Sweden is one of the largest Nordic countries, situated in northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula. This country is among the best countries in the world to visit due to the many tourist destinations available.
Before visiting any country, consider its safety first, especially if you’ve never been there. Our comprehensive guide below highlights how safe Sweden is to visit; read on to learn all you need to know.
Is Sweden Safe to Visit?
Generally, Sweden is one of the safest countries to visit. Recently, the U.S. embassy issued a level one travel advisory, asking U.S. citizens to exercise standard precautions when they visit the country.
However, despite being a safe country, Sweden isn’t short of a few security issues like any other country. A few areas are known to be hotspots for criminal activities, such as Rinkeby in Stockholm. This area is widely known for robberies and violent crimes.
Sweden also faces other challenges, like street fights. This problem is common among intoxicated youths. If you come across people fighting in the streets, don’t try to intervene.
Otherwise, you risk sustaining serious injuries or even getting killed. When you visit Sweden’s countryside, exercise extra caution and avoid getting into trouble. This is because these areas don’t have many police officers.
Avoid arguing with bouncers or security guards when you visit entertainment joints because they have the legal right to use force when necessary. Sweden also experiences natural disasters. The southern shore is susceptible to erosion, coastal flooding, and sea level rise.
Landslides may occur on the country’s west coast, and debris flow and avalanches could happen in the north. Extreme storms and riverine flooding usually happen in most places in the country.
Crime in Sweden
Generally, the crime rate in Sweden is low. Nevertheless, there are a few reported crime cases, including burglary, car theft, rape, and homicide. Recent statistics show that the theft rate in Sweden is 86.7 per 100,000 population.
Rape cases are at 56.7, while burglaries are at 803.4 per 100,000 population. Below, we’ve listed some of the common security concerns in Sweden that you should be cautious of as a visitor.
Petty theft is a major concern in Sweden, where criminals target tourists for cash, passports, and valuable jewelry. One of the major places where you are likely to experience petty theft is at the airport or train stations.
Another area where you may encounter this issue is on public transportation from the airport to your hotel. Tourist attraction sites, hotel lobbies, and restaurants can also be hotspots for petty criminal activities.
You can reduce the chances of petty theft by putting your valuables in pockets that are not easily accessible. Also, be mindful of your surroundings at all times.
Despite being an organized and regulated country, visitors in Sweden still experience various scams, as discussed below.
Taxi scams entail overcharging or suggesting unnecessary trips. Some taxi drivers may also try to start the meter running before they pick you up or refuse to utilize it when they’re driving you.
You can avoid this type of scam by reserving a taxi in advance through a trustworthy company. Ask for clarification if you notice any fishy activities, and contact the Taxi Company or local authorities if the taxi driver refuses to explain any mischievous activities.
Picture scam is the newest type of scam in Sweden. Here, locals may hand you their camera and request you to take their photo. When you give them the camera back, they deliberately drop it and then demand money from you for damaging their camera.
They often demand a lot of money and won’t let you go until you pay them. When in Sweden, refuse to take anyone’s photo, no matter how genuine they look.
Friendly ATM Helper
When you visit an ATM in Sweden, someone may approach you and tell you that they can help avoid local bank charges. These people usually have skimmers. As you enter your pin, the skimmers record your pin, and they’ll use it to withdraw money from your account later.
Another form of ATM scam is when someone approaches you at an ATM, offering to help you fix your card when it has issues.
As kind as they may look, that is not their real intention. Their main aim is to see your pin, and they use it later to drain your account. Avoid getting help from anyone at ATMs in Stockholm to avoid such issues.
“Friendly” Bar Friends
If making friends is one of your plans when visiting Sweden, you should be wary of every new person you meet. When in the country, you may meet friendly people on public transport, at your hotel, or local shopping center.
They will then start a conversation and make you believe they have good intentions. They’ll make you comfortable and ask you to join them for drinks at a nearby bar. Most of the time, these people collaborate with the bartenders to fraud you.
After a couple of drinks, they give you a bill, which is usually almost ten times the normal. To make you less suspicious, your “friends” will offer to chip in some amount to settle the bill.
If you can’t pay the bill, they may escort you to the ATM to withdraw the money. This is even more dangerous since they may coerce you to withdraw even more money or observe as you put in your ATM pin and use it later to withdraw money from your account.
Bird Poop Scam
Another common scam in Sweden is the bird poop scam. When walking in the streets, someone may throw white toothpaste on your shoulder. Naturally, when something like this happens, you’ll look up, thinking it was bird poop.
A friendly local will suddenly appear and offer to help you clean the mess. In the process, they may pickpocket you. Refuse any help from the locals when visiting Sweden to avoid falling victim to such scams unless it’s an emergency.
Guessing Game Scam
When strolling through the streets of Stockholm, you may come across a man holding three boxes, with a group of onlookers attempting to determine which box has a ball.
The man awards the person in the group who correctly guesses the solution, and they repeat this with a different group member. The main aim of this game is to attract many people, thinking they’ll win free money.
When a huge crowd has gathered, members of the group will pickpocket them without them noticing since they’re too focused on guessing which box has a ball.
There haven’t been any terrorist attack cases in Sweden recently. Even so, you should not completely rule out the possibility, given the history of terrorist attacks in European countries. When you visit Sweden, stay alert, especially when in public spaces.
Common areas where terrorists are likely to attack include:
- Government buildings
- Tourist attraction sites
- Public transportation hubs
- Shopping centers
The Swedish government strives to protect its citizens and tourists from terrorist attacks. They normally alert people about the current security situation through social media or local media. To avoid surprises, always check the local news before heading out.
Mugging is a common issue in every society. In Sweden, there are a few reported cases of mugging. This problem is prevalent in some streets in Stockholm. You may also get mugged when you’re drunk or walking alone in the dark.
Sweden occasionally experiences violent crimes, especially in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, but it’s rare. The bad thing about all this is that you won’t know when a violent crime will happen.
As a result, you may find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Always check the news, and be alert and mindful of your surroundings to reduce the chances of falling victim.
Another issue of concern in Sweden is assault. According to statistics, there are about 47.2 cases per 100,000 people. These cases are common among women compared to men. Although this number is relatively low, it doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down.
When you visit Sweden, always avoid scenarios that may lead to assault, such as having verbal altercations or unnecessary arguments with strangers in the streets.
The Swedish government has adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy on drug usage. In its efforts to create a drug-free society, the country has made significant investments in prevention, law enforcement, and abstinence-based treatment. This means that drug-related crimes are relatively low in Sweden.
The burglary rate in Sweden is relatively low compared to other Scandinavian countries. This is good for visitors since you can leave your hotel room without worrying about the security of your items whenever you go out.
Avoiding Bad Areas
There are several tips that you can use to avoid crime when visiting Sweden, including:
- Avoid walking alone in the dark
- Stay alert when walking on the streets
- Be wary of people trying to distract you
- Avoid wearing flashy clothes or jewelry since they attract thieves
- Follow your instincts whenever you feel something is not right
- Avoiding Bad Areas
There are specific areas in Sweden known to be criminal activity hotspots, and you should avoid them when you visit the country.
These areas include:
- Rinkeby in Stockholm: Avoid going to Rinkeby alone or at night when you visit Sweden. This area is commonly known for robberies and violent crimes.
- Norrland: This area is located in Sweden’s countryside. Although it has popular tourist destinations like Kungsleden, Abisko, and Höga Kusten, it has few police officers. This means it might be hard to get help in case you’re in trouble.
- Slussen: Finding your way around Slussen can be difficult, especially when you are new in the region and may get mugged in the process.
Things to Consider
Here are some of the top considerations for Sweden visitors:
- Don’t overindulge whether you’re out in town or just having a quiet drink at a neighborhood bar. You may end up spending a lot of money or get scammed.
- When you visit Sweden, there are certain contacts that you should know. Dial 112 for emergencies, 1177 for medical emergencies, 11 414 for non-emergency accidents, and 113 13 for information on non-serious accidents.
- Contact the police if you feel that you’re in danger.
- Some areas in the country, like northwest Norrland, southern Svealand, and Götaland, experience flooding due to overflowing rivers. Always check travel advisory websites in Sweden to know if there are any flooding risks before visiting areas.
- Always check the local media for any news on security threats. The Swedish government usually issues security reports to citizens whenever necessary.
- Don’t accept any form of help from strangers when walking in the streets unless it’s an emergency.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the Frequently Asked Questions about visiting Sweden:
Is Healthcare free for tourists in Sweden?
As a tourist to Sweden, you have the same health and medical financial rights as Swedish citizens. To receive treatment, you’ll have to present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
How long can a tourist stay in Sweden?
Typically, a tourist can stay in Sweden for 90 days. If you are in Sweden and wish to prolong your stay for longer than 90 days, you should apply for a visitor’s permit.
Are Swedish people friendly to foreigners?
Yes. Swedish people are warm and friendly to foreigners. Nevertheless, you have to initiate the talk first since they don’t like intruding on other people’s personal spaces.
Is Sweden a cheap place to visit?
All Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, are expensive to visit. You are likely to spend a lot of money on hotel accommodation, food, and travel. Look for ways to lower your expenses without sacrificing your experience to avoid spending too much money.
When is the best time to visit Sweden?
The best time to visit Sweden is between May and September when the temperatures are warm. You can also visit the country during winter since the country has many winter sporting activities to make your stay fun, including snowboarding, skiing, skating, ice fishing, and snowballing.
So, Is Sweden Safe to Visit?
Sweden is generally a safe place to visit. Nevertheless, you may experience a few cases of petty theft and pickpocketing, which are common in almost all tourist destinations. To avoid falling victim to such cases, remain alert at all times. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Sweden today!