Skål! – Drinking in Sweden

In Europe, along with Norway, Finland, and Iceland, Sweden is the only country with a state-owned alcohol monopoly. It was created to minimize alcohol-related problems, in a region where people drink more than average. In this way, selling alcohol only at one place, and placing heavy taxes on it, has a huge impact on consumption patterns.

In fact, I once read, that thanks to this system, the alcohol consumption had been reduced by 50%! In Sweden, during the week, no one drinks, and if you do it, you might get frowned upon. However, on the weekends, Swedes make up for the lack of drinking during the week. Though, they know how to behave, and they will never drink and drive, something that is still common in Southern Europe…

If you are in Sweden, you can only buy alcohol in bars or restaurants (but not taking it with you), or on these stated-owned shops. And you must be over 20.

Believe it or not, I’ve only been once to one. I don’t like drinking, so why would I visit Systembolaget? Because I was curious and wanted to check how much variety one can find there (I found some famous Portuguese wines!).

It is certainly an advantage not being a drinker in Sweden, where a beer can cost as much as 7€, while less than 2€ in Portugal. That is one of the reasons why so many Swedes like to go to Southern Europe on holidays!