Gap Year

48 hours on a budget in Stockholm

April 29, 2024
Eleanor Ground

After completing a yearlong exchange in Stockholm, Sweden, I have well and truly fallen in love with this beautiful Baltic city. Consisting of 14 islands, within easy access to the stunning archipelago, Stockholm is an often-overlooked treasure. Though the Baltic region has a reputation for being on the pricier side, there are definitely options for student-friendly travel with a little bit of insider information! So, if you want endless daylight, a bustling capital city, and countless islands for exploring, then Stockholm is a must-have for the bucket list!

Before travelling abroad, it is always worth quick research regarding entry requirements and local laws and customs to save yourself a lot of hassle. All of this and more can be found on the Travel Aware website. Here is my ideal 48-hour itinerary on a budget in Stockholm.

Day 1

I would recommend spending your first morning fuelling up at one of Stockholm’s many glorious brunch spots. Some of my personal favourites can be found in Odenplan, a lively student neighbourhood located in the north of the city. From here, you are just a short walk away from Sveavӓgen (the main shopping street) and the bustling new centre of the city, with must-see sights such as Hӧtorget (the market square), the Kulturhuset and Kungstrӓgȧrden nearby. Kungstrӓgȧrden directly translates to the King's Gardens and is well worth the royal stamp of approval. Lined with bright pink cherry blossom trees and some lovely (but rather expensive) cafes, this park is a hub of activity. It houses the ice rink in the winter, while a stage is erected in summer to host live bands and concerts.
Photo by Eleanor Ground

If you’re in Stockholm for longer than a day, I would suggest purchasing an SL travel ticket. This ticket not only works on buses, metros and trams, but also on the ferries that connect the city and the archipelago. You can find more information about  Stockholm travel guide here

An afternoon ferry trip to Vaxholm offers you a taste of Swedish summer life spent by the water. In Vaxholm, you will find the quintessential Swedish architecture with red and white cottages and cobbled streets. There is an abundance of cafes perfect for an afternoon Fika (a break for coffee, cake and catching up with friends- the core of Swedish socialisation), plus some secluded swimming spots.

Summer evenings in Stockholm are best spent at one of the outdoor clubs, a hidden gem not often listed in guidebooks. The underground music scene takes on festival-style proportions in summer, with clubs found under motorway bridges, in forests and even on some of the islands! They are as hipster as it sound, with food trucks, live music and dance stages decorated with smoke machines, disco balls and laser lights. I would recommend going for the early start to avoid the queues and get the cheaper tickets, then feel free to dance the night away! About Stockholm nightlife, it is an unfamiliar environment, so it’s more important than ever to stick with your mates
Photo by Eleanor Ground

Day 2

If you’re visiting Stockholm on the weekend, then the Hornstull market is a must! It opens from 11 am to 5 pm and is just a short walk from the Hornstull metro stop. It’s the perfect place for some stall browsing and has a great variety of food and drinks trucks. (Make sure to bring a bit of cash if you intend on purchasing anything. Remember the currency is Swedish Kroner, not the Euro!)

If the weather is good, then the next stop should be the park at Longholmen. I often wiled away an afternoon reading on the grass or having a quick dip at the beach. If your budget allows, there are also a few kayak rental stalls nearby that offer a unique way to explore the city.

Unfortunately, Stockholm is not always blessed with sunshine and clear skies. If this is the case, then an indoor alternative for the morning could be to explore one of the Stockholm’s free museums. My personal favourites are the Moderna Museet and the City Museet.
Photo by Eleanor Ground

Though it may be tempting to head straight to Gamla Stan (the old town) and view the iconic central square, and cobbled streets, I can assure you that every other tourist has the same idea! Early mornings and evenings are the ideal time to explore without the crowds and pickpockets. To prevent theft, keep your belongings across your front and remember to not have your valuables all in one place. (For more safety advice and tips on accessing travel insurance, check out this helpful guide here!)

The central square houses the iconic 13th-century coloured houses and the Nobel prize museum. It is the perfect photo opportunity, and during winter, it is packed full of Christmas markets. An evening in Gamla Stan ideally includes taking advantage of the free entry at many of the lively music venues. From jazz to opera, Gamla stan houses it all, so it’s well worth a quick Google pre-travel to find something to your liking!
Photo by Eleanor Ground

For dinner, I would recommend crossing the bridge over to Sӧdermalm to escape the ridiculous prices in the old center. The southern island offers more variety in cuisine and prices, while still offering stunning views out across the city. The perfect way to end your trip is a with a walk up the hill to Skinnarviksberget, the rocky park at the height of Sӧdermalm where locals go to picnic, drink and soak in the sunset!

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Written by

Eleanor Ground
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