Ten rules for getting naked in Sweden

Solveig Rundquist
Solveig Rundquist - [email protected]
Ten rules for getting naked in Sweden
How to leave the clothes behind - Swedish style. Photo: Shutterstock

Sweden is known throughout the world for several types of sin - and a lot of them involve shedding clothes. The Local sets out to debunk the myths and explain Swedish nudity in ten simple rules.


Swedes are a very polite, considerate people. Even when it comes to stripping down to their birthday suit. They may be more liberal than many other nationalities, but there are rules of etiquette. Getting naked isn't always okay. 

Dancing naked on TV with your friends while covering your privates with Swedish hard bread (knäckebröd) is acceptable. And of course you should always be naked in the sauna. But sometimes Swedes get in trouble with the law for being naked at home.

"If you use your home or apartment as a stage to pose naked for others to see there may be consequences," Swedish Tenant Union lawyer Nyström said in magazine Hem & Hyra on Wednesday.

Nyström explained that sunbathing topless - or entirely naked - on your balcony should be okay, and having sex by a window is fine and dandy as long as the neighbours don't have a clear view in. But not being considerate of others may end you up in court. So Swedish 'lagom' is key.

Or as nudist Ronja told the magazine:

"Being naked is about freedom, and not conforming to others."

But this type of freedom involves a few guidelines. So here we go...ten commandments of Swedish nude etiquette.

1. You may bathe naked.
Even at a "normal" beach. This is critical to maintain a sunburn across the entire body. Yes, sunburn. In the 1930s it became in fashion for a woman to have a "harmonic soul and beautiful sunburn," according to the Nordic Museum in Stockholm - and it's still in. No bikini lines here, people.
2. You may bathe clothed at a nudist beach.

Photo: Bengt Nyman/Flickr
Don't worry - just because you can be naked doesn't mean you have to be. But try to be stylish in your clothed-ness. This is Scandinavia.
3. You may dance naked on Swedish television, provided you are using traditional Swedish knäckebröd to cover your most sensitive areas.
These lads on Swedish "Talent" in 2009 did. To standing ovation.
4. You may not direct your nakedness at a specific person outside your home.
For instance, you may not suddenly strip off your bathrobe by your window just as your neighbours walks by. The poor things may feel the action was specifically intended for them. Your nakedness may then be interpreted as provocative, offensive, and upsetting, and thus punishable. If people feel harassed you may be fined and have to pay damages.

 5. You shall never wear clothing in the sauna.

These rookies need to take off the towels. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

You look like a total foreigner if you do. And during the winter you shall stay naked when you run into the snow and freezing water after sitting in the sauna.

6. You may not toss your trash in the community garbage shoot while wearing only socks.
Nor may you pick up your mail from the mailbox while in the nude. But feel to strip to read the paper once back in the safety of your kitchen. A man was once convicted for sexual harassment because he kept taking out his trash while wearing no pants - nor underpants. Let that be a warning to you.
7. You may sunbathe topless, even within the sight of others.
Photo: Shutterstock

But be respectful if you plan to sunbathe entirely naked, that's a bit trickier.
"The bigger the risk that someone might see, the more careful you should be," a lawyer at the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen) said. Indeed - the more who see, the more likely that someone will have a problem.
8. You may leave a window open for ventilation reasons, even while having some fun naked (either alone or with a partner) at home.
Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank

A 30-year-old man in western Sweden was seen several times playing around naked in his shower through an open window - but courts let it slide when he explained that the window was just for air. He didn't intend to make anyone uncomfortable.
9. You may not stare at someone intensely while being naked.
....Unless that person is your partner, we assume. Basically, don't stare naked at strangers. Or at naked strangers. It's upsetting.
10. You should absolutely be naked at home with your significant other.

Naked at home in bed with a partner is good. Very good. Photo: Shutterstock

This is healthy nakedness. Plus it has added benefits. "The practical thing about walking around naked is that it becomes more natural to have sex," part-time nudist Ronja told magazine Hem & Hyra. "You don't have to wait until it's time for bed. You can take advantage of the situation when it's light out and you've still got energy."


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