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What you need to know about travelling in Sweden this Christmas

The Local Sweden
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What you need to know about travelling in Sweden this Christmas
Trains from Malmö to Denmark were cancelled on Thursday evening. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Christmas is one of the busiest times for travel in Sweden, whether you're travelling by air, road or rail. Here's the latest on how to travel safely and where you might face delayed trains or ugly traffic jams.



Travelling by rail

Swedes celebrate Christmas on December 24th, meaning many people will be travelling to family on Friday December 22nd, the day schools close, and Saturday December 23rd.

If you don’t need to travel far and you want to save some money, tickets are usually cheaper on the morning of the 24th.

There are some cancellations to be aware of over the Christmas period (we're not listing weather-related cancellations below).

If you’re travelling in the far north of Sweden, specifically the Kiruna-Riksgränsen route, trains are not running at all due to a derailment at Vassijaure, which has caused damage to the line. This is expected to be fixed in early January and replacement buses are running.

Some X2000 trains between Stockholm and Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg, Gothenburg and Malmö and Stockholm and Västerås have also been cancelled between December 19th and 22nd. This is due to a lack of trains after a technical issue with a wheel on one train on December 14th led SJ, who own the trains, to bring the entire fleet in for inspection. 

"It's one departure per route and direction each day, so it's a small amount when put into context," a press spokesperson told the TT news agency.


There are also some planned engineering works. The main routes which may be affected are as follows:

Malmö-Copenhagen: Some trains cancelled until January 1st. This will also affect people heading to or from Copenhagen airport in that time period.

Gothenburg-Kungsbacka-Malmö: Some trains replaced by buses for all or part of the route until July 12th.

Mälarbanan: Trains replaced with buses and underground trains on Sundays between 2am and 8.25am due to expansion of the line.

Värmlandsbanan, Degerfors-Kil-Charlottenberg: Ongoing engineering works until 2024. Contact your train company for more information.

Gothenburg-Strömstad: Trains cancelled on all or part of the route until May 2024. Replacement buses are running, and some trains are running via Trollhättan instead. Expect longer journey times.


You can check the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) for information on planned engineering works, but it’s best to check with the relevant train company for information on specific departures.

The Christmas holidays are the busiest time for train travel in Sweden, so it’s a good idea to plan for delays and cancellations, if you can.

“We encourage everyone to pay attention to our app and website,” another SJ spokesperson told TT.

“If you’re looking to buy a ticket and need to arrive at a specific time which is very important, it’s a good idea to travel with good margins.”

Travelling by road 

The Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark may close overnight on Thursday due to strong winds. You can check here to see if the bridge is open.

Unlike last year, where most schools and workplaces closed for Christmas on Friday 23rd, just a day before Christmas Eve, the roads are likely to be less crowded, as people will be travelling on both the 22nd and the 23rd.

The busiest part of the Swedish road network is likely to be the E4 that runs between Helsingborg via Jönköping and Stockholm, Uppsala, Gävle and Sundsvall. Other holiday traffic hotspots are road 40 between Gothenburg and Borås and the E22 from Norrköping to Kalmar.

It's worth remembering too that the E6 is still closed at Stenungsund north of Gothenburg after a huge landslide earlier this year. It's still unclear when it will be reopened. This road connects Gothenburg and Norway, so there may be queues as traffic is rerouted via smaller roads.

Unlike over the Easter weekend, Trafikverket tends not to carry out major roadworks over the Christmas period, as it is too cold for some jobs and also a time when road workers are on holiday. This means any disruptions are likely to be weather-related. 


You can keep up to date with road closures on Trafikverket’s website here (the symbol of a yellow circle with a red outline means a road is closed, while the yellow triangle with an exclamation mark inside means some sort of traffic alert).

If you are driving on icy or snowy roads, drive slowly, keep a significant distance between you and the car in front, and avoid breaking or turning abruptly. Even if there is no visible ice or snow, be aware that there may be icy patches in shady areas. 

You should also make sure you have winter tyres (and even a chain, if driving in the far north). You should pack blankets or warm clothing in case you get stuck or break down. It's useful to have a motorvärmare, or block heater, which you can plug into your engine to warm it up so it starts in freezing conditions.

And of course you need to have an isskrapa, or ice scraper, ideally one with a brush if it's snowy (a debit card will get rid of the ice in emergencies but it might not work again afterwards).


Travelling by air

It's worth arriving at the airport in time and making sure you’re prepared so you can get through security and check-in as quickly as possible, and in the event of any delays.

State-owned Swedavia, which operates ten Swedish airports, advises on its website that passengers arrive at the airport in time (a minimum of two hours before departure for flights within Europe and three hours before departure for those outside Europe), and check in online from home or at a self-service machine in the airport.

Be aware that if you have odd-sized baggage, you’ll need to factor in extra time as you’ll have to visit a manned desk to check in your baggage.

They also advise travellers to pack wrapped Christmas presents and any food or liquids in checked baggage, so it won’t need to be unwrapped and investigated or thrown away when you go through security.


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