STUDY IN Sweden - LIVING IN SWEDEN
|Social Conventions: Normal courtesies
should be observed. It is customary for the guest
to refrain from drinking until the host makes
a toast. The guest should also thank the host
for the meal with Tack för maten. Casual
dress is acceptable for everyday occasions; smarter
wear for social occasions, exclusive restaurants
and clubs. Evening wear (black tie) will usually
be specified when required. Smoking is prohibited
on public transport and in most public buildings.
Tipping: Hotel prices include a service charge.
Service in restaurants is not usually included
in the bill; around 10 per cent should be added.
Late at night the service charge is higher. Taxi
drivers should be tipped around 10 per cent.
Local Customs & Culture
|Food & Drink: Swedes like
straightforward meals, simply prepared from the
freshest ingredients. As a seafaring country with
many freshwater lakes, fish dishes are prominent
on hotel or restaurant menus.
The Scandinavian cold table, called smörgåsbord,
is traditional. First pickled herring with boiled
potatoes, then perhaps a couple more fish courses,
smoked salmon or anchovies followed by cold meat,
pâté, sliced beef, stuffed veal or
The hot dishes come next, for instance, another
herring dish, small meatballs (köttbullar)
or an omelette. A fruit salad and cheese with
crispbreads round off the meal. Other dishes to
look out for are smoked reindeer from Lapland;
gravlax, salmon that has been specially prepared
and marinated; wild strawberries; and the cloudberries
that are unique to Scandinavia.
Once on the open road the traveller is well catered
for with picnic sites on the way, often with wooden
tables and seats. Top-class restaurants in Sweden
are usually fairly expensive, but even the smallest
towns have reasonably priced self-service restaurants
and grill bars. Many restaurants all over Sweden
offer a special dish of the day at a reduced price
which includes main course, salad, soft drink
and coffee. Waiter service is common although
there are many self-service snack bars.
Snapps, the collective name for aquavit or brännvin,
is a Swedish liqueur which is traditionally drunk
chilled with smörgåsbord. It is made
under a variety of brand names with flavours varying
from practically tasteless to sweetly spiced.
Swedish beers are lager- and pilsner-type brews
and come in four strengths. The minimum age for
buying alcoholic beverages is 20, although alcohol
can be consumed in bars from restaurants from
18 onwards. Wine, spirits and beer are sold through
the state-owned monopoly, Systembolaget, open
during normal shopping hours. Before 1300 on Sundays
alcohol cannot be bought in bars, cafes or restaurants.
After midnight alcohol can only be bought in nightclubs
that stay open until between 0200-0500. In a restaurant
or a nightclub, the minimum age for buying alcoholic
beverages is 18. Stiff penalties are enforced
for drinking and driving.
Nightlife: Stockholm has pubs,
cafés, discos, restaurants, cinemas and
theatres. In the more rural areas evenings tend
to be tranquil. From August to June the Royal
Ballet performs in Stockholm. Music and theatre
productions take place in many cities during the
summer at open air venues. Outside Stockholm in
the 18th-century Court Theatre of the Palace of
Drottningholm there are performances of 18th-century
Shopping: VAT (Moms) is refundable
to tourists or visitors who are resident in non-EU
countries on goods bought at shops participating
in the Tax-Free Shopping scheme. The refund is
payable to the customer when departing from Sweden
at either airports or customs offices at ports.
Special purchases include glassware and crystal,
ceramics, stainless steel and silver, hemslöjd
(cottage industry artefacts) and woodcarvings.
Women’s and children’s clothes are
good buys, especially handknitted Nordic sweaters.
Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 0900-1600.
In larger towns, some shops have longer opening
hours and are also open Sundays. In rural areas,
shops and petrol stations close by 1700/1800.
Special Events: For details,
contact the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council.
Special events occurring in
- Dec-Apr - Sweden’s Ice Hotel,
- Jan - Epiphany Concert and Ball,
- Jan - Viking Run, Stockhom
- Gothenburg's 26th Film Festival
- Kiruna Snow Festival (the biggest snow festival
- Feb - Great Sami Winter Market,
- Mar -Vasaloppet Cross Country Ski Race,
between Sälen and Mora
- Apr - Walpurgis
Night (advent of spring festivities), countrywide
- Jun Hultsfred Rock Festival
- Jun - Midsummer
- Jun-Jul - Music on Lake
Silja; Swedish Match Cup, Marstrand
- Jul-Aug - Stockholm
Jazz Festival; Stockholm Pride
- Aug - Medieval Festival
Week, Gotland; Malmö Festival
- Aug - Midnight
- Aug - FIM Scandanavian Speedway
Grand Prix, Gothenburg. Sep Start of Lobster Season,
(opportunities to go out and catch your own lobster
on a safari); Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival
- Nov-Dec - Christmas Markets, Liseberg and Skansen
- Dec - Nobel Prize Day, Stockholm
- Dec 31- Lucia
Day (the coronation of Lucia, the bearer of light,
is celebrated all over Sweden on the darkest night
of the year. On this date a young woman is chosen
to lead the annual procession of light at Skansen
open-air museum), Stockholm
- New Year's Eve Celebrations,
|RAIL: The excellent and extensive rail system
is run by Swedish State Railways (SJ), SE-105
50 Stockholm (tel: 04982 03380; fax: 04982 03391;
website: http://www.sj.se). The network is more concentrated
in the populated south where hourly services run
between the main cities, but routes extend to
the forested and sparsely populated lake area
of the north, which is a scenic and popular holiday
destination. Restaurant cars and sleepers are
provided on many trains. Reservations are essential
for most express services. Motorail car-sleeper
services are operated during the summer on the
long-distance routes from Malmö, Gothenburg
and Västerås to Kiruna and Luleå.
For tickets and booking information, see online
Discount tickets: There are
reductions for families and regular passengers,
as well as a link-up with other Scandinavian countries
via the Scanrail Pass, which provides unlimited
travel in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden
for 21 consecutive days. It also gives free travel
on the ferries between Helsingør and Helsingborg.
Children aged between 4 and 11 travel at half
the fare or reduced fare. Young people aged 12-25
obtain a discount of 25 per cent, and for passengers
aged over 60 fares are discounted by 10 per cent.
All passengers may be eligible for discounted
tickets, under a scheme known as raslyst. This
card is valid for two people for one calendar
year and entitles travellers to up to 70 per cent
off when the booking is made at least 7 days in
advance. Only a limited number of these tickets
are available, so it is advisable to book as far
in advance as possible. See online for more details
ROAD: Traffic drives on the
right. Sweden’s roads are well-maintained
and relatively uncrowded, but watch out for animals
crossing the road in remote areas. Credit and
debit cards are becoming more acceptable as a
means of payment at petrol stations. Most petrol
stations have 24-hour automatic petrol pumps;
they accept SKr100 and 20 notes. Bus: Express
coach services and local buses are run by Linjebuss
and Swebus (website: http://www.swebus.se).
Cheap and efficient links are available to all
towns. Many coach operators do special offers
on tickets on weekends (Friday to Sunday). Information
is available in Sweden from local tourist offices.
The Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm Cards
offer free public transport in those areas as
well as free admission to selected museums and
tourist attractions. Cards can be purchased from
tourist information centres, camping sites or
Taxi: Available in all towns
and at airports. Intercity taxis are also available.
Car hire: Available in most towns and cities.
All international agencies are represented. Regulations:
Speed limits outside built-up areas are 110, 90
or 70kph (68, 56 or 43mph) depending on road width
and traffic density. In built-up areas the limit
is 50kph (31mph) or 30kph (19mph) in school areas.
Severe fines and sometimes prison sentences are
imposed on drivers over the alcohol limit (0.02
per cent). There are on-the-spot fines for traffic
offences. The use of dipped headlights is compulsory
in the daytime for cars and motorcycles. Crash
helmets are compulsory for motorcyclists. Children
under 7 may not travel in a car if it is not equipped
with a special child restraint or a normal seat
belt adapted for the child’s use. Emergency
warning triangles are obligatory. Studded tyres
are only permitted from 1 November to the first
Monday after the Easter holiday. Documentation:
National driving licence is sufficient, but it
must include a photo or it will not be recognised.
The minimum age for car drivers is 18; for motorcyclists
it is 17. The car’s log book and written
permission must be carried if driving someone
else’s car. A Green Card is not required
by Swedish authorities, but it tops up the cover
provided by a domestic policy. It is advisable
to check the validity of insurance policies prior
URBAN: Public transport is efficient,
comprehensive and well-integrated. Stockholm has
bus, trams, metro (T-banan) and local rail services.
Pre-purchase multi-tickets and passes are sold,
though single tickets can also be obtained on
the bus. There are trams in Gothenburg and Norrköping.
Taxis are widely available; large taxi companies
are cheaper than independents. Several of the
main cities, particularly Stockholm, have boat
excursions and services. See Resorts & Excursions
section for further information.
|HOTELS AND MOTELS: Hotels are
usually of a high standard. Most have a restaurant
and/or cafeteria and a TV lounge, and many include
a buffet breakfast in the price. Good first- and
medium-class hotels are found in every Swedish
town. They are mostly private but are, in many
cases, operated by hotel groups and offer special
reduced rates for the summer and weekends. Special
packages are available throughout the year in
Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm.
Scattered all over Sweden are country hotels,
characterised by good food and attractive settings.
Some are renovated and modernised manor houses
or centuries-old farmhouses which have frequently
been in the same family for generations. They
are mostly independently owned and are often located
in picturesque surroundings. Others are traditional
old inns. During the summer many hotels offer
facilities for swimming, fishing, boating, golf
and flower-spotting or bird-watching excursions.
There are also a number of mountain hotels which
are ideal for those who want a peaceful holiday.
They provide a good base for expeditions in the
mountains and guided walks are often arranged,
as well as other activities such as keep-fit classes,
fishing and canoeing. Many are also popular skiing
hotels in the winter. A comprehensive list of
hotels can be found online (website:
Grading: There is no formal grading
structure, but most first-class hotels display
the SHR sign indicating that they belong to the
Swedish Hotel & Restaurant Association (SHR),
Sveriges Hotell & Restaurang Företagare,
PO Box 1158, Kammarkargatan 39, 111 81 Stockholm
(tel: (8) 762 7400; fax: (8) 215 861; e-mail:
Hotel discount schemes: Many
Swedish hotels offer discounted rates throughout
the summer and at weekends during the winter and
some of the leading chains have special deals
which can be booked in advance, including the
SARA Hotels Scandinavian Bonus Pass, the Scandic
Hotel Cheque Scheme and the Sweden Hotel Pass.
Details of these offers and other (including family)
discount schemes are contained in the annual guide
Hotels in Sweden, obtainable from the Swedish
Travel & Tourism Council.
Motels: Sweden has a large number
of motels, most of which are new, usually situated
on the outskirts of towns or in the countryside.
Parking is free. They may have swimming pools,
a gymnasium and saunas, restaurants and self-service
FARMHOUSE ACCOMMODATION: About
100 working farms throughout Sweden offer accommodation,
either in the main farmhouse or in an adjoining
cottage. Accommodation is normally on a bed &
breakfast basis, with self-catering facilities.
Some farms offer full board. Accommodation can
be booked through local tourist offices. For more
information and bookings see online (website:
SELF-CATERING: Forest cabins
and chalets are available throughout the country,
generally set in beautiful surroundings, near
lakes, in quiet forest glades or on an island
in some remote archipelago. Purpose-built chalets
generally consist of a living room, two or three
bedrooms, a well-equipped kitchen and a toilet.
They can generally accommodate up to six people,
and cooking utensils, cutlery, blankets and pillows
are provided. Visitors will have to supply only
sheets and towels. Log cabins offer a slightly
simpler type of accommodation. Renovated cottages
and farm buildings are also available, usually
in remote spots.
CHALET VILLAGES: Sweden’s
many chalet villages offer the advantage of amenities
such as a grocery, general shops, leisure facilities,
restaurants, swimming pools, saunas, launderette,
playgrounds, mini-golf, tennis, badminton or volleyball.
Some have programmes of special activities such
as music, dancing, barbecues, riding, fishing
and walking trails. It is often possible to rent
boats or bicycles. Information on rental of holiday
cottages or flats can be obtained from specialist
agencies, local tourist offices in Sweden or the
Swedish Travel & Tourism Council.
camping holidays are extremely popular in Sweden
and there is a tremendous variety of attractive
sites. Most are located in picturesque surroundings,
often on a lakeside or by the sea with free bathing
facilities close at hand. There are about 750
campsites, all officially approved and classified
by the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council. Many
offer facilities such as boat or bicycle rental,
mini-golf, tennis, riding or saunas. Many campsites
have facilities for the disabled. Most authorised
sites are open with full service 1 Jun-15 Aug.
Many sites are also open in April or May but the
full range of ancillary facilities, such as the
post office, may not be open. About 200 sites
remain open in the winter, particularly in the
winter sports areas in central and northern Sweden.
All sites open during the winter have electric
sockets for caravans.
The price for one night for the whole family
plus tent or caravan and use of services is one
of the lowest rates in Europe, although at some
sites there are small charges for the use of services
like showers or launderette. A Camping Card Scandinavia
is recommended. It can be bought beforehand and
works as a credit card for site fees, allows a
quicker check-in time, discounted petrol and provides
accident insurance whilst on site. Contact Camping
in Sweden for more details (website: http://www.camping.se).
Camping Cheques, valid at more than 350 sites,
can be purchased before the holiday but only as
part of a package including a return car-ferry
journey. Each cheque is valid for one night’s
fees for a family with car plus tent or caravan,
but does not include additional services. Detailed
information about camping in Sweden is contained
in a pamphlet which is available free of charge
from the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council;
an abbreviated list of campsites is also available.
Motor homes and caravans can be rented.
Grading: Standards of facilities
and cleanliness at Swedish campsites are probably
the highest in Europe. Approved sites are inspected
annually by the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council
and are awarded a 3-, 2- or 1-star rating according
to the facilities provided, as follows: 3-star:
Supervision 24 hours a day, postal service, car
wash, cafe, cooking facilities, play and recreational
activities and assembly room. 2-star: Supervision
throughout the day, illuminated and fenced-in
area, drains for caravans, shaving points, kiosk,
grocery shop, telephone and electric sockets for
caravans. 1-star: Daily inspection, a barrier
at the entrance, dustbin, drinking water, toilets,
washing facilities and hot water for dishwashing,
laundering and showers.
Fuel: Camping Gaz is not normally
available in Sweden and visitors are recommended
to take their own supplies. Only propane gas (eg
Primus) is obtainable. This is widely available
at more than 2000 Primus dealers along with the
necessary equipment at reasonable prices. It is
important to ensure that equipment designed to
burn butane is not refilled with propane; this
is both illegal and highly dangerous. It is possible
to camp rough in areas away from other dwellings.
Camping Cabins: A useful alternative
to tent or caravan camping is to rent one of 4400
camping cabins which are available at 350 sites.
These contain bunk beds and kitchen equipment
but not sheets.
YOUTH HOSTELS: The 280 hostels
range from mansions to a renovated sailing ship,
the Af Chapman, in the centre of Stockholm, as
well as many purpose-built hostels. There are
no restrictions on who may use Sweden’s
hostels. Hostels have two to four beds per room,
or family rooms and self-catering facilities.
The hostels are run by the Swedish Tourist Federation
(STF) but members of the UK Youth Hostels Association
or Scottish Youth Hostels Association qualify
for a cheaper rate, on production of a membership
card. All youth hostels are open during the summer
and some for the whole year. They are closed during
the day but are open to check in new guests 0800-0930
and 1700-2200. During the summer it is advisable
to book in advance. A list of Swedish youth hostels
can be ordered from STF.. The hostels are also listed
in the International Youth Hostel Handbook, available
through the YHA in the UK; see also online (website:
Swedish Tourist Federation:
STF runs Sweden’s youth hostels and several
mountain stations in the north of the country
and looks after the many mountain huts along the
long-distance hiking trails. STF also publishes
a list of guest harbours and issues guidance to
hikers and canoeing enthusiasts.
Health care standards in Sweden are good. Hospital
services are provided at county and regional levels;
the latter have a greater range of specialist
fields. There are full reciprocal health agreements
with other EU countries including the UK. UK nationals
should take an E111 form (obtainable from post
offices) with them to Sweden in order to take
advantage of the agreement. They are then entitled
to the same medical services as Swedish citizens.
This includes free hospital in-patient treatment
(including medicines); children are also allowed
free dental treatment.
Out-patient treatment at
hospitals, all treatment at clinics and general
surgeries, most prescribed medicines and ambulance
travel must be paid for. To obtain treatment,
visit the nearest hospital clinic (Akutmottagning
or Vårdcentral) taking your passport and
E111 form with you. Travelling expenses to and
from hospital may be partially refunded. If you
are taking prescribed medicines make sure you
have an adequate supply before leaving for Sweden.
Dental surgeries or clinics are indicated by Tandläkare
or Folktandvården signs and emergency service
is available in major cities out of hours. Health
insurance is recommended to cover emergency evacuation.