Dog-Friendly Sweden: Travelling in Sweden with a Dog

During the European summer of 2018, some of my favourite days were those that myself and my dog spent in Sweden. Between the sunny warm days and the midnight sun it was a magical period. While Scandinavia isn’t as dog-friendly as the rest of Europe, if you know and understand their rules, it can be a great place to visit with your dog, especially during those beautiful summer days.

Dog-friendly Sweden

Travelling to Sweden with a Dog

While Sweden is part of the EU, in addition to the usual steps for transporting your dog to an EU country (microchip, rabies vaccine, pet passport or EU health certificate, etc), there is an additional step that you need to do when taking a dog or cat to Sweden. You also need to report your dog or cat to Swedish customs.

There are two ways to do this. When you are going through customs, choose the red channel (“something to declare”) and speak to a customs officer. If you cannot find a customs officer, you may need to call them. On trains from Denmark, contact a uniformed customs officer on the train.

Alternatively, if you are travelling from another EU country, you can also report your dog online and then go through the green channel at customs. For further information and the online form, head to the Tullverket website. Dogs arriving from Norway, if they are microchipped and have an EU pet passport, are exempt.

Typical farmhouse in the Swedish countryside
Typical farmhouse in the Swedish countryside

Dining Out in Sweden with a Dog

While many other European countries allow dogs to dine inside at restaurants, this is generally not the case in Sweden. My Airbnb host in Gothenburg mentioned that there was a dog-friendly cafe she was aware of in the city, Bee Kök & Bar. We actually visited it for a drink, but it was a lovely sunny day so we sat outside and forgot to double-check the rules.

In contrast, one bitterly cold day in the far north just before the start of summer, we were visiting a small tea-room and asked whether our small dog could join us inside. Unfortunately, the answer was no so we had to sit outside. This prohibition on dogs in nearly all cafes is stated to be out of courtesy to allergy-sufferers.

We however had no issues with dining at outdoor tables with our dog. Note that if dining at smorgasboard restaurants with a dog, it’s better if there are two of you, so that you can take turns going inside to get a plate of food. I found the staff to be understanding of this situation.

One such smorgasboard restaurant we recommend is Restaurang Skeppsgossen at the Karlskrona Marinmuseum, in particular the lunch buffet with many traditional Swedish dishes.

Another handy option for eating in Sweden are the many excellent salad bars located at most supermarkets, PicaDeli. There’re similar to the salad bars at Wholefoods in the USA, but not quite as fancy and about half the price.

There’s a wide variety of salad options, from smoked salmon to avocado to boiled eggs to pasta salad and every possible salad vegetable. Perfect for a picnic in the park with your pup!

Make-your-own-salad from PicaDeli
Make-your-own-salad from PicaDeli

Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Sweden

While dogs are allowed on public transport all around Sweden, be careful to read up on the regulations first before catching it, as there are some additional rules that tend to apply across Scandinavia. The rules have been formulated to balance the needs of dog owners plus those of allergy-sufferers (and others who aren’t fond of dogs).

For instance, if you are booking a ticket on the long distance trains operated by SJ, make sure you reserve your seat in the area designated “Pets allowed”. (The option is provided on the third step of booking under Added Extras; if it isn’t available either the section is fully booked or the train doesn’t allow pets on board. Note also that pets aren’t allowed in First Class.)

Two pets can travel for free, unless you have a larger pet that requires extra room, in which case a youth ticket price will be charged. For the full rules including travelling on night trains, click here (Swedish only).

We had an amusing experience travelling in the “Pets allowed” section on a packed train from Gothenburg to Stockholm at the start of the summer holidays. All 16 seats in the section were occupied, along with 6 dogs and 2 cats. Despite a long delay on the journey, all the pets were well behaved and simply ignored each other!

In both Gothenburg and Stockholm, pets of all sizes are allowed to travel on public transport for free. Pets are required to be on a leash or in a carrier bag.

Dogs on public transport in Sweden
The distinctive trams in Gothenburg

Additionally, pets should generally travel at the rear of the vehicle (on buses and trams), plus some of the carriages on the metro in Stockholm prohibit pets – look for the symbols when the metro train is arriving to see which carriage you should board (usually every 2nd carriage).

Note that on trams and buses in Gothenburg, there is a rule that only one pet is permitted per vehicle, unless there are two pets belonging to the same owner.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Sweden

Plenty of hotels in Sweden are dog-friendly. (Including 44% of hotels in Stockholm according to a survey that I did in 2018.) However, make sure you book ahead as there will usually only be a small number of designated pet-friendly rooms. Additionally, hotels tend to be quite expensive in Sweden.

I also found Airbnbs in Sweden to be rather expensive and limited in number, especially when you are restricted to pet-friendly options. It didn’t help that some of my enquiries went unanswered (maybe as I mentioned I had a dog in the message, although I only contacted pet-friendly Airbnbs). Although our Airbnb room in Gothenburg was one of the most friendly we stayed at anywhere in Europe!

If visiting Sweden in summer time, I recommend looking into camping with your dog. Many travellers with dogs drive there in their own campervan. Campervans are also available to hire in Sweden, although the prices are expensive during the peak summer season. However, on the other hand there is the common practice of wild camping and the Swedish Right of Public Access.

Dog-friendly Sweden
Our camping set-up in Sweden
Dog-friendly accommodation in Sweden
Schnitzel was quite happy camping in a tent

As we were spending a month road-tripping around Sweden and Norway, we ended up buying a cheap tent. If you grab a copy of one for the campsite listings for Sweden, it will list which campsites allow dogs.

We found that the majority of campsites permit dogs for campers, although dogs may not always be allowed in cabins. No fee applies for dogs at most campsites, and sometimes there’s great facilities for dogs such as agility parks and nearby dog beaches.

The dog agility course at a camping ground
The dog agility course at one camping ground
Dog on agility course
Schnitzel on the agility course

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Sweden

While visiting Sweden with your dog, add some of these dog-friendly sightseeing options to your itinerary.

1. Visit Historic Gamla Stan

One of the top attractions in Stockholm is Gamla Stad, the “Old Town”. Located on one of the islands at the city’s centre, the cobblestone streets are lined with historic buildings, restaurants and souvenir shops, perfect for explorations on foot with your pup.

Dog-friendly Sweden
Historic buildings in Gamla Stan

Don’t miss visiting Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm, or checking out the exterior of the Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum. (Unfortunately no dogs are allowed inside.)

2. Head out to Drottingholm Palace

One of my favourite dog-friendly palaces in Europe is located on the outskirts of Stockholm, Drottingholm Palace. While dogs aren’t allowed inside the palace, dogs are allowed on a leash throughout the beautiful grounds. It’s free for both humans and dogs to visit. There’s also an off-leash dog island in the grounds!

Dog-friendly Drottingholm Palace in Sweden
Schnitzel at Drottingholm Palace
Dog-friendly Sweden
The off-leash dog park at Drottningholm

There’s two options for reaching the palace. Firstly, it’s possible to take the metro and a bus (allow about 30 minutes from T-Centralen, and don’t forget to sit in the rear of the bus with your dog). Alternatively, take a Stromma excursion boat.

The boat trip takes a leisurely hour each way, with regular departures. Dogs are allowed on the outside deck (at no charge) and it’s possible to book in advance.

3. Explore the Stockholm Archipelago from the Water

Even if you aren’t heading to Drottingholm Palace, taking a boat out on the water in Stockholm is one of the best ways to explore this district of islands and waterways. Many companies offering cruises and boat trips will allow dogs to come along, or else hire your own boat.

Stromma allows dogs on board all of their excursion ships as long as they are kept outside on a leash, although dogs are not allowed on the sightseeing boats. We took their day trip to Birka Island with our dog.

Birka near Stockholm
Picturesque Birka

4. Camp at a Swedish Lake during Summer

Sweden is dotted with lakes and there’s nothing more traditional in summer than camping by a lake for a lazy few weeks of outdoor fun. Naturally dogs are part of the fun, whether you choose to stay in a caravan, tent or cabin (when allowed).

We spent a few glorious days camped in Rättvik, next to Siljan, in the centre of Sweden. Highlights included the dog beach just off to one end of the campground, walking along the long jetty out to the island, and enjoying the American-style Diner 45 with its plentiful outdoor tables.

Dog-friendly Sweden
Exploring Rättvik
The beach at Rättvik at midsummer
The beach at Rättvik at midsummer

5. Explore Hip Gothenburg

The second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg is not merely a smaller Stockholm. This city has its own vibe. In particular, it has a reputation for being friendlier and more laid-back, with a younger and hipper crowd than in Stockholm.

I recommend spending the day or the afternoon just wandering the streets of Gothenburg’s compact city centre with your dog. There’s loads of gorgeous boutiques to check out, as well as street art to spot along the way.

Dog with street art in Gothenburg
Schnitzel exploring the street art in Gothenburg

Sit outside at Feskekörka (Fish Church) for lunch. (Although note it is temporary closed.) Or enjoy a cinnamon roll at one of the cafes along Haga Nygata. Afterwards laze along the river on the extensive lawns of Kungsparken. For more tips, check out this article.

Dog in Kungsparken in Gothenburg
Relaxing in Kungsparken in Gothenburg

6. Visit a Dog Beach

While most popular Swedish beaches frequented by humans ban dogs over the summer months, there’s plenty of beaches that still allow dogs, including designated dog beaches. Which isn’t a surprise, considering the huge expanse of coastline and the many lakes in Sweden. Ask at your accommodation for recommendations or just check the signs.

Sign to dog beach in Sweden
Directions to one of the many dog beaches

7. Head North to Laponia

For a colder touch of Sweden, even sometimes during the summer months (we had a touch of sleet one day), head north to the wild expanses of Laponia (Lapland). Up above the Arctic Circle, you’ll find the small cities of Kiruna, Gällivare and Jokkmokk, and large stretches of forest and national park. During the short summer, hiking and fishing is popular.

Dog at Article Circle
Schnitzel crossing the Arctic Circle

Just be aware that the rules for dogs in the national parks differs depending on the time of year and dogs are prohibited from many areas. One dog-friendly option is hiking the Kungsleden (King’s Trail) in Stuor Muorkke National Park.

Dogs are allowed in all areas of the national parks between January to April, but must be on a leash, while they are only allowed in restricted areas the rest of the year.

Hiking in Laponia
Hiking in Laponia

8. Visit the Rock Carvings in Tanum

At Tanum, your dog is welcome to join you as you explore the many rock carvings dating back to the Bronze Age. The main collection of carvings is opposite the Vitlycke Museum (which has some interesting displays, but doesn’t permit dogs inside).

One of the Tanum rock carvings that may be of a dog
One of the Tanum rock carvings that may be of a dog

Don’t also miss the nearby sites at Aspeberget, which includes a short loop walk, and Litsleby. The sites are not far off the main highway connecting Oslo and Gothenburg.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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17 thoughts on “Dog-Friendly Sweden: Travelling in Sweden with a Dog”

  1. Thank you so much for this article! My labrador, husband and I are traveling from Berlin to Stockholm next week and I feel much more prepared for our trip. Thanks again!!

  2. Lovely article, it’s fun reading about your experience in my home city of Gothenburg 🙂
    The ‘allergy’ thing is so annoying. It would be very easy for an allergic person to just sit somewhere else in the restaurant. Bad dog allergies are also extremely rare.

    That being said, we have a long list of restaurants, bars and cafes in Gothenburg that do accept dogs, and the list seems to be growing every year, which is a positive sign. There are bunch of restaurants in Gothenburg these days that even have a ‘hundmeny’ 😀

    • That’s great to hear, Rob, that more restaurants, bars and cafes are allowing dogs! I really loved visiting Gothenburg and hope to return some day.

    • Da wir gern in Spätsommer mit unserer Fellnase nach Schweden reisen möchten, Können Sie mir Tipps zu Restaurants geben in denen Hunde erlaubt sind? Das wäre superlieb, denn unsere Maja ist ein Trennungshund und hat Angst allein zu bleiben…

      • Guten Tag Angélique! I am not sure the best way to find out dog-friendly restaurants in Sweden, as I didn’t find that many, but I believe more exist based on others comments, especially in Gothenburg. I would ask on Facebook for more recommendations.

  3. Hi! First of all, thanks for all that information. I have lived in the UK for 22 years. I am Swedish and looking to go back to Sweden for good. I have a dog and I am planning to drive from UK to Sweden. What are the most important steps to organise the journey ? Now that UK isn’t in the EU I imagine a lot has changed. I am anxious about it as I really can’t leave my dog behind.

    • I recommend visiting your vet to organize an EU pet health certificate – this needs to be done within 10 days of departure, but if your dog doesn’t have a rabies shot this needs to be done earlier. The Uk government guidelines are here:

      If you are travelling with your own car, the rest is fairly straightforward, with the channel tunnel and most ferries allowing dogs in cars.

  4. Firstly, I am very glad that you had a great time with your dog in Sweden.

    I clicked on this post because it said “Dog-Friendly” Sweden. Which is also what I checked for when I moved to Sweden due to my job. I heard about how Swedish people love dogs and they’re very cared for. But I was utterly disappointed after reaching here. Maybe because I moved from Latin America and there, being pet friendly is much different and you’ll see and feel happy for the pets unlike in Sweden where I feel like dogs can’t socialize that easily with other dogs or people. When you said the dogs were well behaved and ignored each other, I could not help but laugh and be safe at the same time. Because that to me is not natural dog behavior. They’re social and curious animals and their natural behavior is suppressed big time. So, all that you have said and calling that pet friendly, I feel you should visit places where you truly feel it is a pet friendly country. Nothing against your article or experience. Just that, the picture painted but many articles that I had read also don’t feel they show the true picture.
    If anyone is planning to move to or travel to Sweden with their pets, be cautious. Because I personally had the experience of my landlord/administration threatening to call the cops for animals cruelty because my dog cried when he was left alone for a couple of hours as he had separation anxiety and they didn’t give me the time or an ear to listen to what I had to say on this regard and were angry and wanted to fix the problem immediately. That’s not pet friendly to me. Where I came from, I didn’t feel this restricted nor sad for my dog and hence sent him back and I also plan to move back as soon as I can. I want to live somewhere where my dog can be a dog in true sense and bark without worrying about someone calling the cops on you for that

    • Different countries have different attitudes towards dogs, plus dogs also have different personalities. I’m sorry that Sweden didn’t suit yourself and your dog.

    • Hi!

      I cannot help but to be bothered by your post. They did not call the cops on the dog for howling, they called the cops on YOU because you are mistreating your dog.

      A dog needs to be trained to be left alone for a few hours. It makes me sad to think that you leave your dog home alone, a dog that clearly gets stressed and unhappy when it’s left on its own. Sorry, this is not how a so called “dog lover” should behave towards their four-legged friend. I’m happy Sweden stood up for your dogs rights, as it’s clear you don’t.


    • I come from Sweden but live in Switzerland. Sweden is quite complicated as regards dogs. Not many people are prepared to let their dog socialize with others. The “allergy” issue is a nuisance. Don’t be surprised if you enter public transport and someone gets hysterical because of a dog entering! People with real allergies know they just shouldn’t touch the dog. Switzerland and Germany are dog-friendly and so is France, I’ve heard.

    • It’s funny how you judge the way dogs are in Sweden but then say that your dog howls because it has separation anxiety. So bad that the neighbours feel like they have to call the police over animal abuse.

  5. Hi Shandos and Schnitzel! We and #kotasrufflife are currently exploring Sweden by campervan. Using some campsites, but mostly wild camping. Kota is loving it! We have found your article spot-on! We are headed to Gothenburg next and are hoping to find some dog friendly restaurants. I just read somewhere that 1st Sunday of every month there is a cinema who has dog night movie! How cool is that? Thanks for always having great and informative dog friendly articles for the rest of us travelers.

    • Thanks Anita and Kota! That’s great to hear about the dog-friendly movie nights, I’ve only come across outdoor cinemas that are dog-friendly. Have a great time in Sweden, we loved the country!


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