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DISCOVER SWEDEN

Ten very Swedish New Year’s resolutions for 2023

Is this the year to do all those things you’ve been meaning to do since moving to Sweden?

a person diving into a lake in Sweden, it's summer and you can see the Swedish flag on a boat
Perhaps this is the year when you actually take that long summer holiday? Photo: Johan Willner/imagebank.sweden.se

Finally learn Swedish

Yes, you’ve got a 479 day streak on Duolingo, but you still can’t quite pronounce sjuksköterska (“nurse”). That’s fine, no one has to be perfect, but maybe this is the year that you commit to taking language lessons for real. There are plenty of adult Swedish courses up and down the country, many of which start up in January. And if you need to learn some new Swedish words, we have the perfect book for you

Take a really long holiday 

And don’t feel guilty about it. Part of enjoying the Swedish work-life balance comes from taking at least four weeks off work over the summer holidays. 

Enjoy Swedish friluftsliv

Swedish life is all about getting out of the city and enjoying the uninhibited right to roam, called allemansrätten. Perhaps 2022 is the year you finally take up cross-country skiing, or cold-water swimming, or mosquito hiking. 

Fly less

Perhaps this is the year you make the decision to travel as much as possible over land and save some carbon along the way? 

We know that avoiding flying entirely is near-impossible for many international residents, who may have have family, friends and businesses in several different countries, but here are some tips from The Local’s readers about how to fly sensibly.

Discover more of Sweden

You’ve done all the tourist traps, you’re bored of the cities, so now it’s time to visit places off the beaten track. Have you surfed at Torö? Or stood in three countries at once at the Three-Country Cairn, where Sweden, Norway, and Finland all meet? 

Go to the gym more

But not that gym.

Sweden is full of outdoor gyms (utegym) that are free to access for everyone. They’re usually in parks, so they’re a great reason to get some fresh air (which is also free and very good for you). So there’s no need to spend money on an expensive gym membership that you give up on just as quickly as you start. Plus, 2023 is not the year to body shame yourself into lifting sweaty weights at your local gym chain. 

Buy more second-hand

Sweden is the only country in the world to have an entire shopping mall dedicated to selling only second hand and upcycled things. You’ll find great vintage and antique stores everywhere in cities, and you’ll find loppis (“flea markets”) everywhere else. 

Even if you can’t get out to search through racks of pre-loved clothes, you can check out websites like Sellpy that sell previously worn clothes. 

Change your career 

With strong labour unions and employee rights, Sweden is an excellent place to find what makes you passionate and make a job of it – but it can also be surprisingly difficult to break into the job market. Perhaps this is the year you quit or give up your job hunt and start your own freelancing agency, or you take an adult learning course at one of the many universities that offer them for free to Swedish residents. 

Bake like a Swede 

If 2020 was the year of sourdough and banana bread, maybe 2023 will be the year of the kanelbulle. Not the easiest pastry to master, but once you’ve got it down you’ll never need a bakery again. 

Read more Swedish books

Want to read up on your Swedish culture? Here’s a list of Swedish books to read in the new year

What are your New Year’s resolutions (nyårslöften) for 2023? Let us know in the comments!

Member comments

  1. How specific, it is actually 482 days streak but close enough!
    And yes I can’t pronounce correctly a nurse nor even seven sick of them.
    I wonder what does offer more a “adult Swedish courses” 😀 [sorry]

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TRAIN TRAVEL

My night on board Sweden’s new sleeper service from Hamburg

Our reporter Richard Orange took the new SJ EuroNight sleeper home from Hamburg at the start of this month with his two children. He tells us what it was like.

My night on board Sweden's new sleeper service from Hamburg

As we clambered onto the s-bahn at Hamburg Central to race across to Hamburg Altona, Alan, the friendly English chemistry researcher who had volunteered to show us the way, made a quick calculation.

“I think you’ll have at most two minutes to make it to the train, and you need to make it up to the station and up two flights of stairs.”

I rated our chances at less than 10 percent. I had booked the new sleeper launched by Sweden’s state-owned train company SJ at the very last minute (and at considerable cost) after discovering to my horror that the Danish seats-only night train I’d been planning on taking did not run on Saturdays.

My two children and I had been on the train since our Eurostar left London at 9am, and I didn’t fancy putting them through a night on the platform at Hamburg Central.

Our reporter with his traumatised-looking children, Finn (9) and Eira (10).

Hamburg Altona, a terminal station in the west of the city, is the departure point for SJ’s sleeper. Normally, the metro trip would only be slightly inconvenient, but when you’re racing to make a connection, it’s a nightmare. Thankfully, the sleeper will start to depart from the central station in March.

The moment we hit Altona, Alan, who lives nearby, shot off, me and my two children trailing behind as he flew up staircase after staircase.

Finally we arrived puffing at the platform, where we could see a train with an SJ logo, but the entrance to the platform was blocked. Had we missed it? “Do you have a ticket?” asked the guard, wearing a warm SJ jacket, and when I said yes gestured to the long line of people snaking right out to the station door.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful for a system failure. It turned out SJ had somehow lost access to the records of who was supposed to be on the train, or where they were supposed to sleep, and were having to work out the sleeping arrangements manually, one passenger at a time.

Alan, a researcher at Hamburg’s Max Planck Institute, wished us goodbye and we joined the back of the queue, where we met a Swedish woman who’d come all the way from Italy with her red setter, a journey she said she’d been doing quite regularly ever since the sleeper service was launched in September.

Annoyingly, she told me that it was possible to get a reduced price on the sleeper if you have an Interrail card (as we did). When I checked, you could get a couchette from Hamburg to Stockholm for about 385 kronor, about a third of the price we paid. I went back to the guard and asked if there was any chance of getting our money back, at which point he erupted in mocking laughter.

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Half an hour later, at about half past ten, we finally got our seats. The woman who’d come from Italy was turned back, however, as she hadn’t booked a bed in a special dog compartment for her red setter.

We trundled up to the train, finding a young couple and a man with a Middle-Eastern background already in bed with their sheets laid out.

“It’s got beds! I’ve never been on a train with beds before!” Finn exclaimed as he sawn the couchette compartment. Unfortunately there were only two beds for us. The Thai-Swedish SJ guard disappeared into her cabin when we pointed this out, and after a short phone call came back and told the man with a Middle-Eastern background that he had to move to make space for us.

“I hope that wasn’t some kind of discrimination,” I said to the young couple after he’d gone. It was probably because he was travelling alone, however, and we later discovered that he’d been upgraded to a luxury two-person sleeper cabin, which assuaged my guilty conscience. In a further sign of the guards’ ability to improvise, when I bumped into the woman with the red setter while brushing my teeth, she said they’d also managed to accommodate her.

The couchette cars are refurbished, with free water, and USB ports for recharging your various devices. They are old, but they’re comfortable enough and Eira and Finn were both fast asleep within minutes of the train rolling out of the Hamburg.

I had just about drifted off by the time I was woken by border police at the Danish border at around midnight, sleepily reaching down from the top couchette to show them our passports.

My hope was that departing more than an hour late would delay our arrival in Malmö, which was scheduled for just before 4am, but unfortunately, the train normally travels more slowly than it needs to to allow passengers a proper night sleep, so it easily made up the lost hour.

At about quarter to four I got a friendly knock on the door, and shook the children awake in time to see the lights of Malmö’s Turning Torso tower as we crossed the Öresund Bridge.

For the remaining five or ten minutes, Eira and Finn excited pointed out “Swedish” out-of-town shopping centres until the train arrived at a completely deserted Malmö station, from where we took a taxi home.

How to get an interrail discount on the Hamburg Stockholm sleeper

On the sök resa or “search journey” page on SJ’s website, you need to click on the drop-down menu next to resenärer or “traveller”, then, when you see your name, click on ändra or “change”. Then click on another drop-down menu on välj ett kort or “choose a card”, at which point you can press Interrail and fill in your Interrail card number. You can find a guide on how to do it here on SJ’s website

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