Travelling doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Catch up with Rhys on the second part of his Nordic adventure, travelling from Denmark to Sweden on a budget that’ll bring warmth to your cold student hearts (central heating what now?)
After Copenhagen, my friend and I set off for Stockholm. We planned something similar to the first leg of our trip: £20 a day and minimal luggage. The flight from Copenhagen to Stockholm was about £11 at the time, a sort of connecting flight, which is why we ended up going.
The pros and cons of budget travelling are mainly a balance between money spent and how tired you want to be. Our flight left at 5am to arrive at 7am. We saw the positives: a cheap flight and squeezing the most out of our first day in Stockholm. With this as our plan, we went a good thirty hours without sleep. In Copenhagen, the metro runs 24 hours, so we stayed up exploring the city until 1am, luggage in tow, before going to the airport.
When we arrived in Stockholm it was freezing, -12° and the snow was a blanket across the city. We both love the cold, so this was actually great to experience. What wasn’t great was discovering that we were 39km from the hostel. There are trains that go almost directly to the hostel, however these were £50 – and we had not accounted for that in our budget.
We decided, perhaps unwisely, to hitchhike the journey. We walked about five kilometres on the wrong side of the road, like idiots. We stopped by the police who kindly recommended we used the legal side of the road, and so we did. Another 8 kilometres down the road and we were starting to feel a bit too cold, and far too tired when a man in an Ikea lorry pulled up and offered us a lift into the centre. Within twenty minutes we were at the hostel drinking coffee and eating Swedish pastries. By 10am we had showered and were ready to set off and explore.
Our first point of call was the Modern Art Museum (Moderna Museet). Established in 1958, the museum is one of the best modern and contemporary museums I have been to. Though not as extensive as the Tate, it showcases some of the most important works from the last hundred or so years and includes a variety of mediums, from video, paint and sculpture. Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp were only a few of the artists whose work is permanently on show at the museum for free.
By this point we were deliriously tired and decided to head back to the hostel to sleep. The following days consisted of a visiting several museums, most notably the Abba museum, and eating at cafes. Beetroot soup was a popular option in Stockholm for some reason, and it was a surprisingly refreshing one!
We saved the place we really wanted to visit for the final day: Fotografiska. It’s located a good hour from the centre on foot, but the photography museum is far more than a gallery – it’s a cultural hub with three floors of exhibitions, a café, and far more. We spent about seven hours there in total, eating both lunch and dinner in their café. The exhibitions are chosen by the founders and are often exclusive to the museum itself.
When we visited, Albert Wiking’s ‘we have a dream’ exhibition was located across the first floor. This is a 114-piece collection of portraits of some of the world’s most inspiring people and activists – from the Dalai Lama to a personal hero, Afrah Nasser. Accompanying their photographs are powerfully shocking stories from each person. All 114 portraits show you people who have changed the world, it was incredible.
After this we headed back to the hostel to pack our bags and catch a bus to the airport, which by chance, we only learned existed the day before. It takes a bit longer but is far cheaper than the express train – just make sure you go to the right airport as there are two!
If you want to get the most out of Stockholm, you need a week – or a very intense five days. There are endless museums scattered on its various islands, all of which are accessible by footpaths. We stayed at Generator hostel for a modest £14 a night, though upon arrival we saw a hostel offering rates for as little as £8, so the more daring amongst you may want to consider turning up without a reservation (though it’s always good to plan ahead, in case there’s no room)!
I’d also strongly recommend buying data when going abroad, my network provider offered a deal for £3 per day. This saved us using public transport entirely and although Stockholm’s series of narrow streets and scattered islands is not easily navigated, we managed with just a few extra miles of footsteps due to occasional mistakes.
We were sad to leave Stockholm and more generally, Scandinavia. At the end of the two trips we had spent about £400 including flights and accommodation, but had gained a wealth of good memories, life lessons and cultural riches. All I will advise is to do a bit of research to avoid accidentally breaking any laws or getting stranded.
Images courtesy of Rhys Thomas.
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Stay tuned for more in our series outlining student experiences whilst travelling on the cheap and get inspired for your own trip!