Practical information for visiting Sweden
Every country have their own cultural customs and practical regulations that might not always be obvious for people visiting from abroad. It may concern the currency, age limits, alcohol regulations, health care or what to do during an emergency. Or simply if you should leave a tip or not when eating out.
We’ve put together a quick summary of some useful information for visiting Sweden, hopefully it will answer most of your basic questions.
The currency in Sweden is the Swedish krona (SEK or kr in short). Although Sweden is a member state of EU, the Euro is not used. Some stores and restaurants might accept Euro (primarily larger ones) but it’s not recommended to rely on it when visiting Sweden. Direct payment in Euro will typically not get you a good conversion rate either.
Having the option to pay with both credit/debit card and cash in Swedish kronor will have you covered during your stay. There are places that will only accept card payment and not cash, and vice versa (even though they are quite few).
Leaving tip is completely optional in Sweden and it’s not expected from most service-oriented work. At restaurants and after taxi rides it’s however customary to round up the bill by typically 5-10 % to show appreciation.
The Swedish main electric grid is 230 V, 50 Hz and uses a 2-pin plug of type C or F. The socket is usually of a round, grounded type. If your electronic gadgets uses a different type, it’s a good idea to get a converting travel adapter.
Tap water is very clean in Sweden and it’s perfectly fine to drink throughout the country.
The country code for calling to Sweden is 46. Calling a landline number within Sweden will require a city/region code for the specific area.
A pre-paid mobile plan is an easy way to lower costs of phone calls and mobile surf while visiting.
Some useful numbers in Sweden:
- 112 – General emergency number (police, medical, fire dept.)
- 1177 – Medical assistance & advice (not emergency)
- 114 14 – Police (not emergency)
- 020-912 912 (+4620-912 912) – Roadside assistance & towing
- 118 118 or 118 100 – Directory assistance
- 08-508 28 508 (+468-508 28 508) – Stockholm tourist centre
Health care in Sweden
The health care system in Sweden is primarily run by the state. If you’re in need of medical attention you should visit the local open clinic (vårdcentral), or a larger hospital (sjukhus). If you’re in need of urgent care you should call the national emergency number 112.
Medicine, both prescription and non-prescription, is available at a drugstore or pharmacy (apotek). Keep in mind that Swedish pharmacies are usually closed on Sundays.
(EU citizens should definitely get the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before traveling in Europe. It’s not a substitute for travel insurance, but it’s a great addition. Read more about it here.)
Do I need travel insurance when travelling to Sweden?
It’s always a great idea to have adequate insurance when travelling, whether you’re looking to cover yourself or your property for unforeseen events. Plenty of things may go wrong when you’re on the move; cancelled flights, stolen luggage or medical emergencies – insurance is not only about limiting the risk of unexpected costs but also to keep your peace of mind when on vacation.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what is already covered by your regular insurance policy, credit card and, for example, rental car agreement. Many people find that they are already covered, but if not you may need an additional policy to feel secure.
What is travel insurance and how does it work? To put it simply – travel insurance is an insurance policy specifically targeted to cover travel-related mishaps for the duration of your trip. The coverage may be very different between various insurance issuers and no single insurance policy is perfect for everyone. Take your personal conditions into consideration when determining which policy is right for you, and what you need to have covered; may it for example be related to medical emergencies, cancellation protection, loss of valuables or rental car insurance.
The price of travel insurance is depending on several different details, such as where you’re going and for how long, your country of residence, your age and if you have any current medical conditions. It sounds complicated but it’s usually quite simple to add your information and get a quick quote online. To “claim” an insurance policy, you typically just contact the insurance issuer when you need to be reimbursed or if you’re in need of assistance, and take it from there.
Alcohol & tobacco regulations in Sweden
Alcoholic beverages and liquor with more than 3,5 % alcohol content is sold at Systembolaget and nowhere else in Sweden (except bars and restaurants). Systembolaget has a statutory monopoly for selling alcohol and the age limit for purchasing is strictly 20 years. Alcoholic bevarages with 3,5 % alcohol content or less is sold at convenience stores and supermarkets with an age limit of 18 years.
Systembolaget is closed on Sundays and on most major holidays; plan ahead if you wish to purchase alcohol before longer weekends, such as Easter and Christmas.
The age limit for drinking in bars and restaurants in Sweden is also 18 years.
Drinking in public in Sweden is generally not allowed, but some areas (such as certain parks) might be exceptions. If an area is ok or not is determined on a municipal level and sometimes it’s only allowed to drink during a specific time of day.
Smoking indoors in public spaces is prohibited in Sweden. This includes, for example, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, office buildings and underground subway stations. Smoking in open-air cafes and the outdoor dining of a restaurant is however usually allowed. Swedish snus can be used anywhere but all tobacco has an age limit for purchasing of 18 years in Sweden.
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