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Holidays in Sweden

Understanding Sweden

Although having been a military power and spanning about three times its current size during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries Having long remained outside military alliances including both World Wars, the country has a high peace profile, with internationally renowned names such as Raoul Wallenberg, Dag Hammarskjöld, Olof Palme and Hans Blix Sweden is a monarchy by constitution, but king Carl XVI Gustaf has no executive power The country has a long tradition of Lutheran-Protestant Christianity, but today's Sweden is a secular state with few church-goers

Sweden has a capitalist system and is a developed post-industrial society with an advanced welfare state The standard of living and life expectancy rank among the highest in the world Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, but decided by a referendum in 2003 not to commit to the European Monetary Union and the euro currency Leadership of Sweden has for the larger part of the 20th century been dominated by the Social Democratic Party, which started out at the end of the 19th century as a labor movement, but today pursues a mix of socialism and social-liberalism Since the most recent election, a coalition of center-right liberal/conservative parties has come into power

Sweden has a strong tradition of being an open, yet discreet country Citizens sometimes appear to be quite reserved at first, but once they get to know who they are dealing with, they'll be as warm and friendly as you'd wish Privacy is regarded as a key item and many visitors, for example mega-stars in various lines of trade, have many times realized that they mostly can walk the streets of the cities virtually undisturbed

Sweden houses the Nobel Prize 2 committee for all the prizes except the peace prize which is hosted in Oslo, a memento of the Swedish-Norwegian union that was dissolved just over 100 years ago

Talking in Sweden

Swedish is the national language of Sweden, but you will find that people, especially those born since 1945, also speak English very well - an estimated 89% of Swedes can speak English, according to the Eurobarometer, making Sweden the most English-proficient country on the continent Finnish is the biggest minority language Regardless of what your native tongue is, Swedes greatly appreciate any attempt to speak Swedish and beginning conversations in Swedish, no matter how quickly your understanding peters out, will do much to ingratiate yourself to the locals

Hej hay is the massively dominant greeting in Sweden, useful on kings and bums alike You can even say it when you leave The Swedes most often do not say "please" snälla say snell-LA, instead they are generous with the word tack tuck, meaning "thanks" If you need to get someone's attention, whether it's a waiter or you need to pass someone one in a crowded situation, a simple "ursäkta" say "oor-sehk-ta" "excuse me" will do the trick You will find yourself pressed to overuse it, and you sometimes see people almost chanting it as a mantra when trying to exit a crowded place like a bus or train

Many Swedish people are over-confident with their English skills One problem can be excessive swearing accepted in colloquial Swedish, and augmented by Hollywood movies, but also some false cognates can be shocking for a native English-speaker; some examples are fack "trade union" or "compartment", fart "speed", prick "spot" kock "chef" and slut "end" or "sold out" Be sure to forgive such misunderstandings

Some things get English names that do not correspond to the original English word Some examples are light which is used for diet products, and freestyle which means "walkman" Sweden uses the metric system and in the context of distance, the common expression mil, "mile", is 10 kilometers, not an English statute mile Because of the distances involved, mil is used in spoken language even though roadsigns all use kilometers

Swedish people learn British English at school, affecting their vocabulary, but also watch films and TV programs in American English Whether they use British or American standards in speech varies from person to person Their accent is however very distinctly "stubby" unless they had significant experience by conversing or living in United Kingdom or the United States

What to do in Sweden

Sweden is great for outdoor life - skiing, skating, hiking, canoeing, cycling and berry-picking depending of season Stockholm and Gothenburg have great nightlife and shopping opportunities Most cities have well-preserved pre-industrial architecture

The year in Sweden

Swedish weather is best during the summer late May to early September If you like snow, go to Norrland or Dalarna in November to April

Be aware that daylight varies greatly during the year In Stockholm, the sun sets at 3 PM in December North of the Arctic Circle one can experience the midnight sun and Arctic night However, even at Stockholm's latitude, summer nights exist only in the form of prolonged twilight during June and July

The major holidays are Easter, Midsummer celebrated from the eve of the Friday between June 19 - 25, Christmas Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are all considered holidays, and the "industrial vacation" throughout July Expect closed establishments, heavy traffic for the holidays and crowded tourist resorts for July

Note that most Swedish holidays are celebrated on the day before Midsummer's Eve, Christmas Eve etc, while Swedish people do hardly anything on the holiday proper

Buying stuff in Sweden

Currency conversion table August 2010
Foreign currencyEither oneSwedish Kronor
€012 Euro1898
£009 Pound Sterling11105
$014 US Dollar1674
$017 Australian Dollar1617

The national currency is the Swedish krona SEK, plural kronor Automatic teller machines take major credit cards Most stores, restaurants and bars accept all major credit cards, although in some cases there is a SEK 5 fee or a lowest purchase limit between 50 - 100 SEK You usually need an ID card or a passport when shopping with a credit card, regardless of the amount involved, though ususally not in supermarkets and such where PIN code is king

It is not common to bargain in shops but it might work in some instances, especially when buying more expensive products Bargaining is also okay at flea markets and in antique shops When dining out, a service charge is often included in the bill, and there is generally no reason to tip, unless you're very satisfied with the service

Most shops, at least downtown, are open all week, even on Sundays Closing times are rigid, most often on the minute

Many Swedes translate the word krona, which means crown For example, instead of saying 50 kronor they might say 50 crowns

The future coin series will consist of 1, 2, 5 and 10 kronor, and the banknote series of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 crowns

ATM

The Swedish word for ATM is Uttag, Bankomat and Kontanten Nearly all machines regardless of operator will accept the MasterCard, Maestro, Visa, Visa Electron and American Express You can withdraw up to 10 000 SEK $1420/€1110 per use During a seven-day period you can withdraw a maximum of 20 000 SEK $2840/€2220 You have three attempts to enter the correct PIN code If you fail a third time, the machine retains the card and closing it In order to facilitate the visually impaired have the keys on the machines equipped with Braille You may have spoken guidance, press the TALK button In some ATMs you can withdraw euros if you have a card issued by a Swedish bank You may take up the maximum 1000 EUR per use You can make multiple withdrawals after the other but a maximum 20 000 SEK per week

Costs

Sweden is considered by some to be a very expensive country to live in, though you can find cheap alternatives if you look around For example: Sundries like a 33cl bottle of Coca Cola costs 20 SEK $2,85/€2,20, a beer in a bar will cost you 50 SEK $7,14/€5,50, average price of Hotel accommodation was around 1300 SEK $185/€140, a bus/subwayticket in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö will set you back around 25 SEK $3,57/€2,77, meal will cost you between 60 and 200 SEK $8,50-$28,50/€6,60-€22,20, 1 litre Petrol costs about 15 SEK $2,20/€1,60 and 25 Pack of cigarette will cost you 60 SEK $8,50/€6,60 If you are a bit careful about your expenses a daily budget of around 1000 SEK $143/€110 per day While, house prices are probably amongst the cheapest in Western Europe and recently opened discount stores such as "Lidl", "Netto" and "Willy's" offer a wide range of items, why not buy a sewing machine while doing the weekend grocery shopping? Accommodation and dining out is cheaper in Stockholm than in most other West European capitals

Shopping

  • An unofficial national symbol, the Dala Horse Swedish: dalahäst is the souvenir of souvenirs to bring from Sweden Named after their origin, the province of Dalarna, these small wooden horses have been around since the 17th century They are normally painted orange or blue with symmetrical decorations They are fairly expensive: expect to pay around SEK 100 for a very small one or several hundred crowns for bigger versions The horses can be bought in souvenir shops all over Sweden If you want to know more about how the horses are made, visit Dalarna and the municipality of Mora where the horses are carved and painted in workshops open for tourists And if driving towards Mora from Stockholm, keep your eyes open when you pass the town of Avesta where the world's largest 13 meters high Dala Horse overlooks the highway
  • Swedish glass is world famous for its beauty Several skilled glass artists have contributed to this reputation through innovative, complex and expensive art creations, but mass-produced Swedish table glass has also been an international success Part of the province of Småland, between the towns of Växjö and Kalmar, is known as the Kingdom of Crystal62 15 glassworks are packed into this small area, the most famous being Orrefors, Kosta and Boda Tourists are welcome to watch the glass blowers turn the glowing melt into glittering glass, and you can even give it a try yourself
  • Exclusive wines from Systembolaget

Food and eating in Sweden

The world's stinkiest fish dish

Adventurous diners might want to try surströmming, which is coastal central and northern Sweden's entry in the revolting-foods-of-the-world contest It's herring which is fermented in a tin can until the can starts to bulge and almost bursts It all gets so foul-smelling that the fish is only eaten outdoors to keep it from stinking up the house, although it has been known for unsuspecting visitors from other countries to be "treated" to an indoor surströmming experience for more intensity It is considered bad manners not to notify or invite the neighbors before having a surströmmingsskiva, a party where the delicacy is consumed It is claimed that the best way to get over the smell is to take a deep breath of it just when you open the can, to as quickly as possible knock out your smelling sense Surströmming season peaks in August

Swedish cuisine is mostly hearty meat or fish with potatoes, derived from the days when men needed to chop wood all day long Besides the ubiquitous potatoes, modern Swedish cuisine is to a great extent based on bread Traditional everyday dishes are called husmanskost pronounced whos-mans-cost They include:

  • Meatballs köttbullar, the internationally most famous Swedish dish Served with potatoes, brown sauce and lingonberry jam
  • Hash pytt i panna consisting of meat, onions and potatoes, all diced and fried Sliced beetroots and a fried or boiled whole eggs are mandatory accessories
  • Pea soup ärtsoppa with diced pork, followed by thin pancakes afterwards Traditionally eaten on Thursdays since medieval times when the servants had half the day off as it is an easy meal to prepare All lunch resturants in Sweden with any self-respect serves pea soup and pancakes every Thursday
  • Pickled herring sill, available in various types of sauces Commonly eaten with bread or potatoes for summer lunch or as a starter Virtually mandatory at midsummer and very common for christmas
  • Blodpudding, a black sausage made by pig's blood and flour Slice it, fry it and eat it with lingonberry jam
  • Gravlax, a widely known and appreciated cold appetizer made by thin slices of salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill
  • Falukorv, a big baloney from Falun Sliced, fried and eaten with ketchup and mashed potatoes
  • Sweden has more varieties of bread than most other countries Many of them are whole-grain or mixed grain, containing wheat, barley, oats, compact and rich in fiber Some notable examples are tunnbröd thin wrap bread, knäckebröd hard bread - might not be an interesting experience, but is nearly always available, and different kinds of seasoned loaves Bread is mostly eaten as simple sandwiches, with thin slices of cheese or cold cuts Some more exotic spreads are messmör whey cheese and leverpastej liver paté
  • Tunnbrödrulle, a fast food dish, consisting of a bread wrap with mashed potatoes, a hot dog and some vegetables
  • Kroppkakor Potato dumpling stuffed with diced pork

Other Swedish favorites:

  • Soft whey butter messmör, breadspread with a sweetish, hard-to-describe taste
  • Caviar, not the expensive Russian or Iranian kind but a cheaper version made from cod roe, sold in tubes and used on sandwiches The most famous brand is Kalles Kaviar
  • Julmust, stout-like Christmas soft drink that every year annoys The Coca-Cola Company in Sweden by lowering Coke's sales figures by 50%
  • Crayfish kräftor, hugely popular around August, when Swedes feast on them at big crayfish parties kräftskivor Silly paper hats and lots of alcohol included
  • Semla, a cream-filled pastry eaten around Fat Tuesday
  • Rabarberkräm/Rabarberpaj rhubarbcream or rhubarbpie with vanilla sauce other cakes or pies on fresh blueberries, apples, or just strawberries with cream or ice cream are also very popular in the summer
  • Spettekaka A local cake from Skåne in south Sweden, made of eggs, sugar, and potato starch
  • Smörgåstårta A cold Sandwich layer cake, often with salmon, eggs, and shrimps Also often with tuna or roast beef Swedish people often eat it at New Year's Eve, or birthdays and parties

Typical Swedish "gourmet" restaurants serve steaks or other grilled dishes garnished with fragrant herbs such as dill, and vegetables such as Broccoli and red bell peppers Most famous swedish steak is called Planka, or plank steak It is Beef fillet, duchess potatoes, asparagus wrapped in bacon, huge amounts of bearnaise sauce, tomatoes and for some strange reason orange segments, and is decandently good!

As in most of Europe, inexpensive pizza and kebab restaurants are ubiquitous in Swedish cities, and are also to be found in almost every small village Note that the swedish pizza is significantly different from Italian or American pizzas, American pizzas are usually sold as "pan pizza" Sushi and Thai food are also quite popular The local hamburger chain Max 63 is recommended before McDonald's and Burger King, for tasteful Scandinavian furnishing, clean restrooms, no trans fats and free coffee with meals In parts of Norrland it is customary to eat hamburgers with fork and knife - available at Max Another type of fast food establishment is the gatukök "street kitchen", serving hamburgers, hot dogs, kebab and tunnbrödrulle se above

Highway diners, vägkrogar, have generous meals, but might be of poor quality, greasy and overpriced If you have time, a downtown restaurant is preferable Gas stations offer decent packed salads and sandwiches

You can get a "cheap" lunch if you look for the signs with "Dagens rätt" meal of the day This normally costs about 50-120 SEK €5,50-€13,30 and almost everywhere includes a bottle of water; soft drink; or light beer, bread & butter, some salad and coffee afterwards Dagens rätt is served Monday to Friday

The world famous furniture retailer IKEA has stores at the outskirts of 15 Swedish cities These have great diners, which offer well-cooked Swedish meals for as little as 40 SEK, and the store exit usually has a café selling hot dogs for as little as 5 SEK They hope that you spend some money on shopping too Great if you happen to pass by Expect crowds at rainy weather

If you're on a tight budget, self-catering is the safest way to save your money

Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are accepted in cities, less common in the countryside but you should be able to find a falafel in every smaller town

Drinking in Sweden

Coffee

Swedish people drink plenty of coffee, kaffe Drinking coffee at home or in a café, an act called fika, is a common Swedish social ritual, used for planning activities, dating, exchanging gossip or simply spending time and money Swedish coffee is slightly stronger than American one Italian varieties espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte are available at most city cafés One coffee will cost you around 25 SEK $3,5/€2,8

Alcoholic beverages

The most famous Swedish alcoholic beverage is Absolut Vodka, one of the world's most famous vodkas There are several brands of distilled, and usually seasoned, liquor, called brännvin or akvavit When served in a shot glass with a meal it is called snaps not to confuse with the German "Schnapps"

Sweden does produce some outstanding beers, and have in the recent years seen a rise in the numbers of microbreweries If you are looking for great local beer keep an eye out for breweries like "Närke kulturbryggeri", "Jämtlands ångbryggeri" and "Dugges Ale- & Porterbryggeri" You may have some trouble finding them, unless you go to a bar specialized in providing uncommon beer, or one of the well stocked "Systembolag", but you will find a few of them in every major city Despite this the most common beer is the rather plain "international lager" The beer you get in normal food shops is called folköl and has 28 or 35% alcohol You are able to find a varieties of different brands of beers in food stores, Swedish, English and even Czech beer Wine is popular, but the Swedish production is very modest

Systembolaget

Access to alcoholic beverages is, as in Norway, Finland and Iceland, quite restricted and expensive The only place to buy strong alcohol including starköl beer which contains more than 35% alcohol ABV over the counter is in one of the state owned shops called Systembolaget 64 They have limited hours of operation, usually 10-6 Mon-Wed, 10-7 Thurs-Fri, and 10-3 on Saturdays, with long queues on Fridays and Saturdays Closed on Sundays Most shops are of supermarket style The assortment is very good, and the staff usually has great knowledge Please note that Systembolaget does not serve customers under the age of 20 You will most likely be asked for identification This also applies to your companion, regardless of them buying anything

Liquor is very expensive at Systembolaget vodka is 300 SEK a liter, but the monopoly has brought some perks - Systembolaget is one of the world's largest bulk-buyers of wine, and as such gets some fantastic deals which it passes on to the consumers Champagne is also very expensive 1 litre, it will cost you 500 SEK $71/€55 Mid-to-high-quality wines, and exclusive spirits, are quite often cheaper in Sweden than even in the country of origin; sometimes even cheaper than if you were to buy the wine directly from the vineyard This does NOT apply to low-quality wines, however, due to the volume-based tax on alcohol

If you want beer, choose a variety of microbrews All brands are treated equally and there is no large-pack discount Beverages are not refrigerated

Bars and nightclubs

The age limit is 18 to bars and beers in shops to prevent teenage drunkenness, some shops have decided to have a 20 age limit for 35% beer as well, but 20 in Systembolaget Many bars have an age limit of 20, but some especially downtown in weekends have age limits as high as 23 or 25 Bring passport or ID

Some clubs mandate dress code, vårdad klädsel For male guests, proper shoes not sneakers or sandals, long-legged trousers not blue jeans and a dress shirt is usually good enough

Age or dress rules are not rigid, and doormen have the right to accept or reject any patron for any reason other than gender, sexual orientation, creed, disability or race Though illegal, nightclubs are infamous to reject "immigrants", which usually means anyone with hair and skin darker than the average Swede, by pretexts such as "members only" or "too drunk"; men of Middle Eastern or African origin are most troubled You might avoid this problem by dressing properly and behaving well

Sweden has enforced non-smoking in all bars, pubs and restaurants, save outdoor areas such as terraces, and designated smoking rooms where drinks are not allowed

The prices at clubs/bars are often expensive compared to other countries, a large beer half a liter costs usually as much as 45-55 SEK ~US$7, but many low-profile bars advertise stor stark 04 L of draft lager for as little as 25 SEK A long drink costs around 60-110 SEK For that reason many Swedes have a small pre-party "förfest" before they go out, to get started on their buzz before they hit the town and go to nightclubs

Large clubs can require an entrance fee of about 100 SEK or more at special performances They usually offer a rubber stamp on your hand so you can re-enter as you like

Be aware that you often have to stand in line to get into a bar or a club Many places deliberately make their customers wait in line for a while, since a long queue indicates a popular club At the very fanciest places in the major cities the queue is replaced by a disorganized crowd, and the doorman simply points to indicate who gets in and who does not to be sure to get in either be famous, very good-looking or a friend of the doorman Or simply a regular

Most bars that are open until 1AM will have a free entry policy Most bars and clubs that remain open until 3AM will charge an entrance fee There some clubs that remain open until 5AM Their entrance fee will usually be around 200 SEK ~US$2800 and their entry policy will generally weigh less favourably for the non-rich, non-well-moisturised, non-Swedes, non-friends or non-regulars

In the cold season it is often mandatory to hand in your jacket at the club's wardrobe for a fee, usually around 20 SEK

Authorized security guards carry a badge saying Ordningsvakt, see #Stay safe

Moonshine hembränt is popular in the countryside, though illegal Though some shipments can be as good as legal vodka, most are disgusting and some even lethally dangerous, so you should stick to the real thing

Accommodation in Sweden

Swaziland is a small country and it is easy to go anywhere in the country during one day If you're watching the pennies, head to Veki's Guesthouse or Grifter's Backpackers in Mbabane, which costs around 120R per night for a bunk If you want to push the boat out, book a room at the Mountain Inn which has outstanding accommodation, facilities and leisure opportunities

The most sought-after hotels in Swaziland tend to be located in Ezulwini Valley between the two major cities, Mbabane and Manzini Don't forget to pick up beautiful local crafts from the roadside stalls on the way With four bars, a restaurant, a casino, golf, swimming, tennis and 411 rooms and suites, the Royal Sun Swazi epitomises luxury The Royal Villas, also found in Ezulwini, spread 56 rooms across 14 villas and are extremely luxurious, offering excellent food, atmosphere and leisure facilities The Ezulwini sun offers excellent facilities, also, at mid-range prices

And, if you're heading down towards the Mozambique border, you'll find comfortable, well-appointed country clubs at Manananga, Mhlume and Simunye

Again, out in the country, a wonderful place to stay one or more nights is Phophonyane Falls 9 It is situated in the north-east, next to the Phophonyane waterfalls and offers great hiking trails Best is to sleep in comfortable tents, next to the river The Shewula Mountain Camp, Swaziland's first community-owned camp, is perched high in the Lobombo mountains with stunning views across game reserves; on clear days the Mozambique capital, Maputo is clearly visible Guests stay in traditional rondavels, round thatched huts The Camp is an eco-tourism initiative designed to help the local community and the wider environment

Working in Sweden

EU and EEA citizens are allowed to work in Sweden without a permit Citizens of other countries need a work permit, and getting one is quite a hassle, however, Working Holiday Visas are available for Australian and New Zealand citizens aged between 18-30 Swedes, foreign citizens already living in Sweden, and EU/EEA citizens have preference over others in obtaining work in Sweden Also, if the offer of work is for more than three months you will also require a Swedish residence permit More information about the paperwork is found on the government website swedenabroadcom 66

As for finding a job you could try the public "Arbetsförmedlingen" 'The Job Agency' and give it a try, it might work! However, you can also buy a lottery ticket, you will have roughly the same chance to get an income that way Usually jobs are better provided by certain knowledges and luck Sweden has an unemployment rate of about 90% Mar 2010 Salaries range from 15,000 to 70,000 SEK €1600-€7700 per month 2008

Cities in Sweden

akersberga  alingsas  angelholm  arvika  avesta  balsta  boden  bollnas  boo  boras  borlange  enkoping  eskilstuna  eslov  fagersta  falkenberg  falkoping  falun  finspang  gavle  goteborg  halmstad  harnosand  hassleholm  helsingborg  hoganas  hudiksvall  jonkoping  kalmar  karlshamn  karlskoga  karlskrona  karlstad  katrineholm  kinna  kiruna  koping  kristianstad  kristinehamn  kumla  kungalv  kungsbacka  landskrona  lerum  lidingo  lidkoping  lindome  linkoping  ljungby  ludvika  lulea  lund  malmo  mariestad  marsta  mjolby  molnlycke  motala  nassjo  norrkoping  norrtalje  nybro  nykoping  nynashamn  orebro  ornskoldsvik  oskarshamn  ostersund  oxelosund  pitea  ronneby  sala  sandviken  skara  skelleftea  skoghall  skovde  soderhamn  sodertalje  solna  staffanstorp  stockholm  strangnas  sundsvall  taby  timra  tranas  trelleborg  trollhattan  tumba  uddevalla  umea  upplands-vasby  uppsala  uppsala  vallentuna  vanersborg  varberg  varnamo  vasteras  vasterhaninge  vastervik  vaxjo  vetlanda  visby  ystad  

What do you think about Sweden?

How expensive is Sweden?
(1 SEK = 0.11 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant78.4 SEK
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)528 SEK
McDonalds meal66.24 SEK
Local beer (0.5 draft)53.9 SEK
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 48.5 SEK
Cappuccino29.93 SEK
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)15.54 SEK
Water (0.33 bottle)17.14 SEK
Milk (1l)10.48 SEK
Fresh bread (500g)21.76 SEK
White Rice (1kg)25.6 SEK
Eggs (12) 23.42 SEK
Local Cheese (1kg) 87.82 SEK
Chicken Breast (1kg) 75.11 SEK
Apples (1kg) 23.32 SEK
Oranges (1kg) 19.76 SEK
Tomato (1kg) 24.01 SEK
Potato (1kg) 7.67 SEK
Lettuce (1 head) 15.43 SEK
Water (1.5l)14.78 SEK
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 83.1 SEK
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)14.39 SEK
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 14.79 SEK
Cigarettes60.61 SEK
One way local bus ticket23 SEK
Monthly pass for bus650.18 SEK
Taxi start49.82 SEK
Taxi 1km11.57 SEK
Taxi 1hour waiting492.17 SEK
Gasoline (1 liter) 14.2 SEK
Utilities for a "normal" apartment710.38 SEK
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 168.35 SEK
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 11.09 SEK
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