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It’s all about the money… uhm, Swedish kronor

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Can you pay with €’s in Sweden? Is Sweden really that expensive? These are just a few questions that come to mind when it comes to Sweden and money. In this article you can read all about paying in Sweden. By the way, did you know the song ‘It’s all about the money’ is from the Swedish pop singer Meja?

Card payments only

Paying in Sweden is mainly done with the card. I only once used Swedish kronor because the restaurant had problems with the bank terminal. In many cases you can even pay your toilet visit by card. Most credit cards are accepted in Sweden.

Check with your bank if your (master) card and your visa also work abroad. If you really want cash in your pocket, you can pin on arrival. But once again: you basically don’t need cash in Sweden!

Many traders choose to be ‘kontantfri‘. This means that they no longer accept cash payments but you can only pay with the card or via swish. They often do this because it is easier but also because it is a lot safer (no thefts, no/less money transports). Sweden is a leader in digital payment. They want to be a cashless society within a few years.

Swedish krona

Sweden does not participate in the euro. They also have no plans to join the euro at the moment, although they are actually obliged to do so by the Accession Treaty. However, you will see the prices mentioned in euros, especially in certain touristic spots. The Swedish currency is the Swedish Krona (kronor in plural). To convert Swedish krona into euros, I usually divide by 10 and then round up. Sometimes you can even round down, depending on the exchange rate.

Fem Hundra Kronor - Swedish krona

There are coins of 1, 2, 5 and 10 kronor. There are banknotes of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 kronor. Just as with the euro, there is also a subdivision into hundredths. We speak of öre instead of cents. These small coins were taken out of circulation.

New notes and coins appeared on the market in 2015 and 2016. The old ones are no longer valid from 30 June 2016 and 2017. You can still exchange the notes at Sveriges Riksbank.


In Sweden it is common for everyone to go get their own beer at the bar. The bill at the restaurant is also usually shared. To transfer money between friends and family, they have a handy app: Swish. They use it as a verb as well: att swisha. Unfortunately, as a foreigner, you cannot use the app. You can only link the app to your (Swedish) bank account. With Swish you can even pay when lighting a candle at church!

Buying alcohol in Sweden

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The comment that is most often given when I say that I am going to Sweden (or by extension Scandinavia) is “Gosh, isn’t Sweden very expensive?” My answer is often: “Well, actually it isn’t more expensive then other West European countries. Sometimes you indeed pay a bit more but I think you also get more value for money. If you like to drink a glass of wine, well, that’s when Sweden gets expensive as you will pay around 10 euros * for a glass.

* I haven’t seen prices less than 70 crowns for a glass of wine.

Buying alcohol in Sweden - systembolaget

How about alcohol in Sweden

You can buy drinks with an alcohol percentage of less than 3.5% in the supermarket. All alcoholic drinks with a higher percentage can only be purchased in the Systembolaget. These state stores have had a monopoly on alcohol sales of drinks + 3.5%, wines and spirits since 1955. You will find a Systembolaget in every city (or as the locals call it: Systemet) and where there is no local Systembolaget, you can often place an order in the local supermarket that will be delivered a few days later.

The prices for alcohol in Sweden are quite high. This is partly due to the high taxes on alcohol. A number of Swedes try to escape these high prices by firing alcoholic beverages themselves, but this is actually illegal. Others sometimes make the crossing to Denmark, Germany or the Baltic States to stock up.

To buy alcohol in Sweden you must be 20 years old and be able to proof your identity. You can drink alcohol in bars or in a restaurant from the age of 18. Bars may only serve alcohol if they also have food on the menu. Until 1977 they were only allowed to serve alcohol to customers who also bought something to eat. The staff must also always open the bottles on site so that the bottles cannot be taken home.

Systembolaget: practical

In the past you had to draw a number, wait your turn and then pass your order on to the employee. Nowadays you can just walk through Systembolaget and take your bottles out of the rack yourself, after which you pay at the cash register like at a normal supermarket.

The purpose of Systembolaget is to ensure that alcohol-related problems are minimized. The sale is not for profit and is in function of public health. Offers are excluded anyway.

The employees of Systembolaget have a great knowledge of their products and can, for example, perfectly advise on which wine fits a particular dish. They also have a huge range. You will even find an extensive selection of Belgian (special) beers.

The shops are generally open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and on Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm. Just before closing time it is usually somewhat busier. Especially on Friday evening if everyone wants to make their purchases for the weekend.

Lördagsgodis & Swedish candy

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Yesterday I told you all about fredagsmys, today we’ll learn all about lördagsgodis. Loyal Ikea visitors may have seen this word on top of the candy rack. Lördagsgodis consists of the Swedish words for Saturday (lördag) and candy (godis).



The term lördagsgodis arose in the 1950s and 1960s when parents and educators decided that children should only eat sweets on Saturdays. By restricting the consumption of sweets, they wanted to include dental care and prevention.

The popularity of lördagsgodis rose even further when the use of pocket money got more customary and the Swedish children could to buy their own candy.

Swedish candy

LördagsgodisIn every supermarket in Sweden you will find a wall with trays of candy. The children can choose their own candies and put them in a bag. You pay by weight.
Marshmellows, snacks and sweets with lakrits (a kind of liquorice) are the Swedish favourites. Bilar (small cars) and Kex (a mix between Leo and Center Waffles) are also very popular.

Kex, Swedish sweets What is your favorite Swedish sweets?