Cash is NOT king
Sweden is widely regarded as the most cashless society on the planet, according to Visit Sweden. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash and most shops, museums and restaurants now only accept plastic or mobile payments.
Freedom to roam
The Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) gives everyone the right to roam the Swedish countryside – hiking, canoeing, mushroom picking and so on. The term ‘don’t disturb, don’t destroy’, is a good guideline on how to take extra care.
From July 2019, smoking is prohibited at outdoor serving areas (like bars and restaurants where you can sit outside), bus stops, train platforms and playgrounds (and a few more places). The idea behind the law is to help Sweden become free from smoking and a more healthy society.
Black coffee, please
Sweden is one of the top 3 countries* in the world when it comes to coffee consumption. We even have a special word for taking a break to grab a coffee and something sweet – fika. This is also a way to socialise with friends, much like a visit to the pub in the UK.
Lagom – just the right amount
In Sweden the word lagom – just the right amount of something – is a state of mind as much as a word. It literally translates into something like 'just right’ or ‘adequate’.
Be on time and wait in line
Swedes cherish orderliness and are always on time for an appointment. 10 o’clock means 10 sharp, not 10.30. Another sign of this is the organised queuing – either with a numbered ticket system or by lining up. Nevertheless, waiting in line is serious stuff.
Water straight from the tap
The water in the tap is safe and drinkable, so there is no need to purchase bottled water while in Sweden.
The only place that sells alcohol (expect for bars and restaurants) is the state monopoly Systembolaget. The stores close early on Saturdays and stay closed on Sundays. The legal age limit is 20 years, and make sure you bring an ID. (Beer and cider with less than 3.5 % alcohol can be purchased in regular grocery stores.)
The average meal
Lunch deals are offered on weekdays between 11 am–2 pm or so and are often at around 75–105 SEK. An evening main course can start from around 100–150 SEK.
Tipping at dinner
Tipping is optional, but appreciated in restaurants. It’s common to add 5–10 per cent on the food bill or round up the amount. Taxi-drivers will appreciate a small tip too, but it's normally not needed in a hotel, unless you receive extra-ordinary treatment.
Shoes off at the door, please
Are you visiting a Swedish home? Remember to take off your shoes at the door.
In case of an emergency
Dial 112 in case of an emergency to reach an ambulance, the police or the fire brigade. Everyone is entitled to emergency healthcare and EU citizens (with an EU insurance card) pay the same subsidised cost as Swedish residents. Non-EU residents pay full fees and should make sure they are covered by their health insurance while in Sweden.
*According to statistics from Euromonitor, 2013
Sweden in numbers and fast facts
- 10.2 million inhabitants
- 1,574 kilometres long from south to north
- Around 300,000–400,000 elks roam the Swedish forests
- Form of government: constitutional monarchy, with parliamentary democracy
- National day: June 6
- Biggest lake: Vänern
- Currency: SEK (Swedish krona/kronor)
- Calling code: +46