For the average tourist Stockholm might seem an expensive city. This is my personal guide with tips and tricks to discover Stockholm on a budget. Keep reading to save some money while visiting the capital of Sweden.
With this guide you will learn
- how to get to the city center
- how to get around in Stockholm
- where to eat
- where to sleep
- what to visit
1. Cheap Transfers to Stockholm
To get from the airport to the city by bus, the most affordable alternatives are buses run by Flixbus or Flygbussarna aerobuses. Both take approximately 50 minutes and depart every 15 minutes. Flixbus buses start at 3.90€ / $4.40 / £3.30 one-way while Flygbussarna cost 99 SEK (10€ / $10.50 / £8) and can be booked here.
There is a cheaper way of traveling between Arlanda Airport and Stockholm by public transportation which is very useful if you buy a SL-Access card or paper ticket upon arrival in Arlanda. Read the details about traveling with bus nr. 583 and commuter train here.
Finally, you should avoid Arlanda Express train and taxis from the airport if you are aiming for a low-cost transfer to Stockholm.
2. Getting Around Cheap in Stockholm
Central Stockholm can be discovered on foot if you are staying at an accommodation in the area. Distances are not far in the neighborhood of Vasastan, City, Gamla Stan and Östermalm and even to the islands of Skeppsholmen and Djurgården.
For example, from Sergels torg Square in the city center to ABBA The Museum on Djurgården Island there is only a 30-minute walk. And from there just 40 minutes more to the Thielska Gallery on the easternmost tip of the same island while meeting many other museums and Gröna Lund amusement park.
Starting again at Sergels torg to Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town, there is a 15-minute walk and from there another 15 minutes to the Museum of Photography, Fotografiska. Even if you wanted to go to a place as far from the center as the Globen building, you would only walk one hour each way through Gamla Stan, the island of Södermalm and Årsta Bay in an unbeatable natural urban environment.
If you want to travel by public transportation the aforementioned SL-access travelcard is the cheapest option. The physical card costs 20 SEK (2€ / $2 / £1.65) and can be topped up with money or with a 24, 72-hour or 7-day ticket. With this card you can travel on the underground, commuter trains, buses and public boats. There is also a paper ticket valid for 24 and 72 hours.
If you plan to visit attractions at different locations in Stockholm it might be wise to group them together and buy a 24-hour ticket for that day.
What you should definitely avoid are taxis and buying loose transport tickets.
3. Eating Cheap in Stockholm
Eating lunch out in Stockholm is not excessively expensive. Look for the expressions dagens lunch or dagens rätt at the restaurants which stand for menu and dish of the day respectively. Prices go from 85 SEK (8€ / $9 / £7) to over 125 SEK (12€ / $13 / £10) and sitting starts at 11:30 AM. Usually there is a free salad buffet, the dish of the day, water, bread and sometimes coffee included.
Dining cheap in Stockholm is a somewhat more complicated task. In any normal restaurant that you step on at night you will easily pay 35€ / $39 / £29 per person without wine or beer. My advice to guarantee a low-cost visit to Stockholm is to go fast food at night. By this I do not mean McDonald’s. Being in Sweden you should try some of the following:
- the local hamburgers at MAX
- kebab restaurants where you can taste the famous Swedish kebabpizza
- cheap Asian restaurants
- take aways and food trucks
- the korvkiosk, Swedish sausage stands, available around the streets in the city
- Karma app to buy food that restaurants, coffee shops and hotels are not going to use and helping the environment
Forget wine and beer. If you are on a budget I personally don’t think you want to spend over 12€ / $13 / £10 for a glass of wine or 5-8€ for a beer ($6-9 / £4-6.5). Get yourself some kranvatten (tap water) which is completely free and delicious. Sometimes you even get to taste it in different natural flavors like cucumber or multiple berries.
Another way to cut the expenses in your holidays in Stockholm is having breakfast and dinner at home which is completely feasible depending on the kind of accommodation you choose for your stay. In such way you should only budget for lunch.
4. Unexpensive Accommodation in Stockholm
Hotels in Stockholm are expensive. Very expensive. Last time I checked Stockholm has the second most expensive hotel rates in Europe right behind London. However there are some cheaper alternative accommodations. Some of them:
- Staying at hostels: If you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers or with your family and friends check youth hostels like Castanea in Gamla Stan (single room 60€ / $67 / £52; double 30-40€ / $34-45 / £26-34 ; 4-bed room 140€ / $157 / £121 ; 6-bed 200€ / $225 / £173 and shared rooms at 20€ / $22 / £17 per bednight) or the old prison Långholmen (single 70€ / $78 / £61 ; double 40€ / $45 / £35 ; triple 100€ / $112 / £87). A great stay is the hipster hostel Generator Stockholm and judging by the comments Crystal Plaza at Stureplan.
- Staying on boats: sailing boats like Af Chapman (single 60€ / $67 / £52 ; double 30€ / $34 / £26; shared 28€ / $31 / £24 ; children 15€ / $17 / £13) or Mälardrottning in Gamla Stan right in front of the Royal Palace (single 65€ / $73 / £56; double 50€ / $56 / £43 ; shared 20€ / $22 / £17) or Den röda båten on Södermalm (single 55€ / $62 / £47; double 70-80€ / $79-89 / £61-70 ; shared around 30€ / $34 / £26)
Regarding hotels in Stockholm it is virtually impossible to find a cheap one. My personal experience tells me that Scandic No. 53 on Kungsgatan Street and Scandic Upplandsgatan with two very central locations and a simple and functional style but with everything you might need to rest is the best you can find. Price varies depending on the dates but a double room start at around 75€ / $84 / £65.
It is also possible to use collaborative economy options such as free couchsurfing or, for a fee, as AirBnB, which usually offer more affordable accommodation for families and groups of friends than what a hotel in Stockholm would entail. In Stockholm as in any big city, the farther you go from the center, the cheaper the prices will be.
Depending on the type of transportation you use, accommodation in the suburbs can be highly recommended. Both the Airbnb option and the hostels option also let you save money on food by having breakfast and dinner at home.
Have a look at Booking to find good offers within hostels, bed & breakfast and other cheap accommodation:
5. Free Entry Tourist Places in Stockholm
Since February 1, 2016, eighteen museums in Sweden have free entry. Fifteen of these free museums are located in Stockholm.
Another well-deserved visit is the free-entry Kulturhuset, the House of Culture in Stockholm, and one of the most visited places by Swedish and foreign tourists.
If you want a guided tour of the city I can wholeheartedly recommend the Free Tour Stockholm (sometimes also available in Spanish) which will take you to Gamla Stan, City or Söder. Another similar option, only available in English, is Free Walking Tour Stockholm.
With a valid public transport ticket you can join the Art Walks guided tours of the subway stations in Stockholm to check the art available in more than 90 of the 100 stations of the underground system.
An alternative, not so cheap, but perfect if you want to take advantage of the more than 60 attractions and boat tours in the city and enjoy public transport included is to get your Stockholm Pass tourist card.
This is a summary of the options available to enjoy a low-cost visit to Stockholm and get the most out of a limited budget. Here you can read about some other 24 free things to do in the city.
If you need some advice or have any question regarding the preparations for your next trip to Stockholm and Sweden drop me a line below and I will try to help you.