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STOCKHOLM

10 hacks that make life in Stockholm much easier

Stockholm can be a difficult city to crack, due to long dark winters, high prices, and cultural codes that take a while to adjust to. But these tips will help make things run more smoothly.

Make the most of Stockholm throughout the year with our hacks.
Make the most of Stockholm throughout the year with our hacks. Photo: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se

Venture outside the centre

Stockholm is a compact city, and outside the centre you will find that restaurants, cafes and other amenities are often few and far between. But there are exceptions and it’s well worth getting to know some of the livelier suburbs, each with their own character. Try Hökarängen’s pedestrianised high street, sample the pubs and cafes of Hammarbyhöjden and Kärrtorp, experience Fruängen’s laid back vibe, and wander around the villas of Lidingö for starters. All of these spots are close to sprawling forest walks and water as well.

To the north of the centre, there’s Eggeby Gård at Järva, while Tensta Konsthall is a great arts centre. It’s also worth checking out Stockholm’s House of Culture’s local branches outside the city centre (more about this further down).

You can head out for a day trip or to sample new food (some of Stockholm’s best foodie spots are utanför tullarna, such as the Scarfo gelateria in Bromma, Erssons in Fruängen for fish lovers, and upmarket restaurant with a view Göteborg in Hammarby Sjöstad), or you might decide to base yourself in the suburbs permanently for the combination of community feel, proximity to nature and cheaper rents or house prices.

Join the library

With a library card, you get access to books from all of the city’s libraries, including a wide selection in English and other languages. For a 10 kronor fee (and for children’s books it’s free of charge), have them sent to your local library for pick-up. Beyond the books, libraries also host free activities such as language cafes, book groups, and storytelling events for children, often in languages other than Swedish.

More of an outdoorsy person? The Fritidsbanken is like a library for sports equipment ranging from ice skates to snowboards, where you can borrow items for free for up to 14 days. The closest ones to Stockholm are found in Tyresö, Botkyrka, and Upplands Väsby.

Kulturhuset

This deserves a special mention because as well as housing a centrally located library, Stockholm’s House of Culture has large sections devoted to children of different ages, with books in over 50 languages and cosy reading corners as well as spots for other creative play, making it a great place for families to spend the afternoon.

You’ll also find regular exhibitions, theatre productions and concerts catering to all ages, as well as a rooftop cafe. While Sergels Torg in the city centre has the most going on, the branches in Skärholmen, Husby and Vällingby are also worth a visit if they are more local to you.


Kulturhuset’s Rum för Barn (Room for Children) is full of possibilities. Photo:
Ann-Sofi Rosenkvist/imagebank.sweden.se

Recycle right

Sorting and disposing of your recyclable waste correctly is a must in Sweden. If your housing association doesn’t own its own recycling bins, the chances are you’ll be using Stockholm’s återvinningsstationer or recycling stations. Save yourself a wasted trip or the trouble of trying to cram your rubbish into an overflowing bin by checking when it was last emptied using the FTI website, which is the company responsible for these stations.

Along similar lines, use the Stockholms Stad website to find out when the mobile miljöstation will be in your area, for recycling hazardous waste like old cosmetics, paint or small electrics without needing to travel to the larger recycling centres on the city’s outskirts.

Learn the public transport tricks

If you have a monthly or annual SL card, you can use it on Stockholm’s commuter ferries. The most popular runs between Slussen, Skeppsholmen and Djurgården, but you can also take longer trips, including from Klara Mälarstrand or Nybroviken, perfect for exploring the city or showing visitors around without booking a pricier river cruise. And the boat trip between Hammarby Sjöstad and Södermalm is free, with or without an SL card.

When travelling to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport using public transport, you need to pay a surcharge if you take the pendeltåg (commuter train) the whole way, because the airport express train owns a stretch of the tracks. However, you can get there for free if you have an SL card and are OK with a slightly longer journey, by changing to a roughly 15-minute bus from Märsta pendeltåg station.

Of course, the sprawling archipelago is not to be ignored, and many islands can be visited on public transport. Catch a bus to Vaxholm or Värmdö, take the bus or a (long but rewarding) bike ride to Älgö, or take the Waxholmsbolaget boats for free using your SL monthly or annual card between May and September.

Maximise age-linked discounts

Like many cities, you can score deals if you’re a student or senior, including with cheaper admission to museums, cinemas, and discounts on items from clothes to electronics. But what you may not realise when you first move is that Stockholm also offers discounts for many young professionals.

Look out for ungdomsrabatt (youth discount), which is often the same rate as a student discount but offered to everyone aged under 26, whether or not you are still in education. That includes treats like youth tickets with SAS airline, and significantly discounted tickets to cultural venues like the Royal Swedish Opera, arthouse cinema Bio Rio, and football matches. Perfect for making a starting salary go further and experiencing all that the city has to offer.

Buy unwanted

Buying secondhand is a great option in a capital city which loves thrifting culture and promotes sustainability as much as Stockholm. You can sometimes get a bargain at the vintage shops in areas like Hornstull, but try the charity shops (Stadsmissionen, Röda Korset and Myrorna for starters) and embrace the loppis or flea market culture for the cheapest price tags.

Don’t forget the apps either: there’s Karma, which advertises hefty discounts on food which would otherwise go unsold by shops or restaurants; Too Good To Go, which also allows you to buy surplus food from your favourite cafes and restaurants, and Olio, where private individuals can offer their unwanted but still usable items for free or a small price.

Embrace the sharing economy

In a big city, it’s not always economical to buy your own car, and parking in Stockholm is difficult, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely limited to public transport. Car-sharing solution Aimo allows you to rent electric cars and use their free parking spaces around the city, and there are other options for rental cars from garages for example. The various e-scooter companies such as Voi and Lime divide opinion but make it easy to zip around the centre.

For the more adventurous, there are even options to rent your own boat for an afternoon or longer (you’ll need to pass a sailing test first) using boatshare companies like Skipperi so you can sail to spots off the beaten track and escape the crowded beaches in the warmer months.

On the smaller end of the scale, it’s always worth checking if your neighbourhood has a local Facebook group where you can see if someone has an item you need before you buy it new. Many suburb centres, and even housing associations, have spots where you can drop off and collect unwanted plants and books, and your housing association may have a stock of tools that you can borrow.

Join the club

A common gripe of Stockholm residents is that it’s hard to meet people, and that the culture lacks spontaneity with Swedes typically preferring organised fun. But if you can’t beat them, join them, by signing up to a group activity like a choir, running group or sports team. This is often cited by foreign residents as the key to finally making local friends, and at the very least you’ll get to try something new.

These don’t even need to be pricey activities: Park Run is a volunteer-led 5k run in Haga Park and during the summer you can often find free or donation-based outdoor yoga and zumba classes.

Know where the toilets are

Don’t allow your days out to be ruined by traipsing round in search of a clean public toilet. Stockholm’s public toilets often cost money to use (though you can often pay by card if you don’t have the right cash), but you can find toilets at the state-run museums which are free to enter, most libraries (you may have to ask at the desk), as well as in almost all shopping centres (where they will still often cost money but are generally cleaner than the ones on the street). Failing that, try asking in the lobby of a hotel.

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For members

DISCOVER SWEDEN

What to do in Sweden’s summer without Covid restrictions

After more than two years of pandemic-related restrictions and closures, Sweden is headed towards its first summer free of Covid restrictions since 2019. Here's some of what's going on.

What to do in Sweden's summer without Covid restrictions

Since April 1st, relaxed entry rules have allowed visitors from non-EU countries to enter Sweden without showing a vaccination pass or test certificate. As the last of the travel restrictions to be eased, summer tourism is finally set to return to the ways of pre-pandemic life.

As Swedes gear up for a summer without COVID, major tourist attractions, events, and festivals across the country are getting ready for what promises to be a fun few months.

STOCKHOLM

Pippi at Circus

After a two-year delay, ABBA and Astrid Lindgren fans finally have the chance to see Pippi at Cirkus, a new acrobatic musical performance at Cirkus Arena and Restaurant at Royal Djurgården in Stockholm.

The musical features lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus and music by Benny Anderson—the two “Bs” of ABBA fame—who have also previously written musicals like Chess, Mamma Mia and Kristina from Duvemåla. While the dialogue and lyrics of the show are in Swedish, the story is mainly told through circus acts.

The musical was initially set to premiere in Stockholm in June 2020, in celebration of Pippi Långstrump’s 75th anniversary, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

The world premiere of the musical is now set for July 1, 2022. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

Pippi at Cirkus was intended to launch in 2020 but has been delayed for two years. Photo. Cirkus Cirkör

Music festivals in Stockholm

This summer, Sweden’s longest music festival, Grönan Live, returns to Stockholm’s Gröna Lund.

The festival starts in early May and runs through the end of August with concerts at least once every week. Performers include Jorja Smith, Dua Lipa, Tove Styrke and John Legend, among others. 

Festival passes cost SEK 395 and offer free admission to all concerts and dance evenings throughout the summer. They can be purchased directly from Gröna Lund.

Other big-name festivals lined up for the summer in Stockholm include Rosendal Garden Party, a four-day festival in June featuring artists like Jungle, Arlo Parks, Tyler the Creator, and The Strokes, and LollaPalooza Stockholm, a three-day event planned for July with bands such as Imagine Dragons, Post Malone, Lorde and Pearl Jam.

Allsång på Skansen will also return this year at the Solliden stage at Skansen open-air museum on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm. Allsång på Skansen is a classic summer concert where well-known Nordic musicians host a sing-a-long of classic Swedish songs. Allsång på Skansen will take place over eight Tuesdays, usually starting at the end of June. If you don’t manage to get tickets, don’t fret – it will also be broadcast live on SVT.

GOTHENBURG

Liseberg

On April 23, Liseberg opened at full capacity after more than two years of restrictions. 

The park also recently opened a completely new area—Luna Park—complete with two new family-friendly rides, Turbo and Tempus. 

The new area was built in celebration of Liseberg’s 100th anniversary, coming up in 2023. At that point, an additional roller coaster will also be featured in the new area. 

Luna Park is opening at the Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg. Photo: Luna Park

Set sail for summer

Marstrand, on Sweden’s west coast, is known as Sweden’s sailing capital. It begins welcoming summer tourists for the 2022 season this month, offering gorgeous landscapes, quaint shops and cafes and exciting sailing events. 

The 2022 summer sailing season kicks off on the weekend of May 13, with the Marstrand SuperStar Cup, followed the next weekend by the Marstrand Big Boat Race. 

The island can be reached in about 50 minutes by public transport from Gothenburg. 

Alternatively, throughout the summer months, Stromma Boat Tours offers a day-long cruise to the island directly from Lilla Bommen.

On July 3, Gotland Runt, the world’s largest annual ocean race begins in Stockholm. The course, which starts inside the archipelago, continues around Gotland and finishes in Sandhamn is about 350 nautical miles and takes most competitors about 3 days to complete. The offshore race is one of the highlights of Swedish summer. 

Music

Live music events are also making a comeback in Gothenburg this summer.

On May 28, the city’s most charming district will be filled with live music from the American south at the Haga Bluegrass Street Festival, and Way out West returns in August with big name artists like Tame Impala, Burna Boy and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

From September 1-4 Gothenburg will also celebrate the comeback of its annual Culture Festival.

MALMÖ

Music

The summer begins with the triumphant return of Malmö Rock after a three-year hiatus. The full-day concert features punk, hardcore, metal and rock bands, headlined by Norrland’s own, Raised Fist.

Malmö Sommarscen returns this year between the 18th June -31st July, with music, concerts, theatre performances and allsång taking place at 47 different locations across the city for six weeks over the summer. The full programme will be released on June 2nd.

Malmöfestivalen also returns this summer from August 12th-19th. Locals and visitors alike flock to the city centre to enjoy live music, art exhibitions, rides, and, of course delicious street food. 

Street Food

Malmöfestivalen isn’t the only chance for Malmö-ites to get their hands on some delicious street food – the International Food Festival will also be in town between May 25th-29th, bringing authentic food and culinary culture from 15 different countries to the city.

Don’t live near Malmö? Don’t worry! The International Food Festival is travelling Sweden from May until September – maybe your town is on their tour?

Street Food Festivalen will also be coming to Malmö on July 1st-2nd, Stockholm on 26-27th August and Gothenburg on September 1st-4th.

By Lisa Catterall, Kirstie Hall, and Becky Waterton

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