Sweden 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 Sweden’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 Sweden 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.
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 ebay) 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.