It's possible to make substantial savings when booking Swedish train tickets in advance, also Swedish stations no longer have staffed ticket desks, so booking online has multiple benefits.
Fortunately the ticket booking service provided by the Swedish national rail operator, SJ, is comparatively easy to use, though in common with any ticketing website, it has features which can be puzzling; particularly if you are not familiar with how trains are operated in Sweden.
Hence this guide strives to point out the less obvious and easy to miss features when using SJ's service to book tickets for Swedish rail journeys; and for journeys between Sweden and both Denmark and Norway.
Having searched for how to buy tickets for journeys by train in Sweden, you may be sent to the Swedish language version of the SJ website.
You can switch to the English language version by clicking at top right, the service is only available in Swedish and English.
There is a fairly obvious first step to take in looking for tickets for a journey, which has been circled on the image above.
The opportunities to choose destinations, add people, book return journeys, select types of ticket are all easily found further along the booking path.
Having clicked that 'search journey' button in the center of the SJ home page, you will be taken to the stage at which you enter the start and end points of your journey.
You will see that the main stations in Sweden's three largest cities are presented for easy selection, but if you will be travelling anywhere else, you'll need to begin to enter the start and end locations and then choose from the options you'll be presented with.
Note that if you want to take a return journey, you'll need to select the box circled below, which is in a somewhat odd place.
SJ doesn't sell types of tickets which enable savings to be made by booking there and back journeys in one transaction.
So if you're not yet sure when you'll want to return you can book your return at a later date.
Though prices for journeys by express trains will likely have risen by the time you book the return journey at a later date, because the tickets at the cheapest prices will inevitably have been popular in the intervening period.
Note that departure and arrival time options aren't presented at this stage of the booking process.
At the next step you can input the number of travellers and that is also the stage at which you can enter promotional codes, or select options if you will be booking reservations for travel with Eurail and InterRail passes; you can use the 'Content menu' to jump to the steps required to booking rail pass reservations.
Having entered your start end end points, the day(s) you want to travel, and the number of travellers (all of which can be amended at the subsequent stages of the booking process), you will see a list of departures on your travel date.
Because you weren't given the opportunity to enter a preferred departure or arrival time when looking up a journey, the two things to be aware of on this step of the booking process, are:
As is standard with all of the additional info pages on the SJ booking path, there will be a close button at top left.
As can be seen above, using the filter tool also allows you to hone in other features of a journey option than its departure time.
The key things worth being aware of are:
Though note that some other useful features of can only be accessed by scrolling down this filter page.
If your journey involves a change of train, you can use this tool to set the maximum period of time between the arrival of the first train and your subsequent departure.
Having used or not used the filter options, you will now have to select the train you wish to travel by from a list departures.
It's good to be aware of the following:
Also note, circled in yellow, that despite a journey being looked up more than two months ahead of the travel date, tickets for this particular departure are already sold out.
As mentioned above different types of train can operate on certain routes including Stockholm ↔ Goteborg and Stockholm ↔ Malmo and if you are not familiar with Swedish train travel, it can be easy to not be aware of this when choosing a departure.
On the example above, seen when looking up a journey from Stockholm to Malmo, circled in yellow are the indications that these departures are by the faster Snabbtag train, but circled in green is that this departure is by a slower and more basic Snälltåget service.
Having clicked on a ticket price at the departure selection stage, there will now be opportunities to select classes of travel and a type of ticket.
Though what's easy to miss is the potentially useful access to the 'travel details' info.
As can be seen below this is an opportunity to check how certain types of tickets can be used, but it's also an opportunity to confirm what facilities will be available on the train, by looking up what the symbols being used for a departure mean.
Below the opportunity to check the travel details, will be the prices for each class of travel available on the train; the Snabbtag trains have three 'classes' of travel; 2 class, 2 class calm and 1 class.
What has been highlighted is:
If you want to know more information about each class of travel, you need to scroll down below the info.
Having selected the class you wish to travel by, the next stage of the booking process is to choose the type of ticket.
As can be seen above SJ doesn't assign names to the types of tickets such as Advance or Premier, instead their differentiated by their core terms and conditions, with the greater flexibility having a higher price.
The same three types of ticket are offered regardless of which travel class has been selected.
The full terms and conditions can be accessed by clicking 'our flexibilities', circled in yellow.
Having selected a type of ticket you will also be given options which can enhance your journey, if you are proactive and select which suits you.
The options for enhancing a journey include the ability to pre-order items from the bar car menu which will then be delivered to you at your seat during the journey.
Though there is one service at no additional cost, because it is 'Included', and that is the opportunity to select a specific seat(s) on a seating plan; which is offered irrespective of the travel class that has been chosen.
For the majority of travellers using the seating plan is optional, but if you want to travel with a dog, or will be accompanying a wheelchair user, you will need to use the seating plan in order to select seats in the appropriate area of the train.
The key things to note about the seating plan are:
Before moving on the the payment steps it can be a good idea to pause and check your selections, as they can all be amended before gong ahead with the booking.
All of the core steps of the booking process have been logical to this point, but the SJ website has one quirky feature which can trip up the purchase process for non-Swedish users, which is the correct method for entering a mobile phone number.
What has circled above is the format which SJ will accept, which is the use of a + symbol, followed be your national code, and then your personal number, but with the first zero omitted.
The red arrow indicates that you will need to scroll down to complete the payment process.
The two things which have been highlighted above are:
Booking a bunk in a couchette or a bed in a sleeping cabin is a comparatively straightforward process on the SJ website.
Looking up a journey is the same process for a daytime train until you access the equivalent of selecting the type of accommodation in which you wish to travel by.
Though something to be aware of is that Vy and not SJ now provides the trains on the Stockholm - Boden - Kiruna - Narvik route; the Arctic circle route.
So when travelling to and from the north of Sweden, look out for the fact that different types of night train can be available for a departure.
On the example above, which is for a journey between Stockholm and Umeå, what's been highlighted is;
Also the booking path and how the information is presented differs when booking a SJ Night train or a Vy Nattag train.
When you click on the price to travel by the SJ Night train on the departure options (that price will be the cost of travelling in a seat) the accommodation option will automatically open, so that you can instantly see the the key features of the type of each accommodation and the price for travelling in each of them.
The steps to take to choose which accommodation type meets your needs are fairly obvious.
Though something somewhat atypical which SJ offers is the ability to book sole occupancy of a second class sleeping cabin. On most other European night trains, this solo travel option is only available when booking first class.
If you'll want to do so, what has been highlighted above, is:
Booking a class 1 (first class) cabin
As explained above, for a journey by a SJ Night train, the SJ website will automatically display the features which are and aren't available in each type of accommodation.
What has been highlighted above are the three key features of travelling by a SJ Night train which are only available when booking Class 1:
For journeys by the VY Nattag trains the info is presented differently, though the steps to take are similar.
The key difference in the booking path is how the accommodation options are presented, because for the VY trains you need to be proactive and seek out potentially useful info.
Worth paying attention to at this stage of the booking, are;
Having selected that you want to travel in a couchette or a sleeping cabin, this is the stage at which you choose the specific type of sleeping accommodation for the Vy Nattag train.
What has been highlighted above is:
Users of Eurail and InterRail passes need to book reservations for travel on the Snabbtag trains and the night trains.
Booking them on the SJ website avoids the need to pay any booking fees, but the steps to take are one aspect of using the SJ website which isn't particularly obvious.
You will in effect need to tell the SJ website that you have a Eurail or InterRail pass before you look up your journey(s).
So having clicked on the 'search journey' button on the SJ home page, and then entered the start and end points of your journey, but what you also need to do is click the arrow, which provides the access to the 'Travellers' screen
This is the stage at which you need to follow the steps which 'tells' SJ that you are a pass user.
As is circled above, the next step is to click on the SJ Prio area, despite the fact that the SJ Prio bonus scheme is nothing to do with Eurail and InterRail.
By doing so you will see another booking screen...
... and the access this provides to the Eurail and InterRail path is by clicking on the circled arrow.
Clicking on it will open a list of options and...
...at the bottom of the list you will see 'Interrail or Eurail pass'.
Click on it and as will be seen below, you will need to enter the number of your Eurail and InterRail pass.
If you have a mobile pass so won't have a number, you can use the tools on the Eurail and InterRail websites which will generate a number.
Having taken these steps, you can then look up a journey as though you were buying a ticket, but the prices you will see will be the cost of booking the reservation.
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.