Visiting Stockholm for the first time? Here's how to stretch your Krona and Dollars!!!
But like most stereotypes, you'll find there's a lot more than meets the eye if you're willing to take the time and really dig deep. The locals are indeed gorgeous - but they are also very diverse. The city is gorgeous too - and there's diversity there as well in architecture and style.
And those prices? Well, with a bit of hard work you CAN make your money go farther! Here's how I get great value in Stockholm.
1.) Stock up on the Stockholm Pass.
One crafty tip to keep in mind is that the 1 day pass is actually good for 24 hours, so depending on the timing you can visit attractions on two days. This is especially helpful when you consider that most Stockholm museums are only open from 10:00 am to 4:00 or 5:00 pm.
2.) Step aside, taxis! It's transit's turn to shine.
You can also use it to get to and from the airport. Airport transportation is expensive, with the private shuttle bus costing 110 Krona and taxis are close to 500 Krona. The commuter train (NOT the Arlanda Express) to the airport is included as it classified as public transit. You only have to pay a 75 Krona additional airport fee (payable at the airport station in cash or credit.) While these kinds of fees are annoying, at least you ARE saving some money overall.
(Traveling with a Eurail pass? Note that the Arlanda Express, the high speed train connecting the airport and Stockholm's Central Station, is an included service in your Eurail pass. This trick worked out perfectly for us - we were using a 'day' of our pass to travel from Stockholm to Copenhagen anyway, so our journey into the city center from Stockholm's airport was free.)
3.) Hit the road with the Red Bus
While Stockholm is an immensely walk-able city, it was so nice to have a warm seat and let someone else worry about navigation and information! Making things even nicer was the fact that they included the central station as one of their stops. We were able to leave our accommodations, explore the city at dawn, and then finally take off our packs when we boarded the bus, relaxing until it was time to focus on the trip back to the airport.
4.) Stay in a hostel or value hotel- really, DO IT!
I was also blown away by our view of the water. Even in a city like Stockholm, you can get a gorgeous waterfront view for less than $100 a night. And in the morning, breakfast was included. There was the standard fare of coffee, cereal, milk, bread rolls, and jams, as well as more traditional Swedish offerings of rye rusks, sliced cheese, and cucumber.
Gamla Stan is a historic island and this was a historic property - each room had a slightly unique shape and layout and reflected the character of the property. There is a small elevator that goes up to the 3rd floor (always a treat!) but if you've been out to a nearby pub, take note when you are coming back home that the property's stairs are very slightly uneven, no doubt owing to the building's age.
The second concern was our bathroom. It, like the rest of the room, was spotlessly clean. But there was a horrible smell, like an open sewer, that we could not remedy despite having the windows open for hours. We were unable to find the source of this awful smell - and certainly there was nothing in the gleaming room that would account for it. It really was overwhelmingly strong and we chose to use the shared washroom down the hall. We finally concluded that it was coming from the shower drain and, with the door closed, the rest of the room was unaffected. It seemed likely that renovation work was the culprit as there was construction on our floor.
I think it's important to judge a property not on a problem but instead on how it's remedied and, in fairness to them, we didn't ask for a solution. I feel confident that, had we approached them, the friendly staff would have tried to help us. But we were exhausted and there was a washroom just down the hall - we made the choice to stay put and didn't want to fuss around going up and down the stairs or gathering our belongings and moving. While the bathroom situation was unpleasant, I also believe it was most likely temporary and I would happily stay with Hotel Gamla Stan on a return visit to Stockholm.
5.) Get out of Gamla Stan for Gastronomy
We headed to LUX restaurant on Lilla Essingen (it's a favourite haunt of Anthony Bourdain) and our three course meal (complete with lobster, seafood, drinks, coffee, and dessert with homemade ice cream) came in under $200. This was a huge splurge for us, but it was also one of the best restaurant meals we ever had and it was worth every penny. Our money went much further on a less trendy island and we were also thrilled to see a quieter, more sedate side of the city. (Sorry, no photos at all! Sometimes the best nights are Instagram-free!)
YES, you CAN save in Stockholm!
- Looking for cheap eats in Stockholm? Here's an awesome list.
- Want to indulge in the Swedish coffee tradition of fika? Here's some great cafes to try it.
- Looking to stay in Hotel Gamla Stan like we did? You can read more reviews and search for bargains on Trip Advisor, Expedia, and Hotels Combined.
Here's what else we loved in and around Stockholm
Inside Stockholm's Nobel Museum
Stockholm's Tiniest Cafe Serves Up Big Treats
Tales from the Anti-Adventurist: Stockholm's Wildest Boat Ride
Our visit to Stockholm was sponsored in part by the Stockholm tourism board, the Swedish branch of Hostelling International, and Red Bus Tours and we thank them for their support. As always, all writing, research, and opinions remain our own.