Planning to visit Stockholm but don’t want to break your budget? I am here to help you discover the best free things to do in Stockholm and share some useful tips and tricks to save money in Stockholm.
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and one of the most popular destinations in Northern Europe. It’s known for its high living standards, which also reflect in the prices for tourists. However, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Especially with the right planning and knowledge. This is where I step in!
In this article, we will cover the best free things to do in Stockholm and more Stockholm budget tips. This means that you will be able to see the beauty of Stockholm and experience the essence of the city without spending a lot of money.
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Is Stockholm cheap to visit?
When considering a trip to Stockholm, many of you are wondering if it is cheap to visit Stockholm. Stockholm is not typically regarded as a budget-friendly destination. Let’s dive into the reasons behind this reputation and explore ways to make your Stockholm visit more cost-effective.
Stockholm offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to hostels. However, even budget options can be relatively expensive compared to other cities. You will find affordable hotel suggestions at the end of this article.
While Stockholm is full of nice restaurants and cute cafes, dining out can strain your wallet. Restaurants and cafes often come with higher price tags, especially in touristy areas. To save money, consider exploring local markets and street food vendors for tasty yet budget-friendly meals.
Stockholm’s public transportation system is efficient but comes at a cost. Trains, trams, and buses are convenient for getting around the city, but individual fares can add up. To save, consider purchasing a daily ticket.
Stockholm offers numerous attractions, museums, and tours to explore its rich culture and history. Entrance fees to museums and guided tours can be pricey. Plan your itinerary carefully and prioritize the attractions that interest you the most to make the most of your budget.
While Stockholm may not be cheap, there are ways to make your visit more budget-friendly. This is why I have prepared a list of the best free things to do in Stockholm, so you can make the most of your trip, see the essentials, and still stick with your budget.
What are the best free things to do in Stockholm?
- Exploring Gamla Stan
- Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace
- Visit the longest art exhibition at the T-Centralen subway station
- Enter the Stockholm Medieval Museum
- Find the iconic Gilded Crown on Skeppsholmsbron
- Relax at The Stockholm Public Library
- Climb up the best viewpoints of Stockholm – Mariaberget or Skinnarviksberget
- Head to the Östermalms Food Hall
- See Katarina Kyrka and Svartensgatan
- Discover Riksdagen (the Swedish parliament)
- Join a free walking tour
- Spend an afternoon at the Galleri Kontrast
- And enjoy seasonal activities in Stockholm for free.
Top things to do in Stockholm for free
Exploring Gamla Stan
Exploring Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s historic old town, is undoubtedly one of the top free things to do in Stockholm. This enchanting district offers a journey back in time with its well-preserved medieval architecture and winding cobblestone streets.
Stortorget, the main square of Gamla Stan, is surrounded by colorful buildings and is one of Stockholm’s most iconic spots. You shouldn’t miss St. George and the Dragon and Storkyrkan, which is known as Stockholm Cathedral.
Gamla Stan is a maze of narrow alleys and hidden courtyards. Exploring these less-traveled paths can lead you to delightful discoveries. I personally loved wandering around Prästgatan and taking some postcards of the cute houses.
Another free attraction in Stockholm is Mårten Trotzigs gränd also known as Stockholm’s narrowest street. Make sure you follow the map, otherwise, it is easy to miss (it is the narrowest street for a reason!).
While the Nobel Museum has an entrance fee, it’s worth mentioning that they often have free exhibitions and events. Keep an eye on their schedule for free talks and displays related to the Nobel Prize.
Gamla Stan is a must-visit place in Stockholm and you can easily spend half a day wandering around. Plan your itinerary accordingly and enjoy one of the best free things to do in Stockholm.
Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace
One of the most iconic events at the Royal Palace is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which is a longstanding royal tradition and a symbol of Sweden’s monarchy. It’s a unique opportunity to witness a slice of Swedish history and culture.
And guess what? It is free of charge which means it is one of the popular free things to do in Stockholm and you shouldn’t miss out. Also, it is located in Gamla Stan which means you can easily incorporate the ceremony into your Stockholm itinerary.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony in Stockholm occurs daily between the end of April and the end of August, starting at 12.15 pm. On Sundays, it begins at 1.15 pm.
This impressive ceremony unfolds in front of the Royal Palace and typically lasts approximately 40 minutes. During the autumn and winter months, the schedule varies, and the Changing of the Guard is not a daily occurrence.
Visit the longest art exhibition at the T-Centralen subway station
While technically visiting T-Centralen subway station is not free, I believe you will need to take the metro at some point during your time in Stockholm. You can use that opportunity and make a stop at the longest art exhibition in the world.
T-Centralen isn’t just a place to catch a train; it’s an architectural masterpiece. Designed by architect Gunnar Lené, the station is a prime example of 20th-century modernist architecture. The walls are adorned with colorful murals, sculptures, and installations created by various artists.
One of the most famous sections of T-Centralen is the platform for the Blue Line, which is often referred to as the “Tunnelbana Gallery.” The platform is adorned with vibrant blue and white tiles and features a series of one-of-a-kind mosaics.
If you want to go on the metro tour and explore one of the cheap things to do in Stockholm, these are the most beautiful metro stations in Stockholm:
- Västra Skogen
- Solna Centrum
- and of course T-Centralen.
Enter the Stockholm Medieval Museum
The Stockholm Medieval Museum offers a fascinating journey into the city’s medieval past. It showcases artifacts and exhibits from Stockholm’s early history, providing a unique glimpse into life during the Middle Ages.
The museum houses a remarkable collection of artifacts, including everyday items, tools, and architectural remnants, giving visitors an insight into the lives of medieval Stockholm’s residents.
Inside the museum, you will find interactive exhibits and informative panels to engage visitors and provide insights into the medieval period. It’s an educational experience suitable for all ages.
The best part is that entrance to the Stockholm Medieval Museum is free of charge, making it one of the best free museums in Stockholm, especially for history lovers and budget travelers.
Find the iconic Gilded Crown on Skeppsholmsbron
As you approach Skeppsholmsbron, you’re greeted by an exquisite sight: the Gilded Crown adorning the bridge’s central arch. This golden emblem has become synonymous with Stockholm’s regal charm and the grandeur of the city’s maritime history.
The Gilded Crown is a must-visit spot for every tourist. Its golden brilliance against the backdrop of blue skies or reflected in the tranquil waters below creates a picture-perfect scene.
And it won’t cost you any money as it is one of the places to visit in Stockholm for free.
Relax at The Stockholm Public Library
The Stockholm Public Library isn’t just about books; it’s a cultural gem, an amazing building, and a quiet spot for book lovers. It’s a hidden gem in Stockholm and a perfect place to unwind.
Built by famous architect Gunnar Asplund in the 1920s, this library is a stunning example of modern design. The highlight of the library is the Rotunda – a breathtaking circular room with high ceilings.
Use the main entrance, head to the left side of the building, pass the cafe, and take the stairs up. That is the ground floor of the Rotunda, however, you can use the lift or the stairs to go up to the bookshelves.
And yes, it is one of the cool free things to do in Stockholm since there is no entrance fee. It is open to the public and you don’t even need a card to get it.
Climb up the best viewpoints of Stockholm – Mariaberget or Skinnarviksberget
What sets Stockholm apart is its incredible viewpoints. Mariaberget and Skinnarviksberget are the top choices and won’t cost you a dime to enjoy. This means these are the best places to see in Stockholm for free.
Mariaberget, known as Maria Hill in English, is one of the seven hills of Stockholm. Perched atop this hill, you can enjoy sweeping panoramas of the city and its archipelago. Be sure to bring your camera to capture this Insta-worthy place in Stockholm.
When it comes to breathtaking views and serene escapes in the heart of Stockholm, Skinnarviksberget is one of the hidden places in Stockholm.
The star attraction of Skinnarviksberget is its unparalleled views of Stockholm. From this privileged point, you can enjoy the city’s iconic landmarks, including Gamla Stan (the Old Town), Riddarholmen Church, and the glistening waters of Lake Mälaren.
The vistas from these viewpoints are very similar, so if you have a limited amount of time, pick your favorite one. Whether you’re drawn to Mariaberget or Skinnarviksberget, both places contribute to Stockholm’s hidden gems.
Head to the Östermalms Food Hall
Östermalms Food Hall stands as a hidden gem for food enthusiasts. What makes it even more appealing is that it’s one of the best free things to do in Stockholm.
This beautiful 1880s food hall is filled with several cafes and antique stalls selling local products, seafood, and gourmet goods. Östermalms Food Hall is also the best place to try some unique delicacies of Nordic cuisine, such as cured elk or smoked reindeer.
If you are passionate about photography, Östermalms Food Hall is a real eye candy, so make sure you bring your camera and capture the vibes of the place.
The market is open from 9.30 am to 7 pm on weekdays and from 9.30 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays. And the restaurants are open in the evenings.
See Svartensgatan and Katarina Kyrka
Svartensgata is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Stockholm. Surprisingly there is not a lot of information online, but this picturesque area is filled with colourful houses and cobblestone streets which give the place a sort of timeless charm.
The iconic Katarina Kyrka stands proud in the center of the neighborhood and it is surrounded by green spaces. The area is also home to Muralmålning Os Gêmeos, one of the most popular murals in Stockholm, and to several iconic cafes, beer gardens, and restaurants.
In the immediate surroundings, you can also find other important religious buildings such as the Sofia church, and the Stockholm Mosque.
All these places are free to visit and make a great afternoon itinerary for Stockholm. Take advantage of that and enjoy these free places to visit in Stockholm.
Discover Riksdagen (the Swedish parliament)
When in Stockholm, a visit to Riksdagen, the Swedish parliament, offers an insight into the country’s democratic system and political history. This iconic building is open to the public, allowing you to discover the heart of Swedish governance.
Start your visit at the Visitor Center, where you can pick up brochures, maps, and information about guided tours and exhibitions. The staff is helpful and can provide details about the day’s schedule and any special events or sessions taking place.
In order to visit the Swedish Parliament, you will need to join a guided tour. You can find all the necessary information about the tours here, however, the times vary depending on the season, so plan accordingly.
If you are a budget traveler, joining a free walking tour is one of the best ways to gain knowledge about your destination and Stockholm is no exception. These guided tours, often led by knowledgeable locals, provide a fantastic opportunity to explore the city’s hidden gems while learning about its rich heritage.
While these tours are advertised as “free,” it’s customary to offer a tip to your guide at the end. Guides rely on these tips as their primary source of income, so if you enjoyed the tour, consider giving a gratuity that reflects your appreciation.
I personally can recommend Nordic Freedom Tours as it is the top-rated tour on TripAdvisor, however, there are multiple options available. Regardless of your choice, this is one of the fun things to do in Stockholm for free.
Spend an afternoon at the Galleri Kontrast
Galleri Kontrast, nestled in the heart of Stockholm, is a hidden gem for photography enthusiasts and lovers of refined architecture. Owned by the Swedish Press Photographer’s Club, this exhibition space is dedicated to the world of documentary photography.
Whether you’re a student of photography, a photojournalist, or simply someone with an appreciation for visual storytelling, Galleri Kontrast offers a unique experience free of charge.
Housed in a former bank, Galleri Kontrast seamlessly blends history with contemporary art. As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by lofty glass ceilings that bathe the space in natural light.
This was my personal highlight of Stockholm and I cannot recommend it enough. So without a doubt, Gallery Contrast deserves to be on the list of the top things to do in Stockholm for free.
Seasonal free things to do in Stockholm
If you are looking for free things to do in Stockholm in the summer, head to Park Theater. From June through September, you can relish in opera, jazz, pop, folk music, and theatrical delights, all offered to you at no cost.
While Stockholm is not a famous fall destination, it offers some stunning foliage. Head to Djurgården to enjoy some colors and make the best of the shoulder season. This park is open to the public and there is no entrance fee which makes it one of the best free things to do in Stockholm in the fall.
Visiting Stockholm during the holiday season means Christmas markets. It is one of the best free things to do in Stockholm in winter and a unique experience that attracts travelers from all over the world.
The King’s Garden
If you want to see Stockholm bloom and you are visiting Stockholm during spring, head to The King’s Garden. This is going to be the highlight of your trip as it is one of the free things to do in Stockholm in spring.
More Stockholm budget tips
Enjoy free things to do in Stockholm
Take advantage of this travel guide and experience the best free things to do in Stockholm for fun and budget-friendly activities.
Travel during shoulder season
If your travel dates are flexible, consider visiting Stockholm during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall). Accommodation prices tend to drop, and you can enjoy the city’s attractions with fewer crowds. Airfare and other travel expenses might also be more budget-friendly during these times.
Purchase a daily pass for public transport
Plan at least one day to explore outside of Gamla Stan and use the most of your daily pass. Also, if your hotel is located outside the city center, you will certainly need to use public transport, so save on the pricey single tickets and get a daily pass.
Extra tip! If you are traveling with a stroller, you can use public buses for free.
Save on the commute from the airport to the city center
Instead of using Arlanda Express, check Flygbussarna and Flix Bus instead. While it takes a longer time with cheaper options, you can save a lot of money.
Eat like a local
Dining in Stockholm doesn’t have to be expensive. Venture away from the touristy areas and seek out local eateries where residents dine. These places often offer authentic Swedish cuisine at more reasonable prices.
Also, consider having your main meal at lunchtime when many restaurants offer affordable lunch menus. Or choose a hotel with breakfast and have an early dinner afterward.
Here are some of the most affordable restaurants in Stockholm: Kajsas Fisk, Mom’s Kitchen Nybrogatan, Strömmingsvagnen, and Vegan-Vegetarian Restaurant Hermitage.
See Stockholm from the channels
Stockholm is built on 14 islands, and exploring the city’s waterways can be both budget-friendly and scenic.
Instead of an expensive guided boat tour, opt for the SL ferries, which are a part of the public transportation system. These ferries offer picturesque views of the city and its islands at a fraction of the cost.
Find affordable hotels in Stockholm
Finding affordable hotels in Stockholm can be a challenging task, especially if you like your comfort. But I have done the research for you and these are the best hotels for budget travelers that won’t break your budget.
Further reading for the best free things to do in Stockholm
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This is the end of the free things to do in Stockholm and I hope you enjoyed these Stockholm budget tips. As you can see, Stockholm has a lot to offer for budget travelers and it doesn’t have to be an expensive destination if you plan in advance and follow these tips.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.