Hopping from one island to another using public transportation in Stockholm requires a fairly intricate public transportation network. Luckily, the Swedes have greatly simplified the system and accommodate all types of visitors the city receives year-round.
The Swedish language can make the system difficult to interpret at times, but staff are very helpful (if asked) and have an impressive command of English.
Though much of the city is contained within reasonable walking distance, seeing many attractions will usually require a short ride on the metro. There are also a few lesser-known ways of getting around the city, which can save some kronor and reveal parts of the city which might otherwise go unseen.
Taking the Metro & Bus
From the heart of the city to deep into the suburbs, the public transportation network, Stockholms Lokaltrafik (SL), is the most common way to get around. This consists of the metro, bus, commuter train networks, and even several ferries. Their website, sl.se, can be an invaluable resource in getting around via the journey planner (English-translated version), which will guide you as to which bus or train to take and when. The journey planner is also custom designed for smartphones via mobil.sl.se.
Three main metro lines (red, blue and green) serve the entire region around Stockholm, all running north to south.
These lines all travel through Stockholm’s central station “T-Centralen” and transfer to one another at different points marked on the system map, visible within each metro car.
Buses are more necessary on the city perimeter and into the suburbs. Though those up late on a weeknight might require the use of a night bus, as the metro stations will be closed from roughly 1:00-5:30 am Sun-Thur.
All trains and buses are made accessible for strollers and the handicapped through a large number of ramps and elevators. Audio announcements are also available at subway stations for the hearing impaired.
Getting Tickets for Public Transportation
Often the easiest and best value option for visitors is the SL Access card, which allows unlimited rides in the entire Stockholm region, to and from the airport and even ferry rides to the large park Djurgården. These can be purchased at various SL Centers, which are located throughout the city, at the central station and even at Sky City at Arlanda Airport. Ticket prices range from 115 SEK for 24 hours to 790 SEK for 30 days, and various durations are available.
The SL card itself also costs 20 SEK (but can be reused in the future). These tickets are also all available for roughly 40% off for those under 20 or over 65. Children under 7 travel for free with an adult, while up to 6 children from ages 7-11 can travel for free during weekends when accompanied by someone older than 18.
For those just passing through Stockholm or planning on the limited use of the metro, single tickets can be bought for 36 SEK (within one zone – longer trips will cost slightly more) which allow free rides for 1 hour.
These can also be purchased at Presbyrån stores for a reduced price. Also, a roll of 9 tickets can be bought for 200 SEK, an equivalent cost of 22 SEK per trip. Under-20 and over-65 discounts also apply. Note that tickets are not for sale on the bus!
Arriving in Stockholm?
Train services to Stockholm will arrive at the central station T-Centralen, allowing immediate access to the SL system. If arriving from Arlanda Airport, there are a number of trains and buses to choose from via the Arlanda website. If you are planning to use the SL card later in Stockholm, the card can be purchased at Sky City, allowing a ride to Stockholm at no extra cost via bus 583 to Märsta, then taking the commuter train to Stockholm. This takes roughly an hour to the central station. The same ride can be done towards the airport.
Last and certainly not least, Stockholm is incredibly bike-friendly and can be a spectacular way to see the city in the warmer months. Citybikes has a rental system set up from Apr-Oct, where bikes can be used for several hours a day and exchanged at one of the 90+ stations around the city. A 3-day card is only 165 SEK while a 250 SEK card is good for the entire season. The many bike lanes around the city allow for safe, fairly casual rides away from congested traffic.