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 with phrases will help you connect with the locals.
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.
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 to 2.5 hours and will show you the best of Djurgården island.
Visit Stockholm's Beautiful Churches
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 National Museum (which unfortunately isn't free) on the island of Skeppsholmen.
With the Swedish city card, you get free public transportation and free admission to countless attractions in Stockholm. The card pays for itself immediately.The Stockholm Card (Stockholmskortet in Swedish) includes free admission to over 75 museums and attractions, free boat tours, and discounts at hotels and restaurants. There are city cards for other Swedish cities such as Goteborg and Malmo.
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.
Kungstradgarden (known as Kungsan) is a popular destination for both summer and winter travelers. In winter, Stockholm offers a popular free activity—ice skating. From mid-November until March, with live music and warming refreshments, you can take your turn on the ice. In summer, Kungstradgarden is an outdoor venue offering free events such as concerts.
Enjoy Free Annual Events
There are festivals and events happening year around. The best part about the many of these fun 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. After enjoying the art, you can relax at the museum cafe.
Stroll the Södermalm District
Södermalm (often shortened to Söder) is a trendy neighborhood, located both on the island of Södermalm and the surrounding areas. It's a hip place with vintage clothing boutiques, art galleries, bistros, and bars. 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.