Living in Budapest has quickly become a perk for budget travelers. We not have 7 budget airlines that fly out of here. Taking advantage of this, I booked my partner and I on Snowflake Airlines to Stockholm. Before you snicker, this is the low cost off-shoot of the better known SAS Airlines. We were able to get tickets for 45 Euros each way, per person. When taxes were added, it was a total of 305 Euros round trip for two. Still not a bad deal.
Since we had heard and read how expensive Stockholm is, we decided to limit our stay to four nights. My thinking was that at this airfare, this was just enough time to sample and we could always return again.
We arrived in Stockholm and found we had a few choices to get to the city center. We could take the Express train for 180 SEK one way and it would take 20 minutes. There was an airport bus that was 150 SEK and would take 40 minutes and of course there were taxis which would have been prohibitive for budget travelers. We chose the Express train and were pleasantly surprised that there was a “Summer Special” until August 30th. Two tickets were 200 SEK.
The express train is a modern, sleek, clean and fast subway type train. The end point is the Central Train Station in Stockholm. From there, we took a subway (one one-way ticket was about $7.00) to our hotel, which was a boat. From the subway, we had to walk three blocks down a hill to the water and our boat hotel was easy to find. There are many boat hotels there.
We stayed at the Rygerfjord www.rygerfjord.se. This is listed as a hostel/hotel and they actually have two boats next to each other. I strongly recommend a regular room if you are claustrophobic. The ‘hostel’ rooms were without windows and looked smaller than some submarines that I have been in. Our room had a porthole, but it was small. There was a double bed and a second bed that came down from the wall. The bathroom was inclusive. The shower was right across from the toilet, so everything was cleaned when we showered. We had to negotiate our moves in the room with each other due to such a small space. Fortunately, we each had only a carry-on suitcase or we would have needed another room. The room was about $50.00 a night and well worth it for the comfortable bed and the view of the city hall from our
porthole. Breakfast in the mornings were an additional $8.00. We paid for the first morning and decided to see what it was like before paying for the remaining mornings.
As it turned out, the breakfast was a major bargain. There was a large buffet with six different breads and toppings, four different cheeses, five meats, three kinds of fish, juices, coffee, tea, and other things that I am not remembering. It was all you could eat and the dining room was very pleasant. They also have many tables with umbrellas outside and you are invited to sit there and eat if you wish.
Our first morning, walking away from the subway stop we arrived at, about three long blocks and a staircase away, there is another subway station. We went here to purchase our Stockholm Cards.
Usually, I am not a fan of city cards since my experience is that they are not worth the value unless you rush through places. Due to the free transportation included on all buses, trams, subways, and commuter train, it was a no brainer. We chose the 72 hour card for SEK 540. Not only is the transportation free, but it includes free parking (we did not need this), free entrance to more museums than one would have time to see in a two week vacation, and TWO boat rides. On their website, they list the normal price of admissions so you can make an educated decision on the cost effectiveness. Just for the free transportation, it is well worth the price. You receive a very nice book with all of the attractions offered and it is in Swedish, German, and English.
I did not realize that Stockholm was a city of 14 islands with 51 bridges connecting them. As they say, there are only three islands that are usually of interest to tourists. I must admit that I am not a seafaring person. I am not all that enthralled with ships and boats and their riggings, etc. I wanted to see the city and taste the culture, but I did not expect much thinking it would all be focused on boats and shipping history. This is where the Stockholm Card was an added bonus. Since I did not have to pay for admissions, I was willing to give museums a try that I would not have ordinarily gone to. One example of this is the Vasa Museum. This is a ship that set sail in 1628 and sunk before leaving the harbor. It was a masterpiece of workmanship for its time, but it stayed under water for 333 years before it was rescued and restored. After watching the movie in English, I was enthralled and we spent two hours in the museum. On the same ‘campus’ there is the National Museum, a real treasure, and a museum dedicated to Swedish Children’s Literature. Being an educator, I had to see all three. It was wonderful.
We took both boat rides. One was impressive, the other was just nice to be on the water and see the views. We went to all of the Royal buildings, many other museums, and sights. We estimated that on admissions alone, we saved over $150.00 each with the card. With the cost of transportation, it was a huge savings.
We were told that 95% of the Swedish people speak English as well as another foreign language. They could not have been kinder. People would offer assistance when they saw us looking at our map. The museums are open long enough hours that you do not have to rush through to get to more than two in a day. We took our time and enjoyed what we saw.
Food prices were comparable to San Francisco. Once we got over the sticker shock coming from Hungary, we felt more comfortable with the cost of things.
It was shockingly hot there, some days reaching into the 90’s F. Many told us this was their hottest summer in memory.
Would I return? No doubt about it and with Snowflake Airlines here, even a short get-away is worthwhile. If you are traveling there from the US, you need at least a full week to get a good taste of the city. It is incredibly beautiful.
I will send a link to my online photo album at Ofoto.com and those whose want to may see them there.