Scandinavia is a region of Europe that tends to be ignored on people’s travel itineraries when they go to Europe – the main reason for this is that they fear it’s too expensive.
As a result, much of Scandinavia’s beautiful landscapes and picturesque villages are largely unexplored by travelers, who in my opinion are missing out on something really special.
The truth is that Scandinavia can dig a deep hole in your pocket – but if you know how and where to spend your money you can get away cheaper than you think. As a local, I’ll show you how to decrease your food and transport costs in Sweden and survive on a backpacker budget …
How To Travel On A Budget In Sweden
How To Eat On Budget
Depending on where you go prices can vary quite a bit – if you’re in Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmö the restaurants in the main area tend to be a lot more expensive than those further from the city center.
If you want to sample the Swedish culture and taste typical Swedish food, one of the cheapest and best places to go for this are the “gatukök” (street kitchens), basically small street side hot dog huts.
There you will find cheap fast food like Swedish meatballs with mash potatoes, or the favorite “halv special” sausage dish which was invented in Gothenburg in the 1930’s.
Pizza with a twist
Although nothing can compare with Italian pizza, the Swedish pizzas have some very unique toppings that are a must try … prices vary between 6 to 15 USD.
Lunch is Key
Swedes love going out for coffee (fika) and lunch, and during lunch hours you will find some great deals – by making lunch the main meal of the day and instead have something small for dinner you will end up saving a lot of money.
The Right Supermarkets:
Supermarkets are always cheaper than eating out, however, some are cheaper than others, and the price difference will surprise you.
Look for: Lidl, Willys and Netto supermarkets
Avoid: Hemköp, Coop and Ica
When it comes to transport in cities, you can easily walk around on foot – if you want to spend a few days, you can buy day passes for trams and subway.
Biking in Sweden is generally really easy and a great way of getting around, so hiring a bike or taking one of the city bikes that are placed around Gothenburg and Stockholm is definitely worth it.
Long Distance Travel
For long distance travel, there are two main ways of getting around Sweden if you don’t have a car: Train and bus – at first glance their prices look outrageous, but if you just plan ahead you can get away really cheap.
How to get the cheapest Train tickets:
- Book 90 days before departure – that’s when the tickets are the cheapest. Unless there is a special campaign going on, the closer to departure date you get the more expensive it becomes.
- Avoid traveling during rush hour, especially on Sundays and Fridays
- Look for tickets on Tradera (like e-bay) or for last minute deals on SJ’s (the train company) website.
GoByBus is one of the best budget bus companies in Sweden (which runs routes between Denmark, Sweden and Norway). Last minute tickets booked the same day are always the most expensive ones.
How to get the cheapest Bus tickets:
- Travel in the middle of the week
- Book tickets in advance on their website
- Buy a day trip ticket
Finally, a last tip for those truly dedicated to saving on accommodation: bring a tent and camp in nature – it’s free. These are just a few of many ways to cut your costs when traveling in Sweden.
Sweden and Finland – The Europe Train Challenge Is Done!
Europe Train Challenge – 30 Countries In 11 Weeks: This week we can proudly say – WE MADE IT!! Not only did we make it in time, we actually finished earlier than the 3-month mark – 75 days through 30 countries in Europe.
Countries This Week: Sweden, Finland
What a journey it has been – we’ve had many questions throughout the challenge, all from how we planned the trip to if we were having fun traveling at such a high pace. It has been an experience of a lifetime, and we will make sure to share everything we have learned and our experiences from the past 2.5 months on here soon.
Helsinki was a random place to end the challenge. Being in the far northeast corner of Europe, neighboring with Russia, we sort of ended up in the place of nowhere, with no place to go … But first things first: Sweden.
Stockholm was as beautiful as always: the old town with its charming streets, and the islands with its fresh, nature-bound vibe. This capital city is unlike any other capital I’ve seen. Usually capitals are stressful, busy and polluted. In Stockholm that vibe is strictly limited to a few streets, and you can easily escape this and completely forget that you’re even in a city. Wherever you go you’re never far from the water, and often completely surrounded by it. Where else can you not only swim, but actually go fishing in the middle of the city? In Stockholm it’s a common sight to see people getting off the subway with fishing rods in their hands, on their way to the parliament – to go fishing…Looking over the amazing views over the city from Herman’s cafe in Södermalm, I felt rather proud over my country, with the beautiful nature and lovely people. The next stop was our final destination on the Europe Train Challenge journey.
It was a strange feeling taking the ferry over to Finland.
For so long this challenge had been our certainty, and we were getting so used to it that the thought of not having it was more uncertain than anything else. We thought we would be completely exhausted, celebrate that we made it through and stay put for a while. But when we finally arrived in Helsinki, we felt two sided about everything. We had no idea of what to do next, so we did what we were most used to doing: we just carried on traveling. Helsinki was much better than I had expected. Now I feel like I have a better idea of what this country, which for me has been a bit of a blurry spot on the map, is really about. We had a great time and met some people who made a big impression on us, and Suomelinna island was beautiful!
The Europe Train Challenge is over, we have succeeded in visiting every single country on the InterRail passes – but that doesn’t mean that we’ve seen every country in Europe – 50 countries aren’t there?