The unofficial Gothenburg guide to buying alcohol

You are guaranteed to curse the Swedish government, at least twice, for their stupid fucking licensing laws. Here in Gothenburg, as is the case across Sweden, there is only one shop to buy alcohol over 3.5% in strength – Systembolaget. This state-owned off-license is superbly stocked with an array of beers, wines and spirits. Now for the “but” in this tale of alcohol acquisition: buying alcohol in Gothenburg is incredibly inconvenient! 


Arrive on time

While, yes, there are numerous Systembolaget stores scattered across Gothenburg (see the map below), they unfortunately share the ridiculous closing time of 6pm. 7pm – if you’re lucky. On Saturdays they close around 2 or 3pm. Oh, and on Sunday, they’re closed all-day. No joke. So realising you need to buy alcohol at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon is your “guaranteed curse” number 1.

Bring ID

Another word of warning: the staff in Systembolaget are incredibly tough on proof of age. Unless you look 40-plus, chances are they’ll ask for “legitimation”. That day you forget your ID: you, my friend, made the mistake of spontaneity. No preparation, no alcohol. There’s your “guaranteed curse” number 2.

So all this alcohol-buying-malarkey takes some getting used to for first-timers in Gothenburg. You’re about to be treated like a 16 year-old being given their first, restricted access to alcohol. In fairness, old mother and father Swedish government do mean well. For instance, Systembolaget – sensible alcohol guardians that they are – never offer 2-4-1 drinks promotions. Which, although a sore miss for the thousands of students living in Gothenburg, is a rational approach to selling alcohol.

Although, one effect of these restrictive laws I’ve noticed is it actually encourages people to stockpile. I’ve got no stats to back this up with, but I’ve never seen anyone leave Systembolget light-handed – have you? And so, I’d like to respectfully submit, this defeats the object of these strict laws and their reasonable but boring intention of limiting alcohol consumption. 

So please mother and father Government, we beg, can you please, please stay open to 9pm next weekend? I mean, c’mon! Denmark, Germany, Britain, EVERYONE at school gets to buy alcohol whenever they like. It’s SO unfair!! *Door slams*

Don't miss our guide to the best cheap pubs and bars in Gothenburg.


This Is Gothenburg [2019]