trip that takes you through some of Sweden’s most spectacular and unforgettable nature. Fall asleep in Stockholm and wake up to breathtaking vistas outside Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. Glide past Sweden’s majestic Lake Torneträsk and gaze in wonder at Abisko National Park, one of Sweden’s most stunning national parks. By now, you’re probably glued to the window in awe, so don’t forget to get off at Abisko Turiststation, especially if you’re visiting during the Northern Lights season (early September to late March). Famous for being one of the best places in the world to catch the Northern Lights, Abisko is an equally stunning destination for hiking or cycling holidays under the Midnight Sun (end of May to mid July).
Inlandsbanan – Sweden’s backcountry rail route in summer
Inlandsbanan offers a unique way to discover Sweden’s backcountry – a 1,200-kilometre long route past stunning nature and picturesque towns, all great starting points for hiking and kayaking holidays. Buy Inlandbanan’s 14-day pass if you don’t already have a Eurail or Interrail pass, and you’ll be free to make your own itinerary. Inlandsbanan also offers package rail holidays that include overnight hotel stays and sightseeing stopovers.
Keep an eye out for Inlandbanan’s once-a-year heritage railway tour on the Wilderness Train (Vildmarkståget), a seven-day round trip from Stockholm to Örnsköldsvik via Kiruna, Gällivare and Narvik, Norway. Travel in vintage carriages from the 1940s-1960s, with meals served in a white-tablecloth dining carriage.
Short and scenic – day trips by train
Looking for shorter day trips that are easy to reach from the Gothenburg region? Two rail routes that rank highly on Swedes’ must-do train trips are the Huskvarna-Jönköping-Bankeryd route in Småland and the Kinnekullebanan train line between Mariestad and Lidköping.
Lakeside views on the Huskvarna-Jönköping-Bankeryd route
One of Sweden’s most scenic – and much loved – rail routes is the Huskvarna-Jönköping-Bankeryd route in Småland. Running on the local Jönköpingsbanan railway line, it’s only 17 minutes long, but packs in some great scenery. Hugging the shores of Lake Vättern, this delightful train ride offers uninterrupted, peaceful views of the water, so don’t miss it if you’re in Jönköping – one of Sweden’s hidden gems and well worth a visit in itself. Coming from Gothenburg? Take a two-hour train to Huskvarna to join this charming route.
The Kinnekullebanan line – scenic hikes and train station nostalgia
Another popular train excursion is the one-hour Mariestad-Lidköping route via Kinnekulle on the local Kinnekulletåget train line, past Lake Vänern and several picturesque 19th century Swedish train stations. You’ll definitely want to get off and explore the many cultural sights or hiking trails on the way – Kinnekulle Trail (Kinnekulleleden) and the Pilgrim’s Trail (Pilgrimsleden) go through here – so it really makes sense to buy a three-day pass.
Whichever rail trips you decide to embark on, travelling by train in Sweden is not only efficient and relaxing – it’s a great way to see more of the country and experience it at your own pace.