Forums  /  ESA 2015  /  PSA about Sweden

Never been to Sweden? Visiting from a country with true freedom? This is the guide for you!

First off, don't buy any tourist guides or tourist translation books. You can get guides for free in the town centers or on the webpages of the towns and Swedes are very good at English. Many might not be very well versed in speaking it due to lack of practice but they understand damn near everything. In fact, if you try to translate for us it will be harder for us to understand 99% of the time. We're pretty bad at most languages other than Swedish or English though.

Swedes are friendly and helpful, but shy and passive depressive. If you're being ignored, you're doing something right. If you're doing something bad you'll get bad looks but few if anyone is going to confront you about it. Just leave quickly and all will be fine. If you want to talk or get help with directions or where to get things, you need to go up and start the conversation yourself.

If you're a smoker, try to bring what you need before travelling. A pack of cigarettes is about 5-6 € although available in every corner and general store. If you roll yourself, papers are quite common but the selection often scarce, filters and rolling tobacco can be quite hard to find.

In Sweden we also have "Snus" which is a form of wet tobacco powder you roll up and put in your upper gums. It can be likened to smoking 5-10 cigarettes at once for the stronger varieties. If you want to try it's recommended to use the variant in pouches first called "portion".

Alcohol is controlled by a state monopoly called "Systembolaget". 3.5% and down can be found in normal stores but for anything stronger you need to visit this shop usually open mon-wed 10-18, thu-fri 10-20 and sat 11-15. Times do vary a bit but only by an hour or so. They are also far and few between. A box of wine typically cost 15-25€, bottled wine the same but with less content, beer about 1-3€ a can for ½L, liqueur maybe 20€ and up. Absinthe and other very strong beverages are illegal to buy and import. Nothing else is sold here except non-alcoholic beverages. Age is restricted to 18 for 3,5% and in bars while 20 in Systembolaget. Expect to show ID if you're under 30.

Being drunk in public is totally fine but if you behave badly or is having trouble walking you can be taken care of by police and put in a cell for the night to sleep it off. Drinking in public is illegal but at worst the alcohol will be confiscated or poured out unless you have very large amounts. Police presence is also pretty scarce so be smart and you'll be fine as people in general won't care much. Bring change in the case of having to go to the toilet, public free toilets barely exist anymore if at all.

Fast food is generally expensive. In the southern part a pizza usually costs 5-8 € and further north 7-10 €. McDonalds, Burger King and the Swedes own Max can be cheaper but for a full meal it's usually not. Frozen varieties are more recommended if you want to eat cheap without cooking.

Don't throw cans and PET-bottles! In Sweden we have "Pant" which is basically you paying extra when buying a can and then getting the money back when returning it. If you don't care enough about the money put them in the pant-bins/bags in the venue.

Finally there's a law in Sweden called "allemansrätten" loosely translated as "every mans right". It means that if you want to you can camp on public or privately owned land for 1 day & night as long as it's not close to buildings and you clean up after yourself, don't make fires or otherwise damage the land. It's also restricted by farm land and parks etc. You can also pick some fruits or berries if you find it for yourself to eat, but don't enter someones garden or farm to do it.

MergyMergy, Niss3Niss3 and 7 others like this. 

Let me quote Wikipedia:

Sweden and Norway

The sale and production of absinthe has never been prohibited in Sweden or Norway. However, the only outlet that may sell alcoholic beverages containing more than 4.5% ABV in Sweden and 4.75% ABV in Norway, is the government-owned chain of liquor stores known as Systembolaget in Sweden and Vinmonopolet in Norway. Systembolaget and Vinmonopolet did not import or sell absinthe for many years after the ban in France;[108] however, today several absinthes are available for purchase in Systembolaget stores, including Swedish made distilled absinthe. In Norway, on the other hand, one is less likely to find many absinthes since Norwegian alcohol law prohibits the sale and importation of alcoholic beverages above 60% abv, which eliminates most absinthes.

Also, please translate this from an old version of a page from 😉

Även om drycken aldrig förbjöds formellt här i Sverige såldes den inte på många år. Numera finns den dock att köpa på Systembolaget


Even if the beverage was never formally banned in Sweden it was never sold for many years. Though nowadays you can buy it at Systembolaget.


I've never seen absinthe when I was at Systembolaget and I've heard from various people that took it into the country that they had to sneak it in. In any case I might be wrong as of recent since I haven't tried 😛.

Rought, quick translation of Alko's link:

Absinthe was the fashion drink in France in the late 1800's. Blablabla sugar and "wormwood/absint" makes it taste ok. It's also green. Around the year 1900 consumption increased and few cared about the health implications. Some even thought it was a cure for alcoholism.

Absinthe was said to tickle the inspiration and many artists took it since it was deemed unharmful such as Gogh, Gauguin, Munch, Strindberg and Picasso. The actor Falander said "it minimises your pain, slow your thoughts, take away memories and suppresses honest feelings which invites people to act upon lunatic ideas and ends with extinguishing the light of reason."

Blablabla the devils advocate and wormwood causes insanity and makes you see things.

Blablabla absinthe is toxic and was ultimately banned in France. An alcohol-anti-lobby was formed in France and other countries followed.

The myth about the green fairy has captivated people since it was forbidden but since thujone was removed in the drink it has started to become legal again. Even if it wasn't sold in Sweden it wasn't sold here for many years. Nowadays you can buy it at Systembolaget, a symbol since 19th century decadent France.