Sweden is an excellent location for a vacation. Its largest cities, Stockholm and Gothenburg, are rich in culture, history, and scenery alike. One moment, you can be browsing shops in the middle of an urban city centre, the next you can be strolling along an idyllic waterfront street. Both cities have a bustling nightlife, and yet both are incredibly quiet and relaxing places to be. With their friendly, laid-back disposition, the Swedish are fun and calming people to be around, and they are always willing to offer help to tourists looking for directions.

If you’re planning to travel to Sweden, there are a few tips and tricks that you should keep in mind to make your holiday as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. Here’s a look at what to expect and plan for.

Brush Up on Your Swedish Language Basics

Although a great percentage of the Swedish population does speak English, there are still many people who do not. There are also many signs in places like the airport and train stations that will not necessarily be translated. Before you travel to Sweden, pick up a phrase book that will help you with the basics, especially things like greetings, how to ask for things, and the essentials of making a purchase in a store. Here are a couple of words and phrases to get you started:

Hello = Hej (pronounced ‘hay’)
Goodbye = Hej då (‘hay doa’)
Yes = Ja (‘ya’)
No = Nej (‘nay’)
Excuse Me = Ursäkta (‘ur-sheck-ta’)
Where is… = Var ligger (‘var lih-gur’)
Please = Snälla (‘snel-la’)
Thank you = Tack (‘tak’)

Be Prepared to Spend on Accommodation and Travel, Save with Early Booking

The only downside of traveling to Sweden is that it is an expensive city to visit. Hotels in Sweden can be appallingly expensive for even the most basic of accommodation. A bed in a dormitory-style hostel can cost anywhere from £20-50 ($30-80 USD/CAD) or more. Your best bet for finding cheap hotels in Sweden is to browse websites like Expedia or Travelocity, which often offer special deals for online bookings.

The public transportation in both Stockholm and Gothenburg is highly efficient – both cities have trains, buses, and trams. Do not hesitate to book a hotel room that is located in the suburbs of the city you are staying in, rather than right in the city centre. This will help you save a lot of money on your accommodation costs, without the expected downside of losing a lot of time on transportation.

Despite the efficiency of transportation in Sweden (or perhaps because of it), traveling between cities can be very expensive. Make sure that you do your research before you arrive to ensure that you get the cheapest travel deal available. While there are both buses and trains between Sweden’s main cities, it can sometimes be the case that flights to Stockholm and Gothenburg are cheaper than travel by land. Comparison shop online and find out what will work best and save you the most.

Invest in a City Card, Warm Clothing When Traveling to Sweden

Another big money-saver during a trip to Sweden is a city card, like the Gothenburg Pass or the Stockholm card. These can usually be purchased at central station or at a tourist information booth. The cards have varying time validities (ex. 24 hours, 48 hours, and so on) and get you discounts and/or free admission to a number of museums and attractions in Stockholm or Gothenburg, as well as allowing you to use any form of public transit. If you plan on visiting lots of museums, find out where you can sign up for a city card as soon as you land in Sweden – in most cases, it will pay for itself in a matter of hours.

Finally, being as far North and surrounded by water as it is, Sweden can feel chilly, even in the summer months. Make sure that you bring layers to wear on cooler days and when you are on the water (as you may very well be in Stockholm, where traveling by boat can be quicker than on land).