Practical info about a city I never thought to visit, much less write a blog post about
So couple of months ago, a friend of mine based in the US messaged that she would be coming to Stockholm for some days and asked if I wanted to join her to meet up.
It was perfect timing as I’ve been looking for where to go for a fall trip. While Sweden wasn’t really on my list (and I mean it wasn’t even on my top 20 list), I was like what the heck, I’ve never been to Sweden and I’ve only ever been to Scandinavia once (Copenhagen – 3 years ago)!
To be frank, Stockholm has never been on my radar for city trips. No one thinks of going to somewhere even colder when the temperature starts dropping, and summers are for trips to the beach! Anyway so thanks to my friend, I was all like Stockholm here we come!
Flying to Stockholm from Brussels
Ok so we weren’t all let’s go Stockholm all at once. The biggest factor was the price for the flight from Brussels to Stockholm.
Like I said, I’ve never actually researched how to get to Stockholm so I was quite surprised to find super cheap flights with Ryanair flying from Charleroi (1 hour south of Brussels) to Skavsta / NYO (1 hour and 20 mins from Stockholm).
As is the case with flying low cost airlines, you always have to calculate the total cost of the flight PLUS getting yourself to the airport and getting from the airport to the city center. Sometimes the cheap flight does not make up for the difficulty/expenses to actually get to and from the airport.
Anyway in this case it was worth it!
We could snag a return flight for only 36 euros per person with Ryan air from Charleroi to Skavsta.
Note though that this Ryan air flight is also not available daily. I believe it’s only available for Friday to Monday flights. Best to check Google Flights to know your options.
Getting to Charleroi from anywhere in belgium
Getting to Charleroi is a bit of a b*tch so to speak.
Flibco is the easiest but it can get pretty pricey. It’s also a bit difficult if you do not come from the major cities it has terminals in (Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, etc)
Local transport of train + bus is also not so cheap and a bit more hard schedule wise. See more information about this option here
Your best bet if you don’t come from a major city and have a car, is to find cheap parking around. There are a lot of cheap parkings that are around 25 euros for 4 days. Just google and you get really a lot of results. All of them have navettes that bring you to the airport and pick you up when you arrive.
More info on how to get to Charleroi here
Arriving in Stockholm airport
So because it’s a Ryan Air flight, the cheap flight meant also cheap airport. We landed in one of the farthest airports (Skavsta). It takes 80 minutes by shuttle to the center (almost as long as the flight)
There are several airports in Stockholm though:
- Arlanda – main airport and most of the big airlines fly to Arlanda. It’s around 45 minutes from the city.
- Bromma – the closest airport to the city center. Brussels Airlines seems to be the only airline flying to Bromma from Brussels.
- Skavsta – low cost airport to where Ryanair flies to/from Brussels. It’s farther and takes around 80 minutes to the center
- Vasteras – another small airport which is also far
After reading a bit about the options, I came to the conclusion that the easiest and fastest way to get from ANY of the airports is by using the bus shuttle company Flygbussarna.
It’s really convenient as the timing of the bus goes with the flights. You can buy tickets online to avoid having to line up when you arrive. The tickets are valid for a year so you don’t buy tickets for specific bus timings, which is great. The buses are also clean and comfortable and generally ok for the journey. Note that it is first come first served but unlike our experience in Milan, everything was quite organized. They seem to have anticipated as well when there will be a crowd of people so the buses came one after another when there was a long line.
More information about the airports and how to get to/from there to Stockholm center can be found in the official visit Sweden site here.
Where to stay
I was hesitating a bit between booking a nice Airbnb that’s a bit further from the center versus booking a less nice hotel but within walking distance of everything. In the end I chose the walking distance hotel, with the thought that we could avoid riding public transportation… but in the end we didn’t.
We stayed at Hotel Micro, which is somewhere between a cross of a hotel and a hostel. The rooms are private but the toilet and shower is not. This style seems to be quite popular in Stockholm (as well as windowless rooms). More details on my review in trip advisor.
The place is walkable from the main bus station (15 min walk) and near the Sergels Torg (15 min walk) and is nearby a lot of shops and restaurants. There’s also a metro stop 10 minutes away so it’s quite ok in terms of accessibility.
The hotel was quite popular it seems for partying locals as there were quite a number of Swedish people staying there to seemingly party all night.
Anyway, would I advise it? Yes if you don’t plan to not stay much in your hotel anyway. The only thing I would advise is to bring some slippers! That was my biggest mistake.
If you have more time, I would suggest to explore staying out of the center and making use of the unlimited metro tickets to get to and from your hotel.
Getting around Stockholm
No 2 ways around it, the transport in Stockholm is expensive. At the cheapest, one ride could cost you around 3 euros. If you’re planning to go around Stockholm, BUY THE TRAVEL CARD. You can get one in the Pressbyran shop which is normally found in every metro station. You need to buy the access card first though and this costs around 20 SEK. If you ride at least 4 times within a 24 hour time span, it’s already more than worth it.
We bought the 24 hour one thinking we would only use the metro for this time if we planned well. In the end we had to buy 2 additional metro tickets (at 4 plus euros each!) because we failed to make a good tour. Rookie mistake.
If you’re a fan of electric scooters, Stockholm, like Brussels, has at least 5 companies with these stationless e-scooters.
Everywhere you look you can find a scooter by the sidewalk. If you’re daring enough to try it out, I know for sure Lime and Circ operate in Stockholm.
Paying in Stockholm
I was super amazed that in the 4 days I was in Stockholm, I never needed to shell out a single Krona. Ok that’s not entirely true.
Stockholm is a bit on the expensive side but the best thing about it is the ability to pay for EVERYTHING with your card. We joined a free walking tour and even the guide accepted tips by card.
It just makes things simpler as there is no need to figure out how much you’re gonna spend and exchanging this money and then exchanging it back if you don’t need it or trying to spend everything etc etc.
So Scandinavia has a reputation for being expensive and it is.
Transport is really the most expensive one, as I mentioned. It’s almost 2 times the amount you pay for metro in Brussels.
Food and coffee are also slightly more expensive. Most of the places we ate at we spent around 15 euros per meal. Coffee was also around like 3 euros for a cappuccino (did not see a Starbucks but there are a lot of other chain coffee houses). It’s almost comparable as in Belgium if you ate only in mid level bistros.
That said, the one thing I found was cheaper, was fast food. I would never be able to get a 9 piece nugget meal in Mc Donald’s for around 7.5 euros here. So if you love fast food, don’t care much about eating well, you can definitely just go for fastfood all the time.
So that’s all the practical info I have about Stockholm!
Next up a more fun post that will explore the things we did and why I would absolutely recommend Stockholm in early fall.