A Local’s Guide to Stockholm on the Cheap

by  Becky Lucas | Apr 11, 2014
Stockholm / bbsferrari/iStock

Sweden’s capital may have a reputation for being expensive (restaurant prices are 15 percent higher than in New York), but those who live in the city full-time know how to hang onto their Krona. Here are some tips on low prices go, straight from the mouths of in-the-know locals…

Rent a bike for longer than you need it: Unlike other cities, Stockholm's cycle paths actually feel safe and span the whole city. The city is also pretty flat, which helps. A secret about the city's bike rental program, though: it’s more expensive to rent a bike for three days than it is for a month. The local’s tip? Buy a month-long pass and then surprise a friendly local resident with the unused portion of your pass when you leave.

Discover a secret garden café: Find a bit of peace by cycling into beautiful (and free) Rosendal's Garden on Djurgården. Keep going and you’ll reach the fairytale-like café and bakery. The dining area, which is decked in white lights, is set inside a tall greenhouse and offers scenic garden views. No surprise, the venue is popular among wedding planners. Grab an organic coffee or muffin, or just refresh yourself at the (free) water fountain.

Walk on the rooftops: This may not be a budget option at about 595 Krona (or about $91), but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that few other Stockholm tourists will know about. After you've gazed up at the city’s Gothic architecture from the ground, get a closer look with a rooftop tour. A warning, though: If you're afraid of heights or get dizzy easily, this may not be for you.

Hear free live local music: Linking the city center to the Östermalm district, the Brunkeberg underground passageway was built in the late 19thcentury but has been updated regularly. At the moment, it boasts bright yellow walls and an aluminum ceiling. Many residents don’t even know it’s there, so you'll feel like you have the whole place to yourself. You may, however, have to share the space with the street musicians who typically play in the tunnel, making the most of the bright acoustics. Note: the tunnel closes at 10 p.m. daily.

Jump in a lake: In Stockholm, more than 150,000 residents own boats. If you are lucky enough to know (or meet) a Stockholm-er during your travels, they might have access to a boat or lake house. Or, you can head to Hellasgården, an area located around the Källtorpssjön and Söderbysjön lakes, and a 20-minute bus ride from the Slussen area. A dip in a lake while in this archipelago city is free, and during summer, it should be at the top of your to-do list. For those visiting during the fall, head into the woods to do some blueberry picking – another fun (and free) traditional pastime.

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