Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. No matter how often I come here, I am always amazed by it. Everything is just so photogenic and picturesque – the parks, the islands, the harbor, the historic colored houses dating back hundreds of years.
It is so incredible that I even spent an entire summer living in the city!
The city spreads itself out across fourteen islands and has a ton of museums, attractions, parks, and art to see while getting lost among the historic streets and buildings.
Stockholm isn’t the cheapest place in the world to visit but it’s worth every penny coming here and there are many ways to visit on a budget.
This travel guide can help you visit Stockholm on a budget and will tell you what to do, how to save, and give you tips on everything else you need to know!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Stockholm
1. Walk around Gamla Stan
2. Wander around Skansen
3. Tour the archipelago
4. Visit the Swedish History Museum
5. Admire the ship at the Vasa Museum
Other Things to See and Do in Stockholm
1. Spend the day at Djurgarden Island
Djurgarden is an island right in the middle of Stockholm. You take a walking tour, eat at a relaxing restaurant, enjoy the amusement park, and visit a historic Swedish village. There are a lot of easy walking paths here too and it’s a popular spot for a picnic. In the summer, it’s a wodnerful place for people watching or lounging out with a book.
2. Enjoy the city by bike
Rent a bike or treat yourself to a bike tour of the city. City Backpackers hostel offers a 3-hour bike tour in the summer months for just 199 SEK. The city is not traffic-y and the winding streets are so much fun to explore on wheels. Expect to pay around 200 SEK per day for a rental with guided bike tours ranging from 200-400 SEK per person.
3. Enjoy Stockholm’s wild nightlife
Stockholm is known for its nightclubs and bars. It may be expensive but Swedes love to go out and party. Hit the clubs and party with the locals. Watch out for the blackjack tables (they have them at every club!). My favorites are Strand, Anchor, Retro, Underbar, 54, Utecompagniet, Rose, and Soap Bar. The main nightlife area is called Stureplan. Expect to pay 100-260 SEK per club just in entrance fees!
4. Tour the Royal Palace
Built between 1697-1754 and located on the east side of the Old Town, the Royal Palace is open to the public and is a must-see. The building dominates Gamla Stan, though this is actually the second version of the palace (the first was destroyed). The royal family doesn’t live here, but it’s still an important historical site. A combined ticket to visit the treasury, reception rooms, and museum costs 160 SEK. The palace is closed when dignitaries are being hosted.
5. See the art at the National Museum
The National Museum was founded in 1792 and contains art by Rembrandt, Rubens, Goya, Renoir, Degas, and Gauguin, as well as well-known Swedish artists such as Carl Larsson, Ernst Josephson, C.F. Hill, and Anders Zorn. The collection is quite robust, especially if you like Scandinavian artists. Admission is free, though temporary exhibitions usually cost around 150 SEK, with discounts available for students and seniors.
6. Explore the Medieval Museum
Located underneath the Royal Palace, this museum is one of the better history museums in the city. The museum was built around excavated monuments and sections of the city wall so you can actually see and experience what the city was like 400 years ago. You learn a lot of details about medieval Sweden and life in Stockholm. While the museum is closed on Mondays, admission is free.
7. Tour city hall
Built in 1911, Stockholm’s City Hall is a historic brick building that features daily guided tours for 110 SEK. You’ll see the official areas and learn about the history of the building and local government; you can also go up the tower from May-September (for an additional 50 SEK) for amazing views of Gamla Stan and the city. Tours will take you through the areas where official council business takes place and you’ll also see the ceremonial halls which are used for official city events and banquets.
8. Walk along Monteliusvägen
This is a mile-long walking path that offers fantastic views of Lake Mälaren. It’s a romantic place to watch the sunset in case you’re with a special someone. And, if you’re like me and not, it’s a good place to rest after a long day.
9. Check out some cool photography
Fotografiska features some of the best works in contemporary photography. It’s only a couple of floors, but its rotating exhibits are always top-notch so I’m always happy to visit it. There’s a bar and café on the top floor that offers panoramic views of the harbor and Gamla Stan. Admission is 145 SEK.
10. Visit the ABBA museum
A visit to Stockholm wouldn’t be complete without checking out the quirky ABBA museum. Tickets are not cheap (admission is 250 SEK) but it’s a colorful way to experience Sweden’s legendary pop group and one of the most popular pop groups of all time. The museum in home to their original costumes and outfits, gold records, and has props from the Mamma Mia films (which was based on the music of ABBA). There is also lots of interative displays highlighting the history and achievements of the group too!
11. Enjoy fika
Each day, Swedes pause to have a coffee (or tea) and a baked treat. This daily ritual is called fika. It’s not just a snack break, it’s a moment to slow down and appreciate life (much like tea time in the UK). For Swedes, fika (or “to fika”) is a normal part of everyday life and can be done wherever you want, with friends or solo. Two common chains in the city are Waynes and Espresso House.
12. Take a day trip to Uppsala
It’s easy to day trip from Stockholm, so take the train to Uppsala and enjoy this university town’s abundance of quaint shops and beautiful parks and waterways. There are several fantastic museums there as well. Sigtuna is another great option, especially for its preserved medieval buildings dating back to the 10th century.
13. Have fun at Gröna Lund Theme Park
This 15-acre amusement park has over 30 attractions and is a popular venue for concerts during the summer. Originally opened in 1883, the park is located on Djurgården so it’s easy to access. Just keep in mind that the schedule changes a lot so be sure to check the website before you go. Admission is 120 SEK.
Stockholm Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Hostels start around 250 SEK per night for a dorm room with 8-10 beds. For a private room, expect to pay at least 650 SEK per night. Most hostels in the city also add a 25-50 SEK surcharge for bed linen to offset the cost of cleaning (you are allowed to bring your own sheets, but sleeping bags are not permitted).
Fortunately, some of the hostels have some great perks. City Backpackers, for example, has a free sauna as well as free pasta while Skanstulls Hostel has free pasta, coffee, and tea. In expensive Sweden, free goes a long way!, which can save you a lot of money if you’re on a budget!
Budget hotel prices – A budget hotel will begin around 700 SEK for a basic double room. Cheaper options are available but they usually necessitate sharing a bathroom with other guests so make sure you read the fine print so you’re not surprised.
Shared rooms on Airbnb can be found for as little as 300 SEK per night, though private rooms and apartments are much more common in the city. A private room will cost between 375-800 SEK per night while a whole apartment or house will cost you between 600-1,200 SEK per night.
Food – Food is expensive in Stockholm. You can get cheap food from outdoor street vendors starting at 50 SEK, though they are few and far between. You can get hot dogs for around 30 SEK at places like 7-Eleven and Pressbyran.
Grocery shopping here will cost around 600-700 SEK per week, however, if you cut down on your meat and cheese intake (some of the most expensive food items in Sweden) you can lower your costs significantly. Many convenience stores and cafes offer pre-packaged sandwiches and meals for 50-100 SEK if you’re on the go and want a quick bite. Whole pizzas begin around 65 SEK and most nice sit-down restaurant meals begin at 200 SEK for a main dish (for yummy pizza, check out Omnipollos Hatt or O’ Mamma Mia Pizzeria).
If you’re looking for a drink, beer can be as cheap as 40 SEK, though 65-75 SEK is more common. Wine will cost around 55-75 SEK at your average restaurant, and cocktails will set you back around 100 SEK. If you’re on a budget you’ll likely want to stick to beer. You can buy your own alcohol at the government-run Systembolaget for even greater savings.
Some of my favorite places to eat are Herman’s, Omnipolls Hatt, Beijing8, Restaurante Ramblas Tapas Bar, and Sushi Devil.
Backpacking Stockholm Suggested Budgets
On a backpacking budget, you should plan to spend 650-750 SEK ($65-75 USD) per day. This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel dorm, eating fast food but mainly cooking your own meals, using public transportation, walking, and participating in cheap activities like visiting museums and free walking tours.
On a mid-range of budget of 1,300-1,800 SEK ($130-180 USD) per day, you can stay in budget hotels, take buses between destinationsget a public transportation pass and take the occasional Uber, eat fast food such hot dogs, pizza, and cheap Thai/Middle Eastern food, and do more excursions like visiting museums, taking tours out to the islands, or heading out on a day trip to Uppsala .
For a luxury budget of 4,200+ SEK ($425+ USD) per day, you’ll get anything you want – brand name hotels, any meals you want, tours, Ubers around the city, and lots of excursions!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
Stockholm Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Stockholm may not be the most budget-friendly city to visit but there are a lot of ways to save money here. It’s not too hard if you know just a few tips. Here is how to visit Stockholm on budget:
- Purchase the Stockholm Card – This pass gives you access to the city’s public transportation system and free entrance into 99% of the museums and canal tours. It’s well worth the money and will definitely save you a lot more than it costs you if plan to do a lot of sightseeing. It includes access to over 60 attractions and is 719 SEK for a 1-day pass and 917 SEK for a 2-day pass (which is a much better deal!).
- Stay with locals for free – Accommodation is expensive in Stockholm. Consider using Couchsurfing.com, a site that connects travelers with locals who offer a free place to stay. If you can cut out your accommodation costs, you will save a lot of money. It’s also a great way to get to know the local culture because you’re staying in someone’s home and you can ask them all the questions you want.
- Free walking tours – Free Tour Stockholm runs the best walking tours in the city. They offer a few different walks each day, including a tour of Gamla Stan. They generally last two hours and are available in English.
- Drink beer – If you are going to drink, stick to beer. It costs about half as much money as mixed drinks or wine at the bars and restaurants. For greater savings, buy your own alcohol at the government-run Systembolaget (it can be up to 50% cheaper that way).
- Avoid the big restaurants – Eating out in Stockholm is very expensive. If you want to eat out, try to stick to the outside grills you see on the side of the street. You can find a variety in them and they are under 100 SEK per meal (which is half the price you’ll pay at a nice sit-down restaurant).
- Try the lunch buffets – If you choose to eat out, the lunch buffets are an economical way to do so, costing around 105 SEK. They are a popular option with locals. For a healthier option, try Hermans or Hermitage.
- Get a metro card – If you don’t plan to get the Stockholm Card, make sure you get a week-long metro pass. At 335 SEK for a week’s train ride, it is a better deal than paying 130 SEK for just 24 hours.
- Avoid clubs – Most clubs have a 260 SEK cover. Don’t waste your money.
- Refill your water bottle – Water is about 30 SEK per bottle. Since the tap water is drinkable (one of the cleanest in Europe!) you should just buy one bottle and reuse it. Not only will this save you money, but it will save the environment too!
- Avoid the taxis – With the subway open late (or all night long depedning on the day), don’t take the cabs. A typical ride is going to cost you more than 250 SEK so unless you are far from the train and it’s snowing out, the price is hard to justify.
- Save money on rideshares – Uber is cheaper than taxis and is the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or subway. The Uber Pool option is where can you share a ride to get even better savings (though you can get your own car too). You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
Where To Stay in Stockholm
Stockholm has lots of hostels and they’re all pretty comfortable and sociable. These are my suggested and recommended places to stay in Stockholm:
- Archipelago Hostel Old Town
- Generator Stockholm
- City Backpackers
- Skanstull Stockholm
- Castanea Old Town Hostel
For more hostel suggestions be sure to check out my list of the top 11 hostels in Stockholm. And, to find out exactly where in the city you should stay, here’s a post that breakdowns the best neighborhoods in Stockholm.
How to Get Around Stockholm
Bus – The public transportation in Stockholm will cost 45 SEK per ticket, making the day pass (or multi-day pass) your best choice. To use the bus you’ll need to purchase a reloadable card in advance or download the app. Cards cost 20 SEK and can be filled with as much credit as you need (including multi-day passes).
A week-long pass is the best deal at 335 SEK, though you can also get a 24-hour pass for 130 SEK or a 72-hour pass for 260 SEK. These can be used on buses, ferries, and trains.
When coming from Arlanda airport, the bus is going to be your cheapest option. Flygbussarna runs shuttles regularly, with tickets costing 99 SEK (one way). The journey takes around 45 minutes.
Subway – The subway is know as the tunnelbana (T or T-bana). Tickets are 45 SEK and are valid for 1 hour. Subway trains operate 5am–1am on weekdays and all night on Fridays and Saturdays. Trains come every 10 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night.
The Arlanda Express, the train from Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport to the central station, is 299 SEK for a one-way ticket. The journey takes around 20 minutes.
Taxi – Most cabs cost around 285 SEK and should be avoided as the trains and buses run all night. Avoid taxis unless you have no other choice as they will burn a hole in your budget!
Bicycle – Stockholm is a very easy city to bike and many hostels will rent bikes or organize bike tours. Rentals will cost around 200 SEK per day and guided bike tours range from 300-400 SEK per person. City Backpackers offers a 3-hour bike tour in the summer months for just 199 SEK per person.
Ridesharing – Uber here is a little cheaper than taxis but it’s still quite expensive. I don’t recommend using it unless you have to.
When to Go to Stockholm
The ideal time to visit Sweden is from June to August, when the weather is warm and the days are (really) long. Stockholm is at its liveliest during this time, and you will find locals taking advantage of the good weather at every opportunity. The parks are always full, and there are always fun events happening around town. Temperatures are often in the 20s Celsius (60s and 70s Fahrenheit) during the summer months.
The downside to visiting then is that, since Sweden has a very short summer, the city is rather crowded, so be sure to book your accommodation in advance. This is especially true if you are visiting during Midsommar, the big Swedish holiday at the end of June. It’s a great time to experience Swedish traditions (which involve a lot of drinking!)
May typically has great weather with occasional rain, while September will give you cooler temperatures and changing leaves. You’ll beat the crowds and still be able to explore the city on foot without the weather getting in your way (too much).
Attractions begin to close around late September, and the days get dark early in October. Temperatures start dropping around this time too. However, prices also decrease, and you’re likely to find cheaper airfares and accommodations during this time. Be sure to pack layers if you plan on visiting during this time of year.
The winter is very cold and sees a lot of snow and darkness. In the depths of the winter, you only get a few hours of light each day and temperatures plummet to -0ºC (32ºF). The plus side of traveling during the off-season, however, is that you’ll be offered the cheapest accommodations, and fees for certain attractions will be lower as well. While Stockholm is quite beautiful in winter, you won’t want to be walking around as much, and since it’s a great city to explore on foot, you will potentially be missing out.
How to Stay Safe in Stockholm
Sweden is one of the safest countries in the world. In fact, it ranks 18th on the ranking of the world’s safest countries! However, Stockholm is still a large city so keep an eye out for pickpockets, especially around the train stations and on public transportation.
Just be aware of your surroundings and use common sense and you should be just fine. You’re not really going to find any scams in the city either. It’s pretty safe.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
And, remember, if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it here.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase 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.
Stockholm Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Stockholm. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engine which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Sweden, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
Stockholm Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Stockholm Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
The Millennium Series, by Stieg Larsson
The Millennium Series started out as a trilogy composed of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire in 2006, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, all of which were published posthumously after Larsson’s sudden death (the series has been continued with a new author based on Larsson’s notes). The series weaves a tantalizing web of mystery and corruption which has propelled the series to over 100 million copies sold. It was later adapted into three critically-acclaimed Swedish films (as well as two Hollywood films).
Modern-Day Vikings, by Christina Johansson Robinowitz and Lisa Werner Carr
Modern Vikings does a great job of both exploring and explaining Swedish culture, highlighting the similarities and differences between Sweden and the US. The book also illuminates some of the country’s cultural quirks (such as their preference for all things “lagom” and Jante’s Law) as well as their place in modern history. It’s a good overview for anyone looking to learn a little more than Wikipedia can offer before they arrive.
The Laughing Policeman, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
While this is actually the 4th novel in a series of 10 novels (all written in the 60s and 70s), you don’t need to have read previous books to follow along. The book is a cunning murder mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Swede’s love their police dramas and murder mysteries, and The Laughing Policeman is one of the best. There is also a TV show based on the main character too!
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
This novel is equal parts heartwarming, depressing, and funny all at once (but mostly depressing to be honest). The book follows Ove, a grumpy old man who lives a life of solitude. As an unlikely friendship blooms, we learn about his tragic past and why he’s so irritable in the first place. The book was adapted into an award-winning film as well, which is also worth a watch.
Let the Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Another dark tale (Swede’s love their dark novels!), Let the Right One In is about the friendship between two young children in Stockholm…but there is more to the story than meets the eye as not long after the two meet a dead body is found nearby. The book was adapted into both Swedish and English films as well (the Swedish one is better though).
Stockholm Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Sweden and continue planning your trip:
Photo Credit: 5 – Richard Mortel