Cultural Aspects to Remember When Visiting Sweden

| September 13, 2019
Cultural Aspects to Remember When Visiting Sweden
Cultural Aspects to Remember When Visiting Sweden

So you’ve decided that the beach is boring, and seek a more northern destination to have a holiday. Adventure, landscapes, unexplored cuisine – Sweden has it all for the tourist who has grown tired of the average searing-heat, all-inclusive, overcrowded destinations. And while Sweden is a fantastic destination and a happy country overall, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for it. After all, if it is vastly different from where you’re coming from, then it’s likely that the people are also vastly different in their customs and mentality. So what are some of the things that should always be remembered when interacting with Swedish locals?


Just because you think something is polite, doesn’t mean that it is in another country. Being boastful about your talents, financial fortune or anything else that could elevate you above others in the conversation is seen as rude in Sweden. So when telling of yourself to others, it’s best to downplay your strengths. And if you pay a Swede a compliment, expect them to passionately deny having any such complementary feature. This may be frustrating when attempting to make friends by being nice.


For many tourists a good time is synonymous with a substantial serving of alcohol. Don’t worry, there is alcohol is Sweden, but it is not a supermarket item. Systembolagets (or liquor stores) are the sole designated retailer for selling booze. Expect prices to be above the European average and make sure to stock up in advance as these shops close at 7pm on work days, 3pm on Saturdays and are closed on Sundays. Of course, you can get drinks after those times in bars, but in that case be prepared to part with quite a bit of cash.

The Northern Males

If you think the following paragraph will be filled with feminist commentary about toxic masculinity concentrating in the north of Sweden, you’re mistaken. The phenomenon in question is both a cultural and a geographical problem, and refers to the fact that there are a lot of small towns in the north of Sweden with an alarmingly small number of young women relative to the number of young men. The north of Sweden doesn’t have large cities, which makes job (and relationship) opportunities less abundant. Swedish ladies are acutely aware of that fact and, being more adventurous than their male counterparts, move south of Sweden for a better life. The males, apparently, are less prone to drastic changes in location, remaining in large, lonely numbers in the north. So if you’re looking to meet a Swedish man of your dreams, go north. You’ll find the dating scene there less competitive.


Don’t be surprised if the establishment you’re shopping in refuses to take cash. This is not because the Swedes don’t trust bills and coins, afraid that they might be counterfeit; albeit, that is the reason why some small shops in Europe don’t accept large bills. Cash in Sweden is a dying breed, an obsolete method of exchange surpassed by electronic payment. So if you’re planning a shopping spree, make sure to have an appropriate credit or debit card with you.

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