How To Travel On A Budget In Sweden

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 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.

Swedish Food

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

Getting Around

Local Transport

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 – do you have any tips you would like to add?

(photo credit: 1 – 2)

20 Responses to How To Travel On A Budget In Sweden

  1. Adam Pervez December 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Great tips. I lived in a few cities in Denmark before becoming a nomad and yes, it’s crazy expensive. These tips will help people unlock the beauty and amazingness of Scandinavia though. Another tip is to look into ferries. Sometimes they can be cheaper than flying, though Norwegian offers good fares within Scandinavia when tickets are purchased in advance.

    • Sofia January 2, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      Hi Adam,

      Great tip about the ferries. Stena Line does a great route between Gothenburg and Fredrikshavn which is close to beautiful Skagen. I imagine that ferries are a great alternative when traveling through Denmark.

  2. Just One Boomer (Suzanne) December 30, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    We visited Copenhagen and Helsinki this year. I wish I had read a guide as helpful as this for those cities before we went. We definitely had some major sticker shock in Copenhagen.

    • Sofia January 2, 2013 at 8:29 am #

      Hi Suzanne,

      Yeah Copenhagen can be very expensive, I always find the prices higher there than in Sweden. Hope you visit again soon and can travel a bit cheaper next time :)

  3. Miruna December 31, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Great post! Thanks for sharing these useful tips with us!

    • Sofia January 2, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      You’re welcome Miruna, glad you found it helpful. :)

  4. Steve December 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    I’m sure there are a lot of people who could benefit from this advice. Nice to read some information about this often overlooked destination.

  5. Connor Harley January 1, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    Hi Sofia, I think Sweden is a wonderful place. And it just got even better with your post. The food looks amazing. I guess it’s time to plan a trip to Sweden with this guide.

    • Sofia January 2, 2013 at 8:41 am #

      Thanks Connor, the food is especially great for those who like meat and people with a sweet tooth :)

  6. Belle January 2, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    Fabulous tips there! If I get to Sweden I am so checking these out!

    • Sofia January 2, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      Hey Belle, great to hear you found the post useful :-)

  7. Sofie January 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Great tips.
    i’m bookmarking these for later:-)

  8. Ayelet - All Colores January 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Great info on the public transportation and supermarkets. Can you use public transportation to start nature hikes or would you need a car for that?

    • Sofia January 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Hi Ayelet, glad you like the article. Whether there is public transport to nature hikes or not depends a from place to place, but generally speaking nature is very easily reached in Sweden and there are often buses you can take to get there, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

      In Gothenburg and Stockholm, for example, it’s very easy to get to the countryside and take walks.

      Popular walking places like Österlen and Bohuslän are also good with transport.

  9. Nathan January 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Hey Sofia. My twin brother and I are 14 years old and really want to travel the world in the future. We know almost everything there is to know about the world. We found your Europe challenge videos last night, and were amazed. I was so shocked that you could get so much done in such little time. I think when we go to Europe, we will spend more time in larger cities. The region that is probably our favorite and that we study the most is Scandinavia. We find Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland truly spectacular. I was just wondering, how expensive is it in Norway? How deep have you traveled in Scandinavia? What was your impression? Thanks!

    • Sofia January 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Hi Nathan,

      I’m so happy to hear you liked our videos from the Europe train challenge, and it’s great to hear you’re interested in traveling to Europe.

      Scandinavia is amazing, and since I’m Swedish I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time there.

      In my experience, Norway is the most expensive country, followed by Denmark and Finland, Sweden is slightly cheaper. Oslo also tends to be more expensive than smaller towns in Norway (a hamburger with fries costs around 9 Euro).

      The cities in Scandinavia are wonderful, and I would highly recommend you check out some of the countryside as well – that’s what Scandinavia (especially Iceland) is most famous for!

      • Nathan January 25, 2013 at 6:27 am #

        Thanks for the information! I’ll definitely use it when i travel. (Which will be in only a few years) I wanted to know, is traveling in Europe more expensive or cheaper than traveling here in America? (If you’ve been to America) Also, my family and I have been looking into an exchange program to Barcelona for around 3-4 weeks this summer. I saw in one of your videos that you enjoyed it, although it was quite hot. :) Do you recommend going as a 14 year old? What is the vibe like in the city? Finally, how do Europeans feel about Americans travelling to their countries? Are they unwanted in some places. Writing this, I’m thinking back to your Belgrade vid, and i remember how the women at the fortress you went to. I also recall they said, “Why you bomb us, English?

        • Sofia January 28, 2013 at 11:24 am #

          Hi Nathan, glad I could help.

          I haven’t traveled much in America, but I believe that it depends on where you go. In general, eastern Europe is cheaper than western Europe, but there are some cities and countries in western Europe that are surprisingly cheap (Berlin for example). The Baltics is also cheap.

          Barcelona is fun, and although it can get hot in summer there are some really nice beaches in the smaller towns nearby (there are beaches in the city too but they’re not as good).

          I think Barcelona has something for people of all ages, and doing an exchange program sounds like an experience of a lifetime so I’d definitely recommend it. :)

          Americans are welcome in Europe, and the incident in Belgrade was very rare. While most Europeans might not agree with the politics in the US, they have nothing against the people and treat them the same as everyone else.

          So, traveling in Europe as an American is no different. :)

  10. Mohit January 25, 2013 at 3:02 am #

    Hi Sofia,
    Thanks for so much info.. I am planning to move to Sweden soon. And was wondering how will I be able to save some money while travelling and living there .
    Is there any way or website or twitter handle ..one can connect with expats or such info like u shared which may be handy and act as a guide during my stay there..
    Thanks
    Mohit

    • Sofia January 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Mohit,

      Great to hear you’ll be moving to Sweden!

      There is a lot of good information about moving to Sweden and things you need to know on this website: http://www.sweden.se/eng/Home/Work/Move-to-Sweden/.

      For an expat forum for people living in Sweden check out .

      Hope these tips helped :)