From ABBA and Roxette to the over-abundance of Metal bands like Sabaton, HammerFall and Amaranthe, Sweden has them all (not to mention the Eurovision song contest). Yet it is not only the music that makes the Swedes great for their rich history (see Queen Christina of Sweden or Carolus Rex) and emancipated lifestyle only add to the list of why one should want to visit them. So, without dithering about for much longer, let us see the top six things to know before visiting Sweden.
1. The land of eco-friendly people:
You read that right, we weren’t joking when we said that the Swedes are some of the most emancipated people of the world. If you take a look at their streets, they are as clean as they can possibly get and if people cannot find trash bins close by, they will go as far as carrying their litter around until they stumble across one. This will especially be visible when it comes to plastic items from bottles to bags – the Swedes outright “hate” them as they view the world through the spectrum of eco-friendliness. Do not cast anything on the ground and all will be well (and no, chewing gums are not small enough to go invisible).
2. Tap water:
This is an interesting one: Sweden is among the cleanest countries when it comes to tap water. They filter their drinking water as many times as it is necessary for the locals to drink it. This and the eco-friendly manners often lead people to avoid bottled water altogether and simply stick to the taps. While this might seem strange to visitors who wish to avoid the poisonous effects of Fluoride or Chlorine, it is perfectly normal for them to go at it without worries. Note that the water in Sweden is fluoridated but its amount has decreased by 1.5 mg/l in 2004.
We all know that the northern countries of Europe will often charge celestial amounts for alcohol. While you might think that this is an interesting culture to shift into from the mead-drinking ancestors of the locals (not to mention that Valhalla is a mead hall in the mythical celestial realm of Asgard – the place where the dead souls are taken by the Valkyries and where the word of Odin, the chief god, is law), Sweden has an interesting monopoly on alcohol. You can only buy booze at specially-designed shops (called Systembolaget) and they are mostly government-run. For this particular reason, you will often find long queues at these places and to top this all off, most of them will close early. This is a strong part of the local culture for, since the early 19th century, Sweden has tried to contain the negative effects of overindulgence. Bring your own alcohol and it will not only be cheaper but also cosier.
4. Hippidy hoppidy:
While this is one of those expressions that you rarely hear, it surely does have a spiritual meaning in Sweden. You guessed it, we are talking about island hopping. With way more than 20,000 islands in the Stockholm Archipelago alone, one can expect nothing but fun when it comes to exploring the local natural environment. Hire yourself a private boat and head off to explore the lands beyond the horizon for there is no better place for it than the northern countries. You might even keep a lookout for public ferries that facilitate transport to the inhabited islands (which are plenty, by the way).
If you think that the Spanish siesta is the only “break” that has an unwritten official status, then think again for the Swedish “fika” is just as great. While it does not refer to a post-consumption relaxation, it does mean getting together, taking a much-needed break and sipping on coffee. Oh, and let us not forget about certain pastries and cookies that are shared at the same time, for they are awesome. You will most certainly experience this if you are harboured by one of your Swedish friends as these “fikas” get even cooler when you are among closer acquaintances.
6. The strength of youth:
Sweden is indubitably one of the most envied countries when it comes to the new generation. More than 20% of its population is under 18 years old and nearly 90% of them live in cities. This is precisely why most of the people there speak English and they have a general will to live about them. The Swedes are funny, great friends, hospitable and, of course, talented. Enjoy the power of youth there, relish in their musical events, and, above all, have the time of your life!
Did you enjoy our list? What was your impression of Sweden and how did your days pass there? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it for we are most interested in every single perspective. Oh, and do come back sometimes to see what’s new! Safe travels!