Seeing Stockholm on a budget: The ultimate guide

Stockholm has a reputation for being a pricey place to visit, but it doesn’t have to be.

Seeing Stockholm on a budget: The ultimate guide
Photo: mikdam/Depositphotos

Sure, a beer in a bar often costs around 65 SEK ($7) and no-one ever described a taxi ride in Stockholm as a ‘bargain’, but there are ways to see the city without spending a fortune.

Here’s how you can get more bang for your buck (or kronor, in this case) next time you visit Stockholm.

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Places to stay

If you’re looking for cheaper accommodation, don’t rule out a hostel; Stockholm has some wonderfully stylish, unique, and best of all, budget-friendly hostels to choose from. Check out The Red Boat Mälaren, STF Vandrarhem af Chapman and M/S Birger Jarl and tick ‘Stay in a floating hostel’ off your bucket list.

Photo: hespasoft/Depositphotos

The only thing cheaper than cheap, is free. If this sounds like your budget, give couch surfing a go and stay with a local. You could find yourself spending the night in a swish Stockholm apartment all for the grand total of zilch kronor. What’s more, you might make some new Swedish friends during your stay.

Getting around

So you’ve quickly and cost-effectively made it to the city on the Arlanda Express. Now it’s time to explore the city.

Stockholm is a city made for walking. Bring your walking shoes and pick up your free city map at the airport, Central Station, tourist centre or Swedish convenience store (Pressbyrån) and start discovering the streets on foot.  


If you suddenly discover your boots weren’t made for walking, hire a City Bike. With approximately 140 bike stands around the city, you can pick up a bike nearly anywhere. A 3-day access card will set you back just 165 SEK.

Stockholm’s public transport system is a little more expensive but well worth it if you want to travel as far and wide as possible. Quick, efficient and far reaching, you can purchase a 72-hour ticket for 250 SEK for adults or 165 SEK for students or pensioners and use Stockholm’s buses, trains, metro, trams and inner city ferries.

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Things to do

So, you’ve found a place to stay and picked your favourite mode of transport, now for the sightseeing. The good news is that in Stockholm there is a variety of free attractions like the Medieval Museum, Modern Museum, Natural History Museum, Royal Armoury, ArkDes, the Swedish Parliament or the City Library, just to name a few.

Photo: steho/Depositphotos

Many other museums also offer certain times every week with free admission, so check their websites for details.

In Stockholm it is very rare to be more than 300-metres from a park or green area, even in the city centre. Popular spots include the island of Djurgården, famous with locals for open green spaces, waterways, parks and walking tracks. So pack a picnic and park yourself on Djurgården or at one of the many tranquil and picturesque inner city parks, such as Hagaparken, Humlegården or Kungsträdgården.

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Touring the city

If you’re short on cash and still want to see all Stockholm has to offer with an experienced guide, free walking tours are available from various locations, seven days a week.

See where Greta Garbo had her first job in a local barber’s shop and learn about the events which led to the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ being coined on the city tour, ending with the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace.

Wander the cobbled streets of the Old Town (Gamla stan) while learning about the spine-chilling events of the Stockholm Bloodbath and taking photos of the famous architecture at Stortorget.  

Traipse the streets of the south island of Södermalm, discovering hipster hangouts and beautiful vantage points in the formerly rundown, working class area turned vibrant, artsy place you see today.

The Stockholm subway system is said to be the longest art exhibition in the world, spanning 110 kilometres, so check out the free guided tours that are offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Photo: JuliVasylegaBO/Depositphotos

While technically free, it is advisable to tip your guide a little at the end.

Eating and drinking

When you’re tired of supermarket food, try the Swedish tradition of dagens lunch. Many restaurants offer special daily lunch packages at competitive prices. It means you get to try some of Stockholm’s top restaurants at a fraction of their regular price. Make lunch your main meal and fill up on main course, bread, salad, coffee, tea and biscuits all for around 85-125 SEK.

If you’d like to combine your sightseeing with lunch, make your way to Kaknästornet, an old television and radio tower, now a restaurant and cafe. Make sure to book a table on their website and for 125 SEK you can ascend the tower at no extra cost and dine while taking in a panoramic view of Stockholm.

Photo: tupungato/Depositphotos

Drinking is notoriously expensive in Sweden, so if you don’t fancy selling a kidney to pay for a glass of wine, or heaven forbid, a spirit, be on the lookout for happy hours at bars or take a trip to the state-run liquor store, Systembolaget.

A word to the wise: Pre-plan your trip to the bottle shop. With strictly limited opening hours (which don’t include Saturday after 3pm or the whole of Sunday), you don’t want to be caught short!


Sweden takes flea markets to a new level. Especially during the summer months, you will find a flea market or loppis on nearly on every corner. Swedes love their vintage finds so much that sometimes whole streets will be blocked off for huge pop-up flea markets, with people selling out of stalls and car boots. If you’re looking for some vintage records or some authentic ABBA-esque clothes from the 70s, you’re likely to find some hidden gems here.

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There’s something to suit everybody when it comes to night-time activities. Comedy buffs can enjoy free standup in English at Big Ben on Södermalm; Parkteatern offers a variety of free musical and theatrical performances in beautiful outdoor settings, or you can stumble into many bars around Södermalm to listen to free live music.

Insider tip: Buy a green card at the amusement park Gröna Lund and for just 270 SEK you gain access to the park and a series of concerts by some of the world’s most famous artists. This year alone there have already been performances by Macklemore, Icona Pop, Marilyn Manson and Queens of the Stone Age.

Photo: scanrail/Depositphotos

Don’t miss a moment of sightseeing. Get to Stockholm’s city centre as fast and easily as possible by booking your airport transfer with Arlanda Express, the quickest route between Arlanda Airport and downtown.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Arlanda Express


IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images