We’re expecting (aka have been promised) a steady stream of visitors. Rather than writing the same email every time, this is the key info you need to know.
We’re on the North side of the city, so if at all possible (and certainly if you’d like picking up), fly into Arlanda airport. This is Stockholm’s Heathrow, where all the premium airlines fly into. However, as well as the BAs and SASs of the world, it’s also used by Norwegian who are not only pretty good, they’re also pretty affordable too. They currently fly from Manchester (all year) and Edinburgh (in the summer half of the year).
Ryanair used to fly into ‘Stockholm’ Skavsta, which is about 100km south of the city – it’s another of those optimistically named airports that’s closer to the named city than to anywhere else they fly, but not really actually close. However, at present, they’re in tough negotiation with the airport. They’ve pulled a lot of flights (including the one from EDI), and are threatening to pull out all together.
Travel from the Airport
As mentioned above, we can possibly pick you up from Arlanda if timings work out, but please remember that we’ve only a wee car, so if there’s more than 3 of you, or 2 with hold luggage, you’re on your own.
Of course, you can rent a car from all the normal vendors, but one of the great things about Stockholm is the very high class of integrated public transport it offers. A single card goes across trains, buses, trams and subway, and the network extends to Arlanda. That said, Arlanda Airport does charge you a supplement for the privilege of using its station.
Access Card prices (in English)
At date of writing (April 2014) prices are:
|Travelcards||Full price (SEK)||Reduced price (SEK)
(Teenagers and OAPs)
Children under about 10 are free.
Like Heathrow, Arlanda also has an Express train, not covered by the Access card. And like the HEX, it’s super fast, super efficient, and super expensive. Seriously, get the standard train. You may need to change at Upplands Väsby, but it’s still only about 30 mins into the city centre.
Travelling to Us
If you’re coming to us, the nearest Tbana (subway) stop to us is Vällingby, on the Green line. Come into T-Central (central station) and get on a Green line train for Hässelby. At Vällingby, leave the platform by the exit at the back of the platform which gets you up into the shopping centre, and right by the bus terminus. Get a 541 bus from there (it leaves from Stance A right outside the door) using your Access card. In the buses, the next stop is nearly always displayed on a wee light up display. Look for Viadukten, which is only a couple of hundred metres from the house.
If you feel like getting a taxi from Arlanda to us, it’ll cost about 550SEK. We can book one for you, or you can contact them yourself. What might work for you for speed and value optimisation is getting the train from Arlanda, getting off at Sollentuna and grabbing a cab from there, which is less than 1/2 the cabbing distance, but may not work well at night.
What to See and Do
Stockholm is an amazingly beautiful city, packed with things to see and do.
Things we’d suggest include:
- Gamla Stan
- Stockholm’s old town, all on one wee island. Contains a number of the below.
Picture postcard pretty, and stuffed with lovely shops where you can easily blow your budget on everything from elegant fashion to pure tat.
- Nobel Museum
- Pantheon of the greats of science, arts and humanities. Free entry on Wednesdays from 5pm.
- Sweden’s equivalent of the Marie Rose, except a much bigger ship and much better preserved.
- I’m sorry, but it’s not possible to be in Sweden without regular injestion of coffee and cake. If you’re here before Easter, you will be mainlining Semla within about 3 hours. If not, the humble Kanelbulle will do. Or Kladdkaka. Or Wafflor. Or… you get the picture.
Our favourites include:
- Stieg Larsson Tour
- If you’re a fan of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (aka Millennium) Trilogy, don’t miss this tour of real and fictitious locations.
- If you have a daughter under 10, then this is the place to go crazy over Pippi Longstocking. It’s a whole theme park dedicated to Astrid Lindgren’s works (and not just Pippi).
- Gröna Lund
- A city centre permanent huge funfair (although only open in the summer). What’s not to like? Yeah, the prices. 110SEK entry (free for under 6), plus you pay for the rides.
Beautiful palace on one of the islands (but drivable), with formal gardens. And there is of course a café.
If you’re planning a full on few days, the Stockholm Card makes it all very easy – it adds entry to most all the city’s visitor attractions to a standard Access Travel Card.
Sweden is in the EU, but not in the Euro. They have retained the Swedish Crown (aka SEK) as currency, and while of course this floats a bit relative to Sterling, it’s usually close enough to 10:1 to use this for rough tourist pricing.
What to Wear
Stockholm is generally pretty dry, but in the last 6 months, we have had a 50C temperature range (it’s currently (late July) +30.5C, having been over 33C today). Our Swedish friends tell us:
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing
and that’s dead right.
The only time when it’s remarkably different from UK weather to need different clothing is in winter. Although it’s dry, we do get quite a bit of snow and it sticks. So good shoes (actually, not a bad idea all year) with grippy soles are a must. I (Martin) have a pair of DM Chelsea Boots that I practically live in year round after my UK office shoes died of exhaustion in about a week. Fortunately, DMs are perfectly acceptable workwear almost everywhere.
Lots of layers are also A Good Idea in winter, otherwise you’ll melt when you stop for Fika. Just think you’re winter hillclimbing and you won’t go far wrong. Waterproof anorak over fleece over shirt over thermal vest, all moisture wicking, is ideal. Reflective tags are a smart idea too, as are hats that cover your ears. Fleece again A Good Idea.
Obviously it will depend on your own network provider and package, but most UK mobiles should pick up a Swedish network before you even step off the plane. Recent developments in EU legislation mean that – while it will be a little more expensive than at home, calls and data in Sweden shouldn’t break the bank. And if you’re really concerned, look what will greet you within 30m of exiting into the Arrivals Hall at Arlanda’s T5
Many places in the city (including Arlanda, and most cafes and restaurants) offer free WiFi, so you’re never far from that Internet fix.
We have yet to meet a Swede who is either educated or working in a customer service industry who does not speak very good (or more usually: near perfect) English. There are more Swedes who speak English (86%) than Canadians (84%). You will not need to worry about making your way about and asking for stuff.
That said, it’s worthwhile knowing a little if only to avoid appearing to be a complete doofus. The following are kind of useful to know, either to use or to recognise in writing or as announcements on transport:
- Tack – used almost all the time. It means “Thanks” but it’s used to ask for stuff, and when paying. Do use this one.
- Hej – Super friendly way of saying “Hello”. Again, you hear this all the time. Use it yourself. Note that Swedes will often double both Hej and Tack to Hej Hej and Tack Tack to express added enthusiasm.
- Hej Då – Bye
- Varsågod – “You’re welcome”
- Upp/Ned – Up & Down. Useful to know which way to go on the escalators in the Tbana. Conversely: Ej Upp/Ned (yes, one for the Yorkshire folks there), tells you to not go up or down.
- Den här/den där – This one/that one. Add tack and you’ve got what you need to ask for stuff in cafes and the like. And you will be in cafes. It’s impossible to avoid it.
- Öppet/Öppettider – Opening Hours
- Stängt – Closed
- Mot – For/Towards (used for the last stop that a subway train is going to. Very useful to know which line/branch it’s getting)
- Nästa – Next. Listen for the announcements on the Tbana, they always tell you the next stop. Vällingby is the one after Råcksta (sounds like Rock Star).
- Talar du engelska? – Do you speak English? The answer will almost certainly be ‘Yes’ but it’s a good phrase to withstand the terror factor of a torrent of sound you don’t understand.
For those with a passing knowledge of guid Scots, there are a few more words you might just recognise.
We have a spare room – an office that has a sofa bed in – plus can bunk up visiting kids with our three. If there’s a load of you, or you’d like a bit more space on a longer city visit, then we heartily recommend renting Sara’s house in Enskede, which is 200m from both a supermarket and a Tbana station on the same line as us.