Know your korv
Korv is a general name for sausage or hot dog and korv are an important part of the Swedish diet. As you shop your way down Drottninggatan or fall out of a club you’ll notice there are kiosks on nearly every corner. And what are they serving? You guessed it: korv. You can have the basic kokt med bröd (cooked with bread) which is a basic long boiled hot dog served on a short bun. Or you can try a French hotdog, which is a basic cooked hot dog stuffed into an oddly shaped baguette. And don’t forget you can get korv served on mashed potatoes with a prawn dressing dripping over it. With ketchup on top. The varieties are endless and we recommend trying them all.
Prepare to queue
Sure, every city is known for its queues but in Stockholm you need to take a number to queue. And then you must politely wait, with no complaining, no eye contact, no shuffling from foot to foot and sighing heavily. You’re no better than anyone else and you should remember that.
A kronor is a crown
The Swedish crown, known as kronor, is the national currency. Not that you’ll see much cash because Sweden is a nearly cashless society, with everyone from the korv kiosk to the market stall operator accepting payment via card or phone.
Leave your cash at home. You’ll never get anyone to take it, other than perhaps a beggar here and there (and they’re probably set up for Swish anyway). It’s hard to find a bank that deals in cash and while there are a few cash machines still lingering around the city, the queues that used to form at them are a distant memory.
Is Trump right?
US President Trump has portrayed Sweden as a country overrun by crime and other unspeakable things but let’s be honest: Sweden’s about as safe as it’s going to get, even in a big city like Stockholm. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be aware of your surroundings, particularly late at night, but crime is stupidly low in Stockholm and the biggest worry, particularly in summer, is that a pickpocket will get your phone. So keep your phone safely tucked away.
Who you gonna call?
Should you run into trouble the emergency number is 112. Even if you have no money on your phone the number will work. Swedish police generally all speak English and are unfailingly polite and helpful — although if your phone’s been nicked forget about them caring. They’ll file a report over the phone so you can get the insurance money but it won’t go further than that.
Fika, aka the Swedish art of the coffee break, is something you must embrace. It’s probably more important than korv and Stockholmers ‘take a fika‘ nearly every day. What it consists of is this: you turn to someone and say ‘would you like to take a fika?’. They will say yes and next thing you know you’re sitting in a cosy café sipping strong Swedish coffee while nibbling at some fabulous pastry.
Blindfolds are essential
Come summer the sun stays out until nearly midnight and after a slight dip towards the horizon it rises up again in all its brilliant and blinding glory just after two in the morning. If you’ve got black-out blinds on the windows you’re sorted. If you don’t? Get blindfolds, because every Stockholmer has experienced the unholy horror of a sharp bit of sunshine piercing through their eyelids just as they’re settling down after a long night out.
Avoid eye contact
Unless you’re drinking. Yes, Swedes may glance at you but then they’ll quickly look away. They’ll rarely acknowledge you’ve made eye contact so don’t bother looking at them hoping for some sort of connection. Unless you’re drinking. If you’re drinking you will not only make eye contact with loads of people you’ll also have to go through the ‘stare and nod at everyone present’ ritual that accompanies every toast. That means no matter how many people are toasting, you must meet their eye and nod before taking a sip of your drink. This can take a significant amount of time at larger parties.
The trains run on time
Public transport in Stockholm is about as good as it gets. If the train or bus is scheduled to arrive at 10.32am it will arrive at 10.32am, not a second later and not a second earlier. Should there be trouble, such as a flat tyre or a broken signal you will immediately be informed of this and replacement transport will arrive shortly.
Be a nature lover
You might be in the middle of the city but that doesn’t mean nature isn’t seconds away. If there is anything that is typically Swedish it’s the love of nature and even city dwellers make sure to take advantage of the massive green spaces both in and around Stockholm every chance they get. This can mean walking, hiking, swimming, boating, kayaking, cycling… the list is endless so you’ll be sure to find something that suits your fancy.
Embrace the pre-party
No doubt about it, going out is expensive in Stockholm (although not quite as expensive as legend has it) so the pre-party is an important part of the evening. The best way to do this is to gather together with friends while you get ready, having a few drinks to ease your way. But don’t get drunk before you head out — that’s simply not done.
I scream, you scream
We all scream for ice cream. Stockholmers are among the biggest ice cream consumers in the world and the city is crawling with both gourmet ice cream shops as well as old-school favourites. Go into any shop and there will be an ice cream freezer that is continually being refilled, because Stockholmers eat ice cream any time of the day, any time of the year.
Who’s the boss?
No one, basically. Swedish companies are flat organisations and while someone is definitely in charge, most companies don’t worry about it too much. That said, you must listen to your boss and do what she or he says but on the other hand, things are so open that you are not only able to, but positively encouraged to talk to your boss about ideas, concerns, or anything else that might strike your fancy.
To date or not to date
Don’t date. Or at least don’t expect to date. No one dates in Stockholm, so if you’re waiting for that cute guy or gal to ask you out to dinner it’s not going to happen. More likely you’ll meet someone in a bar or at a party and either go home with them immediately (and move in a week later) or you might develop a friendship that may or may not blossom into love.
Mind your manners
Do it because no one else is going to do it. No one can figure out why but Stockholmers rarely say ‘excuse me’ even if they’ve knocked you to the ground. They’ll say thank you to a server or a cashier but if they bash into you? It’s more likely they’ll give you a bad look and tsk as if it’s your fault. They’re also likely to let the door slam in your face. Just one of those oddities so don’t sweat it, just be aware of it.
Everywhere you go, there is free Wi-Fi: on trains, in shops and cafés, walking down the street… everywhere. Often your phone or computer will get a prompt, asking if you want Wi-Fi. If not, you can usually find it easily in your settings and if that doesn’t work, just ask at the counter: they’ll have a password that will get you online in seconds.