Stockholm is, perhaps fairly, often seen as a city that is quite expensive. However, in the vast majority of cases it delivers very high quality. It has excellent restaurants, lots of fun attractions and some wonderful galleries that all provide good value for money. There are, however, several spots where this is not the case. There are some sights that you might want to avoid, despite their great reputations, because there are better and cheaper alternatives out there. Here are some of the potential tourist traps that you could consider replacing with alternative activities that offer better value.
Many boat tours in Stockholm are absolutely excellent. They provide brilliant value as well as knowledgeable guides and fun routes that take you out into some fascinating parts of the city and the surrounding archipelago. However, the public ferry system is Stockholm is extremely good, so rather than spending money on a tour, it makes sense to first check where the public ferries go. You might be able to avoid paying for a route that you could see for far less. It is a great way to save money, and most public ferries have outside space that you can sit or stand on when the sun is out.
The old part of the city, Gamla Stan, is full of many beautiful streets and lovely sights to see, including the Nobel Museum and Stortorget. It attracts a large number of tourists, as it is one of the city’s most charming islands. However, this does mean that there are some restaurants that take advantage of having such a large market, with high prices for food and drink. Make sure to avoid restaurants that don’t have prices on all the items on the menu, and look around online to ensure you don’t end up at one that’s overcharging.
Again on Gamla Stan, there are a number of charming shops, including antique shops, secondhand shops and charity shops, which sell lovely items that are often made locally. However, there are also shops that are full of mass-produced and poor-quality items, from food to handicrafts, that can be bought for far less from more authentic locations; for example, Stockholm’s Stadsmission on Gamla Stan has a number of great secondhand items. The gift shops are good to browse around, but don’t be surprised if you are sometimes stung when you look at the prices.
This is slightly controversial, as the Vasa is at the top of many lists about what to do in Stockholm. However, if you only have limited time, unless you have a deep interest in its maritime subject matter, there may be other more exciting and innovative museums that are more worthy of your time. Moderna, the modern art gallery, is superb; Fotografiska is a photography gallery that is so popular they are opening a second in London; and the Ethnographic Museum is criminally underrated and has many wonderful and unique items to browse, including an authentic Japanese tea house. The Vasa is great, but other options may well suit you better.
Stockholm’s theme park is a fun enough attraction but, as theme parks go, it is quite small, the range of rides is not outstanding and it is quite expensive for one-time entry. It rewards repeats visits with excellent deals if you plan on going multiple time during the summer, but if you are just in Stockholm for a short time there are other more unique places to spend your money. The Stockholm Game Museum, for example, is an excellent alternative, if you are looking for an interactive space to play and have fun in. If you are a serious theme park aficionado, it might be worth planning a trip to Liseberg in Gothenburg, which is more popular than Grona Lund, particularly because of its famous wooden rollercoaster.
Stockholm is home to the world’s largest hemispherical building, Globen, which hosts all manner of concerts and events. It is well worth visiting for an event, and even if there is nothing on, just to admire the architecture of the building. It is possible to go up the side of Globen in a small pod, giving great views over the city. It is a cool experience, but it is quite expensive and there can be long queues if you don’t book ahead. There are a number of amazing, natural and, most importantly, free viewing points across the city where you can get views that are just as good as at Globen. One of the best examples is Skinnarviksberget. You can even take a picnic up there to eat as you enjoy the view.
Not exactly an attraction but a tourist trap nonetheless, many people hop off the plane and straight onto the Arlanda Express to get into the city centre, rather than exploring their options. There are several buses that will take you to the city centre more cheaply and with much better views. The Arlanda Express is famed for its speed, but you miss seeing anything of interest. With the bus, you get to see the areas around the city and get a bit of a feel for how real Stockholmers live, outside the city centre. You can always take the bus one way and the express the other, but make sure to explore your options.