Scattered across 14 islands and surrounded by water and lush, green spaces, Stockholm is stylish and beautiful – but notoriously expensive.
For travelers on a budget it can present quite a challenge, but if you scratch beneath the surface you’ll find plenty of reasonably-priced restaurants and hotels in Stockholm and lots of free or cheap things to do.
Go swimming at the city’s beaches
Stockholm has two city beaches where you can go swimming: Långholmsbadet and Smedsuddsbadet.
Both offer sandy shorelines and good swimming but get heaving during the summer when the sun’s shining. In the winter, there are far fewer souls around who are prepared to brave the cold.
Look around Stockholm’s free museums
Some of the city’s museums offer free entry at certain times. Tourist information will be able to give you complete details, but for example, the Moderna Museet (modern art) and Arkitekturmuseet (architectural exhibits), both housed in the same building, offer free entry on Fridays from 4-6 pm.
Explore leafy Djurgården
Nearly a third of the city is made up of waterways, and almost another third of parks and other green spaces, making it a very pleasant place to spend a few days.
Of the many bridges you’ll cross during your trip to Stockholm, look out for the Djurgården Bridge connecting mainland Östermalm to the island of Djurgården.
Once the royal game park, today the island is full of attractions: historical buildings, yachting harbors, museums, and the Gröna Lund amusement park and Skansen open-air museum. And while you have to pay for most attractions, you could easily while away a few hours enjoying the lush parkland or picnicking under the trees.
Take a free tour of the Riksdag
Free, hour-long tours of the Riksdag (the Swedish equivalent of the Houses of Parliament) are available in English four times a day on weekdays over the summer, or on Saturdays and Sundays in winter. Call ahead (00 468 786 48 62) to book a place.
Witness the Changing of the Guard
Stroll over to the Royal Palace, the seat of Sweden’s monarchy, to witness the Changing of the Guard – a ceremony that packs a great deal of pomp and circumstance into its 40 minutes.
During the summer this ceremony takes place daily, but in winter you’ll need to time your visit for a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday.
Follow the National Geographic Traveler’s tour of the Old Town
The narrow streets of the Old Town open out into attractive courtyards and pass by lots of interesting buildings, but you could easily miss out on some of the best if you don’t have a plan. Rather than paying to join an organized guided tour (of which there are several on offer), you could download the free National Geographic’s Stockholm Walking Tour map along with a description of what you’re seeing en route.
A great way to save money when you visit Stockholm is the Stockholm Pass. This pass covers more than 60 top attractions including a hop on-hop off bus and boat tour, entrance to the major museums and palaces, and more.
Rebecca (but not Amateur Traveler) did receive compensation from Octopus Travel to write this post.