Most travelers simply accept the fact that the dynamic Swedish capital doesn’t offer the same type of a budget-friendly experience as, say, Prague or Budapest further south. Sadly for them, though, these naysayers are simply looking in the wrong direction.
Granted, the ever-evolving Stockholm can easily break the bank if you’re not conscious of your spending, but that doesn't mean that there is any lack of penny-pinching locales to check out. With dozens of free museums, countless photo opportunities and free walking tours around the city, we can easily appreciate this 'beauty on water' without taking out a second mortgage.
10 Take a free walking tour
As a country, Sweden is massive. As a city, however, Stockholm is very walkable - and with glistening waters that undercut 14 islands and over 50 bridges, impressive photo ops await no matter which direction you stroll. For those looking to save a few pennies, one of the most cost- and time-efficient ways to explore the roots of the city is, in fact, on foot. So long as you’ve brought a comfortable pair of shoes, of course!
There are a number of free, locally-guided tours on offer, most of which explore the charming passage of Old Town, or the hipster Södermalm island - just leave a small tip if you feel obliged.
9 Solna Centrum Station
As what can only be described as a city-wide art gallery, few cities around the world can match the allure and ambiance of Stockholm’s subway system. Solna Centrum Station has been transformed from a drab, underground concrete cell into an artistic representation of the ‘gates of hell’ - and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
In fact, over 100 of the city’s stations have been glazed over with themed installations, many of which sport colorful mosaic designs, intriguing pieces, giant paintings, and sculptures, making the city’s transit system an attraction in and of itself.
Considering that we’ve just made a hasty stop at the Gates of Hell, a slice of the open air at Nacka nature reserve ought to balance things out again. At Hellasgården (we’re aware that this reads ironically similar to Hell’s Garden), endless expanses of lush forest await, offering plentiful hiking, running, and biking trails. If you’re venturing to the city in winter, a number of skiing tracks are also on offer.
It’s only 15 minutes from Slussen (an area of central Stockholm), and is easily accessible via the subway system. Plus, best of all, access is entirely free.
It’s hills, stairs, and ramps galore in the Swedish capital, many of which are tucked away in hiding, waiting for curious tourists like us to stumble upon them. Katarinahissen - now an icon of the city’s landscape - was originally created in the late 1800s as a means to make daily commuting easier for locals, acting as a shortcut to avoid all the stairs and inclines.
These days, however, it serves as an excellent viewpoint over the colorful buildings and intersecting waterways. Of course, a trip to the top won’t cost you a dime.
6 Sjöhistorika Museet
As a Scandinavian city built almost entirely across an archipelago, it should come as no surprise to discover that Stockholm takes pride it its maritime characteristics - and Sjöhistorika Museet is the ultimate example of this. As the largest maritime museum in the greater Scandinavian region, Sjöhistorika Museet displays enormous collections (with close to 100,000 total objects) of ships, oceanic instruments, old-school weapons, and plenty of nautical art to go with it.
For anyone who fancied building model ships as a kid or strutted around pretending to be a Viking, there’s no place in Europe that’ll tickle your fancy quite like this one.
Following on from a quick stop at the maritime museum, we’re heading back into the outdoors for a stroll through the energetic, hipster paradise that is Södermalm (sometimes shortened to Söder). After acting as working-class neighborhood for a number of decades, Söder has recently blossomed into a trendy, picturesque, often-eclectic locale, full of restaurants, independent galleries, underground bars and rotating festivities, not to mention the incredible views of the main area of Stockholm from its shores.
As touched on earlier, if exploring solo isn’t your cup of tea, then there’s always the option to tag along on a free walking tour.
4 Admire the Changing of the Guard
We’ve admired the aesthetics and taken in some of the local culture, and now it’s time for us to take a peek into a cherished part of Swedish history - the Changing of the Guard at Stockholm’s Royal Palace.
Every day at 12.15pm on the dot (or an hour later on lazy Sundays), the Royal Guard performs its routine act, one which has been on display, incredibly, since 1523. While the regular change occurs daily, if you’re lucky you’ll stumble across a special event, complete with marching bands, gun salutes, and the whole nine yards.
3 Get cultured at one of the free museums
If you’re after an art and culture fix, Stockholm (to the surprise of some) is ready to dish up more than you’d ever need. Across the beautiful city, there are over dozen museums that welcome locals and tourists alike, completely free of charge. Falling under that umbrella is the notable, respected Swedish History Museum - home to exhausting exhibitions, a gold room, and live-action summertime Viking displays.
If you’re still craving culture, check out any of Moderna Museet – The Modern Art Museum, Medeltidsmuseet - the Medieval Museum, Dansmuseet - the Performing Arts Museum, or the Natural History Museum.
2 Visit a photography gallery
While we’re strolling through the city’s museums, let’s swivel over to the world of photojournalism. Galleri Kontrast might not be the most revered or famous photo gallery in the city (that would be Fotografiska), but it does offer a number of sublime displays, encompassing all kinds of documentary photography, local and from afar. Plus, smaller status generally equates to fewer tourists.
Like all of the places mentioned here, access to Galleri Kontrast is as budget-friendly as it gets, chalking up a price tag of zero - unless you feel like taking any of the artwork home, that is.
1 Take a seat with a view on Monteliusvägen
Sadly, our time in this glistening city has almost come to an end. Before we head to the airport though, let’s take in the incredible landscape one more time with an unbeatable view from Monteliusvägen.
Sitting on the cliff’s edge backstreets of old Söder, Monteliusvägen is a scenic walking path that stretches about a quarter-mile, offering a towering view over Lake Mälaren, City Hall, and the small Riddarholmen island. Presenting itself as the ideal photography hideout, Monteliusvägen shows off unmatched panoramas of Stockholm’s facade, snaps of which are guaranteed to make your friends at home jealous.