10 Tips You Need to Know for Your First Stockholm Visit

Hej Stockholm, the capital of Sweden!

I had no idea I would actually enjoy Stockholm so much. In fact, I’d expected to feel rather bored with a lack of places to go for 2 days. (Ps: I had no interest in Vasa Museum – the must-go museum with the sunken ship, nor Abba Museum.) But turned out I didn’t feel bored! The weather in Stockholm in May was more than perfect during springtime, though a delayed spring at that. The temperature still dipped low but the sun’s out bright and shiny. Stockholm was over for me too quickly in 2 days.

Anyway.

Here’s some Stockholm Travel Tips I Gathered for Your Next Trip!

1. Landing in Stockholm: Getting to the city centre need not cost a limb.

According to search resources, the Arlanda Express train will be the recommended method to reach Stockholm’s city centre in 20min from the airport. Round-trip tickets will cost SEK 540 ( = S$86 / USD$62) per adult, *gasps*.

Welcome to Stockholm and its prices.

Don’t worry. There’s another method: Flygbussarna airport bus, which serves major airports in Stockholm. Return tickets from Arlanda Airport to city will be SEK 198 (S$32 / USD$23) per adult, taking 45min and there’s free WIFI on the bus! The buses arrive and depart on time and are comfortable journeys. I used this method and enjoyed its convenience.

Flygbussarna Airport Bus | Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite WanderessTip: Buy the airport bus tickets online before your trip, download the tickets on email or to Apple Wallet, flash the QR code on your phone or printed confirmation to the attendant and you’ll be on the way.


2. Bring your credit card.

Sweden is on the way to going cashless (you can read more from The Guardian). In Stockholm, the card is king, not cash. People use their credit cards to pay for everythingggg – it’s really that convenient. The credit card is the preferred payment method.

But you can still use cash.

However, if you’re like me and worry about lousy conversion rates from your credit card’s bank, you CAN still use cash in Stockholm. I used cash to purchase my SL TravelCard at the train station’s counter, pay for meals, buy museum tickets etc.

It’s good to carry a credit card with you as backup option though! I ended up paying for my accommodation and some shopping with the credit card.

Tip: If you’re joining walking tours, keep cash aside to tip your guide, like I did with Free Tours Stockholm

Btw, public toilets in Stockholm cost money, even in shopping malls.

Each entry is likely SEK 5 or SEK10, so do have some small change with you. I thought surely toilets will be free entrance at Stockholm Public Library (the toilet wasn’t my purpose for going there, I swear!), but no such luck. There were machines accepting coins or credit card. The only public toilet I came across that was free to use was Moderna Museet’s toilets.

If you see a free public toilet (restaurant or museum) in Stockholm, don’t be shy to go!


3. Save money, drink Stockholm’s delicious tap water.

It’s not a rumour: Stockholm’s tap water is clean enough to drink as it is. In fact, the tap water tastes great! Before filling my bottle, I made sure to ask my hostel staff if the tap-water is safe to drink. To be extra safe, try to only use cold tap water for drinking, not lukewarm water.

I didn’t have to buy any water in Stockholm at all except for soft drinks and coffee, #win!


4. People in Stockholm speak good English.

I noticed that there weren’t many Asians in Stockholm. Service staff will promptly switch to English when they see me. As long as you can speak English, you’re in good hands. And I have met only friendly merchants in the city during my trip!


5. Research on food before coming, because restaurant menus often only come in Swedish.

I should have done more research on what to eat in Stockholm before arriving. It was rather dismaying to walk past restaurants, check their menus and only find Swedish words that I have not read up about. So I just randomly ordered the items whose words I could make out.

10 Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite Wanderess
parma pasta

6. Look out for “dagens ” menu during lunchtime for best value of food!

“Dagens lunch” translates to set lunch, and will cost SEK 100 (S$16 / USD$12) to SEK 120 for a main course, a drink and salad. Or simply order it “to go” (takeaway) and sit down somewhere! The weather was chilly but sunny and many people in Stockholm will be sitting outdoors enjoying the sunshine.

Spring in Stockholm | Travel Tips to Visit Stockholm • The Petite Wanderess


7. Consider alternative accommodations other than hotels.

Stockholm hotels are really expensive. My hotel criteria for two nights of stay in Stockholm:
• Not too far or inaccessible from city
• Looks decent, not dodgy
• Not sky-high prices
• Okay-sized

The closest option I got was a single 8sqm room in the city centre, for SEK 2758 (= S$440 / USD$315) for 2 nights, but that to me was expensive as a solo traveller.

| Check Stockholm’s hotel room rates on Bookings.com! |

In the end, I booked a room in a hostel! It was also my first hostel stay ever. =D

Located in Sodermalm, Skanstulls Hostels is a hotel with quirky decor. I booked a private double room at 16sqm, for SEK 1540 (= S$252 / USD$176) for 2 nights. Staff was professional and polite, room was pretty cosy and the common areas were decorated really wonderfully.

To dispel misconceptions about hostels, I have to tell you, hostels in Scandinavia can actually be really gorgeous places. It also doesn’t mean you need to stay in mixed dormitory rooms and/or interact with a bunch of people all the time (it’s very exhausting for Introverts). There are quiet hostels where you can just do your own thing; we’re not in high school anymore 😉 Or Stockholm Hostel which officially prohibits loud music, smoking and drinking of alcohol within premises. Give Scandinavian hostels a chance!

| Check Skanstulls’ availability on Bookings.com! |

Or you can stay on a boat hotel/hostel in Stockholm!

Prices vary on your choice of room type. If you’re looking for something interesting, and since you’re gonna spend the money anyway, might as well choose a boat hotel! This is the most famous one in Stockholm: AF Chapman. I’ve no experience from staying there though, so do your research first ya!

| Check room rates & availability! |

10 Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite Wanderess
AF Chapman Boat Hostel, Stockholm

 

There’s a strange practice about hostels in Sweden though.

You need to rent bed linen from the hostel at an extra charge if it’s not included, or bring your own from home. This refers to the sheet covering your bed, the duvet cover and pillow cover. You also need to load the bed linen yourself. The good news about this is, at least you know they’re fresh sheets. My hostel provided the linen and placed it on my bed.

Some hostels also don’t provide towels – check before you go, or bring a light microfibre towel for your trip!

8. Stockholm is connected by bridges, but it’s not really that walkable.

Don’t harbour thoughts that you can cut costs and walk everywhere since it’s “so walkable”. Unless you really, really like walking long distances and have a lot of spare time for it. I took Stockholm’s public transport often and even so, I clocked 5–8 miles each day. The train stations can be placed quite a good distance apart OR you might be like me — unable to spot the T-bana (Stockholm’s Metro) signposts. I didn’t have 3G so I relied on offline maps to get me to the train station!

walking a lot in Stockholm | Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite Wanderess
Day 1 vs Day 2 in Stockholm

Be practical, get a public transport card.


9. Get a Travel Pass. Use Stockholm’s public transport.

Taxis cost a lot in Stockholm, so I heard. Stockholm’s public transport is well-connected and definitely reliable. I had less than 3 days in Stockholm, but decided to get a 72-hour Travel Card at SEK240 (S$38.10 / USD$28) anyway. Stockholm’s main transport operator is SL. They have 24-hour, 72-hour and 7-day passes, perfect for short-term travellers.

^If a Travel Card is not good for you, you can buy an SL Access Card (which is a smart-card, will cost SEK 20 and is valid for use for 6 years). With it, you need to
a) top it up with credit (minimum is SEK 100), and use for each journey, or
b) buy a single-journey ticket and load it on the SL Access Card.

For the SL Access Card’s option (a), each journey costs SEK 30 and is valid for 75min. For option (b), each journey will be SEK 43 for the same amount of time.

^ My understanding of the SL Transport fares system, because the website does not explain it that directly. If my interpretation is incorrect, do let me know!

ferry in Stockholm | Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite Wanderesstram in Djurgården | Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite Wanderess

With my flimpsy but precious 72-hour Travel Card, during my short visit, it was well utilized! I took the metro a few times, the tram in Djurgarden, a bus to Kungstradgen, and the ferry from Slussen to Skeppsholmen and then to Djurgarden. It might work out to be similar to getting the SL Access Card’s pricing, but I saved convenience by not having to keep track of time and travel plans.

Swedish is a tough language to make out. When you’re taking trains, the announced train station name can sound very different from your understanding of the English word. They stick a small map on certain transparent panels so if you’re standing at the wrong spot, you can’t access the map unless you can read mirrored text.

Further tip: Download this app called Linjekartor for the metro map.

10. Stockholm is a welcoming city, whether you have walking aids or luggage.

Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite WanderessIn Stockholm, I saw plenty of single fathers/mothers out with their babies in big, robust prams, on buses, the metro stations, everywhere. The elderly would be pushing their wheeled walking aids and shopping bags on the streets. There were people shopping in town with their handicapped relatives seated in high-tech wheelchair/bed. People also take their dogs on trains (in specific cabins). With the convenience that Stockholm has built into its system, it’s easy to see why everyone enjoyed being out and about!

Disclaimer: I’m not guaranteeing that Stockholm is 100% wheelchair-friendly, cos the truth is, there were steps down to my hostel’s reception counter, and that at places like Gamla Stan, the ground is cobblestone flooring with slopes.

Now, a very important question:

Are there lifts/elevators at Stockholm’s metro stations?

Something I’m always concerned about whenever I travel to Europe. In short, the answer is yes. Just look for the Hiss sign — that’s the lift. I was thanking my lucky stars until… the lift from street level to the underground metro station stopped working the day I left. So I lugged my luggage down for about 8 steps, and continued to use the lift inside the metro station.


Are these Stockholm travel tips helpful to you?
Share with me in the Comments!

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Travel Tips for Visiting Stockholm • The Petite Wanderess

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Visited: May 2017
Useful websites: Visit Stockholm | SL Transport | Flygbussarna Airport Bus
Research sources: Routes North
Image credits: Flygbussarna Airport Bus photo is via Flygbussarna press room at Mynewsdesk, licensed under Creative Commons CC 3.0. In-room photos of Skanstulls Hostel and AF Chapman Hotel are from Bookings.com. All other photos were taken by me.
Disclosure: This blogpost contains affiliate link(s). If you make a booking/purchase through the link(s), my travel blog receives a tiny commission at no extra costs to you. The commission helps me offset costs to maintain this website, I’ll be very grateful for your support! Full disclosure terms are available on this page.

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14 comments

  1. Lovely to read your experience in Stockholm! Its so different from my experience! hahahaha…. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to my favorite city in Europe. 🙂
    A few differences:
    I’ve never paid to use a toilet except in Centralstation in Stockholm. I saw a lot of Swedish-Asians in Stockholm and notice more and more each time I visit. I don’t usually get spoken to in English much either but maybe because my Swedish is pretty decent and sounds pretty native just without a distinct accent. hahaha that being said, its really nice to read what its like to experience Stockholm without even a basic Swedish and seems like the only trouble you have is on the trains and menus. There are quite a lot of menus in English if you ask for many restaurants but there are a lot that don’t. The servers are more than happy to help you translate though!

    1. Thanks Alaine! Fun to read about the differences from a person familiar with Stockholm too! Hmm, what I did was walk past the cafes at Sodermalm and check out the menus pasted outdoors –– mostly Swedish, so I’ll just walk on, ha! I’m the kind who just wants quick and easy efforts about meals when I travel solo, so I don’t even think about asking the staff, though all I’ve met are just very helpful and friendly staff in Stockholm =)

    1. Oh no! I didn’t eat meatballs in Stockholm lolll (I don’t take beef), and I didn’t go IKEA either! Not worth the time to travel down hehe.

  2. Great post! I’ve never been to Stockholm so one day I’ll get up there…! That hostel you stayed in looks awesome, wouldn’t have even known it was a hostel…!

    1. Thank you Julie! Stockholm was a pretty place to visit =) And about the hostel, IKR! Very glad I found this hostel! Or I would have had to pay S$400+ for a room half the size somewhere else.. 😉

  3. To be honest, Stockholm kind of sounds a little boring for me too. But thank you for sharing these inside tips, will definitely take them into consideration and now I think I will add Stockholm to my travel bucket list!

    1. Thanks Pamela Leon for coming by! Honestly, I spent much time planning possible programs to fill my itinerary and it was quite a struggle because I struck out museums like Vasa Museum, ABBA Museum, the medieval museum etc as I had no interest in them. But I went Stockholm at a good period when the cherry blossoms were in bloom in Stockholm, the ambience was really fantastic! I might share my ‘not-so-conventional’ itinerary on my blog one day =)

  4. Hi there,
    I totally enjoyed reading your Stockholm post! I will be visiting end of July. I have so many places I want to see! I have never been told that Stockholm was a boring place to visit…. You had only three days there so I gather you didn’t get to cruise about the archipelagos? That is something I will definitely be doing. I have 6 days there so double your time.
    I did book a hotel room but ended up cancelling it and found an awesome Air B and B right in the heart of Sodermalm. I have a list of cool cafes that have been highly recommended but definitely have taken your advice and maybe googling the menus online first! Haha. Did you try the infamous Cinnamon Buns?

    I cannot wait to get to Scandinavia! I will be going to Iceland and Norway (Oslo/Bergen/Stavenger) and a quick visit to Copenhagen? Have you visited those cities? I would love to read your blogs aout them!

    Joanna

    1. Hi Joanna! Thank you for coming by! Am very happy to see your comment! I was in Stockholm for 2 days, leaving next morning on the 3rd, so I didn’t have a chance to visit the archipelagos, which was a pity! You have fun doing that, I shall save it for my next time! =) Also, I had booked a hotel room and also cancelled when I found the hostel that eventually felt like a good fit. I also didn’t try their famous cinnamon buns for fika haha I’m missing out all the must-sees and must-eats! Time passed really quickly for me in Stockholm, I might be sharing my itinerary here on my blog though.

      I went Bergen and Stavanger after Stockholm – Norway is unlike any other country I’ve ever been, it’s amazing! Please stay tuned for my blogposts on Norway, I’ll try my best to catch up writing! Scandinavia has SO MUCH to offerrrrrrr I wish I can spend months just exploring there if it’s not so expensive *blushes*, and omg you’re going Iceland and Copenhagen! Enjoy your trip, definitely will be awesome!

    1. Thanks Ainsley! The boat hotel is a cool idea indeed – a classic option only Stockholm has, I’m keeping it in my mind for my future returns too! =D

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