Sweden is awesome. Seriously, there’s a whole lot to do here, from hiking out in some vast stretches of true wilderness to exploring the design-heavy, hipster-friendly districts of its cool cities, Sweden strikes a balance between urbane and adventurous. It’s ripe for discovery.
For a long time ranked amongst some of the safest countries in the world, Sweden is definitely somewhere called “safe” for a good reason. But in recent years, its safety rating has gone down. Petty violence, biker gangs, and even a terrorist attack have tarnished its image.
So you may at this point be wondering, “Well, is Sweden safe or not?” And to help you figure that out we have put together this insider’s guide on staying safe in Sweden. At the end of the day, it’s all about smart travel; and with our guide, we want to help you do just that.
There are a ton of different issues we are going to be covering in this epic guide. That means everything from whether or not the taxis are safe to solo traveling in Sweden. Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
- How Safe is Sweden? (Our take)
- Is Sweden Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Sweden Right Now?
- Sweden Travel Insurance
- 11 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Sweden
- Keeping your money safe in Sweden
- Is Sweden safe to travel alone?
- Is Sweden safe for solo female travelers?
- Is Sweden safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in Sweden?
- Is Uber safe in Sweden?
- Are taxis safe in Sweden?
- Is public transportation in Sweden safe?
- Is the food in Sweden safe?
- Can you drink the water in Sweden?
- Is Sweden safe to live?
- How is healthcare in Sweden?
- Helpful Sweden Travel Phrases
- Final thoughts on the safety of Sweden
How Safe is Sweden? (Our take)
If you’re a fan of design, Viking history, food, the great outdoors, or pretty much anything cultural, Sweden will definitely appeal to you.
The good news is that for the most part, Sweden is incredibly safe for both residents and tourists alike. It is one of the richest and safest countries in the world and most travelers won’t have to worry about safety issues when in Sweden. As long as you apply common sense and stick to basic safety tips, you’ll be just fine.
Crime rates in Sweden are much lower than in other European countries. That being said, alcohol-fuelled violence or gun crimes can still happen, although very uncommon. Make sure you take basic precautions when in Sweden such as taking care when traveling home at night, keeping an eye on your valuables and do your research before heading into wilderness areas. Nothing different than what you’d do at home, really.
Generally, we’d say Sweden extremely is safe – as long as you think smart.
Is Sweden Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Yes, Sweden is safe to visit. However, although in 2019 it was listed as 18 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index, ranking 9th in Europe, there still is a risk of being a victim of petty crime. This has been deteriorating in the last few years with a total of 300 shootings in 2017.
That being said, 30 million tourists every year is a lot for a country with only 9.9 million inhabitants. Sweden is still a very popular and safe tourist destination to travel to. The World Economic Forum has also listed Stockholm as the 8th safest city in the world.
So despite the slight increase in violence, it’s officially very safe to visit Sweden.
Is it Safe to Visit Sweden Right Now?
The main issues in Sweden at the moment are pickpockets and alcohol-related violence.
In Malmo and Gothenburg, there have been recent reports of shootings and other gang-related crimes. Pickpockets in these cities target tourists who don’t know how to hide their cash. Although there are lots of police around, violence and petty theft still happen in rough areas.
As for the weather in Sweden, it can get pretty extreme. Many car crashes occur in the north of the country due to snow and ice during the winter months. Heavy snowfall can stop you in your tracks, airports can shut down and trains can get delayed… Sweden deals with it pretty well, though, so if it happens to you, it shouldn’t affect your trip too much.
If you’re heading out trekking or traveling Arctic Circle, be careful. Search and rescue teams are often dispatched from hundreds of miles away, meaning you can be stranded for a while if you get into trouble. Just make sure you’re fully prepared before leaving and that you’ve properly packed your gear in your hiking backpack!
All things considered, Sweden is still safe to visit right now.
Sweden Travel Insurance
Get insurance! Even if you are only going on a short trip, we advise you to always travel with insurance. Have fun while visiting Sweden, but take it from someone who has racked up thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.
Be sure to get your backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure! Our favorite travel insurance provider is World Nomads.
To find out why we recommend World Nomads, check out our World Nomads Insurance review.
If you want to shop around a little, then read up on competing companies and what they can offer. There are lots of insurances out there, so don’t feel limited.
11 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Sweden
As mentioned above, Sweden is very safe and relative to the rest of the world, it’s definitely still up there as one of the safest countries to visit. That being said, things are slowly becoming less safe. Petty theft, as well as organized crime and biker gangs, general violence, or extreme weather can make it a slightly unsafe place. But if you know how to stay safe in Sweden, you’ll be absolutely fine. So, here are some safety tips…
- Be careful of your belongings – especially around train stations in Malmo, Stockholm, and Gothenburg. This is where pickpockets lurk so make sure that you hold on to your belongings and your cash.
- Watch out for your belongings in hostels – often it’s other travelers who their eyes on your stuff, so be aware.
- Use your hostel safe – same reason as above.
- Know what you’re doing if you’re heading out into the wilderness – you need to be well prepared. Make sure you have all the necessary gear, a map and that you’ve researched the area before leaving.
- Watch out for ticks – ticks are becoming a problem. They can carry tick-borne encephalitis and Lime’s disease. Watch out between March and November on the East Coast and on Sweden’s islands. Cover up your arms and legs as much as possible.
- Keep out of fights – these can be an issue outside bars and clubs at closing time. Don’t get involved, walk away.
- Protect against mosquitoes – cover up and apply repellent. These can be real pests in the summer months.
- Be careful of wildlife – not only things like moose when you’re hiking, but if you’re driving, accidents can happen if you crash into them. Report it to the police if you do hit one.
- In Lappland the weather can change quickly – snowdrifts caused by high winds can be dangerous.
- Make sure you prepare yourself for freezing conditions – Sweden can get very cold!
- Take a phone into the wilderness – no internet? Get a data sim. This can help in emergencies.
Take these tips with you when you travel to Sweden. Sweden may be still one of the world’s safest, but there are definitely some unexpected things to watch out for. This includes steering clear of rowdy people at night as much as making sure that you prepare well for the harsh conditions in Sweden’s winter. That being said, Sweden has so much to offer, so get ready to have a truly awesome time.
Keeping your money safe in Sweden
Sweden may be pretty safe but unfortunately, pickpockets are on the rise. The last thing you want to worry about is someone stealing from you, right?
There are so many other things to be taking up your thinking time in Sweden. Namely, where are you going to eat next, what cool cafe are you going to hit up after that, and what national park will you explore first? To save yourself the worry, get a money belt and hide your cash!
One of our top pick security belts is the Active Roots Security Belt. This is one seriously good money belt for three reasons. One: it’s not expensive. Two: it’s pretty sturdy. Three: it looks like a real belt!
Nothing fancy about this one, and that’s what’s so good about it. It just looks like a normal belt, so you’re not going to worry about being uncomfortable with some weird belt contraption looped around yourself. Instead, you’ll have your stash of cash for the day tucked safely away inside the Active Roots Security Belt and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
Is Sweden safe to travel alone?
Traveling by yourself means getting to do a ton of stuff that you (and only you) want to do. That’s one major perk: your own journey. It’s also a great way to challenge yourself, grow your confidence, learn a new language, and generally explore the world.
Sweden is very safe for solo travelers. However, traveling alone can get lonely. Also, it means that you’re on your own – no one is looking after you and if you end up in an unpleasant situation, you’ll most likely have to get out of it on your own. To make sure that you’re busy visiting the ins and outs of the country in a safe manner, here are some tips for safe Sweden solo travel:
- The most important thing when you’re exploring Sweden is being prepared for nature. When you’re by yourself, you need to be doubly prepared. There’ll be no one to help you out whilst you’re walking around those amazing national parks. This goes for basically everything from having adequate supplies (food and water) to being warm enough – layers are key.
- Be aware that there are bears and wolves out in Sweden’s wilderness. Ask locals for advice and do your own research. It’s good to have more than less information before you get out into nature.
- Know your limits. You’re out hiking by yourself, you want to go further and further. But this might not always be the smartest move. There’s no one to tell you when it’s time to stop and not knowing when to call it a day is going to be likely to put you into any dangerous situation.
- If you’re going for a night out, know how to get home. Knowing the route, how to get a taxi, the options for getting home is going to put you in good stead for getting back to your room safely.
- Don’t get crazy drunk. It’s just not a good shout to ever really be completely out of your wits in a country that you don’t really know.
- Keep in touch with people at home. Not only is it good for your own safety to tell people where you are and what you’re doing, but it’s also a good way to just keep yourself level headed. Traveling solo can be lonely, so phone your fam and friends back at home for a chat every now and then.
- And with that in mind… Stay in well-reviewed places where you can meet other travelers. Social hostels are a good way to make friends, get yourself a traveling (or trekking) buddy, or even make for a good excuse to just chat about your travels with other backpackers. It’ll help keep away those solo travel blues, too.
- Make sure you don’t have all your money in one place. If your card gets stolen, or all your cash, you’ll need a different way to access your money. Put it in a couple of different bank accounts, use a money belt, and maybe even bring a credit card for emergencies.
Sweden is a really safe place for solo travelers. But the most dangerous thing you’re going to get up to in this country is heading out into the wilderness. It can be pretty unforgiving, especially in winter, so be careful and research before you go. Preparation and planning are key.
Other than that, be ready to have a blast in Sweden!
Is Sweden safe for solo female travelers?
Sweden is the ideal place for solo female travelers. It’s easy to get around, a lot of places are pretty walkable and there are lots of friendly, laid back people to meet. Stockholm, in particular, is pretty progressive and diverse. All in all, it’s a welcoming country that you’ll like a lot.
But like basically anywhere in the world, traveling as a woman can, unfortunately, come with more risk than as a male. And if you’re thinking about travelling in Sweden, it definitely pays to be aware of some of the potential dangers for solo female travelers in this Nordic country.
So whilst Sweden is relatively safe for solo female travelers, here are a few handy tips to make sure that you have the safest (and most stress-free) time possible during your travels:
- Stay at a well-reviewed hostel with a female-only dorm. Here you’ll have peace of mind by not sharing your bedroom with some weirdo guys, plus you’ll get to meet other women traveling by themselves. Win-win.
- You can pretty much wear what you like in Sweden. But as always, we’d say try to blend in. Have a look and see what local people are wearing and try to follow suit. It’s just nicer to not look like a tourist.
- Don’t go off walking by yourself down deserted streets or dark alleyways. This is almost always a good way to put yourself in a bad situation. Even if your map route is taking you down some shortcuts, you should always stick to the busiest roads. Do what you’d do at home, basically.
- Keep in touch with friends and family if you’re going out – let someone know what you’re doing, where you’re going, what your travel plans are. It’s always better for your safety to have someone know what you’re up to.
- On the other hand, strangers don’t need to know what you’re doing. They don’t need to know anything about you. If someone feels like they’re trying to get too close to comfort with their questions – are you married? where are you staying? – then don’t answer. Sometimes a white lie pays off.
- If somebody is hassling you or bothering you, judge the situation. Of course, sometimes it’s ok to make a fuss and attract attention to get help, but other times trying to ignore stuff and removing yourself from the situation is going to be the best course of action.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended on a night out. Drink spiking does happen, despite how safe Sweden is. It may be best to just buy your own drinks too, not accepting drinks from strangers.
- Stay alert and be aware of what’s happening around you. Pickpockets and bag snatchers are likely to target women more than men, so just keeping an eye on your surroundings could save you being a victim of petty theft.
- Go on a tour! This is both a good way to see the country and meet fellow travelers doing what you’re doing. This is especially a good idea if you’re thinking about hiking, but pays off equally if it’s just a walking tour of a certain city area. Good to get to grips with where you are.
This may seem like a lot of rules for a statistically safe country, but these are probably the day-to-day rules you’ll be employing in your own country anyway. So the basic advice we’d stick to for solo female travelers is to just act how you would at home.
Although Sweden is safe, you’re unfortunately not immune just because you’re on holiday or backpacking. Use your common sense, trust your gut feeling and stay alert – all the regular stuff that keeps you safe anyway. At the end of the day, don’t be too worried, though – Sweden is definitely safe for solo female travelers.
Is Sweden safe to travel for families?
Sweden is a modern, developed Nordic country and very safe for families! From small children all the way to teenagers there’s a lot for you and your family to enjoy in Sweden.
You might want to spend time in the cities, lapping up all the cultural and historical sights. In fact, most museums in Sweden have free admission for children aged under 18 so you can fully enjoy them all with your family.
The locals are friendly and welcoming to families traveling to their country, and there’s a load of family-friendly accommodation to choose from.
Outside of the cities, there’s a world of adventures to explore with your children. Head to the wilderness to see Sami reindeer herders, or even travel to Lapland. That’s pretty much going to make any younger kid freak out.
But although it’s an easy country to travel for children – made even easier by the fact that most people speak English – there are still some things you should watch out for.
Time your trip for the perfect time of year. In summer days can be very long. In winter it can be permanently dark. And from December to February, it’s pretty freezing, which means you probably won’t get to do a lot of outdoor activities with your kids.
And in the warmer months when you’re out hiking you’ll want to watch out for ticks. Make sure your children’s arms and legs are covered if you’re in any sort of idyllic, grassy spot in the Swedish archipelago.
But honestly, apart from that, Sweden is 100% safe to travel for families.
One thing you’ll probably want to do when you’re here is seeing the aurora borealis aka the Northern Lights. These are bound to mesmerize your kids, that’s for sure.
All that culture and history, plus mountain biking, skating on frozen lakes, and a ton of other outdoor activities, make Sweden a pretty cool place to take your children.
Is it safe to drive in Sweden?
Yes. It’s very safe to drive in Sweden.
Its towns and cities are safe, with plenty of laws on speed limits, seatbelts and drunk driving.
There can be some challenges however, both inside and outside of cities that you should be aware of when it comes to driving in Sweden. For example, be careful when driving in Sweden in winter – it can get pretty icy and snowy. If you drive too quickly, you can lose control of your vehicle, which is dangerous not only for you but pedestrians. Make sure that you pull out of junctions slowly and that you leave enough space in front of you to brake. Your car windscreen should be totally free of ice and snow before you start driving. Let your car get toasty, even more so at night. Last but not least, de-icer in the washer fluid is a must, so make sure it’s always topped up.
In rural areas, you’ll have to watch out for wild animals. A collision with something like an elk can be super dangerous – around 40 people die each year because of crashing into these huge animals. Luckily, there are signs that tell you that elk may run across the road. The plastic bags you see tied to trees across the road mean that the Sami people have herds of reindeer grazing in that area. So be extra careful when you see those!
Take caution when the sun is low in the sky (morning and evening). It’s not only tricky because of glare, but this is when big animals like reindeer and elk are most active too.
If you’re planning on driving during a winter visit, it will probably be better if you have some experience driving in icy conditions.
But generally, you’ll be safe driving in Sweden, so just make sure your vehicle is up to quality standards, that you feel good to drive and hit the road!
Is Uber safe in Sweden?
Uber is actually fairly new in Sweden so it’s not as well established as it might be in other destinations around the world.
With driver numbers constantly on the up, it’s getting easier to find an Uber, especially from places around airports (actually cheaper using an Uber).
You won’t have to worry about all the usual stuff like being overcharged or language worries, and you can track your journey and see reviews for the drivers – the general Uber benefits making Uber safe to use in Sweden.
Are taxis safe in Sweden?
Definitely. Taxis are safe in Sweden. But also, they’re honestly very expensive.
Most locals don’t even take taxis in cities because public transport is both cheaper and more efficient. Usually, only tourists and business people use them.
It’s safe to hail a taxi in the street, get one at a taxi rank, or book one over the phone. If you do it over the phone you can ask for the price first so you know how much it’ll be in advance. Many taxi companies nowadays actually have their own taxi app, making it a bit safer than usual.
It is the law for taxis to have a license. The taxis in Stockholm, for example, have yellow license plates with a small “T” on them. Be careful around the airport and other transport hubs. Here you’ll find shady operators who may overcharge.
If you pay by card (which you can do) your receipt will have the taxi’s registration number, the driver’s registration number, and all the other important details you’ll need if you have a problem with your driver.
Often taxis will run on a fixed price, though, so not using a meter. Surprisingly that can actually be cheaper. Just know how much it should cost (roughly) before you hop in.
But taxis are safe in Sweden. Just expensive. Case closed.
Is public transportation in Sweden safe?
Public transport in Sweden is not only safe but also great. It’s heavily subsidized by the government, which means a good organization and cheap fares. Win-win.
Naturally, public transport deals with snowy conditions pretty well, unless it’s really extreme. Expect delays in these cases.
You can get a ticket that’s valid on the trains and buses across the country thanks to the nationwide Resplus system. Trains can actually be a little expensive. Buses are much cheaper.
In cities, it’s super easy to cycle around if you prefer that. There is a load of trails and cycle paths threading through cities that make it a pretty good way to get around. Helmets are only compulsory for under 15s, however.
Stockholm is the only city in Sweden with its own metro system, but you will have to watch your belongings on this as pickpockets can be pretty pesky.
Gothenburg boasts the most extensive tram network in the whole of Northern Europe (around 190 kilometers).
But to get between the cities, you can take express buses. These connect major cities (Stockholm to Gothenburg, for example) and there are five different bus companies to choose from.
Some of them also connect cities with smaller towns, so they provide great connecting service.
The lanstrafik bus system connects with the regional train system, making it even easier to get to the parts of Sweden you really want to visit. You can also pick up good value bus passes which can save you money in the long run – say if you’re there for a month of traveling around.
The trains are much faster than buses and for train fans, you’ll just love it. There are some awesome routes with amazing sceneries such as the 13,000-kilometer Kristinehamn to Gallivare route.
However, costs are usually much higher on trains. For instance, second class train tickets can be double the amount you’d pay for a bus doing the same journey.
But on the whole, public transport is definitely safe and practical in Sweden.
Is the food in Sweden safe?
There is quite literally a smorgasbord of food to try in Sweden. It is the home of the smorgasbord, a board topped with various food that local people eat for lunch. You can even get smoked reindeer with some.
Obviously, Sweden is also where you’ll find Swedish meatballs and sweet treats like lingonberry pancakes. To be honest, you probably won’t get food poisoning anywhere in Sweden. Health and safety are very strict, but still, here are some tips to be on the safe side:
- Steer clear of buffet restaurants. This is usually the sort of place where you’ll find food that’s been sitting around for a while. And more than likely things won’t exactly have been looked after with love and care in these sorts of places. An all-you-can-eat buffet may sound tempting if you’re on a budget, but we just wouldn’t.
- There’s a lot of fish to enjoy in Sweden. It’s great if it’s fresh. Places closer to the sea for freshness is your best bet when it comes to enjoying seafood. This sort of thing, especially shellfish, can really make you ill if it isn’t fresh.
- You may have heard of surströmming. This is fermented canned herring. It’s safe to try it if you want – if you can deal with the smell.
- The earlier you go to a restaurant, the better the food. Go later and the food could actually be a little bit stale. Locals usually eat from around 5:30 pm to 8 pm so follow the Swedish lifestyle and you should be just fine.
- When it comes to street food, which is often an after-work sort of thing in Sweden, make sure you go somewhere that’s busy. The high turnover of people is going to mean that the food here is freshly made. A good rule of thing for food is: popular = good. And most likely, it won’t make you ill either.
- And it’s an obvious one but… wash your hands. Things might be clean and hygienic in Sweden, so don’t ruin that with your own grubby little mitts. Wash them! Or use sanitizer if you really want.
At the end of the day, the food in Sweden is safe. And what’s more, it’s almost always fresh. Sweden produces 80% of its own food, meaning that most things don’t need to travel very far at all in order to get from where they’re grown to your plate. This also means low carbon footprint, which is a win.
Generally, all the food you’re going to be eating here is fresh, tasty and safe. The only main worry is going to be seafood. This is the worst thing to get ill from when it comes to not eating fresh stuff. Other than that, the food on offer in Sweden is pretty awesome so enjoy it!
Can you drink the water in Sweden?
Yes. The water in Sweden is safe to drink. Make sure that you take a refillable bottle with you – it’s good for the environment and your wallet. Read our in-depth review of the best travel water bottles here.
You can refill your water in most places, from your hostel all the way to tap water from bathrooms in museums. It’s all safe to drink.
If you’re planning on seeing more of the backcountry, we recommend boiling your water, filtering it, or using a SteriPen.
We always bring along a filter bottle so we can have clean water no matter where we find ourselves.
Is Sweden safe to live?
Being one of the safest countries in the world (did we mention that already?), Sweden is safe to live in.
And for its size, the population is pretty low. It’s the third-largest country in Western Europe, but actually has one of the lowest population densities on the continent. That’s 48 people per square mile.
Most people also live in the southern part of the country. We’re talking big cities like Stockholm, Malmo, and Gothenburg, as well as Uppsala. The Norrland (the northern part) is sparsely populated. It’s mainly home to minority groups such as Sami and the Finnish speaking people of the northeast.
But as most countries, even developed ones, there still are some small dangers to be aware of.
The main thing you’re going to have to worry about in Sweden is the cold. It gets super cold in Winter. Midnight sun in summer and almost no daylight for some of the winter is going to be your number one concern. If you’re visiting Sweden in Winter, you may live in perpetual darkness which can be depressing, especially if you’re not used to it!
However, you can get prepared for it. Do your own research. Daylight hours are less extreme in the south and so are the temperatures. Make friends with people and join Facebook groups. Do everything you can to ensure you end up somewhere you want to be.
All in all, Sweden is a safe and enjoyable country to live in.
How is healthcare in Sweden?
Healthcare in Sweden is top-notch.
It has a public, government-funded system, which is often put up there as one of the best in the world. Sweden’s hospitals and doctor’s surgeries are clean, well equipped and run efficiently.
If you’re visiting Sweden as a tourist, don’t worry: most staff will speak English.
If you’ve had a major accident or are seriously ill, go to the emergency department. In Sweden, this is called the Akutmottagningar. They can deal with all sorts of medical emergencies.
If you’re out in the middle of nowhere, there are air ambulances that can come to the rescue. Make sure you have your travel insurance sorted out – this can be expensive.
Anything minor, head to a clinic. These are in small towns as well as cities. There are also drop-in centers where you can see doctors on the same day. Alternatively, call 1177. This is a free service which is handy if you’re just not sure what’s wrong. Medical staff can talk you through your symptoms and help you take the best course of action.
Helpful Sweden Travel Phrases
Swedish is the official language of Sweden, though English is widely spoken. Here are some Swedish travel phrases with English translations to get you started. Swedish is quite a difficult language to learn, but it is always fun to try to learn a new language, and locals will appreciate the effort, even if you only know a word or two.
Final thoughts on the safety of Sweden
Sweden’s safety ranking may be going down a little bit and there may be an increase in alcohol-fuelled violence at the weekends. It may have a strangely high level of gun crime and the Hell’s Angels may have a presence here. And yes, there may be more terrorist attacks on Sweden in the future. But on an overall level, this is just regular developed country stuff. It’s not perfectly safe. But it is generally very safe.
Safe means being able to walk around without worrying that stuff will simply be stolen from you. Safe means generally being able to stumble home from a night out without issue. Safe is not having to watch your back with every step. Sweden is these things. Safe. It doesn’t mean petty theft doesn’t exist, nor does it mean bad stuff won’t happen. But it’s definitely something that’s unlikely to happen.
The most dangerous thing about Sweden is probably its wilderness and its weather. And more than just these things by themselves, it’s being unprepared to deal with either that makes them particularly unsafe. Head into a national park without adequate supplies, next to no knowledge, and especially by yourself, and it’ll be dangerous. Be sensible, plan, prepare – and you’ll be safe and have an awesome time in Sweden! Oh and just in case, have your travel insurance prepared!
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.