Sweden – and Stockholm in particular – has a reputation for being a tad pricey, and while that isn’t completely untrue there are plenty of cheap and free ways to enjoy the city, especially if you’re both on a date and on a budget.
Explore a museum for free
At one time in the not too distant past almost all of Stockholm’s museums had free entry. Things have changed and while most entry fees are still reasonable, nearly all of them have special hours where you can visit for free. Moderna Museet offers free entry on Fridays between 6-8pm, while the Nobel Museum is free between 5-8pm on Tuesday. Nordiska, which gives you a good overview of Swedish and Nordic history, is free after 5pm on Wednesday during the autumn and winter, while Tekniska Museet, which is all about science and technology, is also free on Wednesdays.
For the price of a beer (around 70 kronor) you can enjoy some free jazz and blues at a number of places around the city. On Tuesday nights head to Lilla Hotellbaren at Scandic Malmen on Södermalm, while on Saturday afternoons you can go to Stampen for the jazz jam or visit Engelen for the city’s longest running blues jam, Brian Kramer’s International Blues Jam, which was held at Stampen for almost 20 years before moving base. It’s romantic, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to share a love of music.
Get back to nature
Just 15 minutes from Stockholm’s Slussen bus and subway station, Hellasgården feels like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s the perfect place for a long, romantic stroll, with plenty of secluded spots if you want to get a bit closer. The huge lake is perfect for water sports, and if you’re feeling really frisky try the mixed sex sauna sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; if you use it in winter join the Swedes in jumping into the icy waters of the lake.
Dance on ice
The ice skating rink that opens up every winter at Kungsträdgården is free if you have your own skates and if not you can rent them for around 60 kronor. The rink is well-maintained, lit up by sparkly lights during the long dark winter afternoons and nights, and on select Saturday nights it turns into an icy disco. It’s the perfect way to – get ready – break the ice.
Paint a portrait
For the bargain price of just 30 kronor you can make an artistic masterpiece at Kulturhuset’s Rum För Barn. Kids of all ages are welcome to paint and the cost is to cover your materials. What better way to show your love than to paint a portrait of your beloved?
Stockholm is a city that is close to nature and that means that even urban dwellers plunge into the forests each summer to pick berries. Wild blueberries in particular are abundant and can be found in just about any patch of woods, no matter how tiny. One of the best places with easy access is Lidingö; the island is criss-crossed with woods and just a short tube ride from central Stockholm. While you’re there look out for lingonberries, wild strawberries and mushrooms – although make sure you know what you’re picking before popping it in your mouth.
Take a free walking tour
There are few better ways to see a city than by putting one foot in front of another. Free Tour Stockholm offers six different thematic walking tours in both English and Spanish, as well as private tours for competitive rates. The guides have enormous knowledge about living in Stockholm and the history of the city, and it’s a great way to get a fast tutorial before you head out on your own.
Take in a concert
A number of Stockholm’s churches hold free concerts and organ recitals, both at lunch and in the evenings. Adolfs Fredriks kyrka on Normalm has free recitals every Tuesday at lunch, while S:t Görans kyrka offers not just a noon service on Wednesdays but also free shoulder and back massages. Kungsholmen kyrka often holds recitals on Sunday afternoons, as well as other times and is one of the most overlooked churches in the city, so this one is highly recommended.
The Stockholm City Bikes scheme is cheap and convenient. You can rent bikes at points all over the city and return it to any other designated point you’d like. You can rent by the hour, the day, for three days or even for the whole season. Prices are kept low in order to encourage use, and this is a fantastic way to explore the city, which has comprehensive dedicated bike routes.
Watch a free film
Every summer, for just a few nights each year, free films are screened in the wide open spaces of Rålambhovsparken, on Kungsholmen. The films are put on by the Stockholm Film Festival and are suitable for ages 15 and up (although don’t be surprised to see young kids there). If it rains, bring an umbrella because Swedes don’t really believe in bad weather. Popcorn and other basic necessities are available on site, although this is one of the few places that won’t take cards, so either bring cash or bring your own – and don’t leave a mess behind.
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