Saturday, 13 August 2016

Stockholm On A Budget: Day One

Knowing your bus and walking routes beforehand will be well worth the effort travelling around Stockholm.

I spent the first day pretty tired from the travel (just me after a long week at work) hence I chose to keep to the hotel premises. Laid out across the restaurant table, however, were my plans for the days ahead. With my travel pass at hand, I quickly discovered that knowing your bus routes, destination and where the actual stop is became essential. So here is the route I mapped out for my first day for your convenience.

After 20 minutes of aimlessly wandering around, and realising I had jumped on the wrong bus, I thanked the fact I had an unlimited travel card. Fourteen stops later, cutting right across the north of the city to Gamla Stan (the Old Town), I made it to the first destination - Stadshuset, or in English, Stockholm's City Hall.

You may think why the hell would I want to visit a city hall? After all, our own one isn't exactly a tourist attraction, but the views from the back of the building and the ornate architecture is well worth a look. First of all, the fact that it's free to enter is always a bonus. From May through September, you can climb the 103 steps up the tower for a pretty spectacular view - unfortunately due to my gimpy leg, I missed out on this extravaganza.

Instead, I walked further along, crossing a bridge into Gamla Stan, a medieval labyrinth of cobblestone streets and sapphire-hued buildings. The first landmark to galvanise the view is the
Riddarholm Church. Early enough and you'll miss all the crowds that usually surround this little beauty. I didn't enter as it opened at 10am, but it costs around 50SEK (£4.50).

Turning back on yourself, you can head up towards Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), apparently the world's largest palace still used for its original purpose. There were a few ominous-looking guards outside eyeing me up as I innocently photographed the amazing pylons, but Europe has been on high alert for a while, so unfortunately it's not my first time.
Next stop along the route was on the other side of the palace, which allowed you to capture Stockholm's gothic churches - Slottskyrkan, Finska kyrkan and Storkyrkan - all in one place. The unlevel paving by no means hinders you from getting around, especially as the entire area is housed in a walkable complex.

And behind all the lavish structures and edifices lies a sweet little idol - not hundreds of metre tall, just 15cm small - the Järnpojke or as it is known in English, "the little boy who looks at the moon", was created in 1954 by Swedish artist Liss Eriksson. Expect it to change on a daily basis, appearing with a hat and a scarf or a flower between his folded arms depending on the season.

So as you might have guessed, there's a lot of walking involved so prepare to stretch your legs! Meandering back through the alleyways, you'll end up at a European-looking square where the Nobel Prize Museum proudly stands. Without realising that I had ended up travelling to the city at a time when they celebrated Ascension day, I missed out on seeing this gem, but I heard it costs 100SEK (£9) to enter.

The next church down the road is the German church, founded in the 15th century - and at this point you'd probably be buildinged-out as I definitely was, so I headed straight past to Marten Trotzigs Grand, the city's narrowest alleyway.

As I am claustrophobic, just looking at it was enough but it was literally big enough for a small child. A fat American tourist unfortunately would quite likely get wedged tight down this roofless tunnel.

And after this mighty effort travelling around Gamla Stan, it's time to get some grub.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Stockholm: In Three Days On A Budget

The Essentials


As you may have realised, it's been a long while since I wrote on this blogsite, hence with age comes a few more luxuries. While I find it a bit more difficult to slum it these days, it's still very possible to find reasonably-priced accommodation coupled with a good night's sleep.

The best way of comparing prices are sites such as TravelSupermarket or Sky Scanner - just so you know what to expect and when to go without having a last minute heart attack. Sweden is one of those places where it's easy to burn a hole in your pocket - so travelling smart is key.

As I am now holidaying in-between work, I tend to fork out for my own room these days - so the one that I can recommend is the First Hotel Norrtull in Vasastan. It's a bit more upmarket and a standard stay for business folk, but expect free breakfast for the £90 room tag (for two nights). It's also about a 15 minute walk from the city centre, but has great transport links.

Using third party websites:

After using, I found that the difference between staying in a dorm and a hotel was around £50. It's a steep difference, even booked two months in advance, so you have a choice of staying in a hostel or a 'cheapish' hotel. Weekdays are the best especially as room prices shoot up on a Friday for the three day weekend.

When using - make sure you choose the options 7+ and above on the review score section on the left hand menu bar to find the best hostels - for two nights expect to pay around £50 for a reasonable dorm near the city centre. The one that seems to be popular with great reviews is City Backpackers Hostel.

Getting to and from Stockholm:

Flights can be as cheap as £28 - I find that going on Sky Scanner, selecting the "cheapest month" on the date section, and then choosing the dates according to the price can be a good way of finding a deal. RyanAir and EasyJet are miles ahead in terms of providing low cost flights from Stansted Airport.

Places to See: 

Vasamuseet (Vasa Museum), Skansen Park, Stockholm Archipelago boat ride, Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), Stadshuset, Fotografiska, Moderna Museet, Gamla Stan (Old Town), all of these areas are totally walkable.


Stockholm has an extensive transport network, so taking a bus or even a boat is relatively easy. From both Stockholm Skavsta and Arlanda airports, you can take a Flygbussarna bus that goes to and from the centre of town which is £25 return - well worth the money as it's more than an hour long trip.

At the Stockholm Central Station, there are plenty of local shops such as a Seven Eleven where you can buy 24 and 72 hour SL cards as well as a week long pass for SEK300 (£27.50). I'd suggest planning your routes on Google maps beforehand as to avoid panic on the bus. Everyone pretty much speaks English so it's a piece of cake.

I also decided to be a total tourist and jump on one of the red boats near Kungliga Slottet. Two companies Red Sightseeing (£15 for 24 hours) and Stromma (£16.50 for 24 hours) provide boats to travel to all the main hotspots saving a bunch of time as you attempt to make the most of the three days. My legs were definitely toned and my skin tanned by the end of the trip, so sit back, relax and enjoy the view.