Life in Sweden A-Z

A useful guide to life in Sweden. Learn for example about what to wear, how to ride public transportation and what fika is.

ATM machine Bankomat

ATM machines are available throughout the cities and on the university campuses. However, Sweden is almost a cashless society and 80% of all transactions are made by cards. It can, however, be a good idea to have some cash in your wallet, just in case.

Alcohol, narcotics Alkohol, narkotika

Alcohol is sold only in the state-owned monopoly stores, Systembolaget. The minimum age for buying alcohol at Systembolaget is 20. Light beer/cider can be bought in supermarkets. Be ready to show a valid photo ID. In bars and restaurants, the legal drinking age is 18.

All types of narcotics are strictly forbidden in Sweden. Strict penalties apply for selling and using drugs.

Bank Bank

Having a bank account makes life as a student much easier. Most Swedish banks require that you have a personal identity number, personnummer, to open a bank account. You can acquire a personal identity number if you can prove that you will stay in Sweden for at least 12 months. If this is not the case, you should check with your home bank before leaving for Sweden to see if they have a Swedish bank partner. Transferring funds from your home bank can take up to a week. If you open a Swedish bank account, make sure you close it before leaving Sweden.

Budget Budget

Below is an average monthly budget in Swedish kronor (SEK) to give you an idea of the cost of living. The budget does not include expenses for travel within or outside of Sweden, extensive medical treatment, course literature or expenses for household furnishings.

SEK per month:

Food 2,000
Student accommodation 3,750
 Local travel 560
Insurance, medical care, hygiene 300
Telephone/internet 300
Clothing, hobby/leisure, other 1,000
Total 8,000 (around €850 or $1,000)

Bicycle Cykel

Bikes are probably the most popular means of transport among students, and there are good bike paths both in Linköping and Norrköping. Second-hand bikes are available for sale in several places. Keep in mind that a bicycle must be equipped with a bell, front and rear lights, and front, rear and wheel reflectors, according to the law. You can be fined SEK 500-1000 for cycling in the dark without these. Remember to buy a strong lock for your bike.

Clothes Kläder

As winters in Sweden can get quite cold, it is important to be prepared with proper clothes, and solid, waterproof footwear. Mittens/gloves and a warm hat are also necessary.
The dress code is quite formal at some student parties: suits/ties and long dresses are often worn. These garments can be hired.
Remember, in Sweden you take your shoes off when you visit someone in their home.


Contacts Kontakter

Emergency number 112
(ambulance, fire brigade, police)  
Medical advice and emergensy dentist 1177
Police 114 14
Campus security 013-28 58 88
Linköping University 013-28 10 00

Currency Valuta

The currency in Sweden is the Swedish krona (SEK), plural kronor. Check the current exchange rate of your local currency in order to get a clear picture of prices in Sweden. It is a good idea to have some kronor with you upon arrival, as you will not be able to pay in US dollars, euro or any other currency.

Dentist Tandläkare

Should you need to go to the dentist, you can turn to your nearest public dental clinic, Folktandvården. There are also several private dental clinics that you can find online (search for “Tandläkare”). Please keep in mind that dental treatment in Sweden can be quite expensive, and is not subject to the same benefits as the rest of the healthcare system.

Doctor Doktor, Läkare

See “Medical care”.

Driving licence Körkort

Driving licences issued in EU/EEA countries are valid in Sweden. Other foreign driving licences are valid in Sweden for one year after civil registration. Driving licences issued in languages other than English, French, German and the Nordic languages require a translation into one of these languages to be attached to the licence. If your domestic driving licence does not bear a photo, photo identification is required in addition to the driving licence.

It is prohibited in Sweden to drive under the influence of alcohol: a blood-alcohol level of over 0.2‰ may result in a fine and the loss of your driving licence. The use of seat belts is required in both the front and the rear seats, and it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that passengers use them. If you and/or your passengers do not wear seatbelts, you can be fined SEK 1500-2500. Cars should be driven with dipped headlights even during the day. Winter tyres must be used from December to March when road conditions are wintry.

Electricity Elektricitet

The voltage in Sweden is 220 volts at 50 Hz. Electricity outlets in Sweden follow the Europlug standard, and you may need a transformer and/or an adapter for your electrical appliances.

Emergency Nödfall

In case of emergency dial 112 from any phone and ask for the police, ambulance or fire brigade.


The Swedish fika is more than just a coffee break. In Sweden, fika is a social phenomenon and is used as a legitimate excuse to set aside a moment for quality time. Fikapaus (fika-break) is a natural part of student and working life, as well as a good way to fill your leisure time. At fika, it is customary to drink coffee or tea accompanied by baked pastries such as cinnamon buns.

Leisure activities

Information about leisure activities is available at Student Life at LiU.

Library Bibliotek

In addition to the libraries at Linköping University, there are public libraries in both Linköping and Norrköping, where you can borrow books and other media. You can register and get a library card with a valid ID card.

Medical care Hälso- och sjukvård

To make a doctor’s appointment, call the health centre/clinic, Vårdcentralen, in the district where you live. If you do not know which clinic you belong to, call 1177 for information. For emergencies, call 112 or go to the emergency room, Akuten, at the University Hospital in Linköping or Vrinnevi Hospital in Norrköping. If you need medical advice, call 1177 at any time and talk to a nurse. They can also help you to make an appointment at a clinic with on-call medical staff when your local health centre is closed. Medical treatment in Sweden can be very expensive without insurance. Bring your European Health Insurance Card, if you have one, or proof of other medical insurance. Please note that FAS+ Insurance only covers admitted students to LiU but no one else. If you bring family members with you to Sweden they will need their own insurance from your home country. 



Mobile phones Mobiltelefon

Normally you should be able to use your own mobile phone from your home country, if it is not locked to a certain network. If possible, the International Office will offer you a SIM card free of charge when you arrive.

Newspapers Tidningar

You can read Swedish news in English at the online newspaper “The Local”. Foreign newspapers and magazines can be bought at several newsagents or read at the library. Link to The Local.

Opening hours Öppettider

Most shopping malls and stores in the city centre are open Monday to Friday 10-19, Saturday 10-17 and Sunday 11-17. Boutiques and smaller shops have shorter opening hours and are often closed on Sundays. Supermarkets often have longer opening hours.

Personal identification number Personnummer

If you plan to stay in Sweden for at least a year and have health insurance with full coverage you can apply for a Swedish personal identity number at Skatteverket. This number can facilitate your contact with Swedish authorities, healthcare institutions, banks, libraries, etc. It is also required if using services, such as discount cards at the supermarkets or paying for mobile phone instalments. The personal identification number has 10 digits, starting with your date of birth (YYMMDD-XXXX), and is not the same as the number that you receive at the university. Read more at

Pharmacy Apotek

You can pick up your doctor’s prescription and buy other healthcare products at every pharmacy in Sweden. Some non-prescription drugs can be bought at grocery stores and supermarkets. Pharmacies are spread all over town in Linköping and Norrköping – check the closest pharmacy for specific opening hours.

Police Polis

Contact the police if you want to report a crime, either as a victim or as a witness. You can reach the police at 112 in case of emergency, otherwise at 114 14. For more information about the Police in Sweden go to

Post office Posten

Post in Sweden is delivered Monday to Friday. The Swedish postal service, Posten, has outlets in some supermarkets and service shops for domestic and international mail. There you can buy stamps, pre-paid envelopes and cardboard boxes, send letters, and collect and send packages. Link to Posten website.

Public transport Kollektivtrafik

The Campus bus can be used for travel between campuses. Buses – and trams in Norrköping – run from early morning until late evening, later on Fridays and Saturdays. You can buy single tickets at various selling points (newsagents, supermarkets, etc.) or at a vending machines – Quickomat. You can also download the app Östgötatrafiken and buy tickets there. Please note that you cannot buy a ticket from the driver.If you travel frequently, you should buy a top-up travel card, which offers a small discount for each trip, or a monthly pass. The public transport company that operates in the county of Östergötland is Östgötatrafiken. You can find more information about local travel on their website, where you can buy tickets and top-up cards, etc. Link to Östgötatrafiken website

Public holidays Helgdagar

  • New Year’s Eve (Nyårsafton): 31 December
  • New Year’s Day (Nyårsdagen): 1 January
  • Twelfth Night or Epiphany (Trettondedag jul): 6 January
  • Good Friday: (Långfredag)
  • Easter Day: (Påskdagen) and Easter Monday: (Annandag påsk)
  • 1 May: 1 May
  • Ascension Day (Kristi Himmelsfärd): The Thursday of the sixth week after Easter
  • Whitsun (Pingst): On a Sunday in May or June
  • Sweden’s national day (Nationaldagen): 6 June
  • Midsummer’s Eve (Midsommarafton): a Friday between 19-25 June, for which the following Saturday is Midsummer’s Day (Midsommardagen)
  • All Saints’ Day (Alla Helgons dag): Saturday in early November
  • Christmas Eve (Julafton): 24 December
  • Christmas day (Juldagen): 25 December
  • Boxing Day (Annandag jul): 26 December

Recycling Återvinning

Sweden is a world-leader in recycling, and most homes and workplaces have different recycling bins for different materials. Recycling bins are widely spread throughout the campuses of Linköping University.
Beverages in Sweden are often sold in deposit-paid bottles. You pay SEK 1 to 2 extra (pant) for beverages in plastic or aluminium containers, which is returned when you return the bottle or can at a pantstation (available in most stores).

Religion Religion

The predominant religion in Sweden is a Lutheran denomination but many other churches and religions are represented across Sweden.  You are welcome to contact the student ministers (Kårallen Building in Linköping and Trappan Building in Norrköping) if you have any queries regarding religious matters or if you want to get in contact with someone of your own religion.

Smoking Rökning

Smoking is forbidden in all public places in Sweden, i.e. at the university, in restaurants, coffee shops, shopping centres, nightclubs, etc. Please note that smoking outside hospitals is only allowed in designated places.

Taxi Taxi

Traveling by taxi can be expensive, although some companies offer student discounts. Ask the taxi driver before you start your journey.

The Right of Public Access Allemansrätten

Allemansrätten, the Right of Public Access, is a great benefit for those who want to experience the Swedish countryside. It gives the right to roam the countryside freely, pick berries and mushrooms in the forest, and swim or travel by boat in someone else’s water. Click here to read more about Allemansrätten and Swedish nature.

TV and radio TV och radio

Cable TV with foreign channels is available in many residential areas. A TV set is available in the common living areas and kitchens of student corridors without any extra charge. However, of you get a TV in your own room or apartment, you will need to pay TV-avgift, a fee of approximately SEK 2000 per year. Foreign programmes on Swedish television are shown in their own language with Swedish subtitles. Swedish radio transmits daily in several languages on the national radio channel P2.

Time Tid

Local time in Sweden is GMT +1. Sweden uses daylight saving time (DST), meaning that the clocks are put forward 1 hour on the last Sunday in March and put back on the last Sunday in October.

Tipping Dricks

Tipping is not required in Sweden. However, if you are happy with your service at a restaurant, it is normal to leave a 10% tip.

Water Vatten

Tap water in Sweden is safe to drink and of very good quality.

Weather Väder

Sweden has four distinct seasons and temperatures vary greatly between the north and the south. In Östergötland, the average temperature in July is approximately +17˚C (63˚F) and in February the average temperatures is -4˚C (24˚F). The winter temperature can, however, fall to as low as -20˚C (-4˚F).


Want to learn more about Sweden and the Swedes?



Further reading recommendations:

Study in Sweden

The Swedish Institute

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