Sweden's Tourism Industry

Sweden offers vast contrasts. From bustling cosmopolitan cities to the remote wilderness of the Arctic, the country appeals to a wide array of travellers. An excellent road, sea, air and rail transportation network links almost every corner of the country. Whether looking for world class shopping or adventure and thrills amidst unrivalled natural beauty, Sweden has become a premier tourist destination in Europe. In fact, tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in Sweden according to the Swedish Institute.

Tourism Facts

Although a growing sector, tourism in Sweden remains a small part of the economy. In 2011, tourism accounted for just 2.9% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to Tillväxtverket, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. During the same year the sector brought in SEK 264 billion, of which SEK 98.8 billion was from foreign visitor expenditure in the country.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Sweden had over 10.9 million international arrivals in 2012. In 2010, this figure was just over 4.9 million. Most visitors to the country are from neighbouring nations, including Denmark, Norway and Finland. Germany and the United Kingdom are also significant markets for Sweden's tourism sector. According to Eurostat, Stockholm was Sweden's most popular destination for non-residents with 30% of all international visitors spending their time in 2011. The region Västsverige, home of Gotenburg, was the top destination of choice for residents of Sweden.

Destinations and Attractions

Nature tourism remains one of Sweden's main attractions and activities. Much of the country is dominated by forests of pine, spruce, birch and other coniferous and deciduous trees. Long coasts and countless lakes offer remarkable settings for a holiday experiencing and exploring the outdoors. Spectacular natural settings and pristine wilderness attract visitors from around the world. One of the most unique destinations in the country is Lapland, the land of the midnight sun and the northern lights. The region has almost a mythical place in the hearts of travellers. Despite the chill of the Arctic air, Lapland's rich cultural heritage and welcoming people make it an unforgettable experience.

A popular destination for Swedes, Gotland is the country's largest island. Situated in the Baltic Sea, the island is home to the walled town of Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island also has over 90 medieval churches, stunning rock formations along the coast, and a large medieval festival every August. To the north, Kungsleden is a popular hiking destination. The 430-kilometre trial links Abisko and Hemavan with spots for kayaking, climbing, camping and boating. Sport enthusiasts will also appreciate a visit to Åre, a renowned ski resort close to Östersund. With some 100 runs and over 40 lifts, the area is the one of Sweden's largest ski and snowboard destination.

In addition to its natural heritage and wonders, Sweden's culture and history also attracts visitors from around the globe. The home of the world famous ABBA, the country's art, literature and music, as well as an established modernism movement, draw millions of tourists each year. Spread across 14 islands, Stockholm offers visitors a taste of everything. A historic city and the political centre of the country, this multicultural city features top museums, stunning architecture, savoury restaurants and leading fashions. The city is home to some of Sweden's most popular attractions, including an enchanting Old Town and the Vasa Museum. It is also where visitors will find the home of the nation's Royal Family and parliament.

Outside Stockholm, the cities of Gothenburg and Malmö are also popular destinations for domestic and international travellers. Situated on the western coast of Sweden, Gothenburg has a youthful atmosphere with a thriving entertainment scene. The country's second largest city, Gothenburg's highlights include the largest university in Scandinavia, picturesque 19th century wooden houses, a lively nightlife, and Scandinavia's largest amusement park. To the south, Malmö is an industrial city with a cosmopolitan charm. The multicultural city is linked to Denmark and Copenhagen by the Öresund Bridge, providing a direct link between Northern and Western Europe.