Getting a bike
If you’re a keen cyclist back home you might want to bring your own wheels with you. The easiest option is to fly your bike to Sweden, but you’ll probably have to pay a hefty fee – and most airlines also impose weight limits.
You may need to pack your bike in a bag or box. Check with your airline as they might have oversized plastic luggage bags available at the airport. Another money-saving tip is to call a few bike shops in your area – they’ll often have empty shipping boxes lying around.
When you get to the airport, be sure to check your bike in before you hand over the rest of your luggage. It’s handy to have wrenches and/or allen keys with you, just in case they ask you to make another adjustment or open things up for inspection.
Planning a route
Google Maps is a good starting point when planning a bike route. If you’re tackling longer distances and want to stick to scenic trails, then the maps published by the Swedish Cycling Society are also worth a look (try any good book shop in Sweden).
A proper touring bike will help on longer trips, but loads of people happily cycle through Sweden with less-advanced bikes. You’ll find repair shops in most towns and cities, but if you’re heading out into the countryside you’ll want to pack a few tools – the distances between villages can be huge. It’s also a good idea to take a mobile phone with you in case you get stuck.
Using public transport
You can’t usually take your bike on public transport in Sweden but there are exceptions – bikes are allowed on Öresundståg trains in southern Sweden, for instance, and on some rural bus routes.
Five fun ideas for cycling holidays in Sweden
Off Sweden’s east coast and connected to the mainland with a bridge, Öland is small enough to be easily navigable, and yet big enough to still be interesting.
The island is very flat and chock-full of bike paths, which makes it ideal for family biking trips. Detailed cycling maps are available from rental shops and tourist information offices. Buses from Kalmar to the island have bike racks, but there are also plenty of rental shops on the island.
Make new friends… and get free sleeps
A free place to stay anywhere in the country, plus the chance to make new friends? Sounds good, eh?
Warmshowers is to touring cyclists what Couchsurfing is to backpackers. The website has a clickable map with hundreds of cycling-enthusiast hosts across Sweden, ready to lend a couch, a bed, or a backyard camping spot. They can usually provide you with bike tools, advice on routes, and, yes – a warm shower.
Hosts are often sympathetic to the last-minute changes of plans that sometimes accompany cycling trips. Another great thing is that, if you like bikes and cycling, you’ll always have something in common with your hosts.
Hill-free cycling in southern Sweden
The southern region of Skåne is Sweden’s most bike friendly destination. It’s as flat as a pancake and the area’s biggest city, Malmö, has taken plenty of inspiration from bike-mad Copenhagen. Recently ranked at number six on the Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle-Friendly Cities, Malmö is temperate, modern and multicultural.
As a bonus there are great beaches and coastal routes nearby, and the cities of Landskrona and Lund are perfect for cycling day trips. Helsingborg and Ystad are also within a day’s cycling. If you fancy a change of scenery, ferries in Ystad and Trelleborg will bring you to several ports in Germany and Poland.