Tips and advices

Below I gathered some tips, information and advices I wish I would receive before going somewhere.

Cash is not needed as long as you have an international credit card (Master Card, Visa etc). Swedes pay everything by credit card no matter what i.e. coffee, taxi, food, postcards, ice cream, entries, subway/bus fares etc. There are also several stores and museums that do no longer accept cash payments! Foreign currency is mostly not accepted with some minor exceptions but don’t count on them. American Express is not always accepted. In Sweden most private people have access to a mobile paying system called Swish which they use when not paying using credit cards. Guides, like me, may be the only instance I know of who do not accept credit cards, but Swish, as we usually work as an independent micro business owners.

Tip? Well it is up to you but service charges are included in all prices also in restaurants, coffee shops etc. In general if you like to tip you tip according to service level. In general we do not tip in coffee shops, cabs, lunch restaurants however dinner restaurants (with tables cloth) we tip according to service. Mainly for ok service we add 10% on the bill, very good service 15-20% (max 20%), or round up to an even ‘number’. In pubs and bars, you usually round up to the even number. This is also valid paying by credit card, you tip as if paying with cash. And then speaking for myself as a guide… not necessary but always appreciated.

Drinking Water! Use tap water if you can, Swedes do, as it is very clean and tasty (according to myself and all I know) and you save the environment. The ‘table’ water you get at the restaurants are also completely safe and usually tap water unless carbonated.

Using a cab/taxi service. Especially if arriving by air be very careful with what cab company (driver) you choose at the airport. There are some listed ones with ‘fair’ prices and some who will rip you off. The fair ones do not hassle you when coming out from the ‘custom area’ and you find them just outside standing in rows/lines. You shall always ask for a fixed price and if in doubt ask a ‘Swede’ for advice. The same goes for the whole city but especially at the airport there are some ‘really bad guys’. I would otherwise propose to take the Arlanda Express train to town, a fast and safe way to the city.

Pickpocket! Where there are people there are pickpockets and sadly also in Stockholm. They operate everywhere so never carry your wallet in the back of your trouser, your handbag hanging dangling without control, leave you bag beside the table, your phone in your pocket or a valuable in the backpack. If it still happens to you you should report it to the police, they are there to help and are usually helpful if not on a special assignment.

Street gambling is illegal in Sweden and the people persuing this are in international operations, travelling around Europe. They work in teams and no matter what, you will loose. Even just looking can be a risk as they work in teams as pickpockets also. Some in the team will look and behave as ‘tourists’, winning a lot of money at first and get you interested until you’re hooked and start winning and then loosing.

Dangerous animals? In general no. But if, however not likely, you encounter a wild animal remember they are wild and will protect themselves and especially their offspring, as you would. In Stockholm if you are lucky you may spot foxes, otter, seals, sea eagles in parks or in the outskirts of the city. Rarely an elk (moose) walks into the city at night but as said, rarely. If travelling around in Sweden you have animals everywhere but no real dangerous ones. We have one snake that is somewhat poisonous but for most people it is as a wasp sting, it hurts but is not dangerous. Mosquitos yes, annoying yes, but not dangerous carrying diseases. Ticks, yes we have and these are the worst in my mind but to encounter them you have to be out in high grass or in the woodlands hiking.

Safety? Stockholm is a safe city to walk around day or night. But as everywhere do not walk around drunk or walk into dark alleys or parks at night. Myself I move around day and night without being uncomfortable and I also use the public transportation system at any time of the day.

Clothing. Depending when and where you go but temperatures can change during the day so I always propose to bring an umbrella and a wind stopper. Check the weather forecast. Most restaurants and bars do not have a dress code and Swedes are usually quite laid back when coming to dressing up. Neat, clean and friendly is the way. Ties for men is rarely used as long it’s not a very formal dinner.

Sales taxes? Taxes are always already added on the price tag or menu cost. The price you see is what it will cost you.

Lunch? Stockholmers often eat lunch outside the office, a hot meal during the work week. So many restaurants have a ‘lunch menu’ with some dishes at a bit lower prices around 11.00-14.00, Monday-Friday. Usually the lunch menu’s are Swedish style food unless it is a foreign cuisine. Maybe you have to step away from the most touristic streets but you find it most everywhere.

Barging! No we don’t unless you are at a flee market. The concept and/or skill of bargaining is unknown for most Swedes why Swedes often also have an issue going abroad sometimes 🙂

Shoes when visiting a friend! This may never happen but if you get invited home to someone informally, remove you’re shoes when indoors. You may bring a pair of in-door shoes but normally you are walking around in your socks or barefoot. I know, it may seam odd but I think it is due to history and that to be polite, you remove your shoes indoor so it not getting dirty/snowy/wet inside.