Sweden has the best attendances of all Europe’s summer leagues, averaging around 9,000 per game in the top-flight Allsvenskan.
It also has the highest rated summer league on UEFA’s country coefficients list, just above neighbours Norway. Its national side isn’t bad either, a regular at major tournaments with a sizeable yellow and blue clad army of fans in tow.
Swedish football has many similarities with the game in the UK, playing a familiar style with plenty of energy and commitment. That shouldn’t come as a surprise really as one of the most influencial managers was Roy Hodgson during his hugely successful periods at Halmstads and Malmö in the 70s and 80s. Thirty years later it was Hodgson’s England who played the opening football fixture against the hosts at the new national stadium in Stockholm.
The domestic game is on the rise again with higher attendances over the past five seasons prior to 2020. Although there are club rivalries, trouble is rare and you’re usually assured a decent afternoon of live football.
How do I get to Sweden?
Sweden is around two hours flight time from the UK. The country’s biggest airport is Stockholm Arlanda. You can fly to Arlanda on BA and SAS from London Heathrow, easyJet from London Gatwick, and Norwegian Air from Edinburgh, London Gatwick and Manchester. Check out flights to Gothenburg Landvetter – it is served by BA from London Heathrow, Norwegian from London Gatwick and Ryanair from Dublin, Edinburgh, London Stansted and Manchester.
The best airport for the south west of the country, including Malmö, is Copenhagen in Denmark. There are flights to Copenhagen through SAS from London Heathrow and Birmingham, Manchester; easyJet from Bristol, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, Manchester and Ryanair from Dublin, Edinburgh, London Stansted and Manchester.
Getting from Sweden airports to the city
Airport to Stockholm: The Arlanda Express train is the quickest route into the city, taking 18 minutes, but a one-way ticket will cost you 299 SEK (£26). A cheaper option is the regular Flygbussarna bus, taking 45 minutes and costing 119 SEK (£10.50). Taxis will cost around 500 SEK (£45).
Airport to Gothenburg: Taking 30 minutes, the Flygbussarna costs 119 SEK (£10.50). Taxis will cost around 450 SEK (£40).
Airport to Malmo: Take any train from Copenhagen Airport to Malmo, taking 25 minutes and costing 122 SEK (£10.75).
When are Allsvenskan matches played?
The domestic top division is called the Allsvenskan and sees 16 clubs play each other home and away. Below this sits the Superetten, also made up of 16 teams. The third tier is split into north and south divisions.
Allsvenskan matches are spread liberally across the weekend, most on Sunday, some on Saturday but usually a couple on Monday too. Meanwhile the Superetten fixtures often straddle five days, Friday through to the following Tuesday.
Where should I visit in Sweden?
Sweden is a very large country although nearly the entire population, and the vast majority of the football clubs, are based in the southern half.
For the first timer the capital Stockholm should definitely be considered. From its old town, Gamla Stan, on an island in the heart of the city, to a plethora of museums covering everything from ABBA to medieval ships, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Once you’ve done that, you can take to the waters and explore the vast archipelago of islands where the Swedes head for their Midsummer celebrations.
What’s more, there are three major clubs in the capital so you should be able to pick a weekend where two are at home – even, very occasionally, all three. AIK Stockholm play in the Friends Arena, a 50,000-capacity new build in the northern suburb of Solna. For AIK matches only the lower tier is used but you would be surprised by just how good an atmosphere is generated.
Across and to the south of the city centre and there’s another new stadium, this time the 33,000 capacity Tele2Arena. Sharing an area with the city’s ice hockey arena, it is home to Sweden’s best supported side Hammarby plus recent champions Djurgardens. Hammarby haven’t achieved great success over the decades but still attract 25,000 to their home games. Check out the impromptu fan park behind the stadium on matchdays.
Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city, sits on the west coast. It proudly boasts of an attitude in contrast to the capital, more relaxed and vibrant, reflected in its long street of bars and restaurants, Avenyn that come to life in the evening. IFK Gothenburg play at the modern Gamla Ullevi, sharing it with two second string sides GAIS and Örgryte, while you can also check out BK Hacken in their smaller stadium over the river. This should afford you plenty of choices of matches but an additional option is Elfsborg, who play in Borås, an hour away by train.
The third major city is Malmö, located in the south west corner of Sweden. It’s all of half an hour by train to the Danish capital Copenhagen, across the incredible Øresund Bridge, the longest in Europe and made even more famous by the Nordic detective series The Bridge. Indeed you may well find better options reaching Malmö by heading into Copenhagen Airport right next to the bridge, as it has far more flight connections.
Malmö’s location means it is an established industrial centre. It went through hard times in the late 20th Century as its shipyards and associated economies went into decline but it has reinvented itself, many companies now basing themselves there, and its old town is a lively destination at night.
Malmö FF are serial competitors at the top of the domestic league, as well as reaching the European Cup final in 1979 when they lost to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. Their Eleda Stadion is the third biggest football arena in the country, holding 22,000 and is located close to the old Malmö Stadion, where the lower league IFK Malmö now play.
A one-hour train ride north will take you to the coastal city of Helsingborgs. The city’s club are longtime rivals to Malmö. A pre-match beer by the sea before a walk up the hill and across the park to a match at the decent Olympia Stadion makes for a good way to spend a summer’s afternoon.
Buying Sweden football tickets
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Allsvenskan price example
Two night’s accommodation in a 3* central Stockholm hotel in double/twin room with breakfast and quality match ticket to an AIK/ Djurgardens/ Hammarby fixture from £175pp*
Two night’s accommodation in a 3* central Gothenburg hotel in double/twin room with breakfast and quality match ticket to an IFK Gothenburg fixture from £185pp*
Two night’s accommodation in a 3* central Malmö hotel in double/twin room with breakfast and quality match ticket to a Malmö FF fixture from £165pp*
*We reserve the right to make any price changes. You will receive a confirmed price when booking. We can offer extra nights, additional fixtures, airport-hotel transfers and flights.
What is a Swedish football matchday like?
Matchday at a Swedish stadium reflects life in the country itself: well organised and not too busy. The new stadiums in particular offer excellent bar and catering facilities, and you’ll rarely need to queue for long. Ticket prices are very affordable for a top-flight match. Yes, Sweden is more expensive than the UK but you won’t find prices as high as in some other Nordic destinations. In more popular districts expect to pay London prices – and slightly more – for food and drink, for instance a pint may come in at £5-£7. However, if in doubt follow the local football fans as usually they’ll have found the bars where prices can be significantly cheaper, and daytime Happy Hours are a popular discovery.
You’ll soon discover many Swedish football fans have another favourite – the English Premier League. It’s a love affair that dates back to the 1970s when Swedish TV started showing English league games live on a Saturday afternoon – something still not allowed in the UK in non-Covid times. For this reason the bars will be busier when there’s a major English match on TV then an Allsvenskan equivalent.