Good tips for travelling in Sweden
Distances in Sweden are very long, especially in Northern Sweden where there are considerable distances between towns and cities. Swedes in fact have a term, a “Swedish mile”, or “mil” which is in fact 10 kilometres. On signs and maps though, distances are always indicated in kilometres.
In Sweden, you can pay everywhere using a credit card (VISA for example). If you are asked whether you want to pay with Swedish currency or your local currency, it can often be advantageous to pay using Swedish currency, thus allowing your bank to handle the exchange transaction. It may perhaps be possible to pay with Danish kronor or euros in larger Swedish cities closest to Denmark, such as Hälsingborg and Malmö.
Tips are usually included in prices at restaurants and cafés and patrons are not expected to give a tip if “Service included” is shown on the bill. You can round up the amount or give a 10% tip if you have received good service and it is a good idea to give a tip in cash instead of using a card. Taxi drivers and hairdressers should also receive a 10% tip if you are happy with their service.
Sweden uses 220 volt alternating current (AC) system and the same plugs as Britain.
Based on the rules of the Nordic Passport Union, a Dane can freely enter all Scandinavian countries, including Sweden. Although Sweden is part of the Schengen Agreement, which guarantees free movement across EU borders, Sweden reintroduced border controls in early 2016, so please be aware of this!
You can withdraw cash from ATMs outside of the banks, but not inside the branches. Or you can exchange money at FOREX. They have offices in most large cities.
You will find traditional Swedish handicrafts such as knitted goods, embroidery or woodcuts even in the tiniest villages.
Within the EU, all EU citizens are guaranteed the same treatment as residents of the country being visited so you are safe using your Danish health card or the yellow health insurance card. Present your card if you need to visit a hospital emergency ward (skadestue) or a local health/medical care centre (lægecentrum).
Swedes usually eat a hot (main) meal in the middle of the day and take a one hour breakfast break at work. Restaurants and cafés often offer the Meal of the Day (dagens rätt) which always also includes a beverage, salad and coffee which can be refilled at the same price. This normally costs between SEK 75 and 100.
You can always find markets throughout Sweden that offer food at a low price, antiques or “antiques”. Check with the local tourist information office - it can often pay off to shop in a market.
Over-the-counter preparations can be purchased at most major supermarkets and at some petrol stations. Pharmacies generally are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. but you can only get prescription medication prescribed by a Swedish doctor.
Travelling with pets
For trips within the EU, dogs, cats and ferrets must be earmarked as well and must have been vaccinated against rabies for at least six months before arriving. All accompanying pets must have their own passports and be registered with customs at the border.
Mosquito larvae hatch in water and there are plenty of lakes and ponds in Sweden, which means that mosquitoes abound! Mosquitoes mostly swarm in the evening which is when they are the most annoying if your skin is exposed. It is a good idea to use a local mosquito repellent with ingredients suited to the local conditions. Mosquito repellent can be purchased anywhere in Sweden in stores but if you are bitten, Salubrin is a good remedy to help ease itching.
Dialling 112 in Sweden puts you in direct contact with the police, fire brigade and ambulance. Emergency calls are free of charge from public phone booths.
Sweden is not a member of the Eurozone and has its own currency: the Swedish krona, or SEK. You can exchange your money for Swedish krona at FOREX which, with its distinctive yellow signage and colour, is easy to find in most towns. They are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and open shorter hours on weekends. For GBP 10, you will receive about SEK 116.
Children should at least wear a life jacket when out in a canoe or rowboat. Ask the local tourist office where life jackets are available for rent, or buy one of the cheaper models in a larger supermarket.
Most retail stores are open every day, usually from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. in some cases. The larger the town or city, the longer the opening hours! The day before national holidays, most stores close earlier or are closed completely.
Signs saying “REA”, “Extrapris” and “Fynd” indicate that a sale or special promotion are in effect.
If you wish to buy alcoholic beverages, stop by the Swedish Systembolaget (government wine & spirits outlet). You must be over 20 years of age to purchase alcohol in Sweden. The Swedish government has a monopoly on the sale of liquor in Sweden and in Swedish supermarkets you can buy “light” beer with an alcohol content of up to 3.5%. On the other hand, the Systembolaget does offer a wide variety of products! Generally they open at 10 a.m. from Monday to Saturday and close at either 6 or 7 p.m.
Alcohol for private consumption may be brought into Sweden but in restricted amounts:
Alcoholic beverages containing more than 22% alcohol: Maximum 10 litres per person
Alcoholic beverages with less than 22% alcohol: Maximum 20 litres per person
Wine: Maximum 90 litres per person
Beer: Maximum 110 litres per person
There is no maximum limit on cigarettes and other smoking products.
Besides Lyme disease, ticks can cause tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) which is a virus that can cause brain damage/pleurisy. In Sweden, there have been cases of TBE on the east coast and along the shores of two large lakes, Vänern and Vättern. You can be vaccinated against TBE.