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Sweden

And while urban Sweden is stylish, modern and sophisticated, the countryside offers many simpler pleasures for those in search of tranquillity. Sweden’s scenery has a gentler charm than that of neighbouring Norway’s rugged coast. Much of Sweden is swathed in forest, and there are thousands of lakes, notably large stretches of water between Gothenburg and the capital, Stockholm. The lakeside resort of Östersund, in the centre of Sweden, is popular with Scandinavians, but most visitors opt first for the cities and the Baltic islands: the largest island, Gotland, with its array of ruined medieval churches, is a particular highlight.

Practical Information

Area: 449 964 km² (173 732 miles²)

Capital: Stockholm. Population: 765 044

Population: 8.9 million

Currency: Swedish Krona (SEK) = 100 öre

Government: Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from Denmark in 1523.

Tipping: Service in restaurants is not usually included in the bill; around 10% should be added.

Legal drinking age: 21 years, if buying alcohol in a shop, 18 years in bars, restaurants and nightclubs

Time zone: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Swedish

Additional descriptions

Sweden: Social customs

Normal courtesies should be observed. It is customary 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. Casual dress is acceptable for everyday occasions; smarter wear for social occasions, exclusive restaurants and clubs. Evening wear (black tie) will usually be specified when required. Smoking is prohibited on public transport and in most public buildings.Read more dress is acceptable for everyday occasions; smarter wear for social occasions, exclusive restaurants and clubs. Evening wear (black tie) will usually be specified when required. Smoking is prohibited on public transport and in most public buildings.

Sweden: Food and local specialties

Swedes like straightforward meals, simply prepared from the freshest ingredients. As a seafaring country with many freshwater lakes, fish dishes are prominent on hotel or restaurant menus. Things to know:Read more Picnic sites can be found at roadsides. Top-class restaurants in Sweden are usually fairly expensive, but even the smallest towns have reasonably priced self-service restaurants and grill bars. Many restaurants all over Sweden offer a special dish of the day at a reduced price which includes main course, salad, soft drink and coffee. Waiter service is common although there are many self-service snack bars. Wine, spirits and beer are sold through the state-owned monopoly, Systembolaget, open during normal shopping hours. Before 1300 on Sundays alcohol cannot be bought in bars, cafes or restaurants. After midnight alcohol can only be bought in nightclubs that stay open until between 0200-0500. The national specialties are: Smörgåsbord (Scandinavian cold table. First pickled herring with boiled potatoes then perhaps a couple more fish courses, smoked salmon or anchovies followed by cold meat, pâté, sliced beef, stuffed veal or smoked reindeer). Köttbullar (small meatballs). Smoked reindeer from Lapland. Gravlax (salmon that has been specially prepared and marinated). Wild strawberries and cloudberries. Snapps (a Swedish liqueur which is traditionally drunk chilled with smörgåsbord, flavours vary from practically tasteless to sweetly spiced).

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