Sweden, located on northern Europe’s Scandinavian Peninsula, is a nation famed for its diverse landscapes and high quality of life. There are thousands of islands, inland lakes, glacial mountains, alpine woodland, and coastal cities to explore, including its bustling capital, but is Stockholm expensive?
Stockholm comprises 14 islands and over 50 bridges connecting the medieval old town to the upmarket suburbs of this Baltic archipelago. The city is known for its cobblestone streets, 13th-century architecture, Royal Palaces, and fascinating museums, but one thing Stockholm and Sweden, on the whole, are not associated with, is budget travel.
So, you might be wondering if you can travel to Stockholm on a shoestring and how much things really cost in the eastern capital, and we’re here to help. Whether you’re shuttling between the islands by ferry or sampling the local cuisine, our insider’s money guide has everything you need to know. Let’s get into it.
The average cost of a holiday in Stockholm
Stockholm is a magical and beautiful city. It’s a perfect destination for a city break and to get a real taste of Scandinavian life, but that’s if you have deep enough pockets. Stockholm is notoriously expensive and often ranked as one of the priciest cities in the world. It’s not a place for shoestring travel but there are ways that budget-minded visitors can keep the costs down. The first is to only spend a few days in the city, but we’ll get into the rest.
So what makes Stockholm so expensive? Well, this is mainly down to the strict labor laws in the country at large. It’s not just the capital that’s pricy, even though it is one of the more expensive destinations, but it is actually relatively expensive for companies to employ workers and Sweden also has high taxes and high salaries to go with them. This suits the residents but isn’t such great news for visitors. Still, Stockholm doesn’t have to break the bank.
Spending-savvy travelers can get by on around 660 SEK (70 USD) to 1,130 SEK (120 USD) a day, but add on around 800 SEK (85 USD) to 1,500 SEK (160 USD) a night if you want to upgrade your accommodation. This comes to around 3,700 SEK (400 USD) to 7,500 SEK (800 USD) for a three-day trip, but this can vary greatly. To get an idea of your expenses, let’s take a look at a breakdown of some daily costs:
|Price (SEK)||Price (USD)|
|Inexpensive Meal (restaurant)||130.00||$13.80|
|Fast Food Combo Meal||85.00||$9.00|
|Takeaway Cappucino (restaurant)||41.00||$4.35|
|Coke Bottle (supermarket)||25.00||$2.65|
|Water Bottle (supermarket)||22.00||$2.33|
|One Paid Attraction||140.00||$14.86|
Is Stockholm expensive to visit? Getting There
It might seem quite a bit further north than some of Western and Central Europe’s holiday hotspots, but Stockholm isn’t hard to get to. Sweden is full of remote regions that, even with the developed national transport system, can be hard to reach. Still, Stockholm is not one of these.
The coastal city is located in the southeast of the country with multiple ferry routes, efficient train lines, and three international airports connecting it to the rest of Sweden and Europe. Stockholm Arlanda Aiport is the main port of entry into Sweden, located 40 kilometers north of Stockholm. It welcomes over 20 million passengers a year and flights operate from all major continents and European airlines. You can fly from London to Stockholm with a budget operator like Ryanair for as little as 650 SEK (70 USD) return, from New York direct for 4,250 SEK (450 USD), from Vancouver, with layovers, for around 8,500 SEK ($900), although you may have to switch airlines, and from Copenhagen for around 750 SEK (80 USD).
You can get to Stockholm Central via the Arland Express train service for 260 SEK (27 USD), which takes around 20 minutes. You can also reach Stockholm from any of the Scandinavian and Baltic countries by ferry, these prices and times vary greatly but it can be a cheaper alternative to flying with a return trip from Finland, Estonia, and Lithuania costing around 1,400 SEK (150 USD). Be prepared for the 12-hour-plus journey times though.
You can also reach Stockholm by train and it will take just over a day from the UK with multiple changes in Brussels, Hamburg, and Copenhagen. This makes for a great multi-stop interrailing adventure for as little as 1,300 SEK (140 USD) per person.
Once you are in Stockholm, the cheapest way to get around is by foot. The city is easy and exciting to navigate with all the bridges, canals, and narrow streets. Yet, Stockholm also boasts an efficient public transit system with buses, trams, and an underground metro. The metro is divided into three zones and you can purchase tickets by zone for 75 to 120 minute periods, or by day.
It will cost you 115 SEK (12 USD) for a 24-hour travel card, 230 SEK (24 USD) for 72 hours, and 300 SEK (30 USD) for one week. The extra cost per zone is 37 SEK (4 USD) for one zone, 54 SEK (5.75 USD) for two zones, and 72 SEK (7.65 USD) for three zones. This means you can see a lot of the city in three days using public transport for around 300 SEK (30 USD) total, not dissimilar to travel in other major European capitals like London.
If you want to hop in a taxi, expect an arranged price from the airport to your accommodation for around 450-500 SEK (47-53 USD), and you can also rent city bikes to get around. Cycling is hugely popular in Stockholm and an enjoyable way to see the city. Rental costs 80, 210, or 290 SEK (8.40, 22.25, or 30 USD) for one, three, or 24-hour periods, and 1,070 SEK (114 USD) for the week.
Accommodation prices in Stockholm
Accommodation comes in all forms in Stockholm, from five-star hotels to backpacker hostels. It might be pricier than the European average but there’s something for every budget.
Budget accommodation starts from 380 SEK (40 USD) a night for a hostel bed in an eight-bed mixed dormitory and private doubles from 475 SEK (50 USD) in the city hostels. Private three-star accommodation with a shared bathroom can be snapped up for around $55 a night, but this will place you outside the city center.
There are also plenty of vacation rentals to choose from, ranging between 425 SEK (45 USD) and 4,255 SEK (450 USD) a night, with an average nightly price on Airbnb of 1,185 SEK (125 USD). Check out our round-up of the different accommodation options on offer in Stockholm below:
Livington Hotel ($) – True budget dwellings just outside the city center with breakfast included. Standard doubles start from $80 a night.
Avanti Apartment Hotel ($) – Located in Lilijeholmen, just minutes from the center on the metro, enjoy kitchen access and save on eating out in these self-contained apartments for $90 a night.
Malardrottningen Yacht Hotel and Restaurant ($$) – Truly unique accommodation with a budget price tag, climb aboard this three-star yacht hotel moored in Stockholm harbor with its own restaurant. Cabins start at just $100 a night with breakfast included.
Pop House Hotel ($$) – A get-up-and-go, four-star hotel with a contemporary style and free breakfast for $170 a night.
Hotel Hasselbacken ($$) – Set in one of Stockholm’s quintessential ochre-colored Gamla Stan buildings, this is four-star accommodation with a touch of antiquity. Standard Queens start at $230 with breakfast included.
Villa Dagmar ($$$) – Five-star luxury in the center of the city. Breakfast is included in the room rate from $400 a night.
Is Stockholm expensive for food and drink?
As one of the world’s most expensive cities, it’s no surprise that everyday things like food, wine, and beer are on the higher side. Even groceries can cost you an arm and a leg, but forking out the extra cash for an apartment rental could save you money on food in the long run.
The cheapest restaurant meals in Stockholm start at around 90-250 SEK (9-26 USD), but you should expect to pay closer to 400 SEK (42 USD) per person for a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant, and that’s not including alcohol.
A glass of house wine will set you back around 80 SEK (8.50 USD) while bottles in restaurants start at around 270 SEK (28 USD). If you want to save some cash, head to the supermarket for your alcohol and drink at home. Wine bottles start at just 70 SEK (7.40 USD) off the shelf, less than a glass costs in a restaurant, and beer as little as 20 SEK ($2,10)per bottle. This goes up to around 60 SEK (6.40 USD) if you’re drinking at any public house or eatery.
If you want to cook your own food, expect to spend at least 500 SEK (60 USD) per person per week, or around 250 SEK (26 USD) for a long weekend. If you want to eat out, expect to pay close to this amount per day, between 300 (32 USD) and 450 SEK (48 USD). Bear in mind, if you want to sample some local staples, Swedish food can actually cost more than global cuisine, ranging between 250 (26 USD) and 350 SEK (37 USD) per dish.
When is the best time to visit Stockholm?
If you’re after good weather, the summer is largely considered the best time to visit Stockholm. Daylight lasts the longest and temperatures are at their highest from June to August. You can expect blue skies and average highs between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with the hottest month being July.
The cold season in Stockholm lasts for four months, from mid-November to mid-March. The average daily high in winter is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and lows hover around 20 degrees. It has been known to drop below five degrees Fahrenheit at the peak of the cold season (January and February). Snow showers and freezing temperatures are common at this time in Stockholm, but the capital does start to experience a little more sunshine in February than in the prior winter months.
Stockholm is decidedly more crowded in summer when temperatures are at their highest, this means everything costs more. From accommodation to restaurants and attractions, you’ll pay a premium for the sunshine. However, Stockholm is also a winter wonderland. Even with no snow, the air is crisp and fresh from late October and the city has a distinctly wintry feel. Expect Christmas markets, spiced glogg, and many ice-based activities towards the end of the year. This time can be cheaper than summer, but expect to pay even more for accommodation over the Christmas period than in July.
For these reasons, think about visiting Stockholm from February to early April for the cheapest prices of the year, the longest days of the winter period, and the least crowds.
Stockholm on a Budget: Our Top 7 Money-Saving Tips
Walk and bike – Stockholm is a relatively small city and you can easily wander the old town and nearby islands on foot or by bike. Avoid single-use tickets for transport, which can really add up, and take to the streets.
Consider a vacation rental – Double rooms in shared apartments and even entire vacation rentals in Stockholm can cost much the same as hotels. Save money on eating out and grab accommodation with a kitchen. This can be even more cost-efficient if you’re traveling in a group.
Eat out at lunch, not dinner – If you want to enjoy real Swedish food at a sit-down restaurant, do it at lunchtime. The Dagens Ratt (lunch menu) starts at 90 SEK (9.50 USD) in some places and includes a dish of the day, bread, salad, and water.
Drink tap water – Sweden has very high water standards and you can drink from the tap everywhere in the capital – even from public fountains (although we wouldn’t recommend it). Bring a reusable bottle around with you instead of buying plastic, and order tap water with your meals. It’s very pure and sometimes even served in a jar with berries for no extra cost.
Drink at home – Alcohol is one of the biggest budget drainers in Stockholm, you’ll struggle to find beer for less than 50 SEK (5.30 USD) and wine can cost as much as 130 SEK (14 USD) a glass. Avoid drinking at nightclubs and even bars and buy your booze from the grocer.
Make the most of free attractions – From the National Library of Sweden, the Medieval Museum, and the Moderna Musset, to the underground art and pay-what-you-want walking tours, there are tons of things to do in Stockholm for free.
Visit in the low season – Skip the high season premiums and summer holidays crowds and consider booking your trip between January and April. That’s if you don’t mind a bit of cold weather and your post-festive period budget can allow it…
Is Stockholm expensive? Our Verdict
We can’t lie, a few days in Stockholm can really add up and there’s a reason that the city isn’t at the top of the list for budget European breaks. It’s more expensive than the capitals of its Scandinavian neighbors like Copenhagen and Helsinki, but it’s cheaper than Oslo, and living costs can even be 30 percent less than those in London. You’ll need a flexible budget to visit Sweden, but there are ways to save if money is on your mind. Think about steering clear of the center for cheaper accommodation, buying groceries to eat and drink at home, and visiting outside of peak summer and Christmas months. Visiting Stockholm on a budget is a thing, and if you follow our penny-pinching tips, you can go anywhere on a shoestring.