By Rick Steves
Are rail passes a good value for Sweden?
Rail passes are usually a great value in Sweden, often saving money over otherwise-expensive tickets while allowing you to hop trains at your convenience (though some longer-distance trains do require reservations).
How do I see whether a rail pass makes sense for my trip in particular?
Use this map to add up approximate pay-as-you-go fares for your itinerary, and compare that cost to the price of a rail pass for the number of days you expect to spend on the train. Dotted lines show ferry routes, some of which are discounted if you have a rail pass. Dashed lines show bus connections, which aren't covered by rail passes. Also, follow the links below for:
- More tips for figuring out whether a pass makes sense for your trip
- The basics on choosing among rail passes
- More tips on how to save money by fine-tuning your rail pass
- Fare-estimate maps outside Scandinavia
- Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Choose one of the passes below to check prices and to buy your pass (orders are fulfilled by Rail Europe).
Extra tip: The Scandinavia Eurail Pass covers all four countries in this region and is cheaper than a Eurail Select Pass covering these same countries.
Any advice for deciding between first and second class?
In Sweden, as in the rest of Scandinavia, second-class seating offers the same comfort as first-class seating on southern-European trains. And if you're getting a rail pass, the decision may be made for you: Scandinavia Eurail Passes, as well as Norway–Sweden Eurail Passes, are only available in second class. With the Eurail Select and Eurail Global passes, however, travelers 26 or older can only use a first-class pass.
With other passes you've got a choice: Single-country Sweden passes, as well as two-country Denmark–Sweden and Finland–Sweden passes, offer both first and second-class options to any age of traveler. See our general advice for deciding between first and second class.
You'll need seat reservations ($5–20) for many long rides and express trains, such as the "SJ-HIghspeed" class of trains, as indicated in online train schedules. Some reservations aren't available outside Europe, but they don't generally sell out terribly far in advance. Private and shared sleepers on night trains are both available with second-class rail passes.
What do rail passes cover in Sweden?
Nearly all trains within Sweden (including most privately operated lines), as well as the following extras:
- Any rail pass that covers Sweden also covers direct, Swedish-run (SJ) trains to/from Oslo or Copenhagen.
- On international ferries where the train actually goes on the ferry, e.g. to Denmark, a rail pass includes the trip as long as it covers both countries.
- Silja Line and Viking Line overnight ferries between Stockholm and Turku/Helsinki offer 20–40 percent off ferry tickets with any rail pass that covers Sweden or Finland, though cabin accommodation costs extra (discount does not use up a travel day, passengers under 21 not allowed without parent or official parent consent form; reserve directly with ferry companies once in Scandinavia).
- Passes also grant free or discounted travel on a few less-popular bus and ferry routes (as described here).
If a rail pass doesn't pencil out for your trip, you may be able to shave off the cost of your train tickets with some local deals. For example, up to two kids ages 4–15 travel free with each ticket-buying adult on most Swedish trains (though not the SJ-Highspeed); otherwise kids generally ride for half the adult fare (and keep in mind that child-ticket deals vary across neighboring countries).
If buying tickets through the Swedish railway's site, you'll notice a big difference between fare choices: "Non-rebookable" (cheapest, and often sell out in advance), "Rebookable" (these are the rates shown on our train-fare map above), and "Refundable" (much higher fare, but unrestricted). Also, see our general tips for buying point-to-point tickets.
Sweden Rail Passes: Key Details
Single-country Sweden Eurail Pass: Valid for one month, not two, after you've activated the pass (whereas multi-country Eurail-brand passes offer a two-month window of travel).