The Top 10 Free Things to do in Stockholm
Stockholm is (rightly) known as an expensive tourist destination. Hotels, transit, and tourist activities will be more expensive than in other places. But there are ways to stay on a budget and still see quite a bit of the city. A lot of bloggers will point you to the Stockholm Pass, which will cover most of the sites. The Pass itself can be fairly pricey (ranging from 719 - 1450 kr for adults, depending on the number of days you purchase for), so this may not be ideal for you. I didn’t get it myself and just bought tickets for the places that were high on my priority list. There’s also plenty to see and do that’s free or cheap. Take a look at my list below for 10 recommendations of free or cheap things to see and do in Stockholm.
1. Walking Tours
Stockholm has a fascinating, occasionally bloody history. There are dozens of walking tours you can take to learn more about the city, but did you know there are several options that charge nothing at all? The free walking tours range from 60-minutes to 2 hours, and cover Gamla Stan, downtown Stockholm, and sometimes even some of the surrounding neighborhoods. The cost is a generous tip to your tour guide at the end, and leaving them a good review online.
2. Swedish History Museum
The fascinating, and free, Swedish History Museum is located in Östermalm. It covers early prehistoric settlements in Sweden all the way up until the early 20th century. You can see fun and sometimes interactive exhibits on Viking gold and jewelry, religious art and sculpture, and an in-depth look at some of the battles between Sweden and Denmark. In the summer months the central courtyard hosts reenactors demonstrating Viking daily life and metalworking. The restaurant is pretty tasty as well!
3. Moderna Museet
The modern art museum is well-known for its massive collection of works (including Picasso and Dali) from 1840 to the present. You can visit it (for free) on the small island of Skeppsholmen. Admission to the main galleries is free. Special exhibits are 100kr, though free on Friday evenings. Outside the museum is a sculpture garden that’s worth a visit as well.
4. Stockholm Metro Art Tour
Many of Stockholm’s Metro stations have elaborate, individualized designs done by different artists. Some designs are in homage to Sweden in general, others designed specifically to reflect something of the history of the area that the station is in. They make for a great discovery tour, and fantastic Instagram photos. For one swipe of your metro pass, you can view some of these stations on your own (check out recommended tours online) or take a free tour offered by SJ.
Stockholm’s main public library, located in Vasastaden, was designed by architect Gunnar Asplund. Besides holding 1000s of books in over 100 languages, it’s main claim to fame is its eye-catching circular design. It’s a 360-degree view of books. A great detour, especially on a chilly day!
6. Fjällgatan Overlook
Stockholm’s skyline can be viewed from several buildings and overlooks around the city. One of the better ones is high up on the bluffs on the northern end of Sodermalm, along Fjällgatan. Several designated ‘lookout points’ are popular both with tourists and locals at sunset, as the sky turns orange and purple over the harbor. In warmer months you’ll see many locals bringing wine and food for a picnic. Or visit nearby Herman’s for a vegetarian buffet meal with a view.
Sweden’s National Museum is a mix of art (Rembrandts), design (mid-century furniture), and interesting exhibits (significance of everyday objects, etc). It’s very much in the style of London’s Victoria & Albert in its focus on the history of culture and household objects of Sweden. This free museum is located walking distance from both Skeppsholmen and Gamla Stan, and makes a great stop on a walking tour through Stockholm.
8. A walk through Djurgården
This island contains both museums as well as several parks, canals, and green spaces that are great respite break from the city. You can rent a bike for fairly cheap to explore the parks and waterfronts, or just make sure you’ve got comfy shoes and enjoy a few hours in what’s called ‘the green lungs’ of Stockholm.
9. The Royal Armoury
In the basement of the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan is this small free museum, showcasing the outfits and adornments of the royals. It was founded by King Gustav II Adolph, to preserve his royal clothing. Oh, to be the king… In addition to the outfits, carriages, and arms. you’re also able to try on some of the costumes, to live out your knight or lady dreams,
10. Fika Breaks
Swedes hold their afternoon coffee and pastry break (fika) in very high regard. And when it Sweden… you’ll just have to take part! You’ll need to decide which pastry you like best - cinnamon or cardamom rolls, chocolate balls, almond cake, or more. It’s a fantastic, much-needed way to get off your feet after a day of walking around Stockholm.
I hope you enjoyed this look at some of the many free options in Stockholm. For a look at more to do in Stockholm, check out my three day itinerary.