Tourism in Sweden

Tourism in Sweden

Sweden recorded a total of two million tourists in 2020, ranking 67th in the world in absolute terms.

That smaller countries regularly perform lower in a comparison of the absolute number of guests, is obvious. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Sweden, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.19 tourists per resident, Sweden ranked 94th in the world. In Northern Europe, it ranked 8th.

In 2018, Sweden generated around 14.93 billion US dollars in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 2.3 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 14 percent of all international tourism receipts in Northern Europe.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism

Back to overview: Sweden

The most popular city in Sweden for international travelers is Stockholm. In 2019, it reached the 91st place of the world's most popular cities with 2.72 million tourists.

Tourism in SwedenOn average, each of the tourists arriving in 2018 spent about 1,696 US dollars. Conversely, the inhabitants of Sweden spend only around 766 dollars a year when they themselves spend vacations abroad.

Diverse landscape for nature lovers

Sweden has thousands of smaller islands located along the Scandinavian south coast of the Baltic Sea. While the south is much more densely populated and therefore attracts with a big city culture, the north is a paradise for nature lovers in endless expanses. Whether by ferry or by plane, for most vacations the journey via the southern part of the country begins with the lively capital Stockholm.

Known for a lot of tranquility and unspoiled nature, the country's vacation in Sweden has a wide variety of regions ranging from large forest areas and lakes to rugged coastlines. The closer you get to the Norwegian border in the north, the higher the mountains become. More than half of the country is forest. Cities take up less than a tenth.

Sweden is especially popular with campers. Whether by car, camper van or classic on foot, the country is camper-friendly and offers this target group many amenities. An ancient "everyman's right" allows hikers to camp wild, swim or even pick mushrooms and berries. There are some exceptions, such as in national parks, but Swedes are focused on recreation and peace.

Travel times

Most foreign tourists come in the warmer summer months and travel mainly to the south of the country. In and around Stockholm it is quite warm above 20 degrees in summer. The further north you go, the lonelier and cooler it gets. In the winter months, the days are much shorter, above the Arctic Circle in the far north it even stays dark for weeks. But in winter, the almost 200 ski resorts with over 1000 km of slopes throughout the country are worthwhile.

The most popular destinations

  • the capital Stockholm, built on 14 islands, with its impressive castle. Popular is the old town Gamla Stan, the Nikolai Church and the Royal Palace
  • Gothenburg on the river Göta älv with its Dutch-style harbor and numerous cafes and shopping facilities
  • Kiruna, the northernmost Swedish town about 250 km above the Arctic Circle, where you can mainly go hiking, dog sledding and snowmobile tours. Worth mentioning are the often appearing northern lights.
  • the island province of Gotland with Viking settlements and medieval towns, as well as the island Fårö

Development of the tourism sector in Sweden from 1995 to 2020

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Sweden each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g., crew members of ships or flights are also not considered tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all 10 countries in Northern Europe.

Tourists per year in Sweden

Revenues from tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 4.39 billion USD, or about 1.6 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 2.31 million tourists at that time and roughly 1,900 USD per person. Within 23 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased noticeably. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, sales were $14.93 billion billion, 2.7 percent of gross national product. Thus, each visitor spent an average of $2,006 on their vacation in Sweden.

Full figures for 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are not currently available. However, national and international travel has been restricted worldwide, and some countries have even been closed off from the outside world altogether. Dramatic revenue losses are expected, with some countries experiencing losses of up to more than 80%.

Tourism receipts in Sweden per year

All data for Sweden in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
20201.96 m
20197.62 m
20187.44 m14.93 bn $2.7 %2,006 $
20177.05 m14.17 bn $2.6 %2,009 $
20166.78 m12.76 bn $2.5 %1,882 $
20156.48 m11.31 bn $2.2 %1,744 $
201410.52 m11.85 bn $2.0 %1,126 $
201310.98 m10.86 bn $1.9 %989 $
201212.37 m10.10 bn $1.8 %817 $
201111.57 m10.21 bn $1.8 %883 $
20105.18 m10.67 bn $2.2 %2,059 $
20094.90 m9.77 bn $2.2 %1,994 $
20084.56 m11.73 bn $2.3 %2,576 $
20075.22 m11.89 bn $2.4 %2,276 $
20064.73 m9.71 bn $2.3 %2,054 $
20054.88 m7.63 bn $1.9 %1,562 $
20044.68 m7.69 bn $2.0 %1,644 $
20034.27 m6.55 bn $2.0 %1,534 $
20024.28 m5.67 bn $2.1 %1,326 $
20014.11 m5.20 bn $2.1 %1,266 $
20003.83 m4.83 bn $1.8 %1,260 $
19992.60 m4.94 bn $1.8 %1,905 $
19982.57 m5.00 bn $1.8 %1,942 $
19972.39 m4.03 bn $1.5 %1,686 $
19962.38 m4.53 bn $1.6 %1,908 $
19952.31 m4.39 bn $1.6 %1,900 $

Our data on tourist numbers, revenues and expenditures are based on information from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure international comparability, the data for some years or countries were manually researched and corrected if they obviously included visitors without overnight stays. In these cases, the data were taken from the official communications of the respective national tourism authorities.

The World Tourism Organization additionally points out that in some countries, the number of tourists is only counted at airports, while in others they are also counted at border crossings or even hotels. A comprehensive and reliable indication is therefore hardly possible in any country.

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