- For other places with the same name, see Sweden (disambiguation).
Sweden (Swedish: Sverige) is the largest of the Nordic countries by size and population. Visitors can experience deep forests and many lakes, the heritage from the Viking Age and the 17th-century Swedish Empire, the glamour of the Nobel Prize, and the country's successful pop music scene. Sweden has 270,000 islands; more than any other country. Many of them are open to visit through the right to roam.
The three traditional lands of Sweden, Götaland, Svealand and Norrland, are further divided into 25 provinces (landskap), which largely define Swedish people's cultural identity.
The provinces mostly coincide with the 21 counties (län), the mid-level political entities. The 290 municipalities (kommun), are the bottom-level political entities, typically consisting of a town or a city, and the surrounding countryside, including small villages. Some municipalities used to hold city (stad) privileges, and still style themselves as such, though there is no legal distinction. Most municipalities have their own visitor centre.
Though Swedish people rarely have strong feelings for their country, most of them are patriotic for their province or hometown, and appreciate anything good that a traveller can say about them.
|Norrland (Norrbotten County, Västerbotten County, Västernorrland County, Jämtland County and Gävleborg County)|
A sparsely populated area spanning more than half of Sweden. Lots of wilderness, with forests, lakes, great rivers, enormous marshes and tall mountains along the border to Norway. Great for outdoor life and winter sport.
|Svealand (Dalarna, Närke, Södermanland, (Örebro County), Värmland, Stockholm County, Uppsala County and Västmanland)|
The central part of the country and homeland of the Swedes, with cities such as Stockholm, Uppsala and Örebro, and a heritage of mining and metallurgy.
|Götaland (Scania, Blekinge, Småland, Öland, Gotland, Östergötland, Halland, Västergötland, Bohuslän and Dalsland)|
Homeland of the Geats and probable place of origin of the Goths. Many cultural and historical sights from Medieval cities and cathedrals to amusement parks, and Sweden's largest lakes, Vänern and Vättern.
- 1 Stockholm is Sweden's capital and largest city, spread out over several islands.
- 2 Gothenburg (Swedish: Göteborg) is Sweden's largest port and industrial centre, second in population.
- 3 Karlskrona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the base for Sweden's navy since the 17th century.
- 4 Linköping has a large university, and is the birthplace of Sweden's aviation industry.
- 5 Lund is a lively pretty university city with a Viking Age heritage.
- 6 Malmö, with a quarter million inhabitants, is connected to the Danish capital Copenhagen by the Öresund Bridge.
- 7 Umeå is the largest city in Norrland, known for its silver birches and university.
- 8 Uppsala, once the centre of Viking era Sweden, is home to the largest cathedral and oldest university in the Nordic countries.
- 9 Visby is the only city on the Gotland island, a Hanseatic League centre of commerce with an impressive city wall.
Other destinations edit
- 1 Bergslagen is the traditional heartland of Swedish metallurgy and mining.
- 2 Ekerö is a freshwater archipelago with the Royal family's residence Drottningholm, and Viking Age settlement Birka.
- 3 High Coast (Swedish: Höga kusten) is the most scenic area along the Norrland coast.
- 4 Kiruna Municipality (Sami: Giron) at Sweden's northernmost edge is known for a large mine, a space flight centre, the Jukkasjärvi ice hotel and Abisko national park.
- 5 Laponia is Western Europe's largest wilderness, in the Arctic.
- 6 Siljansbygden is an archetype of Swedish folk culture in central Dalarna.
- 7 Stockholm archipelago (Swedish: Stockholms skärgård) consists of islands all shapes and sizes.
- 8 Åre is one of Sweden's largest ski resorts, with 44 lifts.
- 9 Öland is Sweden's second largest island, with long beaches.
|Currency||Swedish krona (SEK)|
|Population||10.5 million (2023)|
|Electricity||230±23 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Schuko)|
|edit on Wikidata|
The "Nordic model" of economics and social policy was largely developed by Swedish social democrats and liberals during the early 20th century. The foundation is a strong welfare state, combined with market economics. Swedish society, as it has become through this policy, is often described as "folkhemmet", comparing solidarity in the society with that in a family:
|“||The Home's foundation is community and unity. The good Home knows no privileged or expelled ones, no favourites or step-children. There, no one looks down on one another. There, no one tries to get an advantage at another's cost, the strong does not oppress or plunder the weak.||”|
—Per Albin Hansson, Social Democratic Prime Minister 1932—1946.
In ancient times, Sweden was inhabited by the Suiones (svear) in Svealand and the Geats (götar) in Götaland. Some of these participated in Viking expeditions (see Vikings and the Old Norse), and are said to have founded the first kingdoms in Russia. Written sources from the Viking Age are few and short.
Around AD 1000, Christianity replaced Norse paganism, Suiones and Geats united under one king (probably Olof Skötkonung), and the first cities were founded; among them Sigtuna, Uppsala and Skara. With Christianity came written chronicles and stone architecture, which have provided the afterworld with better historical detail than earlier remnants. Swedish kings Christianized and annexed Finland. During the 14th and 15th century, Sweden was a subject of the Kalmar Union with Norway and Denmark. Gustav Vasa liberated Sweden from Danish rule, was elected king in 1523, and is regarded the founder of modern Sweden. He also reformed the church to Lutheran-Protestant. Today, the monarch is still constitutionally required to be a Lutheran, though contemporary Swedish society is largely secular, with only a minority of Swedes going to church regularly.
During the 17th century Sweden rose as a Great Power, through several successful wars (such as the Thirty Years' War), where kings such as Gustavus Adolphus and Charles X annexed Scania, Halland and Bohuslän from Denmark, as well as temporary possessions in the Baltic countries and northern Germany. In the early 18th century, an alliance of Denmark, Poland and the Russian Empire defeated Swedish king Charles XII, marking the end of the Swedish Empire. In 1809, Sweden was again defeated by Russia, which annexed Finland. The country has been at peace since 1814; the country has a high peace profile, with internationally renowned names such as Raoul Wallenberg, Dag Hammarskjöld, Olof Palme and Hans Blix. Sweden is a monarchy by constitution, but King Carl XVI Gustaf has no executive power.
Sweden is a developed post-industrial society with an advanced welfare state. The standard of living and life expectancy rank among the highest in the world. Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, but decided by a referendum in 2003 not to commit to the European Monetary Union and the euro currency. Sweden has a strong tradition of being an open, yet discreet country. Citizens sometimes appear to be quite reserved at first, but once they get to know who they are dealing with, they'll be as warm and friendly as you'd wish. Privacy is regarded as a key item and many visitors, for example mega-stars in various lines of trade, have many times realized that they mostly can walk the streets of the cities virtually undisturbed.
Sweden houses the Nobel Prize committee for all the prizes except the peace prize, which is hosted in Oslo, a memento of the Swedish-Norwegian union that was dissolved in 1905.
The year in Sweden edit
|“||Swedish summer is the most beautiful day of the year.||”|
- See also: Winter in the Nordic countries
The weather in Sweden is typically cool or cold from October to April, but in the summer (late May to early September) temperatures lie around 20 °C. If you like snow, go to Norrland or Dalarna in January to April. In Sweden there are no earthquakes or volcanoes to be worried about. There are seasonal storms though, mostly in the early spring and in the autumn. Occasional heavy rainfall makes the many rivers swell and in some cases cause flooding. During dry summers counties may issue warnings or even bans on the use of open fire.
Daylight varies greatly during the year. In Stockholm, the sun sets at 15:00 in December. In June and July, however, summer nights exist only in the form of prolonged twilight. North of the Arctic Circle one can experience the midnight sun around Midsummer and the Arctic night in midwinter.
The major holidays are Easter (påsk), National Day of Sweden or Swedish Flag Day (nationaldagen or svenska flaggans dag, June 6), Midsummer (midsommar, celebrated from the eve of the Friday between June 19–25), Christmas (jul, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are all considered holidays). Most celebration happens on the day before the holiday proper; Midsummer's Eve, Christmas Eve etc. Expect everything to be closed in the countryside during the National Day and Midsummer.
There are three periods of the year when Swedes traditionally have their vacations. To avoid fully booked venues, heavy traffic and crowded tourist resorts in the summer, you should either book in time or stay clear of July and the first two weeks of August. These six weeks are weather-wise usually the most enjoyable for a summer vacation in all of Sweden. Winter vacation (sportlov) is usually a week in February or March depending on when kids have time off from school. This time of year is high season for tourism in all of Lappland, Dalarna and some winter resorts in Southern Sweden. Autumn vacation (höstlov) is a week around the end of October and the beginning of November. This period has become a time of reading and reflection, so people tend to stay at home getting used to the dark winter evenings.
Get in edit
Entry requirements edit
Sweden is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
- There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
- There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
- A visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
- Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.
In spite of this there are temporary border controls from Denmark where you need a passport or EU/EEA ID card.
Citizens of EU/EEA countries are permitted to work in Sweden without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90-day visa-free stay. Nordic citizens do not need any permission even for longer stays, working or not. The ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries.
Visitors coming in from Norway and Finland can enter Sweden without regulations, in a land vehicle, on foot, or by boat, as long as they do not carry goods to declare. The ferries from Finland may however want to check your ID (which should state your nationality).
Restricted goods include but are not limited to cash[dead link] in the equivalence of €10,000 and more, pets[dead link], firearms, as well as wholesale commodities. These must be declared at a toll station. The Swedish Customs (Tull) is an law enforcement agency, that is entitled to arrest people using due force.
By plane edit
For arrival and departure times, and for lots of other information about flights and airports in Sweden, visit Luftfartsverket - Swedish Airports and Air Navigation Services
- Stockholm Arlanda (ARN IATA) is by far the country's largest airport, serving most major international and domestic airlines. See Sigtuna for airport amenities, and Stockholm for information on transfer between the airport and central Stockholm.
- Göteborg Landvetter[dead link] (GOT IATA) - serves several international airlines and provides convenient bus transfer (about 20 minutes) to central Gothenburg.
- Copenhagen Airport (CPH IATA) - Located in Denmark on an island between Copenhagen and Malmö, this is Scandinavia's largest air hub, served by most major airlines. Direct rail line from the airport to southern Sweden allows it to serve most of the region conveniently.
- Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL IATA) in Norway can be considered for destinations in western Sweden.
- Stockholm Skavsta (NYO IATA) is mainly served by budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizzair, with many connections to Europe, especially the Balkans. In Nyköping, quite a distance (about 100 km) from Stockholm.
- Stockholm Bromma (BMA IATA), 6 kilometres west of central Stockholm, mainly for short-range flights.
- Stockholm Västerås[dead link] (VST IATA) - international flights to/from Copenhagen and London. Also about 100 km from Stockholm.
- Malmö-Sturup (MMX IATA)- serves domestic flights and low fares flights. It's about 30 km from Malmö.
- Jönköping Airport[dead link] (JKG IATA) connects to Stockholm, Visby, Frankfurt and other destinations in south of Europe.
By train edit
- See also: Rail and bus travel in Sweden
You can reach Sweden by train from neighbor countries:
- Denmark: Trains depart Copenhagen and Copenhagen's airport for Malmö every 20 minutes, and cost only about 100 Swedish kronor ("Öresundståg / Øresundstog" regional trains). The train goes over the magnificent Öresund Bridge to get to Sweden in less than 30 minutes. Furthermore direct trains (SJ) leave from Copenhagen to Stockholm. Tickets are purchased in machines, or for SJ also on the web. Danish Rejsekort can also be used if your destination is one of the three stops in Malmö. Be aware that the two operators do not recognize each others tickets. The Helsingør-Helsingborg connection, known as one of the busiest ferry routes in Europe, might also be used (local trains from Copenhagen, change to ship).
- Norway: Main connections between Oslo and Stockholm and Gothenburg as well as connections between Trondheim–Åre–Östersund and Narvik–Kiruna–Boden–Stockholm.
- Germany: Direct overnight trains run daily from Berlin to Stockholm via Hamburg and Malmö, operated by SJ, along with a competing service operated by Snälltåget. The latter service is extended to Dresden on select dates, but does not run in the winter. There are also several trains per day from Hamburg to Copenhagen, just across the Öresund strait from Malmö.
- Austria: Weekly overnight trains are offered to Austrian ski resorts in the winter and summe from Malmö via Hamburg and Munich, operated by Snälltåget.
- Finland: Travel via Kemi–Tornio–Haparanda–Luleå/Boden by bus, and then night train to, e.g., Stockholm. Interrail tickets are valid on that bus, otherwise tickets are purchased by the driver. There is no train connection, as Finland and Sweden use different rail gauges.
By bus edit
Buses from and to the Western Balkans are also operated by Toptourist [dead link]. Call + 46 (0 ) 42 18 29 84 for more information.
By car edit
From Norway and northern Finland there are many border crossings. Norway is not part of EU, so visit customs. Nearly all the ferries to Sweden take cars.
From Germany, a car ferry is needed when going directly to Sweden or via the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. See how to get in by boat.
The exception to the rule is to take the Great Belt Bridge in combination with the Öresund Bridge as a ferry-free drive via Denmark to Sweden (Autobahn 7 to the Danish border — Motorway E45 to Kolding — Motorway E20 to Malmö, Sweden). This is however a 170-km detour, and the bridges have heavy tolls. Going via the Danish isles to Sweden is also possible (Autobahn 1 to Puttgarden — Scandlines car ferry to Rødby — Motorway E47 to Helsingør — Scandlines car ferry to Helsingborg, Sweden) or a combination of the two routes switching from E20 to E47 or vice versa on Zealand.
Before you decide on the route, do check out the prices on the ferries going directly from Germany to Sweden, since they can be much cheaper.
By boat edit
- See also: Baltic Sea ferries
Before the Öresund Bridge was opened in July 2000, the Scandinavian peninsula could only be reached by boat, unless going very far north. Still, boat traffic is very important to Sweden.
- From Grenå to Halmstad by Stena Line.
- From Frederikshavn to Gothenburg by Stena Line.
- From Helsingør to Helsingborg by Scandlines and Sundsbusserne. The latter does not take motorised vehicles.
- From Tallinn to Stockholm (via Helsinki) by Viking Line.
- From Tallinn to Stockholm (direct connection) by Tallink.
- From Helsinki to Stockholm (via Åland) by Tallink Silja and Viking Line.
- From Naantali to Kapellskär by Finnlines.
- From Turku to Stockholm (via Åland) by Tallink Silja and Viking Line.
- From Vaasa to Umeå by Wasaline.
- From Riga to Stockholm by Tallink (temporarily suspended).
- From Ventspils to Nynäshamn by Stena Line.
- From Travemünde to Trelleborg by TT-Line.
- From Travemünde to Malmö by Finnlines.
- From Kiel to Gothenburg by Stena Line.
- From Rostock to Trelleborg by Scandlines and TT-Line.
- From Sassnitz to Trelleborg by FRS Baltic (April to October).
- Via Denmark
- From Gdańsk to Nynäshamn by Polferries.
- From Gdańsk to Visby by Polferries.
- From Gdynia to Karlskrona by Stena Line[dead link].
- From Świnoujście to Ystad by Polferries.
Get around edit
The ancient right to access (allemansrätten) grants everybody a right to move freely on most land on foot, swimming, by horse, by ski, by bicycle or by boat, even on privately owned property – but not through private yards. With the right comes an obligation to respect the privacy of people and the integrity of nature. It is important to understand the limitations.
By plane edit
Domestic flights are mainly for travellers with more money than time, and for the vast distances of Norrland. There are low-price tickets, but they must be bought well in advance.
The most important domestic airlines:
- SAS - the international airline, and flag carrier, has many domestic routes as well.
- Norwegian - several domestic and international destinations.
- BRA [formerly dead link] - several regional flights to most domestic airports.
- Amapola - several domestic routes and also flights to Norway.
By train edit
- See also: Rail and bus travel in Sweden
Sweden has an extensive railway network. Most long-range lines are operated by the government-owned company SJ. To buy a railway ticket, or to obtain information, call +46 771 75 75 75, check their website, or download their mobile app. MTR Express also operates several trains between Gothenburg and Stockholm. Because point-to-point tickets are quite expensive, for more train journeys, a Sweden InterRail[dead link] (for European citizens) or Eurail[dead link] (for non-European citizens) pass might be useful. Purchasing single journey tickets online in advance can also help save money, although the cheapest tickets often come with more restrictions.
The national public transport carriers operate an alliance service called Resplus for multiple-leg travel. See Resrobot for an interactive journey planner.
Regional public transport typically has a carrier per county. For instance, when travelling regionally in the province of Scania (Skåne in Swedish), one should refer to Skånetrafiken. For travelling in the region of Mälardalen (the "Lake Mälaren Valley"), you can check all train and bus operators at Trafik i Mälardalen. This regional traffic cooperation includes many of Sweden's major cities, such as Stockholm, Uppsala, Västerås, Linköping, Norrköping, Örebro and Eskilstuna.
By bus edit
Flixbus and Nettbuss runs a number of bus lines in the southern third of the country, Götaland and Svealand. They tend to cost less than going by train, if you can't take advantage of SJ's youth discounts. Y-buss [formerly dead link], tapanis, and Härjedalingen operate between Stockholm and Norrland.
Flixbus also operates from Stockholm and Göteborg to Oslo. At the county or län level, buses are a good method for travelling short distances from town to town, as they are more frequent and cheaper than trains. It is best to check with the local transportation authority for routes and schedules.
- Bus4You is a high-comfort carrier.
City buses edit
City buses are operated by the counties' public-transport companies.
If you plan to use city buses, check out the local arrangements for how to obtain tickets. In many Swedish cities it is not possible to buy tickets for the city buses at the bus. In this case neither cash nor bank or credit cards are accepted. Instead you need an electronic bus card, a special card for each region, that sometimes also has to be filled with a minimum amount of money, typically 100 kr. This bus card can sometimes be obtained only at dedicated ticket offices, not at the bus, but can often be filled with money for travel at local shops or refill machines that are found at public places.
On long distance buses, passengers can normally buy tickets from the driver.
By car edit
Svealand and Götaland can be crossed by car within a day, but distances in Norrland tend to be larger, and settlements can be tens of kilometres apart. When available, air or rail travel are often faster. Travelling by night can be dangerous due to wild animals on the roads, and the cold nights during the winter. See E4 through Sweden and E6 through Sweden and Norway for two of the main highways. While traffic is less aggressive than in Denmark or Central Europe, traffic jams are common around Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Car crash rates in Sweden are among the lowest in Europe. Wearing a seatbelt is mandatory for everyone in the car. Driving tired is illegal and is treated the same way as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Animal collisions with moose, deer and boar are a major danger; these animals are commonly on the road, especially around dawn and dusk. The moose is a big and heavy animal (up to 700 kg and 2.1 m shoulder height) so a collision can be lethal.
Drunk driving is a serious crime, the laws are strictly enforced, and the punishments are harsh by international standards. The legal limit of 0.02% is lower than in most other western countries and as little as one beer may put you over the limit. Violations carry a hefty fine and/or a prison sentence of up to 6 months, while serious violations of 0.1% and higher carry a guaranteed prison sentence of up to 2 years. Be sure to either bring a designated driver, take a taxi or make use of public transport if you plan on drinking. The Stockholm port at Frihamnen has alcogates: an automated breathalyzer which reports drunk drivers to police.
Scenic routes edit
Sweden has a small but growing network of designated scenic routes, they are often minor roads with limited traffic and speeds not exceeding 80 km/h.
By ferry edit
Road ferries (ferries that constitute part of public roads) are yellow, run by Färjerederiet. An online map service showing all available road ferries and their daily schedule can be found on Trafikverket's website.
The Swedish archipelagoes have boat services provided by the local county transport authority, in Swedish called skärgårdstrafik.
- Destination Gotland runs domestic ferry lines from Nynäshamn and Oskarshamn to Visby, Gotland.
- Ölandsfärjan runs a domestic ferry line in the summer season (mid-June to mid-August) between Oskarshamn and Byxelkrok on Öland.
- Ventrafiken runs a domestic ferry line between Landskrona and Ven in Scania.
By taxi edit
Taxis are generally comfortable and, in the larger cities, easy to find. Check the price info on the rear window before entering, and do use the seat belt. If you are travelling with a toddler call in advance to get a cab with a proper child seat, or the driver may refuse you. Outside the bigger cities it makes sense to note the contact information of one or a few companies with decent pricing and enough presence in the city you are visiting.
- TaxiKurir. Smart phone app offers address based routing and calculates price according to them. Includes several cities around Sweden.
- Sverigetaxi. Smart phone app offers address based routing and calculates price according to them. Includes several cities around Sweden.
- Cabonline. Smart phone app offers address based routing and calculates price according to them. Includes several cities.
By thumb edit
Sweden has a reputation for being a pretty difficult country to hitch in, though it's still quite possible to hitch-hike. Ordinary people are often reluctant to pick up strangers. Truck drivers are probably most likely to pick up hitch-hikers, so target them. Asking at gas stations works pretty well. Bus stops are common places to attract attention, position yourself before the actual bus stop so the vehicle can stop at the stop. This works best if the road is widened at the bus stop, allowing cars to pull off easily. Pedestrians are prohibited from accessing motorways.
By bike edit
- See also: Cycling in Sweden
Most Swedish cities have excellent bicycle paths, and renting a bike can be a quick and healthy method of getting around locally. Some cities have bikes for borrowing. Inter-city cycling is a good option for the experienced cyclist. While cycling is not allowed on motorways, most of them have a parallel old road without the heavy traffic.
Note that most long-distance trains don't take bikes. A foldable bike or combining regional trains may be viable although cumbersome options.
On foot edit
Cars are by law required to stop at any unattended crosswalks (zebra stripes in the road without red-lights) to let pedestrians cross the road. But keep in mind that you are required to make eye contact with the driver so that they know that you are about to cross the street.
- See also: Swedish phrasebook
Swedish (Svenska) is the national language of Sweden. It is similar to Danish and Norwegian, and mutually intelligible with those languages to a certain degree — especially in written form. While Finnish (the largest minority language) as well as the less spoken Sami, Meänkeäli, Yiddish and Romani languages are officially recognized, practically everyone born in Sweden speaks Swedish. Regardless of what your native tongue is, Swedes appreciate an attempt to speak Swedish, and beginning conversations in Swedish, no matter how rudimentary your level is, will help to ingratiate you to locals.
English is widely spoken in Sweden, and most younger adults have near native proficiency, so English speakers would not have a problem communicating.
Hej (hey) is the massively dominant greeting in Sweden, useful on kings and bums alike. You can even say it when you leave. The Swedes most often do not say "please" (snälla say SNELL-la), instead they are generous with the word tack (tack), meaning "thanks". If you need to get someone's attention, whether it's a waiter or you need to pass someone one in a crowded situation, a simple "ursäkta" (say "OR-sek-ta") ("excuse me") will do the trick. You will find yourself pressed to overuse it, and you sometimes see people almost chanting it as a mantra when trying to exit a crowded place like a bus or train.
Some things get English names that do not correspond to the original English word. Some examples are light which is used for diet products, and freestyle which means "walkman". Sweden uses the metric system and in the context of distance, the common expression mil, "mile", is 10 km, not an English statute mile. Because of the distances involved, mil is used in spoken language even though roadsigns all use kilometers.
Foreign television programmes and films are almost always shown in their original language with Swedish subtitles. Only children's programmes are dubbed into Swedish.
The Swedish countryside is sparsely populated, and the inhabitants depend on their cars. Since the 1950s, Swedes have been fond of cars; preferably classic American cars, which can be substituted for European-made vehicles, but under no circumstances Asian cars. A sub-culture known as raggare (also the Swedish word for "pick-up artist") keeps the American greaser and rockabilly culture alive in the middle-Swedish countryside. Sweden is said to have more road-worthy classic American cars than any other country, the United States included. Though Swedish people are not regarded to be conservative, many industrial towns have declined since the 1960s, so there is much nostalgia for these years. As the legal driving age is 18, the younger teens in the countryside ride custom cars registered as tractors, epatraktor. The Power Big Meet is a series of conventions for classic and custom cars, in several Swedish towns. The biggest meeting takes place in Västerås.
As modern as its society is, Sweden is a country full of seemingly untouched nature and ever-present history. The first stop for many visitors is historic and compact Stockholm, full of heritage, home to the Vasa Museum and gateway to the Stockholm Archipelago. There's the canals and cobblestoned streets of Gothenburg, with its famous botanical garden, or the modern architecture of Malmö. For more history, head to the port town of Visby, a recognized Unesco World Heritage Site, or the medieval town of Ystad, famous through the Kurt Wallander novels that are set here and for Ales stenar, one of the ancient iron-age burial monuments in the country.
Sweden has more palaces and castles (slott) and manors (herrgård) than other Nordic countries. Eleven of them belong to the Swedish monarchy; most of them are open to the public. Stockholm Palace (Stockholm/Gamla Stan), Rosendal (Stockholm/Djurgården), Haga, Gustav III:s pavilion and Ulriksdal (Solna), Drottningholm and Kina (Ekerö), Tullgarn (Södertälje) and Rosersberg (Sigtuna) are within greater Stockholm. Gripsholm (Mariefred) and Strömsholm (Hallstahammar) are further away. The farmland areas are full of noble and bourgeois manors from the 17th century and onwards; many of them are used as hotels today.
Industrial heritage edit
While the Bergslagen district, Roslagen and other parts of Sweden became world-leading in mining and metalworking during the 17th century, the full industrialization of Sweden lagged behind the rest of Europe until the 20th century, when Swedish product brands such as Volvo, Ericsson, SAAB, SKF, AGA, IKEA, Tetra Pak and Atlas Copco conquered the world. During the last decades, most of the Swedish workforce has moved on to high technology and the service sector, converting many of the mines, factories and waterways to museums. Among industrial heritage sites are Göta Kanal from the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic, the copper mine in Falun, and the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.
Folk culture edit
- See also: Nordic folk culture
Swedish folk culture includes folk music and dance (see Nordic music), folk costumes, folk art, handicraft (slöjd, hemslöjd) and traditional farming. Local identity used to be based on the socken (parish) and the province (landskap). With the 19th century industrialization and urbanization, folk culture had to be preserved, and today survives through different institutions. Most provinces have an open-air museum with buildings, workshops and sometimes livestock and wild animals on display; the oldest one being Skansen in Stockholm. Hembygdsförening is an organization for local folk culture, usually based on an old farm, hembygdsgård. Among traditional farming methods, the fäbod, a seasonally used livestock shed, can be found in particular in Dalarna, Värmland and Norrland. Folkets hus och parker is a cooperative for local community centres; bygdegård is a rural community centre.
Protected areas edit
Protected areas cover 15% percent in Sweden's total area of national territory. Most common in the country are nature reserves and national parks.
Sweden's landscape includes dense forests to crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and rolling mountains, with opportunities to see Eurasian wildlife.
In total, Sweden has 29 national parks. The stunning but rugged wilderness of Sarek National Park, called "Europe's last wilderness" by some, is a challenging but highly rewarding area to explore. It was the first of a list of 29 established national parks and is part of the vast and Unesco protected terrains of Laponia, together with the national parks Padjelanta, Stora Sjöfallet (with its snowy peaks) and the taiga and ravines of Muddus National Park. Set out to spot elk/moose, wolverines and more Swedish wildlife or visit in winter for a chance to see the magical Northern Lights. Kosterhavet[dead link] maritime park is the place to go for lobster or seal safaris.
During the summer Kungsleden in northern Sweden attracts lots of visitors who enjoy a solitary hike between cabins or camp sites in the beautiful mountains. The Swedish Right to access gives anyone the right to walk over other's land, as long as you do not destroy nor disturb it. This means that you can go sailing or canoeing and put up a camp on islands in the Stockholm Archipelago, you can go hiking and put up a camp almost wherever you want, however it is illegal to make a campfire on a rock surface. Sceneries of nature, less populated than most of Europe. Ice and snow during winter. The west coast has plenty of small towns like Marstrand, Skärhamn, Mollösund and Lysekil that are worth exploring with their distinct architecture and cuisine, best experienced during summer.
Some outdoor life opportunities are winter sport, hiking, canoeing, sailing, horse riding and berry- or mushroom-picking depending of season. The ultimate test of aerobic fitness is the Swedish Classic Circuit; four annual races of cross-country skiing (Vasaloppet, from Sälen to Mora), running (Lidingöloppet), cycling (Vätternrundan starting from Motala) and swimming (Vansbrosimningen).
Boating in Sweden can be done on a sailing boat, a motor boat, or a canoe.
Diving in Sweden is challenging because of the cold waters. Still, the Baltic Sea is full of well-preserved shipwrecks.
City life edit
Gambling in Sweden is offered by the state (Svenska Spel), and a few privileged organizations.
Casino Cosmopol is a state-owned company with venues in Stockholm (Norrmalm), Gothenburg and Malmö. Horse racing is a pastime in many Swedish cities. The most widespread class is harness racing, trav, with race tracks in many towns. Bookmaking is operated through ATG with on-line agents at the tracks, and in most towns. Several bars and restaurants have legally sanctioned slot machines.
- See also: Nordic music
Swedish popular music is world-famous, with names such as ABBA, Roxette, Swedish House Mafia and others. Sweden hosts dozens of music festivals with international acts, as well as stars-to-be, most of them during summer. Sweden Rock Festival (Sölvesborg) and Way Out West (Gothenburg) to mention only two. There are also several festivals [dead link] for folk, classical and jazz music.
Live concerts, music galas, DJs and music shows organized during Christmas events.
Choir (kör) music is big in Sweden, with regular performances even in smaller towns, not least the weeks before Christmas.
Dansband (a type of dance orchestras) music is popular, and is performed live at social dancing venues such as dance pavilions (often in what is called a "folkpark"), community centres and some dance restaurants. While disco may be popular in cities, these venues provide a more traditional way to get together. Most dancing nights the music played suites the smooth Swedish swing dance bugg, which together with foxtrot and one-step is the dance most commonly danced there. Some nights there is gammeldans, when older ballroom dances are played and danced, such as waltz, schottische, polka, mazurka, perhaps snoa, and sometimes also foxtrot and tango. Some of the dansband have also these genres in their repertoire (sometimes with a modern touch), others don't. The culture at dance pavilions is generally a bit less formal than in Finland: there may be no well-established rules on asking people to dance or on how many dances to dance at a time with the same partner.
Exchange rates for Swedish kronor
As of January 2023:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The national currency is the Swedish krona (plural,: kronor), denoted by the abbreviation "kr" (ISO code: SEK). Swedes may call the currency "crowns" when speaking English. Don't confuse it with the Norwegian or Danish krone.
One krona equals 100 öre, but 1 krona is today the smallest coin. Ören remain in use only in electronic transactions; when payment is done in cash, prices are rounded to the nearest full krona.
Coins of Sweden are produced in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 kronor. Banknotes of Sweden are issued in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 kronor.
Sweden is notorious for invalidating old money, so don't save any for future visits. Banknotes and coins older than 2017 are no longer valid, except for the latest type of the 10 kronor coin (year 1991 to 2009). Invalid banknotes can be redeemed only via the Swedish National Bank. You might be able to exchange old Swedish currency for a foreign one that you will need (such as euro) – the exchange bureau will then do the visit to the national bank. Counterfeit Swedish money is very rare, and you are very unlikely to receive already obsolete money.
Money exchange is best done at companies that have specialized in this, since many commercial banks are cashless on foreign currency. Forex has branches all over most of Sweden, but they may be expensive. X-change has branches in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Tavex has branches in and around Stockholm.
Sweden is one of the world's most cashless countries and a card-centric country. Businesses that don't accept cash, or where paying with cash is complicated, are common, and e.g. in Stockholm, getting rid of your cash may require some effort. Electronic payments with credit cards and debit cards (kontokort, bankkort) are very common, as is the Swedish app-based Swish. It is entirely possible to live your life in Sweden without ever seeing or using cash – and as foreigner you need cash mostly where Swedes would use Swish. Most stores, restaurants and bars accept all major credit cards. There are a lot of automated vending machines that only accept payment cards; even some museums and hotels are cashless or cash free (kontantfri), which means that only payment cards can be used. You might need an ID card or a passport when shopping with a credit card, though not in supermarkets and such where the PIN code is king. If you plan to use automated point-of-sale machines to checkout, you may need to know your card's PIN number (check with your bank on how to get a PIN for your card if this isn't the norm in your country). If you don't have a credit card, you can buy a Paygoo Mastercard gift card at any Pressbyrån or 7-Eleven outlet from 200 kr (+35 kr activation fee).
Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted for credit card and debit card payments.
The domestic payment smartphone app Swish is commonly used, but it requires an account in a Swedish bank. If you travel through the countryside, some small vendors like cafés, gift shops, farm shops (gårdsbutik), and antiques shops offer only Swish or cash as payment options. To be prepared, you might want to withdraw a smaller amount of cash at an ATM with a credit card in advance, perhaps 200 kr.
The most used Swedish word for automated teller machine is Bankomat, although this is a trademark of the Trade Bank Consortium, much like the term cash point in the United Kingdom, and therefore not used by several banks. A more generic word would be Uttagsautomat; Uttag, Minuten and Kontanten are other trademarks that have become part of normal speech. Nearly all machines regardless of operator will accept the MasterCard, Maestro, Visa, Visa Electron and American Express. You can withdraw up to 10 000 kr per use. During a seven-day period you can withdraw a maximum of 20 000 kr.
You have three attempts to enter the correct PIN code. If you fail a third time, the machine retains the card and closing it. In order to facilitate the visually impaired have the keys on the machines equipped with Braille. You may have spoken guidance, press the TALK button. In some ATMs you can withdraw euros if you have a card issued by a Swedish bank. You may take up the maximum per use. You can make multiple withdrawals after the other but a maximum 20 000 kr per week.
Tipping, known as dricks in Swedish, is not customary in Sweden, but sometimes a tip is left as a sign of appreciation for good service, usually by rounding up the bill but truly exceptional service may be rewarded with a tip of 5–10%. Tipping is strictly voluntary and should be given only as a token of real appreciation for the service. Be aware that the tips will most often be split between the waiters and the kitchen. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, any extra service (such as carrying bags) will be listed on the receipt according to rate.
Sweden is a rather expensive country to inhabit, though still somewhat cheaper than Norway and Denmark; many Norwegians living near the border drive into Sweden to purchase groceries. Sundries like a 33 cl bottle of Coca-Cola cost about 10 kr, a beer in a bar will cost you around 45 kr, the average price of hotel accommodation is around 1300 kr, a room in a hostel varies between 150 and 350 kr, a public transport ticket in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö will set you back around 25 kr, one meal will cost you around 100 kr, 1 litre of petrol fuel costs about 18 kr, and a pack of 19 cigarettes will cost you 50 kr. If you are a bit careful about your expenses, a daily budget of around 1000 kr will be enough (2015 prices). House prices outside metropolitan areas are probably among the lowest in Western Europe, and discount stores such as Lidl, Netto and Willys offer a wide range of items to a low cost. Accommodation and dining out are cheaper in Stockholm than in most other West European capitals.
|“||Paying tax is awesome.||”|
—Coined by Social Democratic politician Mona Sahlin. Repeated years later, by her opponent Finance Minister Anders Borg of the Moderate Party, as a comment about Sweden's persistently high taxes, regardless of government.
Sweden has three levels of value-added tax (moms or mervärdesskatt). Price tags always include tax, except in a business-to-business context (wholesale stores, etc.), so the consumer need not worry about it.
Financial transactions, gambling, healthcare, dentistry and prescription medication are exempt from VAT. The 6 per cent level applies to passenger transport, books, newspapers, sport events, performances, zoos and museums. The 12 per cent level applies to travel accommodation and food (including restaurant meals and soft drinks, but not alcoholic beverages). Everything else has 25 percent VAT; that includes clothing, alcohol, tobacco, non-prescription medication, cosmetics, hair and beauty services, appliances, souvenirs, amusement parks, nightclubs, office supplies, electronic services, vehicles (including rental), and fuel.
Bargaining is not a common habit in Sweden, in some areas it is even frowned upon. It might work in some instances, especially for more expensive products, flea markets, street vendors, and antique shops after some small talk of interest. The act of haggling is called pruta in Swedish. A more enticing way of haggling to Swedes is to ask for a discount (rabatt), and then haggle for the size of the discount.
Most shops, at least major chains in central areas, are open all week, even on Sundays, although they do close on Christmas Day, Midsummer's Eve afternoon and all of Midsummer's Day. Closing times are rigid, most often on the minute.
At grocery stores and supermarkets it is considered good practice to place each product on the conveyor belt so that the barcode faces either towards you or upwards so they can be scanned more quickly by the cashier. Do not stack items on top of each other; place them one by one on a line, and remember to place the divider on the conveyor belt when you are done. Stores charge for plastic and paper bags (usually 1-3 kronor for plastic and double for paper), and you have to bag your goods yourself.
- An unofficial national symbol, the Dala Horse (Swedish: dalahäst) is the souvenir of souvenirs to bring from Sweden. Named after their origin, the province of Dalarna, these small wooden horses have been around since the 17th century. They are normally painted orange or blue with symmetrical decorations. They are fairly expensive: expect to pay around 100 kr for a very small one or several hundred kronor for bigger versions. The horses can be bought in souvenir shops all over Sweden. If you want to know more about how the horses are made, visit Dalarna and the municipality of Mora where the horses are carved and painted in workshops open for tourists. And if driving towards Mora from Stockholm, keep your eyes open when you pass the town of Avesta where the world's largest (13 meters high) Dala Horse overlooks the highway.
- Swedish glass is world famous for its beauty. Several skilled glass artists have contributed to this reputation through innovative, complex (and expensive) art creations, but mass-produced Swedish table glass has also been an international success. Part of the province of Småland, between the towns of Växjö and Kalmar, is known as the Kingdom of Crystal. 15 glassworks are packed into this small area, the most famous being Orrefors, Kosta and Boda. Tourists are welcome to watch the glass blowers turn the glowing melt into glittering glass, and you can even give it a try yourself.
- High-end wines from Systembolaget.
- Swedish design, spanning from furniture to jewelry, is known for function, efficiency and minimalism. Designtorget[dead link] is a chain of stores with a wide range of everyday products; Lagerhaus is another. Svenskt Tenn is another store with beautiful items by designers such as Josef Frank.
- There are some items for the home that are invented by Swedes that might be fun to bring home such as safety matches, adjustable spanners or adjustable wrenches, paraffin cooking stove (Primuskök) or a good old Celsius thermometer.
- With a long tradition of woodwork, and the absence of wars in modern times, Sweden has plenty of antique furniture. Furniture made industrially in the early 20th century mimicking older styles (stilmöbler) can be found cheap.
- Flea markets are literally translated as loppmarknad or loppis, and one of few places where haggling is accepted.
Smörgåsbord, the traditional Swedish buffet
A smörgåsbord, literally buttered bread table is a Swedish buffet. Traditionally, it consists of seven servings. The first is herring, sill, the poor man's staple food. It is followed up by seafood, cold cuts, warm meat, sausages/meatballs, cheese, and dessert. The Christmas version of smörgåsbord is known as julbord.
- See Nordic cuisine for an in-depth description of Swedish food.
Swedish food is typical to the Nordic cuisine, based on meat (notably pork and game), fish, dairy products, potatoes and bread, together with berries and wild mushrooms. Fresh fruit and vegetables are rather recent additions to the menu.
Traditional everyday dishes are called husmanskost (pronounced whos-mans-cost). Some of them are:
- Pickled herring (sill) is eaten with bread or potatoes for summer lunch or as a starter on the smörgåsbord, at traditional holidays.
- Many forms of salmon (lax), especially cured salmon (gravlax).
- Meatballs (köttbullar), the internationally most famous Swedish dish. Served with potatoes, brown sauce and lingonberry jam.
- Hash (pytt i panna) consisting of meat, onions and potatoes, all diced and fried. Sliced beetroots and a fried or boiled whole eggs are mandatory accessories.
- Pea soup (ärtsoppa) with diced pork, followed by thin pancakes, is traditionally eaten on Thursdays.
- Blodpudding, a black sausage made by pig's blood and flour, eaten with lingonberry jam.
- Falukorv, a big baloney from Falun.
- Sweden has many varieties of bread (bröd). Many of them are whole-grain or mixed grain, containing wheat, barley, oats, compact and rich in fiber. Some notable examples are tunnbröd (thin wrap bread), knäckebröd (hard bread - might has a bland taste, but is nearly always available), and different kinds of seasoned loaves. Bread is mostly eaten as simple sandwiches, with thin slices of cheese or cold cuts. Some spreads typical to Sweden are messmör (whey butter) and leverpastej (liver pâté).
- Reindeer, ren, traditionally herded by the Sami people. Renskav is sliced, sautéed reindeer meat, preferably eaten with wild mushrooms, lingonberries and potatoes.
- Tunnbrödrulle, a fast food dish, consisting of a bread wrap with mashed potatoes, a hot dog and some vegetables.
- Kroppkakor Potato dumpling stuffed with diced pork, reminiscent of the German Klöße. Originally from Småland, there is also a variant from Piteå up north, known as pitepalt.
- Hard cheese (ost): In an ordinary food market you can often find 10 to 20 different types of cheese. The most famous Swedish hard cheese would be Västerbotten, named after a region in Sweden.
- Milk (mjölk) is commonly drunk during meals. Filmjölk is a Nordic yoghurt, eaten with breakfast cereal.
- Rose hip soup (nyponsoppa) and bilberry soup (blåbärssoppa), for recovery of heat and energy during winter sports.
Other Swedish favorites:
- Raggmunk, wheat flour, milk, egg, and shredded potatoes fried like thin pancakes served with fried pork (bacon) and lingonberries.
- Soft whey butter (messmör), breadspread with a sweetish, hard-to-describe taste.
- Caviar, not the expensive Russian or Iranian kind but a cheaper version made from cod roe, sold in tubes and used on sandwiches. The most famous brand is Kalles Kaviar.
- Julmust, stout-like Christmas soft drink. Available during Easter as well, by then known as Påskmust.
- Crayfish (kräftor), hugely popular around August, when Swedes feast on them at big crayfish parties (kräftskivor). Silly paper hats and lots of alcohol included.
- Surströmming; the world's stinkiest dish. See Nordic cuisine#Ingredients for details for how to eat it without disgusting oneself or the surroundings.
- Semla, a cream-filled pastry traditionally eaten on Tuesdays in February and March, with start on Fat Tuesday.
- Rabarberkräm/Rabarberpaj rhubarb cream or rhubarb pie with vanilla sauce (other cakes or pies on fresh blueberries, apples, or just strawberries with cream or ice cream are also very popular in the summer)
- Spettekaka A local cake from Scania in south Sweden, made of eggs, sugar, and potato starch.
- Smörgåstårta A cold Sandwich layer cake, often with salmon, eggs, and shrimps. (Also often with tuna or roast beef) Swedish people often eat it at New Year's Eve, or birthdays and parties.
- Lösgodis candy from boxes that you mix on your own, sold by weight, is one of the most popular candy among this candy-loving nation. A choice of chocolate, sours, sweet and salt liqorice are always offered.
- Swedish cookies and pastries like bondkakor, hallongrottor, bullar or cakes like prinsesstårta are widely popular. It used to be tradition to offer guest 7 different cookies when invited over for coffee. If you have a sweet tooth you should try chokladbollar, mazariner, biskvier, rulltårta or lussebullar.
- Surströmming, a stinky canned fish popular along the Norrland coast.
- Spettekaka, a meringue-like cake from Scania.
A specialty of the Raggare sub-culture (Swedish greaser culture) is hot dog with shrimp salad as topping. Some fast food vendors, especially in the countryside, has this dish on their menu.
As in most of Europe, inexpensive pizza and kebab restaurants are ubiquitous in Swedish cities, and are also to be found in almost every small village. Sushi and Thai food are also quite popular. The local hamburger chain Max is recommended before McDonald's and Burger King, for tasteful Scandinavian furnishing, clean restrooms, no trans fats and free coffee with meals. In parts of Norrland it is customary to eat hamburgers with fork and knife - available at Max. Another Swedish chain Frasses offers apart from all kinds of meaty burgers a tasty vegetarian alternative - a quornburger. Another type of fast food establishment is the gatukök ("street kitchen"), serving hamburgers, hot dogs, kebab and tunnbrödrulle (se above).
Highway diners, vägkrogar, have generous meals, but might be of poor quality, greasy and overpriced. If you have time, a downtown restaurant is preferable. Gas stations sell decent packed salads and sandwiches.
You can get a relatively inexpensive lunch if you look for the signs with "Dagens rätt" or just "Dagens" (Today's special or literally meal of the day). This normally costs about 50-120 kr, and almost everywhere includes a bottle of water; soft drink; or light beer, bread & butter, salad bar and coffee afterwards. Dagens rätt is served Monday to Friday.
If you're on a tight budget, self-catering is the safest way to save your money. There are a few nationwide supermarket chains such as: Coop, ICA, Willy:s, City Gross and Lidl. As a rule of thumb, the Coop stores are usually most expensive with ICA as a runner up. Willy:s and Lidl are considered discount. City Gross used to be discount but is now catering more for local produce in meat and vegetables.
Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are accepted in cities, less common in the countryside, where fishing and hunting are a national pastime. You should be able to find a falafel in any medium-sized town; or you may negotiate a price to only access the salad bar, as all well assorted eateries have one.
Swedish consumption of coffee (kaffe) is among the highest in the world. Drinking coffee at home or in a café, an act called fika, is a common Swedish social ritual, used for planning activities, dating, exchanging gossip or simply spending time and money. Swedish coffee is filtered and usually stronger than American coffee - but still not the espresso of France or Italy. Italian varieties (espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte) are available at larger city cafés. Sweden has several domestic café franchises (Espresso House, Wayne's Coffee, Coffeehouse by George) with an international atmosphere, and a broad selection of coffees, sandwiches, and cakes.
One cup is around 25 kr, often including a refill, påtår. Many retailers sell coffee at their cafés for 5 kr a cup.
The traditional Swedish café is called konditori, and every city and town has at least one. They offer warm beverages as coffee, tea and cocoa, and an assortment of cookies, pastry and perhaps also smörgås, the Swedish open sandwich, and fralla, the Swedish closed sandwich. The sandwiches offered can vary a lot depending on where you are in Sweden.
Alcoholic beverages edit
The most famous Swedish alcoholic beverage is Absolut Vodka, one of the world's most famous vodkas. There are several brands of distilled, and usually seasoned, liquor, called brännvin. Brännvin does not have as high requirements on distilling as for Vodka and it is distilled from potatoes or grain. Liquor seasoned with dill and caraway is called akvavit. When brännvin is served in a shot glass with a meal it is called snaps (not to confuse with the German "Schnapps"). It is part of custom to drink snaps at occasions such as midsummers eve, Crayfish party, Christmas, student parties, etc. Often it is done together with a snapsvisa to every drink (a typical snapsvisa is a short, vigorous song; its lyrics usually tell of the delicacy and glory of the drink, or of the singer’s craving for snaps, or about anything in a cheeky way).
Punsch (not to be confused with punch) is a traditional sweet liqueur made from a combination of water, lemon, sugar, spirits and arrack, unique for Sweden and Finland. It can be served both warm and cold, usually has 25% alcohol by volume (ABV) and 30% sugar, and is by tradition often served at Thursdays together with pea & pork soup and pancakes. It grew very popular during the 18th and 19th centuries, generating a strong punsch-culture with numerous special punsch drinking songs, and maintains a strong precence in Swedish student culture.
If visiting Sweden in December or January a typical hot drink is glögg (similar to mulled wine or Glühwein). It is often served together with ginger bread and lussebullar or at the julbord (Christmas buffet). The main classic ingredients are red wine, sugar, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and bitter orange, and optionally also stronger spirits such as vodka, akvavit, or brandy. There is also non-alcohol glögg.
Sweden does produce some outstanding beers, and there has been a rise in the numbers of microbreweries. Some of them are Slottskällans, Nils Oscar, Närke kulturbryggeri, Jämtlands ångbryggeri and Dugges Ale- & Porterbryggeri. You may have some trouble finding them, unless you go to a bar with a wide range of beers, or a well-stocked Systembolaget, but you will find a few of them in every major city. Despite this the most common beer is the rather plain "international lager". The beer you get in supermarkets is called folköl and has 2.8 or 3.5% alcohol. You are able to find a variety of different brands of beers in food stores, Swedish, English and even Czech beer. Sweden has a seasonal beer for Christmas, julöl. It is sweeter than normal beer and usually seasoned with Christmas spices, mostly it is ale. All Swedish breweries make at least one type of julöl. Wine is popular, but the Swedish production is very modest.
Drinking alcohol in parks and public spaces outdoors is generally allowed, with some obvious exceptions (playgrounds, schoolyards, etc. and places were a prohibition is posted). Drinking your own is also prohibited in shopping centres and the like and on public transport and in associated areas; there may be licensed restaurants or bars.
Establishments with permission to serve alcohol (those allowed to sell strong drinks usually advertise it as fullständiga rättigheter, "full rights") are usually not permitted to sell alcohol to be consumed outside the establishment.
Beer and lager up to 3.5% ABV is readily available in supermarkets at 10–15 kr a piece, but strong alcoholic beverages are, as in Norway, Finland and Iceland available over the counter only from the state-owned retailer, Systembolaget (also sometimes referred to as Systemet or Bolaget). Its stores are usually open M–W 10:00–18:00, Th F 10:00–19:00, and Sa 10:00–15:00, with long queues on Fridays and Saturdays, closing at the minute no matter how long the queue outside the store is, something the Swedes themselves joke about. They are always closed on Sundays. Most shops are of supermarket style. The assortment is very good, and the staff usually has great knowledge. Systembolaget does not serve customers already intoxicated or under the age of 20, and will most likely ask for identification from customers looking younger than 25. This also applies to any companions, regardless of who is making the actual purchase.
Beverages are heavily taxed by content of alcohol, some liquor is very expensive (vodka is around 300 kr a litre at Systembolaget), but the monopoly has brought some perks – Systembolaget is one of the world's largest bulk-buyers of wine, and as such gets some fantastic deals which it passes on to consumers. Mid-to-high-quality wines often cost less in Sweden than in the country of origin; sometimes even less than if you were to buy the wine directly from the vineyard. This does not apply to low-quality wines or hard liquor, due to the volume-based tax on alcohol.
All brands are treated equally and there is no large-pack discount. Therefore, microbrews cost largely the same as major brands, and might be a more interesting choice. Beverages are not refrigerated.
Moonshine (hembränt) is popular in the countryside, though illegal. Though some shipments can be as good as legal vodka, most are disgusting and some may be hazardous, so you should stick to the real thing.
Bars and nightclubs edit
The minimum age requirement is 18 to get into bars and to buy regular (3.5% ABV or less) beer in shops (to prevent teenage drunkenness, some shops have decided to enforce a minimum age of 20 for 3.5% beer as well), and 20 in Systembolaget. Many bars have an age limit of 20, but some (especially on weekends in those in the centre) have age limits as high as 23 or 25, but this rule is arbitrarily enforced. Bring passport or ID.
Some high-end nightclubs mandate dress code, vårdad klädsel is casual dress; this is also arbitrarily enforced. For male guests, proper shoes (not trainers or sandals), long-legged trousers (not blue jeans) and a dress shirt is almost always good enough.
Age and dress requirements are not rigid, and doormen have the right to reject any patron for any reason except gender, sexual orientation, creed, disability or race, which is illegal discrimination. Still, some nightclubs are infamous for rejecting "immigrants", especially men of African or Middle Eastern origin, on pretexts such as "members only", "too drunk", or "dress code". Getting into a club is easier for patrons who dress and behave well, and arrive fairly early.
Sweden has enforced non-smoking in all bars, pubs and restaurants, save outdoor areas such as terraces, and designated smoking rooms (where drinks are not allowed).
The prices at clubs and bars are among the more expensive in Europe: a (0.4 L) glass of draft lager, stor stark, usually costs 45-65 kr, but some dive bars advertise it for as little as 29 kr early evenings. A cocktail costs around 60-130 kr. For that reason many Swedes have a small pre-party ("förfest") before they hit the town and go to nightclubs.
Large clubs can require a cover charge, usually about 100 kr, more at special performances. They usually offer a rubber stamp on your hand so you can re-enter as you like without having to pay again.
Be aware that you often have to stand in line to get into a bar or a club. Many places deliberately make their customers wait in line for a while, since a long queue indicates a popular club. At the very fanciest places in the major cities, the queue is often replaced by a disorganized crowd, and the doorman simply points to indicate who gets in and who does not (to be sure to get in either be famous, very good-looking or a friend of the doorman – or a regular).
Most bars that close at 01:00 or earlier will have a free entry policy. Most bars and clubs that remain open until 03:00 will charge an entrance fee. There are some clubs in the largest cities that remain open until 05:00. Their entrance fee will usually be around 200 kr and their entry policy will generally weigh less favourably for the non-rich, non-well-moisturised, non-Swedes, non-friends and non-regulars.
The club's wardrobe (or coat-checking) fee is often mandatory, usually around 20 kr.
Car camping is convenient and cost-efficient, as you can stay overnight nearly anywhere.
The Right to access (Allemansrätten) allows anyone to camp in uncultivated areas (including private property, but not near houses) without asking. There are certain limitations, for instance you are only allowed to stay at a certain spot for one night, before you have to move on. If you are travelling to Sweden in the summer, check out the local conditions when it comes to camp fires. Forests in Sweden can get very dry and temporary bans on lighting fires are not unusual.
Check with SMHI, the meteorological agency, for up-to-date weather forecasts, including fire risks and other weather-related warnings, such as storms, floods and blizzards.
If you prefer camping a bit more organized, most towns have campsites with showers and electricity. Expect to pay around 100–150 kr for a tentsite, but for two or three busiest weeks prices can go as high as 400 kr. Camping.se is the booking site of the national campsite organisation SCR. The leading campsite chain is called First Camp – comfortable, but can be expensive (they use dynamic price calculation), so check for local-led alternatives which can be cheaper (i.e. plain price). Campsites seem to be mainly for people with campers, who tend to prepare food at their campers. Therefore, places in service buildings, where one coming from a poorer country would expect a kitchen, have just sinks to wash dishes and a burner to cook food (but no kitchen utensils nor table).
Svenska Turistföreningen, STF, is by far the most important operator of hostels, vandrarhem, in Sweden, with a network of more than 300 hostels around the country. Membership for foreigners is 175 kr, and if you plan to stay four nights or more at hostels in Sweden you should join, since non-members pay an additional 45 kr per night. STF is affiliated with Hostelling International or HI, and if you are a member of any HI organisation you are considered a member of STF.
STF offers beds for the night in dorms or single and double rooms. The concept is standardized throughout Sweden, and only includes the price of the bed or room, with access to common kitchen facilities, common bath rooms and showers. Some hostels have double rooms with bath room and shower en suite.
Sveriges vandrarhem i förening[dead link], SVIF is another nation-wide hostel confederation.
The price per night per person in a hostel is 80-280 kr depending on where the hostel is located and how classy or tacky it is. Sheets are required (just a sleeping bag is not enough) and if you don't bring any you have to purchase at the hostel for around 50 kr. You are expected to clean out your room when leaving. Cooking equipment is normally available at all hostels for those who want to self-cater.
Apartments and B&B:s are not the same thing, but Swedish online booking agencies tend to think so. Renting an apartment may be an interesting option if you plan to stay for a few nights in one of the major cities and want more privacy than a hostel offers.
Road signs with the word Rum don't show the way to the nearest drinking den for pirates - rum in Swedish means "room", and that sign points to a B&B.
Normal Swedish hotels tend to be clean, not-so-interesting and fairly expensive. A single room can easily set you back 1000 kr. Most towns, even smaller ones, still have a traditional stadshotell, Statt, (town hotel) somewhere in the city center, which usually contains the town's largest restaurant and/or nightclub. On a more positive note, breakfast buffets at Swedish hotels are often impressive with plenty to choose from - try not to be in too much of a hurry in the morning! Major hotel chains include Scandic and First.
It doesn't matter how many circumflexes Stockholm's Grand Hôtel uses, or how many celebrities stay there, the coolest hotel in Sweden is the Icehotel. Located in the village of Jukkasjärvi in the far north, it is a hotel built from snow and ice. It melts in spring and is rebuilt every winter. Ice hotels are built in several other countries, but the one in Jukkasjärvi is the original. One night in a single room is 2850 kr, book in advance.
There are an increasing number of hotels in Sweden that are "cashless" which means cash may no longer be used to settle payments. Thus, make sure you have a debit/credit card or try to settle your accommodation payment before you start your trip.
Vacation homes edit
Sweden has 680,000 vacation homes. Many of those are old farmhouses, or simple cabins from the early 20th century. While dwellings in holiday hotspots such as the Stockholm archipelago, Åre or Visby can cost as much as an urban home, woodland farmhouses in Småland or far-off parts of Norrland can be bought for a token sum of money. As Sweden is a high-income country, carpentry and other home improvement services are costly; do it yourself is usually the most economic option. Most vacation homes (except the most isolated ones) have electricity. Countryside or island houses usually have no public water supply, and rely on a local water pump, and an outhouse.
Rental homes and hospitality exchange edit
As Sweden has strong rent control and tenant protection, a rental contract is difficult to get in and near the largest cities. The most common apartment ownership in Sweden is bostadsrättsförening, a condominium-like organization.
Hospitality exchange services such as Airbnb can be found in Sweden, but rooms are much fewer than in other European countries, due to regulations.
Sweden is well-known for its high-quality education system. The country strongly emphasises equal and accessible education for all its citizens and is home to some of Europe's most prestigious universities.
All education in Sweden is free for residents. Although the government has subsidized schools and classes, a few private alternatives exist where a tuition fee is required. Students' Union membership is optional, but the union fee of around 500 kr/year can give several perks, such as mediation of dorm rooms or entrance to union parties and events.
If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen wishing to study at a Swedish university or other schools of higher education, you will need to pay tuition fees. Regardless, you must pay for housing, food, literature, etc.
Most undergraduate courses are taught in Swedish, though many postgraduate courses are taught in English. Many universities also conduct lessons for foreigners who wish to learn Swedish.
Some important university cities:
Most universities follow the custom known as an "academic quarter", where classes and most academic events will begin 15 minutes past the hour. At some schools after 18:00, this becomes a "double quarter" where events commence 30 minutes past the hour. Students are expected to be punctual and show up at the appropriate time.
The KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska högskolan) is the country's largest and most prestigious technical university.
Sweden has a strong welfare system, a high standard of living, and a robust economy. Working in Sweden can be a great opportunity for those seeking to work in a dynamic and innovative environment.
Citizens of the Nordic countries, the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland have the right to enter, reside, and work in Sweden freely. Everyone else, however, needs a work permit to work in Sweden. More information about the paperwork required is found on the government website Sweden Abroad.
With an unemployment rate of 7.6% (as of 2023), finding a job in Sweden can be a competitive affair. A decent knowledge of Swedish will significantly enhance your employment opportunities.
The government runs a job agency named Arbetsförmedlingen, but most jobs are provided through other channels.
The average hourly wage was 188 kr in Dec 2022 , and is typically paid once per month.
Stay safe edit
Sweden is generally a safe place to travel. Mind that it is likely that your home country is less safe than Sweden, so heed whatever warnings you would do in your own country and you will have no worries. A notable risk factor is drunk brawls at weekend nights.
Organized gang crime is an issue in some Swedish cities, with disproportionate attention in international media. They influence the illegal narcotics, gambling, prostitution and labour trafficking markets, and rarely affect visitors who stay out of those.
Although there is a significant police presence in the city centres, especially on weekend nights, the countryside is quite weakly policed; especially Norrland, where the nearest patrol car – and the nearest ambulance – might be a hundred kilometres away.
Pickpockets usually work in tourist-frequented areas, such as airports, rail stations, public transportation, shopping areas and festivals. Most Swedes carry their wallets in their pockets or purses and feel quite safe while doing it. Still, almost all stores and restaurants accept most major credit cards, so there is no need to carry a lot of cash around. If you have a bike, do lock it or you may lose it.
Authorized security officers carry a grey uniform labelled ordningsvakt, and have the authority to use force. They patrol nightclubs, shopping malls, festivals and city centres. Security staff without special authority have the badge väktare.
While Swedish police and security officers are helpful to well-behaving people, detention laws are rather harsh, and do not allow bailout. Police can detain overly intoxicated people overnight if they endanger others or themselves, and relocate people who behave disorderly, even without suspicion of crime. A suspect of crime can be jailed until trial, if the court sees a risk of flight (which is often the case for foreign visitors).
Although prostitution is not criminalised in Sweden, paying for sexual services is a crime.
Knife-carrying in public areas is criminalised in Sweden (except blunt or very small knives) unless needed for work, outdoor life, or other activities. Packing down a knife with camping equipment is legitimate.
Be sure to watch for cars in the road junctions. There is a law in Sweden called "the Zebra law" which means that cars must stop at zebra crossings. Many Swedes believe that all the drivers do that. By watching for cars you may save not only your life but also a friend's, since reported injuries have increased because of the law. If you do drive then follow the law, police cars may not be seen everywhere but you never know when they appear.
In case of emergency edit
112 is the emergency phone number to dial in case of fire, medical or criminal emergency. It does not require an area code, regardless of what kind of phone you're using. The number works on any mobile phone, with or without a SIM card, even if it's keylocked (without SIM, you will be asked to press "5" before the call will be answered).
Swedish police are stretched thin across the country. Officers are rarely on patrol, and might be too busy to head out for minor crimes. To report a theft or getting in contact with the police in general, there is a national non-emergency phone number 114 14 that will bring you in contact with an operator at a police station (usually nearby, but not always).
Brown bear (brunbjörn), wolf (varg), lynx (lo) and wolverine (järv) roam the Swedish wilderness, though they are unusual to sight. Contrary to popular belief abroad, there are no wild polar bears in Sweden. Bears are most likely to attack if they are injured, provoked by a dog, going to hibernate or protecting their cubs. Bears in Sweden have killed no more than a handful of people since 1900. Though wild wolves might attack pets and livestock, they avoid people.
Animal collisions edit
Animal collisions are a serious risk factor on the road, especially at dusk. Elk (älg), deer (hjort) and wild boar (vildsvin) are common, the latter only in southern Sweden. Reindeer (ren) is common in Lappland. Many national roads (riksväg) and most European routes (europaväg) have long sections with wildlife fences (viltstängsel) to keep large animals away. A traffic sign usually warns when the wildlife fence ends with the text: Viltstängsel upphör. In mountanious Lappland it is common that heards of reindeers takes up the road, and it is not uncommon that a rock ptarmigan (fjällripa) suddenly decides to cross the road.
Stay healthy edit
Certified pharmacies carry a green cross sign and the text Apotek. For small medical problems the pharmacy is sufficient. Major cities carry one pharmacy open at night. Many supermarkets carry non-prescription supplies such as band aid and antiseptics. Strong painkillers are sold only at pharmacies.
Swedish health care is usually of high quality, but can be quite challenging for foreigners to receive. Most medical clinics are run by the public sector, and their accessibility varies. Therefore, getting a time within a week at some medical centres could prove difficult. In case of a medical emergency, most provinces (and of course, the major cities) have a regional hospital with an around-the-clock emergency ward. However, if you are unlucky you can expect a long wait before getting medical attention. Call 112 for emergencies, and 1177 for non-emergency medical consulting, as well as directions for open medical clinics.
Tap water in Sweden is of great quality, and contains close to zero bacteria. Water in mountain resorts might contain rust, and water on islands off the coast might be brackish, but it is still safe to drink. There is no real reason for buying bottled water in Sweden. Also, there is bottled water that doesn't meet the requirements to be used as tap water in Sweden.
There are few serious health risks in Sweden. Your primary concern in winter will be cold weather, particularly if hiking or skiing in the northern parts. Northern Sweden is sparsely populated and, if heading out into the wilderness, it is imperative that you register your travel plans with a friend or the authorities so they can come looking for you if you fail to show up. Dress warmly in layers and bring along a good pair of sunglasses to prevent snow blindness, especially in the spring. In snowy mountains, avalanches might be a problem.
A serious nuisance are mosquitoes (myggor,) particularly in the north, during wet summers. While they do not carry malaria or other infections, Swedish mosquitoes make a distinctive (and highly irritating) whining sound, and their bites are very itchy. As usual, they are most active around dawn and sunset — which, in the land of the Midnight Sun, may mean most of the night in summer. Supermarkets have many types of mosquito repellents.
Other summer nuisances are gadflies (bromsar), whose painful but non-venomous bites can leave a mark lasting for days, and wasps (getingar) whose stings can be deadly for allergics in very rare cases. Use mosquito repellent, ensure your tent has good mosquito netting, and bring proper medication if you know that you're allergic to wasp stings.
Ticks (fästingar) appear in summer, especially in tall grass. They can transmit Lyme's disease (borreliosis) and more serious TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) through a bite. The risk areas for TBE are mainly the eastern parts of Svealand and the Stockholm archipelago. Wear bright clothes, and check your body (and your pets) after outdoor trips. You can buy special tick tweezers (fästingplockare) from the pharmacy.
There's only one type of venomous snake in Sweden: the European adder (huggorm), which has a distinct zig-zag pattern on its back. The snake is not very common, but lives all over Sweden except for the northern mountains. Its bite is hardly ever life-threatening (except to small children and allergic people), but people bitten should seek medical assistance. All reptiles in Sweden, including adders, are protected by law and must not be harmed.
There are no really dangerous marine animals in Sweden, although when bathing in the sea one should watch out for Greater weevers (Fjärsing); a small fish hiding in sand, with several venomous spikes on its back. The venom is about as dangerous as that of the European adder, and will likely cause more pain (this can be quite severe) than damage. There are also venomous jellyfish, bright blue or red, in the sea. The venom is not lethal, but it hurts.
Stinging nettles grow in wet and nitrogen-rich places (especially where people urinate outdoors), but getting stung is generally not dangerous, only locally hurting for a few hours.
|“||I never said, "I want to be alone." I only said, "I want to be let alone!" There is all the difference||”|
—Greta Garbo; usually quoted to describe Swedish people's desire for privacy
Most Swedes have liberal, cosmopolitan, secular, egalitarian and environmentalist values by Germanic standards, similar to other Nordic countries. This spares Western tourists from cultural clashes that might be imminent in other countries. However, some strict rules of etiquette are almost unique to Swedish people.
Sweden – a country of numbers
Swedish people are reputed to be rigid and organized. Almost everything has a number. Swedish people have a ten-digit personal identity number (starting by date of birth in the form YYMMDD) used in contact with all kinds of government authorities, usually mentioned before the name. Customers in Swedish shops or banks need to take a queue number note from a machine to be served in order. Each product at Systembolaget is known for its product number (which is often easier to keep track of than foreign-sounding names), and the most important feature in selection is the alcohol content (often divided by price to find the most cost-efficient product). If you order a drink in the bar, be prepared to tell how many centiliters of liquor you want. Most grocers provide milk in four or more fat content levels (plus an organic version of each, barista milk and low lactose milk, not to mention filmjölk, yoghurt and all other milk products). Before going outdoors, Swedes check air temperature, and before bathing in open water, they check water temperature. Many Swedes also own barometers, hygrometers and rain gauges to support the eternal conversation about weather with statistics. In conversation about housing, Swedes define their flats by number of rooms (En trea – "a three" – is simply a three-room-and-kitchen flat) and usually ask each other about the area by square meter. They have week numbers running from 1 to 52. The world famous furniture retailer IKEA diverts from this pattern, with Nordic product names.
- Though some people in Sweden use narcotics, most Swedes, old and young, are strongly opposed to them. Possession and intoxication of non-medical drugs (including cannabis) lead to a fine and a note in the criminal record. The police can force a suspected drug user to produce a urine or blood sample.
- When it comes to alcohol, Swedes are as double-natured as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Before work or driving, one beer is one too many. However, drunkenness can be a regular part of many Swedish traditions (e.g. Midsommar, Valborg, etc.) – keep this in mind if you abstain from alcohol. Some Swedes frown on people being sober at a party and reject excuses other than driving or pregnancy.
- Swedish people want and expect privacy and personal space. Salespeople, waiters and other service employees are usually less attentive than their colleagues in other countries, to respect customers' privacy, except a short "hej" to entering customers. Customers are supposed to call for attention. When entering a bus or another form of public transportation it is often considered impolite to sit next to another person if there is another twin seat available. This also applies to international celebrities, who can generally walk around the streets without being bothered by the general public; approaching a celebrity outside official fan events is extremely disrespectful in Swedish culture.
- In most homes it is customary to remove your shoes. If you just assume that you are to take them off upon entry, in most cases you will have done the right thing, but you could check whether other guests have left theirs by the front door. If you are dressed up and feel undressed without shoes, bring indoor shoes, like many of the guests will. At more formal parties also wearing outdoor shoes may be acceptable. Indoor shoes may also be brought for warmth (especially to cottages and the like): most Swedish homes have wood flooring; wall-to-wall carpets are uncommon.
- Despite rumours of the "Swedish sin", Swedish people are generally not accepting of public nudity except at designated nudist beaches. Don't go skinny-dipping in public beaches if you are more than about four years old. Female toplessness is accepted at public baths, but uncommon. Public breastfeeding is a consolidated right at any place, even at business meetings and high-end restaurants. Male toplessness is accepted in the countryside and at the beach, but might be frowned upon in urban areas.
- Greetings between men and women who know each other (e.g., are good friends, relatives) are often in the form of a hug. Swedes don't cheek-kiss to greet but are aware that other cultures do. If you are a visitor from France and do cheek-kiss a Swede, they will attempt to return the favour but probably feel a bit awkward doing so.
- Show up on the minute for meetings and meals, preferably five minutes before the set time. There is no "fashionably late" in Sweden. However, showing up early at a private invitation is considered rude. If it's acceptable to arrive late, it's usually mentioned specifically (e.g., "...arrive after 1700") or there are established rules (some universities apply an "akademisk kvart", an academic quarter hour, within which it is acceptable to arrive to lectures).
- Sweden is quite tolerant about homosexuality. Same-sex marriages have legal standing in Sweden. The chance of facing extreme criticism or homophobia is low in Sweden, as the country has anti-discrimination and hate crime laws. Violence against gays and lesbians is very rare.
- Sweden is a multicultural country. Do not make assumptions based on peoples' appearance. Outward displays of racism, sexism, or homophobia will be met with hostility. Even slight preferences may be noticed and noted.
- As of the 2020s, beggars from the Balkans (typically of Roma origin) can be seen in most towns or cities. Homeless Swedes beg as well; while there can be many of them in city centres, the transactions usually take place without nuisance. Loitering outdoors, begging, and handing money to beggars is not illegal in Sweden. Many municipalities, though, have made it compulsory for beggars to file for a permit to beg in public, which indirectly has curbed the trend; the social services are supposed to take care of those in need.
- A sensitive topic in Sweden is hunting and wildlife management, especially when it comes to the population of wolves and other predators. People in the countryside have strong opinions on the subject.
- Swedish decision-making processes are based on consensus. Swedes are generally raised to concentrate on what unites, rather than on what divides. For a foreigner it may seem odd that it can be very difficult for a Swede to counter your opinion with a plain "no" or "never". Most Swedes will try to counter your opinion with something positive – to create consensus, or will say nothing at all. This does not mean they do not have an opinion of their own. Have this in mind when trying to get to know Swedes. Approach them with questions and queries that can be answered in a positive way – and you will break the ice. The less positive truth comes out when Swedes will trust you in consuming alcoholic beverages with them.
- Gender neutrality is an important part of Swedish culture, and most parents aim to raise their children in a gender-neutral way. For instance, toy manufacturers are required to market their products in a gender-neutral way, and Swedish schools aim to treat boys and girls equally; check with the family before bringing a Barbie doll as a present. Both sexes work in all trades and positions. There is also a movement to replace the gender-specific pronouns han (male) and hon (female) with the gender-neutral pronoun hen in the Swedish language in order to remove such distinctions.
- Local pride is strong in Sweden for each county, province or municipality. There is also a cultural gap between the capital Stockholm and the rest of the country. Stockholmers are perceived as arrogant know-it-alls by non-Stockholmers, and people from outside Stockholm, especially from Scania, are perceived by Stockholmers as yokels and backwards-thinking. This cultural gap stems to a degree from a historical background, inasmuch as governors (landshövding) were appointed by the king, and they nowadays are appointed by the national government in Stockholm as leaders of the counties.
- Money is a taboo topic in Sweden, and many Swedes are more comfortable talking about their sex lives than their personal finances.
- Queueing, standing in line for something, is very organised in Sweden. Always look for the dispenser with the numbered queue slips (kölapp, nummerlapp). Expect to be reprimanded by staff or bystanders if you approach without a queue slip or with the wrong queue slip.
- Although 52.8% of Swedes are members of the Church of Sweden (as of 2022), an Evangelical Lutheran church, Sweden is by and large a secular country, and only a minority of Swedes go to church regularly. Freedom of religion is generally respected, but most people are uncomfortable discussing religion with people they are not very close to.
Urban legend: "Why do all Swedish families hire gay nannies?"
The story tells that some English-speaking visitors to a Swedish city were perplexed by the sight of men in their thirties pushing baby strollers along the streets. While the visitors in the story assumed they were nannies hired by the family (and homosexual, for some reason), these men are full-time fathers. Sweden has one year of paid parental leave, of which three months are designated for each parent. While world leading in paternity leave, the current debate in Sweden is why fathers spend too little time with their babies.
- Around payday, on the 25th of each month, stores and bars can get very crowded.
- Smoking is not allowed in restaurants, bars or any other indoor establishments (except outdoor terraces and designated smoking rooms). Smoking in someone's home is usually out of the question; if you ask kindly you might be allowed to light up on the balcony or the porch. Relatively few Swedes smoke daily, but some men and women use "snus" (snuff), a tobacco pouch inserted into the upper lip. It comes in a wide variety of different styles and flavours and in both loose and portion form. Portions are more popular and generally recommended for public events, as loose snus can be very messy when removed. Unlike American oral tobaccos, it is not usually necessary to spit if the snus is properly placed. Most bars and clubs will have snus receptacles instead of ashtrays on the tables. Be warned, however, that snus can seem very harsh to first time users, with a nicotine level several times that of cigarettes.
- Credit or debit card. Payment by credit and debit card is very widespread in Sweden: in some cases, there might not be the option to pay cash, including at some ticket machines, local buses in e.g. Stockholm, and some over-the-counter transactions. Nearly all stores and all ATMs accept VISA and MasterCard, as well as Maestro (Switch). PIN-pads are widely used instead of signatures (even for credit cards), so if your card has a PIN, memorize it before you leave home. Don't expect stores to accept foreign currency, apart from close to the borders, where usually only the neighbour currency is accepted (i.e. Danish krone, Norwegian krone or euro). Larger stores in Stockholm and at larger airports and railway stations often accept payment in Euro, typically at unfavourable rates. If you do not have a debit or credit card when you arrive in Sweden, you can use your cash (make sure you exchange them for Swedish krona first) to buy a Paygoo Mastercard gift card at the Pressbyrån outlets available at major airports, train stations, and coach stations; it will be accepted in the same way as any other MasterCard in most outlets.
- Passport or EU national identity card as identification. A driver's license is not a valid ID in Sweden, but it might work nonetheless (more frequently if issued in the standard EU format). You will frequently be asked to prove age or identity – for instance when using your credit card, when buying alcohol, when renting accommodation or when entering bars and clubs. You will also need it to register a prepaid phone account (see "Connect"). Banks accept only Swedish identity documents. Swedish bureaucracy is efficient but rigid.
- Warm clothes and extra shoes. Weather in Sweden is unpredictable. It can get cold and/or wet, but almost never too hot.
- If you plan on staying in Sweden for an extended period of time, pack some rain clothes. If you don't own any, they can be bought in many stores across Sweden – but can be somewhat expensive.
- Mobile phone. There are no public phone booths in Sweden anymore. Swedish GSM (2G), 3G, and 4G coverage is great, at least in populated areas, but don't expect it to work everywhere. In rural areas the state-owned operator Telia might be the only one available. If you have another operator you may only place emergency calls. 5G is being implemented nationwide reaching maximum coverage by all providers in 2025. Within the same time frame GSM (2G) and 3G is being dismantled to make place for improved 4G coverage and 5G. If your plan does not include roaming, you can purchase a prepaid SIM card (kontantkort) at the Pressbyrån outlets available at major airports, train stations, and coach stations to enjoy fairly generous mobile data allowances. Since 2022 it is mandatory to register a Swedish SIM card, for tourists by showing passport or national-ID. If you are short on time, avoid Telia or Halebop as those have to be registered at a Telia store; other operators support self-service registration by using their app or website to upload a photo of your ID, allowing you to get started within minutes. You can also use your smartphone to buy tickets for various transport services and other attractions and store them for inspection later.
- Power plug adapters, if you come from the UK or North America. Sweden follows European standard 230 volt 50 Hz and uses Schuko plugs.
- European Health Insurance Card, if you are an EU/EEA citizen.
- In forests and mountains, use mosquito repellent, myggmedel, which is available in most food stores.
Do not bring edit
- Cash money from your home country – see above. However there are currency exchange offices at airports and in city centres that will exchange most currencies. Some bank branches will not exchange currency, or handle cash at all in some cases.
- Tear gas or pepper spray for self-defence. These require authorization to be carried in Sweden, and you will probably not have use for them either way, due to the country's low rate of violent crime.
Electricity and utilities edit
Sweden uses 230 V 50 Hz electricity with the F/Schuko plug, available everywhere except the most isolated cabins. Supply is reliable, though the countryside might have blackouts during severe storms. Most buildings have sufficient heating; air conditioning is however mostly found in commercial buildings, rarely in private homes.
The availability and standard of public toilets varies a lot. Except gas stations, they are available at most rest areas. Public toilets in cities and at rail stations might be scarce, and often require a fee (which can be as high as 12kr in the more upscale shopping centres). Toilets in city restaurants are usually for guests only. There are approximately 270 public rest areas (rastplats) along the roads in Sweden (map); there should be one for every 40–80 minutes of driving, i.e. every 50–100 km. They should have at least a toilet, an information board, some benches and a waste management system, all accessible by the disabled. Some are well-planned and nice.
Urinating behind a tree at a countryside road is acceptable; in a city street it is criminalized and might lead to a fine.
Pets have rights according to Swedish law. One of these rights stipulates that a dog or a cat must be offered water at least every six hours. At many restaurants that serve outdoors a bowl of water is placed outdoors to accommodate pets. They also have the right to be walked.
In many municipalities it constitutes a breach of the environmental act to leave dog faeces (hundbajs) in public places. Since it is legal to film people littering for the sake of filing legal charges, walking the dog might get expensive if their droppings are left unattended. Plastic bags for dog poo (hundbajspåse) are for sale at almost any supermarket, and they should be used for picking up the droppings, and then left at a dedicated litter bin for this purpose, that can be found in green areas in these municipalities.
From 1 March to 20 August special attention is required when walking a dog in the wild. Dogs are not allowed to roam freely where game lives. In practice, this means if the dog does not stay within a few meters of its human company, it must be wearing a leash (koppel). During the rest of the year, the dog must be within sight and command at all times of its human company, or it must be wearing a leash. When entrance is permitted for dogs to national parks and nature reserves, they must always wear a leash. The dog owner is always legally responsible for their dog, which also means getting acquainted with the appropriate laws. Different rules apply when a dog is with a hunting party, and the owner of the hunting rights must give their approval.
The national postal service in Sweden is run by PostNord and is considered efficient and reliable. Postal service points (serviceställe or postombud) sells postage stamps and can be found in many supermarkets and grocery stores all over the country. Post boxes are yellow with the postal logo, and are emptied once every workday. Domestic mail is delivered every second workday. Parcels are delivered every workday, in some places even on Saturdays. An unregistered priority (airmail) postcard or letter with a weight of less than 50 grams is 30 kr (approximately €2.64) for all international destinations (as of January 2023).
Alternatively, packages can be sent within Sweden and to international destinations with DHL or within Sweden and the European Union with DB Schenker. The latter website is in the Swedish language only, and you might need the help of a local to book and send a package.
Telephone and Internet edit
Sweden's international calling code number is +46. Public pay phones ceased to exist in 2015. Sweden is the world's second most Internet-connected country (after Iceland).
Sweden has excellent wireless GSM and 3G/UMTS coverage, even in rural areas, except in the central and northern interior parts of the country. Swedish GSM operates on the European 900/1800 MHz frequencies (Americans will need a triband phone), with 3G/UMTS on 2100 MHz (with 7.2–14.4 Mbit HSDPA speeds). 4G/LTE coverage is also widely available, and 5G is being deployed in major urban areas.
The major operators are Telia, Tele2, Telenor and 3 (Tre). The major operators have discounted services via their affiliated brands – Halebop, Comviq, Vimla, and Hallon. Some operators may require a Swedish personnummer (or samordningsnummer) to get a number, although all operators (except Hallon!) that sell prepaid will allow you to get it without any "personnummer" (Tele2 and 3 do not sell prepaid, so they are not linked here), and these are sold and refillable at most supermarkets and tobacco stores. If "prepaid" is not understood ask for a Kontantkort. Alternatively, if you already have a SIM from another EU/EEA country, you may be able to continue using it in Sweden, subject to any fair-use limits imposed by your home provider.
Swedish law now requires all Swedish prepaid SIMs to be registered to a person with a Swedish personnummer, a BankID, or valid photo ID (passport or identity card) before they can be used. The procedure varies depending on the provider. Telia and Halebop require you to bring the SIM to a Telia store for registration, and requires a form that has to be sent off to the central support desk for processing. This can take a few hours before you can start purchasing plans to use. Telenor SIMs can be registered by yourself online here and are ready to load and use immediately after the necessary data is uploaded. Hallon SIMs can not be registered without BankID, so avoid their SIMs.
Prepaid USB 4G/LTE modems or data-only SIMs for a modem you already have can be bought in many stores. They are a good alternative to WiFi in Sweden, costing relatively little (300kr a month will get you 20-30GB depending on provider, and a couple of providers even offer unlimited data for a slightly higher price). Alternatively, these days, all providers allow tethering, meaning that a phone's data connection can be shared to any other devices within WiFi range without having to purchase a separate device. The number of WiFi access points are growing and fast food chains, libraries, hotels, cafés and malls and others may offer free wireless internet access. Fixed terminals where you can pay for internet access exist as well, although many libraries can provide the same service for free.
If you are planning on continuing to use your SIM in another EU/EEA country after leaving Sweden, it is important to familiarize yourself with each provider's EU roaming policy and purchase a SIM with that in mind. Halebop limits EU roaming to 10 GB a month. Comviq has fair-use limits in place that vary by plan. Only Telenor and Telia allow full use of their prepaid plans across the entire EU/EEA without any extra charge. It is, however, not possible to buy refill vouchers for these products outside Sweden in general (although Telenor and Telia will both accept foreign credit cards for refills online).