Stockholm is an expensive city for most standards and sadly that’s a reason for many travelers completely avoid it. It does not have to be this way guys. I’m about to show you it’s possible to visit Stockholm on a budget and still have a great time!
I love Stockholm. I love how its classical charm is projected onto the 21st century and the way history lives side-by-side with endless parks, beautiful islands and a modern lifestyle.
I see two main drawbacks with the city though. The first one is the weather. I mean, an average annual temperature of 10°C and the frequent Arctic wind is not pleasant. Unfortunately I can’t do nothing about it.
The second problem is obviously how pricey the city is. I like to be smart about how I spend money and here that is a real challenge. All it takes is a slight slip and there goes your budget. Like when I payed 9EUR for a beer. 9 freaking euros!!
But I can help in this. There are some ways you can travel hack this amazing city and have a great time without hurting your wallet (too much). Let’s get started!
Transports in Stockholm
Remember: To be smart about public transport tickets.
Coming and Going To Arlanda Airport
Your budget starts to feel threatened right at leaving the airport. A one-way ticket in the Arlanda Express, the faster way to get to the center, can cost as much as 282 SEK (around 30EUR). You can save by booking online in advance though.
A cheaper alternative is the bus. I used the Flygbussarna, which is less than half the price of the train (99 SEK each way). There other public transportation options – a combination of bus and suburban trains – but they are considerably more time-consuming.
Getting Around Stockholm
The good news is that Stockholm is a relatively small city. You can easily walk around the old town and even the nearby areas/islands without the need for a public transport.
You’ll do need public transports however to reach some areas of the city. When the time comes, do not use single tickets as they’re far more expensive. Instead, get a top-up SL Access card (20SEK, non-refundable) which you then must top-up with a minimum of 100 SEK or a 1,3 or 7-day travel card.
This is the most inexpensive way to get around the city and includes journeys in all public transports of Stockholm, including ferries to Djurgården, where some of the best museums are located.
Another option is biking. The bike public system is open for everyone in Stockholm and for 165 SEK you can get a card that give you access to free unlimited use for three days. You can only take one for a maximum duration of three hours though.
Accommodation in Stockholm
Remember: To check all your options to book a room!
You know what’s coming. Yes, hotels in Stockholm are damn expensive and there’s little you can do about it.
As farther you go away from the city center, the more affordable the hotels are. But do it too much and you’ll find yourself wasting valuable time and money in public transports. Aim for something in between. My VERY BASIC boat-hotel was a 25-min walk from the old town and costed me 610 SEK a night for a double room. Note: I was staying during the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 weekend, which obviously inflated the prices.
The final options for hardcore budgets are Couchsurfing and AirBnb (get $25USD off!). Apart from the lower prices, you have the possibility of doing some meals at home. Even if it is only breakfast, that’s already some SEK saved!
Cheap Places to stay in Stockholm
I usually recommend the place I stay in. Not this time. My experience was not the best. Despite the scenic views, the botel I chose ended up being claustrophobic, unclean and with awfully uncomfortable mattresses.
I’m sure you can find much better places in Booking.com. I’d first have a look at the Generator Hostel. Although I didn’t stay in the one in Stockholm, I’ve tried them in three other different cities – Amsterdam, Hamburg and Berlin – and I only have good stuff to say. Definitely the best hostels I’ve ever been.
Or you can always search by yourself. To make your life easier, you can start seeking with my pre-selection of cheap and best-valued hotels in Stockholm. This list only includes rooms with WiFi and with good-to-excellent reviews.
Food & Drink in Stockholm
Remember: Tap water is really good. Focus on the lunch time.
Eating Cheap In Stockholm
If you want to indulge in the Swedish sit-down restaurant experience, do it at lunch time. The Dagens Rätt (lunch menu) can cost as low as 90 SEK in some places, even in the center. It includes the dish of the day, water, bread and a free salad buffet. Not bad for roughly 10EUR, hun?
Dinner is a different story. A meal for two with no alcoholic drinks in a random restaurant will easily cost you 500 SEK (around 55EUR). This makes the evening the ideal time to lower your standards a bit and indulge on street or fast food. There is a lot of choice available, from the many hot dog kiosks, food trucks or the swedish hamburger chain MAX. There are a lot of cheap Thai food spots too.
Avoid eating in the most touristy places and in Drottninggatan, the main shopping street. Market halls like the Östermalms Saluhall are full of healthy options too.
Below are some of the best places I’ve eaten in Stockholm:
- Meatballs for the People!
A local friend suggested me this place and it was hands down the best place I’ve tried. This is a vegetarian organic buffet with DELICIOUS hot dishes of the day and a free salad buffet. Comes with a stunning view over the Stockholm‘s port. Priced at 98 SEK, this place is tremendous value.
The name says it all. It’s the first and only Swedish Meatballeria. You can delicious organic meatballs with the delicious lingonberry jam at a rather decent price.
Drinking in Stockholm
Alcohol is the quickest way to ruin your budget in Sweden. It’s hard to find a place selling beer for less than 50SEK and I’ve seen glasses of wine for 130SEK (14EUR). ABORT any drunkening plans.
If you absolutely must drink, try to do it during the happy hours or buy your bottles at Systembolaget. This is the Swedish government’s liquor store and the only way to buy alcohol in Stockholm.
On other note, tap water is a great alternative to go with a meal. I know it sounds depressing, but water in Stockholm is really pure and some times they even serve it in a jar with berries inside. Use it to refill your water bottle too (instead of buying new ones).
The Main Sights in Stockholm On A Budget
Remember: To take advantage of the free stuff.
If you’re visiting Stockholm for the first time, you’ll want to see the icons of the city.
Well, a great way to get to know the city is by doing a free walking tour. Taking one on the first day of a trip is one of my top travel tips to save money anywhere. In Stockholm, this will take you through the main attraction: Gamla Stan the old town. Stortoget, the main square, is particularly impressive. Loved the vibrant colors of the buildings there!
Another unique sight is the metro system. Presumed to be the largest art exhibit in the world (!), Stockholm‘s T-Bana stations house a unique collection of sculptures, artworks and exhibitions. There are free art walks to get to know this underground beauty. And all you need to come along is a metro ticket!
Museums in Stockholm
As a true first-world capital, there are literally loads of museums in Stockholm so it’s very easy to hurt your budget when trying to go to every single one of them.
Try to be selective here. Make choices. For instance, as much as I enjoy Schlager music, it didn’t make sense to splash almost 200 SEK (!) in the ABBA Museum.
Tip: I always ask myself a question: Would I enter a similar place in my home town?. It helps puts into perspective what can be of good value for me to visit and what can be just a waste of time and money.
Three Paying Museums in Stockholm Worth to Pay For
- Vasamuseet – where a big 17th century ship is displayed, 98% intact (!)
- Skansen – open-air zoo and museum, displaying typically Swedish buildings, animals and ethnic elements from across several centuries
- Fotografiska – SUPER interesting and tasteful collection, if you’re into photography. If not, don’t bother.
These all are way worth the entry fee for me. If the budget doesn’t allow you going to all of them, use this exact order – Vasamuseet is a must!
However, many of the museums in Stockholm are completely free of charge. And I went to none LOL. Anyway. Try looking into the Nationalmuseum, Medieval Museum and the Moderna Museet for a free injection of culture. Some paid museums might also have free exhibits throughout the year.
TRAVEL NUMBERS @ STOCKHOLM,SWEDEN
- DURATION OF THE STAY: 3 DAYS
- TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED ON FOOT: 57,2 km (!)
- ACOMMODATION: 915SEK
- Metro & Bus Tickets: 220SEK
- Airport Bus (2x one-way): 198SEK
- FOOD&DRINK: 1401SEK
- ENTRY FEES
- Vasa Museum: 130SEK
- Skansen Museum: 170SEK
- Fotografiska: 120SEK
- TOTAL COST (€): 3173SEK/pax
These are the exact numbers per person. SEK=Swedish Krona.
Yes, budget Stockholm is real!
I won’t lie. The three days I spent in Stockholm definitely came with a significant price tag.
But don’t let swedish prices scare you. Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world,Stockholm is truly an pleasant place to explore, with crazy levels of natural beauty and quality of life.
Be confident there are many simple ways to cut the expenses of your trip and still have a great time. Visiting Stockholm on a budget is a real thing. And if you can keep a tight budget there, you can make it anywhere!
Do you have more tips to do Stockholm on a budget? How do you save money on such expensive destinations?