Stockholm, Sweden is known to be an expensive city, but many travelers don't know that there are numerous free things to do in Stockholm as well.
Consider a Swedish City Card, a travel discount card which offers travelers in Sweden cheap or free transportation in Swedish cities, along with many other discounts.
You can visit beautiful churches and museums, see the changing of the guard at the King's residence and even laze on the beach—all without spending a Krona. As you travel, you'll want to speak a little Swedish so these phrases will help you connect with the locals.
Here's take a look at this travel season's 10 best activities and sights in Stockholm that are ideal for a traveler on a budget. This free city map will get you started.
The guard of the Swedish royal family consists of 30,000 individual guards. Watching this free 40-minute event in front of the residence of the King of Sweden is a very popular attraction in Stockholm.
The Royal Guard ceremony is scheduled differently in the summer than in the winter. From April 23 to August 31, the ceremonial march through central Stockholm is accompanied by a full military band from the Swedish Armed Forces Music Center. On the King's birthday, April 30, the guards parade to the royal palace on horseback.
No matter what the season, the changing of the guard is a ceremony worth seeing.
AddressDjurgården, Östermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm's Djurgården, a nature park, is an island right in the middle of Stockholm, known for its beautiful green spaces and many sights. Two significant attractions do have entry fees. The park is known for the Vasa Museum, which houses the 17th-century warship that is a must-see. At the Skansen open-air museum, you can see Swedish craftspeople and a living history village.
However it costs nothing to walk on the island and savor the views. From any point in Stockholm, this free walking tour takes about 2 - 2.5 hours and will show you the best of Djurgården island.
Visit Stockholm's Beautiful Churches
AddressTrångsund 1, 111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
Enter the churches of Stockholm and enjoy the beautiful artwork inside. The following churches in Stockholm are worth visiting and, of course, offer free entry:
- The Royal Cathedral ("Storkyrkan") in Stockholm in Gamla Stan, was built in 1279.
- The Katarina Church at Högbergsgatan 15, is one of the major churches of central Stockholm.
- St. Maria Magdalena at St. Paulsgatan 10 on Sodermalm, is constructed in the Baroque style of architecture.
- Riddarholmen Church is close to the royal palace and serves as the final resting place of most Swedish monarchs.
- The Gustav Vasa Church along Karlbergsvägen is the biggest church in Stockholm and was named after 16th century King Gustav Vasa.
Visit the Museums
Even visiting a museum can be free in Stockholm. There's free admission at both the Moderna Museet (modern art and sculptures) and the Arkitekturmuseet (architecture and design). You'll find both of them next to the Nationalmuseum (which unfortunately isn't free) on the island of Skeppsholmen.
With the Swedish city cards, you get free public transportation and free admission to countless attractions in Stockholm. The card pays for itself immediately.
Långholmsbadet and Smedsuddsbadet are two swimming beaches right in Stockholm, so you don't even have to go anywhere. In the summer these are very popular beaches for sunbathers, especially on weekends. Go in the morning to get a good spot.
Go Ice Skating
Kungstradgarden is a popular destination for both summer and winter travelers, but in winter Stockholm offers a free activity here: ice skating. From mid-November until March, with live music and stands with hot drinks and foods. One of the most popular free things to do in Stockholm in winter. In summer, Kungstradgarden is an outdoor venue for free events.
Enjoy Free Annual Events
There are some events that happen every year so there's probably something going on any time you visit. The best part about the following events is that they're completely free:
Peruse Modern Art
Moderna Museet (modern art museum) has a world-class collection of 20th and 21st-century art and photography. They offer free entry on Fridays after 6 p.m. The museum is located on the central island of Skeppsholmen.
You can see works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Henri Matisse among many others. There is an on-site cafe.
Stroll the Södermalm District
Södermalm (often shortened to Söder) is a trendy neighborhood with vintage clothing boutiques, art galleries, bistros, and bars. It covers the island of Södermalm and some neighboring districts.
There are also parks to stroll where you can relax and take in the views. The City Museum of Stockholm (re-opening in 2019) is also there.
Wander through Medieval Old Town
Stockholm's Old Town (Gamla Stan) is fun to explore on foot. It's the largest and best preserved medieval city center in Europe and is the site where Stockholm was established in 1252. The main streets like Västerlånggatan and Stora Nygatan are good to explore but don't miss walking the cobblestone streets of Mårten Trotzigs Gränd which is the narrowest alley in Stockholm. It's a great place to go shopping for souvenirs and handicrafts.