Stockholm On A Budget: It’s Really Possible!

stockholm on a budget sweden backpackers

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.

stockholm on a budget ferry boat
This is not an ordinary european capital.

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 even in more expensive places like NYC.

But Stockholm 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!

stockholm on a budget gamla stan street low-cost travel tips
Is this for real?

Transports in Stockholm

Forget: Taxis, single tickets and the Arlanda Express.
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.

Uma foto publicada por BRUN🌎 (@bruno_mb) a

Accommodation in Stockholm

Forget: Reasonable prices in the city center.
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 a discount voucher!). 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, but not this time. Despite the scenic views, the botel (boat hotel) I ended up in had claustrophobic and unclean rooms.

I’d have a look at the Generator Hostel. Although I didn’t stay in the one in Stockholm, I’ve tried them in 3 other different cities – Amsterdam, Hamburg and Berlin – and I only have good stuff to say. Definitely the best hostel chain I’ve ever been!

Generator Stockholm
Edgy, comfortable and great value. All the hostels of the Generator chain are like this and the one in Stockholm is no exception. Book now

Or you can always search by yourself. To make your life easier, you can start seeking with my pre-selection of best value-for-money hotels in Stockholm. This list only includes good-to-excellent hotels in city center and rooms with WiFi.

Stockholm can be expensive. Don’t let the prices rise more!

Food & Drink in Stockholm

Forget: Alcohol. Fancy dinners.
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.

stockholm budget food market
Berry world @ Östermalms Saluhall.

Below are some of the best places I’ve eaten in Stockholm:

  • Hermans
  • 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.

  • Meatballs for the People!
  • 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

Forget: Don’t enter into any museum just because.
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!

stockholm on a budget tbana art
Underground art.

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.


    • Metro & Bus Tickets: 220SEK
    • Airport Bus (2x one-way): 198SEK
    • Vasa Museum: 130SEK
    • Skansen Museum: 170SEK
    • Fotografiska: 120SEK
  • TOTAL COST (kr): 3173SEK/pax

These are the exact numbers per person. SEK=Swedish Krona.

stockholm on a budget tips low-cost old town

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?

Share your thoughts 💬

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  1. Would of helped if you had put it in American dollars or at least include it

  2. Very interesting report. We enjoyed our stay and although we did not budge, I do believe it can be done. We bought A three day pass that is cheaper than paying for individual museums. On the plus side there are a lot of free museums too.

    1. We personally didn’t have the goal of visiting many museums but for someone who’s into that a museum pass is a great tip Rita, thank you!

  3. Hi, have you also travelled to Helsinki or Oslo? It would be great if you can guide me through. Am going to follow all that you have mentioned for Stockholm word by word. Loved the way you have explained the price break up as well. I have a three day itinerary for it, will live in the centre for two nights and last night at an airport hotel to save money as well as time(7.15 am flight to catch, so its more convenient).

  4. One of the cheapest places to eat in Stockholm was… Ikea! 🙂 It was a bit outside the city though, perhaps it’s reachable via public transport (we had a car rented)
    Airbnb some 70 km from Stockholm (60 minute drive) was really inexpensive..but then you do lose time in driving..

    1. haha great tip, Ikea has some very decent food at a great price. However it’s not for all travelers though, a 70km trip has extra costs in terms of time and gasoline…

  5. I would definitely like to hear you on Oslo on a budget 🙂 Just got back, not easy at all!

  6. Does Stockholm not have those 7 day city passes like NYC, Toronto or Paris? I try to use those whenever I can to get discounts on attractions and public transit (where applicable).

    1. Great shout Ray. Not sure about 7-day, but they have a 3-day city pass. Could be a great option if you go to museums a lot.

      They do have 7-day public transportation travelcards though.

    2. Okay, that is good to know! Even it is 3 day passes, I will take that over no passes. Three days is probably just enough to get a good feel for Stockholm before moving on to other parts of Sweden, anyway.