Just How Expensive Is Stockholm?

I have the tendency to fall for expensive cities. What I can say – high living standards, overall efficiency and beautiful surroundings come with hefty price tags nowadays.

After my first year in Switzerland, I had gotten so used to the prices that I no longer felt the need to complain about them. 

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm reminded me of Switzerland in many ways. The winding streets in Gamla Stan resemble Lausanne’s old town. Their clean streets holding simple and colorful buildings. And of course, the prices of pretty much anything.

Prices are relative, though. When coming from Portugal or Spain, ordering dinner in Stockholm is almost an investment. But if comparing them to Switzerland or London – you’ll realize the country is more expensive, but most of the time, it’s nothing you haven’t seen somewhere before. What I’ve learned from my trip is that, with a bit of thoughtful planning, even quite limited budgets can survive a 4 day holiday in Stockholm.

Accommodation

Stortorget Square in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

Before choosing to go with Roomorama on my first trip to Sweden, I browsed and surfed looking for a variety of accommodation alternatives in the capital. Hostels, hotels, B&Bs – all of it. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task to stay on the affordable side. I was prepared for the worst. Hotels started up by 65 GBP per night – if spending the night next to a motorway and 20 minutes drive outside the city sounds appealing to you (because it certainly wasn’t for me). Anything more centrical already doubled the price (set that as a minimum – from there, it only goes upwards). We found a few cute B&B, but generally had an issue on being 3 friends instead of the harmonious 2 (or 4).

My TipWe were thankful for the credit I got from Roomorama – Stockholm is certainly one of those cities where you can appreciate this most. However, Roomorama’s selection on apartments in the city is still rather limited, so I’d recommend to check AirBnB and Wimbu as well. Hostels mostly offer single beds in reasonable sized dorms for 20 to 30 GBP per night, but if you want to cut accommodation costs as a whole, Couchsurfing is definitely the best option!

Food

"Capers" at SMAK, Stockholm

You know me. I partly travel through food, and Stockholm was no exception. Even before landing, I was already dreaming of smoked salmon, meatballs with lingonberry jam and all the fresh and exotic game – like reindeer and moose! But freshly cooked food comes for a price – specially in central locations frequented by tourists.

On our first night in the city, some friends took us to SMAK (flavor) – a restaurant tucked away in an obscure side street in Östermalm. SMAK’s concept is simple: few dishes, simple names and 3 sizes (3, 5 or 7 plate menus). Each dish carries the name of the predominant flavor. Each dish was a creation for itself. Prices were mouth-opening, but let me tell you: It was totally worth it.

My Tip: Get familiar with your local supermarket and unleash your inner cook. By having breakfast at home and preparing picnics for lunch (as simple as nordic bread with cream cheese and smoked salmon), you won’t feel bad about letting go for a special dinner.

Transport

Hiking in Ingmarsö, Sweden

WALK. Don’t even think about taking a taxi. I’ve done it, and believe me – it’s no fun. Only use the tube whenever completely necessary (like those days it’s pouring non-stop and you only wish to be teleported to the closest mall). We got ourselves a tube pass for 18 GBP (200 SEK) that we could use 8 times and could be shared among a group of friends.This was enough for 2 people and 4 days in the city (including one of those forced mall days).

My Tip: Pack comfortable walking shoes, an umbrella and a hardcore rain jacket – Even if it’s summer time, some days might be really wet. When you arrive at the tube station, look for a kiosk inside or around the station (tickets and passes are a bit cheaper than at the counter) and choose which option suits you best depending on time, weather prediction and condition. Note that single tickets are sold at almost 4 GBP!

Alcohol

Systembolaget - Swedish Alcohol Monopoly

Alcohol is one of those things that make Stockholm seem prohibitively expensive. Sweden has high alcohol prices because of the high tax rates imposed on it. Herewith, the governments intention is to reduce overall alcohol consumption or at least moderate the regular intake. If you want to buy wine, beer or spirits to have some drinks at home, you’ll need to search for a Systembolaget shop – a state own monopoly for alcohol sale. Their opening hours are quite restrictive, which is why many swedes and expats stock up! In restaurants and bars, drinks become even more pricey – I’ve paid between 6 and 8 GBP for a glass of wine (and I wasn’t being very picky!).

My TipIf you can, buy a bottle of wine in the duty free shop before departure. If your luggage restrictions don’t allow for this, make sure to check the opening hours of your nearest Systembolaget shop (and don’t forget to bring your ID).

Do you have any other recommendations to keep basic costs low when traveling to expensive destinations?

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6 thoughts on “Just How Expensive Is Stockholm?

  1. Very informative post, and just bookmarked! I knew Stockholm was expensive but 4 quids for a tube ride? I guess that’s how they finance the fancy art down there!

  2. Even though it seems like a very expensive city I wouldn’t let it stop me from visiting. Like any trip I budget for some things being on the higher end of the scale. Looks like a beautiful city and it looks like you had a fantastic trip.

  3. Looks like you adopted the right approach. Like you, I tend to stay away from expensive countries because it’s just not as fun and I have limited funds, especially considering the Canadian dollar isn’t that high.

    So far, the most expensive places I have been to were Finland (just a stopover a couple of days, so not a huge deal) and Australia. Australia in 2010 was extremely expensive, we had been there in 2003 and the cost of living was similar to Canada, but in 2010 we had a huge shock. A freaking can of Coke was $5!!! Food was extremely expensive and not very good, accommodation was similarly pricey and it hurt to pay so much for hotels. We ended up staying only a month and spending the rest of the trip, another 4 weeks, in SE Asia. The price of the Sydney-Singapore ticket was still a better deal than staying another month in Australia.

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