It is probably the most frequently asked question: but Sweden is expensive, right? It is a persistent misunderstanding that is difficult to get rid of. Ok, certain things will be a bit more expensive than in the UK or US. Other things will turn out to be a lot cheaper.
Sweden seems to be the cheapest country of Scandinavia. I suspect that the misunderstanding that Sweden is expensive has something to do with the prices in Norway. The countries in the Nordics are often lumped together. I think the prices in the supermarkets in Finland and Sweden are comparable to ours. I only remember that a bottle of coke in a supermarket in Helsinki was more expensive but not at all comparable to the more than 6 euros I once paid for a glass of Fanta in a Norwegian restaurant!
In general you can say that you often get more quality in Sweden. That’s my personal experience anyway. I always give the example of that hotel in London that could be booked for 230 euros per night. The bathroom was shared, in the hallway. In Stockholm you have a spacious room with a luxurious bathroom for that amount of money. You really get value for money in Sweden!
It’s something you’ll also notice that when you go shopping. Scandinavian fashion and Scandinavian design cost a bit more, but are often produced more sustainably. I’d rather buy 1 sustainable piece of 200 euros than 20 throw-away items from a fast fashion chain. And yes, you can also find those chains in Sweden, so shopping doesn’t even have to be expensive. But does it always have to be cheap?
You will also find the same great price/quality at a restaurant. I like to eat out and pay a little extra if they work with local and quality products. Still, eating out in Sweden doesn’t have to be expensive. You can have lunch almost everywhere for about 10 euros (see below, dagens rätt). What I do think is a little expensive is a kanelbulle in a real bakery (and not in the supermarket). They are a bit more expensive than the viennoiserie in Belgium. The prices for a dinner are comparable to a good restaurant in Belgium. If you don’t drink alcohol…
Alcohol in Sweden
Well, when we talk about the price level in Sweden, we can’t ignore it: buying alcohol in Sweden is slightly different. The prices at Systembolaget are not too bad. At a restaurant or cafe you should count on 10 euros for a glass of wine. The glasses are filled a bit fuller. Admittedly, alcohol in Sweden is expensive. Which doesn’t mean Sweden is expensive 😉
In Sweden you pay with Swedish Krona (SEK). Depending on the exchange rate, it can be a bit cheaper. In 2015, you had to divide by 10 and round up well to convert from SEK to euros. Just before the corona crisis, you could almost divide by 9. You can divide June 2021 by 10 and round down well.
Budget-tips for Sweden
- Free drinking water – Bring a drinking bottle and feel free to fill at the tap. The tap water in Sweden is fine!
- Dagens rätt – I’ve mentioned it before: you can have an extensive and cheap lunch just about everywhere in Sweden (between 11 am and 3 pm). For about 10 euros you get the daily special (often even a real buffet). Also often with salad bar, bread & butter, water and coffee included.
- Påtår – Sometimes the second cup of coffee is for free (or for a small amount, eg 5 SEK). In Swedish they refer to this refill with påtår.
- Wild camping – You can stay overnight in Sweden for free. Check this article for the applicable rules regarding wild camping in Sweden.
- Camping – Do you find wild camping too adventurous? Or do you want to alternate wild camping with a campsite? In Sweden you generally pay per place and not per person. In addition, showers, electricity, etc. are also included.
- Free amenities – Public toilets in Sweden are almost always free. In addition, they are also very neat and maintained.
- Free museums and sights – Many museums are free. Paid museums are almost always free for minors.