So last weekend I went to Stockholm. Relax – I’m not trying to show off my jetsetting lifestyle. I’m just demonstrating the fact that even a broke freelance writer like me can survive for a weekend in Sweden. Not only survive in fact, but thrive. And now I can pass on my tips to you as to how to see this notoriously expensive city on a budget.
The cost of flights to Scandinavia falls along with the temperature, on the basis that people don’t want to pay a whole lot to go to a city and freeze their arse off. Capitalise on this. Sure, I hear Sweden is lovely in the summer (and that is something I’d definitely like to see), but I am pleased to confirm that the sight of snowy Stockholm is beautiful and well worth wearing seven layers for.
Getting your Beauty Sleep
Aside from flights, accommodation is your next biggest expense in Stockholm. Hotels and hostels in the city are pricey (although they will be cheaper in the winter low season) so this may be the perfect opportunity to try your hand at couchsurfing if you haven’t already. It’s a great way to explore the city, and Stockholm is full of English-speaking expats and Swedes, so you’re don’t need to worry about language barriers.
If you do stay in a hotel or hostel, try and book one that will save you moneys in other ways, such as being in a central location (saves money on transport) or has a big breakfast buffet or self-catering kitchen (saves money on eating out). Which brings me to my next point…
Food can put a big dent in your bank balance, especially when it’s cold and you find yourself running into restaurants or cafes every few hours for warmth. At first sight, the cost of meals in Stockholm can bring a tear to the eye – but the situation is not actually so dire.
Firstly, eating out in Stockholm can be expensive, but grocery shopping isn’t. Buying ingredients and snacks from supermarkets instead will save you a bundle.
Secondly, for hot food on the go there are hot dog stands dotted all over the city, as well as some (frankly, disgustingly) cheap fast food places. I’m not gonna lie and say that food looks appetising, but hey, at least it’s an option.
Thirdly, don’t eat out in the fancy/tourist areas of Gamla Stan or Östermalm. The prices on the menu will make you wince. Instead, head south to Södermalm (or Söder, as the locals call it). It’s soooo much cheaper and hip as hell. We had our one meal out in this area – at the highly recommended vegetarian restaurant Chutney – and it was insanely good value, not to mention delicious.
Fourthly and finally, another good way to save pennies is to eat out at lunchtime instead of in the evening, so that you can take advantage of the Dagens Rätt (daily specials). Alternatively, treat yourself to fika – the Swedish term for a mid-afternoon coffee break involving coffee and pastries – instead of getting an entire meal.
Although many parts of Stockholm are very walkable, you’re probably going to want to hop of the T-bana (subway) for at least some of your journeys. You should too – there’s a reason this underground system has been called ‘the world’s longest art gallery’ – more than 90% of its stations have been decorated by professional artists.
Do some maths and guestimation before automatically buying a travel card for the duration of your trip though – it might be that buying individual journeys will work out cheaper for you. Visit http://sl.se/en for more information and current prices.
The great thing about Stockholm is, even in the freezing cold, it’s a lovely city to just wander about. Explore the different islands of this archipelago. Take a walk through its many parks, or catch the T-bana to Lake Mälaren, Sweden’s third largest lake. Sign up for free walking tours, and eschew fancy cruises round the archipelago in favour of hopping on the ferry.
As for activities, you only have to Google “Free things to do in Stockholm” to see that you’re spoiled for choice. Even though a lot of the museums charge in Stockholm, some are free (at least some of the time, at least), so do you research in advance so you don’t miss out.
Do you have any moneysaving tips for spending time in Stockholm? Share them below.