The basics
Sweden: Destination Guides - Must read

10 things to know about the Swedish culture

We’re here to prepare you for your journey to Sweden so that you don’t get a culture shock or wonder about some strange Swedish culture. Read on and get clued up on some of our top tips to understanding the Swedes and their culture.

Swedish people are shy

It’ll take some time to speak to a man, especially if you don’t know him. Even Swedish girls are generally shy.

The drinking culture

Like water is to plants, alcohol is the same to Swedes. It’s easier to make friends and get to know people over a beer.

Swedes are passive

Many Swedes are passive aggressive because they don’t like to vocalise issues. They prefer to avoid conflict at all costs. However, they can be direct too – which can be subtle and hard to read. It takes time to understand and read the underlying message.

Social systems are closed

Becoming friends with Swedes and joining their social circles is arduous. Most Swedes hang out with friends from the gym or college and they have a tight, small social network. Hanging out with colleagues is rare. However, it’s possible to make lots of friends as a newcomer.


Swedes don’t like to be late. It’s rude to be late and punctuality is highly valued.

Swedes are stylish

They’re not the drop dead fashionistas of Paris, but they have their own ultra modern, sleek style. Swedish households say it all – gorgeous and beautifully decorated. Being stylish in Sweden is expensive and fashion can come at a price.

Silence is golden

It’s okay to not speak every second of every moment. You may feel that Swedes can be unusually quiet, but it is not because they’re mad or annoyed. They just enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.

Get your shopping done before 17.00

Many stores close early, especially at weekends. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a store open past ten in the evening that isn’t a petrol station. It’s worth keeping in mind that since many Swedes are done with their regular jobs around five, you’ll likely be battling crowds to get your shopping done between five and half past six.

Outdoorsy bunch

The Swedes love doing things outdoors whether it’s in the sun, under the rain or in the middle of a winter blizzard.

Shoe rules

You’ll notice that shoes are taken off when entering private residences. Some explain it with the simple fact that Swedes spend a lot of time outdoors during winter and are prone to dragging in dirt. Others say it’s a sign of respect for the home. Either way, you might want to think twice before wearing full lace-up boots when visiting friends’ homes. 

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An aspiring journalist with a passion for investigative journalistic work. Also a self-declared masterchef.