Katie Wright goes in search of affordable activities in the Swedish capital.
When it comes to choosing a travel destination that offers maximum bang for your buck, Stockholm probably doesn’t feature high on a list of potential options.
Like all the major Scandinavian cities, it has a reputation for being notoriously expensive to visit. So, can you really see the Swedish capital on a shoestring budget, or is holidaying here guaranteed to leave you wincing at restaurant bills and cursing the exchange rate?
As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to sample this stylish city without it costing an arm and a leg – you just need a few insider tips and tricks to make your krona go further.
Here are nine ways to enjoy Stockholm on the cheap…
1. Take to the waves
Stockholm is part of a huge archipelago – totalling more than 30,000 islands – and sailing around the harbour is one of the best ways to see the city. But you don’t have to take a tourist-trap boat trip.
The views are just as good if you jump on one of the public ferries connecting suburban islands like Nacka (a journey that takes about 35 minutes), where you can find 12 different nature reserves and some 18th century country estates.
Download the SL app (sl.se) and you can buy mobile tickets. A single adult fare is SEK 45/around £4.
2. Go island hopping by bike
Like many European capitals, Stockholm is extremely bike-friendly, with wide cycle lanes and lots of rental options, meaning you can see more of the city in a few hours than if you were on foot. At Rent A Bike (rentabike.se), found on the harbour front at Strandvagen 18, prices start at around SEK 70/£6 per hour or, what might be the better value option, SEK 280/£32 for a day.
Leaving the city centre, cycle over Djurgardsbron bridge to reach the Djurgarden, one of the city’s most beautiful islands. This leafy spot is home to museums, galleries and a theme park, but you don’t have to spend a penny to enjoy the tranquil parks, manicured gardens and views across the water.
3. Picnic in the park
Got the kids in tow? Stockholm has plenty of green spaces for them to run around in while grown-ups take a breather (and entry is completely free).
The Vasaparken in the Vasastan district has grassy slopes perfect for summer sunbathing and picnicking, plus a big adventure playground that will keep the little ones occupied for hours.
4. Lunch like a local
The Gamla Stan area is always listed as a Stockholm must-see, and while the old town district is very pretty, with its narrow winding streets and traditional architecture, it’s also full of tourist-trap eateries.
Avoid an overpriced meal by heading through Gamla Stan and making a beeline for Nystekt Stromming at 4 Kornhamnstorg, a street food stall which doles out hearty portions of tasty fried herring with all the trimmings – in Sweden that means creamy mashed potato, pickles and coleslaw – for around SEK 80/£7. It’s open daily until 9pm.
5. Visit a street with a view
You don’t have to reserve a table at a fancy rooftop bar to enjoy fabulous views over Stockholm. Head to Sodermalm (once a working class area, now full of hipster haunts) and the Fjallgatan viewpoint – aka ‘Stockholm’s balcony’ – for panoramic vistas that don’t cost a thing.
6. Sample Sodermalm
Sodermalm is also your best option for more affordable nightlife. At trendy bars and restaurants like Thai Boat (thaiboat.se) you can get a glass of wine for about SEK 95/£8 – not bad by Stockholm standards.
One thing’s for certain, if you want to go easy on your wallet after dark, you should steer clear of Nybroplan, the city’s posh, designer boutique-filled district.
7. Experience affordable luxury
Supremely stylish without being ostentatious, the Sparrow Hotel (thesparrow.se) offers relaxed, high-end vibes at an accessible price point.
Situated in the central Ostermalm area, it’s conveniently located for urban exploring. You’re just a 10-minute walk from Nybroviken bay – where ferries depart for the archipelago – and on the edge of the upscale Nybroplan district.
The cool Parisian-inspired boutique property is peppered with plush furnishings, bold accent walls and quirky artworks. Rooms start from £132 per night – a similarly luxurious hotel in the UK would set you back far more.
8. Do a museum marathon
Boasting a bevy of museums and galleries, Stockholm is a paradise for culture vultures. If you’re planning on visiting several, it might work out better value to invest in a Stockholm Pass (stockholmpass.com), which grants you entry to more than 60 major attractions for one, two or three days.
Whether you want to marvel at a salvaged sunken warship at the Vasa Museum, check out the photography exhibits at Fotografiska or trace the history of famous overachievers at the Nobel Prize Museum, passes start at SEK 719/£60 for an adult (museums typically charge around SEK 150/£12 entrance fee). Plus you get free use of the Hop On Hop Off buses and boats to ferry you between locations, which is worth SEK 150/£47 alone.
9. Create a bespoke burger
Got a family of fussy eaters to feed? Then Max Burgers can help. Stockholm’s answer to the Golden Arches, this much-loved chain has touchscreen ordering points so you can easily customise every aspect of your meal, from the bun (gluten free? Not a problem) to the patty (there’s a ‘Plant Beef’ option for vegans) and the toppings and sauces.
Generously sized – and did we mention delicious? – meal deals start at around SEK 97/£8, and there are several branches dotted around the city.