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Last updated : Nov 2009
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Food & Drink

Swedes like straight forward meals, mainly prepared from the freshest ingredients. As a seafaring country with many freshwater lakes, fish dishes are popular on hotel or restaurant menus.

Smörgåsbord, which is a Scandinavian cold table, is traditional. 1st pickled herring with boiled potatoes, then perhaps a couple more fish courses, anchovies or smoked salmon, followed by sliced beef, cold meat, pâté, stuffed veal or smoked reindeer. The hot dishes come after this, for instance, small meatballs (köttbullar), another herring dish, or an omelette. A fruit salad and cheese with crisp breads generally round off the meal.

Other dishes popular with travellers are smoked reindeer from Lapland, gravlax, salmon that has been specially prepared and marinated, wild strawberries, and cloudberries, which are unique to Scandinavia.

Once on the open road the traveller is well catered for with picnic sites on the way, often with wooden seats and tables.

High class restaurants in Sweden are usually fairly expensive, but even the smallest towns have reasonably priced grill bars and self service restaurants.

Numerous restaurants all over Sweden offer a special dish of the day at a reduced price, which includes a main course, salad, a soft drink and a coffee. Waiter service is ordinary, however there are many self service snack bars.

Snapps is the collective name for aquavit or brännvin, and is a Swedish liqueur which is customarily drunk chilled with smörgåsbord. It is made under a variety of brand names with flavors varying from virtually tasteless to sweetly spiced.

Swedish beers are lager and pilsner type brews and come in 4 strengths.

Wine, beer and spirits are sold through the state owned monopoly, Systembolaget, with are open during normal shopping hours.

Alcohol cannot be bought in bars, cafes or restaurants before 1.00 pm on Sundays. After midnight alcohol can only be bought in nightclubs that stay open until between 2.00 am and 5.00 am.

In restaurants and nightclubs the minimum age for buying alcoholic beverages is 18 and stiff penalties are enforced for drinking and driving.

The minimum age for buying alcohol is 20, however alcohol can be consumed in bars from restaurants from 18 onwards.

Nightlife

Stockholm has restaurants, cafes, pubs, discos, cinemas and theatres. In the more rural areas evenings tend to be fairly tranquil.

Theatre and Music productions take place in many cities during the summer at open air venues. The Royal Ballet performs in Stockholm from August to June.

Outside Stockholm, in the 18th century Court Theatre of the Palace of Drottningholm there are performances of 18th century opera.

Shopping

VAT (Moms) is refundable to visitors who are occupant in non EU countries on goods bought at shops participating in the Tax Free Shopping scheme. The refund is payable to the customer when departing from Sweden at either customs offices at ports or airports.

Special purchases available in Sweden include glassware and crystal, stainless steel and silver, ceramics, hemslöjd (cottage industry artefacts), and woodcarvings.

Women’s and children’s clothes are great buys, especially hand knitted Nordic sweaters.

The Shopping hours are Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm, Saturdays from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm. In larger towns, some shops have longer opening hours and are also open on Sundays. In rural areas shops and petrol stations close by 5.00 am / 6.00 pm.

Social Conventions

General courtesies should be observed. It is traditional for the guest to refrain from drinking until the host makes a toast. The guest should also thank the host for the meal with Tack för maten.

A casual dress code is adequate for everyday occasions, smarter wear for social occasions, exclusive restaurants and clubs.

Evening wear / black tie will usually be specified when required.

Restrictions

Smoking is prohibited in most public buildings and on public transport.

Tipping

Hotel prices will include a service charge.

Service in restaurants is not usually included in the bill, about 10 % should be added.

Later at night the service charge is higher.

Taxi drivers should also be tipped around 10 %.