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
• Advice on deciding between first and second class
• Fare-estimate maps outside Scandinavia
• Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Scandinavia Eurail Pass (4 countries)
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.
- Tallink-Silja Line and Viking Line overnight ferries between Stockholm and either Turku/Helsinki, Tallinn, or Riga offer discounts on ferry tickets with any rail pass that covers Sweden (or Finland, for Turku/Helsinki ferries; these discounts do not use up a travel day on your rail pass). For Tallink-Silja ferries, your rail pass grants you a 20–50 percent discount on trips booked in cabin categories A, B, or C (bookable online with code "Eurail"; ferry tickets for just deck passage, sans sleeping cabin, aren't an option on this route). On Viking ferries (Stockholm–Turku/Helsinki only), your pass gets you a 50 percent discount just on the deck-passage ticket price, and cabin accommodation costs extra (and passholder tickets for Viking Line ferries can only be booked over the phone, or in person once in Scandinavia). Note that, on either of these ferry lines, passengers under 21 must either travel with a parent or an official parent-consent form.
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. Keep in mind that in Sweden kids generally ride for half the adult fare, and kids under 7 ride for free (but 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.