Can You See Stockholm on a Budget? 48 Hours in Sweden’s Capital
After finding cheap flights on Ryanair (I’m talking £4 one way and £9 the other!), I was determined to keep our long weekend getaway as cheap as possible, without missing out on experiencing everything Stockholm had to offer.
I met my husband – my travel buddy – at Liverpool Street Station after work on Thursday, and we jumped on a crammed Stansted Express train to the airport.
Arriving into Sweden late meant no public transport from the Skavsta Airport into Stockholm, so we booked to stay a night at the Connect Hotel – directly across the road from the airport. We excitedly trudged through the snow, which engulfed our feet with each step. We enjoyed the novelty; that hasn’t worn off, even after five years of living in London.
The Connect Hotel was comfortable but basic, and only set us back £45 between us for the night. We had bunk beds and a clean, shared bathroom across the hall. The rate of the room included breakfast the next morning, too (#winning).
I booked our bus tickets online at the breakfast table, which were about £12.00 each (one way). We went back to the airport and boarded the bus, which rode for just under an hour and a half. Had we chosen to take a cab, it would have cost about £140.00, with almost no less time on the road, since this bus is direct and only stops in Stockholm City.
Our hostel was in Gamla Stan (the old town), about a 20 minute walk from the Central Station. We enjoyed strolling through the town, detouring through snow-covered church gardens, peering over the railings of a bridge to gaze at the frozen water.
We usually choose mid-range hotels, but sticking to our budget for this trip, we had booked at The Old Town Lodge for the remainder two nights for £85.00 between us. The Old Town Lodge was cosy, set in a refurbished building dating back to the 1600s, and built on top of the old town wall – some of which made up the internal structure. Our room was downstairs with no windows, and had glass walls separating each double bed in the large dorm room, with white curtains drawn across for privacy. The glass dividers didn’t quite reach the ceilings, so the original arches could remain untouched. It was beautiful and felt private…until you were awoken with a slight hangover by the noises of your neighbours.
For us, a requisite for visiting any new city involves their free walking tour. We find they’re great to get your bearings, and the tour guides often give exclusive recommendations, which aren’t fostered from receiving any kickbacks. Although the tours are advertised as ‘free’, the guides are paid according to tips. Matt and I usually give the equivalent of £5.00 each, but we have been known to splash more if it was really worth it (or if the group was quite small).
An absolute must is a visit to the Vasa Museum, named for the Viking vessel it’s home to. The Vasa capsized and sank in Stockholm in 1628, only kilometres from where it departed on its maiden voyage. After 333 years at the bottom of the sea, the ship was lifted out of the water, surprisingly still over 90% in its original condition.
Entry is free if you’re under 18; after that, it’s about £12.00. It’s definitely worth it! We were in awe at the sheer size. It felt like we had taken a step back in the ages as we walked around the ship, looking up with wide eyes.
On Friday evening, we joined a Bar Crawl – what better way to get cultured than to explore the pubs, bars, and clubs Stockholm has to offer? It cost about £20.00 each, and included discounts on drinks, free shots, free club entry, and of course, the platform to introduce us to other travellers.
Unfortunately we chose a quiet night, and I was only one of two girls in attendance with around 15 men. The guide put the offer out for everyone to receive a refund after the second bar, and we took him up on it, disbanding the official pub crawl at that point, but continuing our own with the group of new friends we had made.I was determined to keep our long weekend getaway as cheap as possible, without missing out on experiencing everything Stockholm had to offer. Click To Tweet
We’ve done these sort of bar crawls before, and find them to be a fun way to explore the night life and discover the hot spots around town; I’d still recommend it, but it wasn’t worth it for us that evening.
Not letting our hangovers to hold us back, we booked ourselves onto an Archipelago Tour the morning after our bar crawl. There were many different options available, but the itinerary of the Stromma tour worked best for us. We paid around £24.00 for a guided round trip, roughly three hours long. The boat went out to Vaxholm, one of the more popular islands to visit, ‘chucked a u-ey,’ and started heading back. The further we went from the port, the icier the water. We watched out the windows as larger, thicker sheets of ice would snap in the wake of the boat.
The islands ranged from large, heavily-populated ones, to almost just a boulder with a small pastel-painted cottage perched on top. This was the winter experience I had been hoping for.
In terms of value for money, we were fairly happy with every aspect of our trip…until we came to the Ice Bar. It was a bit of a novelty; we adorned oversized eskimo ponchos and walked into a -5˚ room, decorated with a couple of ice sculptures, a throne, and a mini Viking ship for up to four people to sit in. We drank down one poorly-mixed drink, served in the very small ice cups, then wandered around the small space to try to get our £17.50 worth. Failing to do so, we left.
You can tick a lot of these touristy things off your to-do list in two days, and for fairly cheap. I do have one last recommendation to add, which will see you have a great time and won’t break the bank.
I found Ugglan online when I was researching for the trip; it’s an underground arcade bar. We paid about £4.00 for five games, choosing a mixture of air hockey, foosball, and pinball. They also have games that need to be pre-booked, like shuffle board and bocce ball. There had a vast library of board games and card games to choose from, too; we played Jenga. Lastly, we joined in on a rousing game of ping pong (also free), round robin style.
In terms of food and drinks, we found the prices very similar to those in London. It’s possible to be strict with your budget, purchasing food to cook from the grocers and markets. Matt and I live for food when we travel, so that wasn’t on the cards for us, and thus where we probably blew the budget a bit; we didn’t resist the smells as we passed by restaurants, and we certainly did not resist the drinks.
While Sweden is within the Scandinavian region, typically known for being unaffordable, I think it’s absolutely doable to visit on a strict budget. Do your research in advance, use the perks of TripAdvisor, or check menus in advance to help manage your costs, but don’t skip out on the city’s best attractions, or you’ll regret it!
|Description||Rough cost per person||Notes|
|Accommodation||£65||Twin room / Double room – can be much cheaper in dorms|
|Free Walking Tour||£5||Tip-based|
|Pub Crawl||£20||Got this refunded|
|Ice Bar||£17.50||Don’t recommend this|
|Average cost per item|
|Meals||£10 – £20||Sit down dinner (main only)|
|Drinks||£5 – £10||Depending on bar and beer vs spirit|
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