European Campus


 Study in Sweden
ABOUT Sweden



Social Scene    |    Local Customs and Culture    |    Transportation

Accommodation    |    Health Care    |    Emergency Contacts


Social Scene

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 smoked reindeer.

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 opera.

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 Sweden:

  • Dec-Apr - Sweden’s Ice Hotel, Jukkasjärvi
  • Jan - Epiphany Concert and Ball, Gothenburg
  • Jan - Viking Run, Stockhom
  • Jan-Feb - Gothenburg's 26th Film Festival
  • Jan-Feb - Kiruna Snow Festival (the biggest snow festival in Europe)
  • Feb - Great Sami Winter Market, Jokkmokk
  • Mar -Vasaloppet Cross Country Ski Race, between Sälen and Mora
  • Apr - Walpurgis Night (advent of spring festivities), countrywide
  • Jun Hultsfred Rock Festival
  • Jun - Midsummer Celebration, countrywide
  • 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 Race, Stockhom
  • 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, Skansen




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: 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 (e-mail:; website:

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 (website:

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 (website: and Swebus (website: 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 youth hostels.

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 to departure.

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:; website:

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 cafes.

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/CARAVANNING: Family 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: 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


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.


Emergency Contacts


Ambulance: 112
Police: 112
Fire: 112

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