Wifi is everywhere in Sweden but if you want to use Google Maps to get around, keep track of your social media feeds, or Snapchat some sexy selfies, you’re going to need a Swedish sim card.
You could stick with the sim card you use at home but even if you’re arriving from another EU country, prices can be pretty high. The good news is that switching to a Swedish sim is easy – you don’t have to register any personal details and should be up and running within a few minutes of buying the sim.
There are a few different networks to choose from but in reality, there’s little between them in terms of price and coverage. Mobile signal is generally excellent in southern Sweden, central Sweden and all along the east coast, with strong 3G and 4G reception in almost every town and city, including Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Coverage drops off considerably in the north and northwest of Sweden, especially in national parks. That being said, if you stick to the main roads and towns, you’ll rarely have any trouble making a call or loading a simple webpage.
Do you really need a Swedish sim?
If you’re only staying in Sweden for a few days then you might not need to bother getting a local sim card. Some European networks (like O2 and Vodafone in the UK, for example) offer add-ons for folks travelling within the EU – simply pay a couple of pounds extra for each day that you’re away and you’ll be able to use data as usual.
Other networks offer the chance to use your regular data allowance for limited periods of time in selected countries, regardless of whether or not they’re in the EU – the best advice is to check the charges and allowances carefully before travelling.
For most people visiting Sweden from outside the EU or staying for a week or more, getting a Swedish sim will almost certainly be the cheapest option. Note that for a new sim to work, your phone will have to be unlocked.
So, what are the options?
1) Get a sim card before you arrive
If you want to be able to catch up on emails as soon as the plane’s tyres hit the tarmac, you can order a sim online before you leave home. Some sites require a Swedish social security number, but a couple – such as Ihavelanded and Lycamobile – do not. Both of those companies will send a Sweden-ready sim card to your home address, either pre-loaded with credit or ready for you to top-up online ahead of your arrival in the country.
2) Wait until you land
To get a deal that really suits you, the best option is to wait until you get to Sweden. Pay-as-you-go sim cards are available for sale at most high-street mobile phone shops across the country. The main brands to keep an eye out for are:
– 3 (pronounced ‘tre’ in Swedish)
There are also other virtual networks that piggyback on those listed above. These include Halebop, Lycamobile, Comviq and Hallon. As deals change all the time, the best option may be to ask the retailer what they recommend, based on how long you’re staying. Shop around.
Need a recommendation?
We use Telia’s ‘Surf Refill’ package, which comes with a brand new sim card and costs 49 SEK for 1GB of data (you have a whole month to use it up). There’s no minimum term, and you can buy extra credit if you decide you want to text or call.
If you’re staying in Sweden for a longer period of time you can pay 599 SEK – that gives you 2GB of data per month for an entire year. You can just turn up to any Telia shop in Sweden (map here) and ask for one of these sim cards without needing a Swedish social security number. There’s no need to register your details, either. We’ve used the Telia service all over the country and the signal has always been reliable. Top ups for the Telia network are sold at kiosks, supermarkets and convenience stores across Sweden.
Alternatives to getting a Swedish sim
The cheap alternative to buying a local sim is to turn off your mobile network and rely on wifi. You should be able to at least see where you are on Google Maps without having an internet connection, provided that you download the maps before setting off (this guide explains how). You will always need an internet connection to get directions, though.