Last Updated: 12/06/19 | December 6th, 2019
Stockholm. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I love its historical architecture, the natural beauty of the archipelago, and the beautiful people that call the city home.
Throw in lots of parks, delicious cafés, and a fun nightlife and you’ve got the recipe for one of the greatest destinations in the world.
In fact, I love the city so much I even tried to move there!
Over the years, I’ve developed a great network of friends in Stockholm and I’ve been there so much I feel like I know it like a local. If Stockholm didn’t suffer from arctic winter conditions (OK, a slight exaggeration), it would be the most perfect city in the world.
However, a visit there doesn’t need to break your budget. By following a few simple tips, you can drastically cut your expenses and make the city much more affordable.
That doesn’t mean it will be cheap, but these tips will definitely help you keep your budget intact as you explore this beautiful Scandinavian city.
1. Take a Free Walking Tour
One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new city is take a walking tour. It’s the best way to learn about the city, see the major sights, and get your questions answered by a local expert.
Like most major cities in Europe, Stockholm has several free walking tours available. The best ones are run by Free Tour Stockholm who offer tours of the Old Town (Gamla Stan), Södermalm, and the newest section of the city. They even have a ghost tour too.
Tours are available in English, Spanish, and German. Each tour lasts a couple of hours and is free — just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
2. Cut Your Food Budget
While grocery costs are comparable to most major cities in the world, eating out in Stockholm is incredibly expensive. I try to avoid dining out as much as possible as a result. Fortunately, there are are a few ways to lower your food budget without missing out.
Cook your own meals – Groceries in Stockholm can cost 500-600 SEK per week, which is a great value when the average prepared meal is around 125–250 SEK. It’s much less expensive to cook your own food than eat out at restaurants. The cheapest grocery store chains here are Willy’s and Lidl.
Avoid sit-down restaurants -If you still want to eat out, try to stick to street food or cuisines like Thai and Middle Eastern. You can find filling meals for under 75 SEK. You’ll pay closer to 200 SEK for a basic meal at a restaurant with table service so avoid those as much as possible.
Additionally, skip anything on Drottninggatan (the city’s main shopping street) and sit-down restaurants in Gamla Stan. Both are overpriced.
Try the lunch buffets – If you want to eat out at a restaurant, stick to lunch buffets. They usually cost around 120 SEK and are the best way to maximize your meal spending.
They’re a popular option with locals so they usually fill up fast. Try to arrive early to beat the rush. Two of the best buffet restaurants in the city are Herman’s and Hermitage. They both offer delicious home-cooked meals with tons of variety.
And if you visit Hermitage (in Gamla Stan) head across the street to Naturbageriet. It’s a super cheap bakery with tons of affordable snacks (they have lots of healthy options too).
Refill your water bottle – Bottled water here is expensive — it’s 21 SEK ($2.25 USD) for a bottle! The tap water in the city is safe to drink (it’s one of the cleanest in the world) so bring a reusable water bottle to save yourself some money. You can fill it up easily at most cafes.
3. Take Advantage of the Free Parks
The parks in Stockholm are free, and in the winter, there’s free ice skating. You can also wander Gamla Stan and Södermalm and just take in the city’s beauty. They’re a great place to relax, have a picnic, read, and people watch.
My favorite parks in the city are Djurgarden, Langholmen, Gärdet, and Ralambshovsparken. They have huge open spaces and are good for a number of outdoor activities or lounging around — especially on those long summer days!
4. Visit Free Museums
Museums in Stockholm are not cheap but there are a handful that are free (or at least offer free hours). Here are the best free museums and attractions in the city:
- National Museum of Sweden
- Museum of Natural History
- The Museum of Modern Arts
- The Swedish History Museum
- The Maritime Museum
- The Museum of Medieval Stockholm
- National Library of Sweden
- The Ethnography Museum
Be sure to check with the local tourism office to see if any other museums are offering free hours or exhibits. There are many free art exhibits and events that come to town, and they’ll have a list of them all. You can learn more about these museums in my free guides to Stockholm.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is not cheap in Sweden. If you want to destroy your budget, drink. If you want to have your money last a little longer, cut down on your alcohol consumption. Avoid wine (way overpriced), skip the clubs (overpriced), and stick to beer, which is the cheapest alcohol you can get.
Try to drink during the happy hours when beer is usually under 50 SEK. If you do want to indulge, buy your liquor at Systembolaget, the Swedish government’s liquor store (your only option). Prices are cheapest there. (They have limited hours and are closed on Sundays so be sure to plan around that)
6. See the Archipelago on the Cheap
The Swedish archipelago is absolutely beautiful — especially in the summer. Thousands of islands dot the archipelago, and there are many cruises and tours from the city that will take you around during the day (or during sunset).
But those tours are expensive.
If you want to see and experience the archipelago cheaply, take the public ferries to the outer islands. Tickets are 50–150 SEK depending on what island you visit (by comparison, day tours are 250 SEK).
Use Waxholmsbolaget for the most affordable tickets. From October to March, tickets are much cheaper so consider visiting in the shoulder season if you’re on a tight budget.
7. Get Transportation and Tourist Passes
Stockholm metro tickets are costly (44 SEK per ticket), but you can buy an unlimited transportation card for 325 SEK (plus 20 SEK for the card needed) that’s valid for seven days (that’s only 49 SEK per day). There is also a 24-hour card for SEK 125, and a 72-hour pass for 250 SEK.
While the city is incredibly walkable, be sure to get a pass if you plan on taking the subway or bus; all you need to do is use the train twice a day to make the pass a better value than individual tickets.
And if you plan on seeing a lot of attractions or visiting a lot of museums, get the Stockholm Pass. It provides free entry to over 60 of the top attractions, including sightseeing tours, museums, and monuments. Single-day passes are 645 SEK, three-day passes are 1,045 SEK, and five-day passes are 1,345. While not cheap, if you do a lot of sightseeing you can easily save a lot of money.
8. Use Hotel Points
Got hotel points? Use them!
Travel hacking is the best way to save money when you’re visiting an expensive destination, whether it’s getting a free flight or free accommodation. Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton hotels all have locations here in the city that can be booked with points.
Free is always better than spending money.
9. Stay at Interhostel
Interhostel might not be the best hostel in the city (it’s actually one of the worst) but it’s the cheapest. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind if a cramped, cheap dorm, this is the place for you.
Conversely, you can also stay at my favorite hostel in the city, City Backpackers. While not as cheap, they offer free pasta (which can save your food budget) and a free sauna (which is just a fun perk).
For other hostels in the city, check out my list of the best hostels in Stockholm!
10. Use a Hospitality Network
Since accommodation is expensive in Stockholm, you should consider Couchsurfing, a site that connects travelers with locals who offer a free place to stay. You can cut out your accommodation costs and get to know the local culture, since there are a lot of hosts here who take part in a very active Couchsurfing community. They organize a lot of meet-ups (including weekly language exchanges), and this is a great way to make some friends.
Even if you don’t want to stay with a local, you can use the app to meet locals and other travelers for a coffee, a meal, or to visit a museum.
Airbnb is also popular here and is an affordable option for anyone looking for privacy but who doesnt want to pay for an expensive hotel.
Visiting Stockholm doesn’t need to bust your budget completely. There are many ways to save money in this expensive city. I return here year after year, and while it’s never the cheapest destination in the world, I always find ways to make the trip affordable.
And with the tips above, so can you. Stockholm is one of the best places on earth — don’t let the prices keep you away!
Book Your Trip to Sweden: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Stockholm
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to Stockholm for even more planning tips!