I’ve met too many people who’ve decided to cut Scandinavia out of their European itinerary because of fear of high costs. So, this spring when I caught a sale for a $199 round-trip ticket to Stockholm from NY ($389 with taxes) I grabbed it and was off on another adventure – to prove Stockholm is possible on a budget.
The flight was downright cheap, so my budget was off to a good start. But unless you watch sale fares every day, you should probably plan on at least $600 from the US – and the fares climb dramatically higher in summer. Another option would be to fly into a major gateway like Paris or London and continue on a cheap European airway like Ryan Air, Easy Jet, or Wizz Air which all have cheap flights to Sweden’s capital.
Once in Stockholm you’ll be delighted by the beautiful capital. Its picturesque old town shows off in an array of colors and as you walk its cobblestone streets you’ll catch glimpses of its aristocratic past as well as its sleek, minimalist present. The chic shops with smooth lines were the predecessor of the uncluttered IKEA style that the whole world seems to love. In another display of contrast visit the Royal Palace where you’ll see a room of modern furniture belonging to the new king that’s housed in a highly decorated classical hall. The fancy furniture from generations past that you’d expect to see in a historic Palace sits in rooms beside it.
There are many ways to cut costs in Stockholm. First, you can walk nearly everywhere because it’s a relatively small city. Furthermore, you see much more of people’s everyday lives when you’re walking through their neighborhoods. Stockholm sits on a collection of islands, so that makes it an especially lovely place to wander.
Enjoyable free activities in the old town include watching the change of the guards outside the Royal Palace at 12:15 pm (1:15 on Sunday) with all its pomp and circumstance. Uniformed men parade in on horses and perform an elaborate, lengthy ceremony with guns, cannons, and flags waving. Another is relaxing on one of the benches or outdoor cafes in Stortorget square and watching the Swedes soak in the sun. Summer is a long- awaited event here after the darkness of winter, so you’ll see the whole community outside enjoying it. In fact, if you want to see the midnight sun that Scandanavia is famous for, you can take the train north to Lapland, but even in Stockholm it’s daylight past 10pm.
There are an abundance of museums in Stockholm, so I would recommend getting the Stockholm Card for at least one day of your visit which offers free admission to all museums and public transportation – otherwise the museum admissions can really add up to about 80 kronors (~$12) each. You could try to consolidate your museum visits into one or two “museum days” and on the others do some walking tours and day trips to the islands of the archipelago.