How to: Ensure your Wallet Survives Scandinavia
Backpacking without going broke.
What comes to mind when you hear: Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark & Iceland? Maybe the words Scandinavia, Northern Europe, cold temperatures, and history would come to mind. For me.. the only thought that comes to my mind is: EXPENSIVE. VERY. VERY. EXPENSIVE. As a young backpacker these countries can very easily take hold of your wallet and only give it back to you once it has depleted it of any and all bills, coins, and cards that have any money left on them.
Have no fear though… I’m going to help you out-smart a few Scandinavian cities.. you will succeed… your wallet will live to see another day!
–Lodging– Stockholm is a grouping of a bunch of small islands that are connected by large arching bridges. (It is quite nice to explore all of the islands via bike.) So.. long story short there is a lot of water around and some people have taken advantage of this by creating hostels out of boats that are now permanently docked on the banks of central Stockholm. We were lucky enough to find one that had a wonderful view of the city center, was a quick walk from the metro, and didn’t break the bank! It was around $30 USD per person/night (GASP!). Yes, I know.. pricey.. but it was seriously the cheapest we could find after exploring Airbnb, all the hostel websites and VRBO. There are a bunch of hostel options like this as well! (We stayed in Rygerfjord which was nice enough.)
–Food– It is of the utmost importance that you find the nearest Hemkop grocery store once you arrive. This is where we ate almost every meal because it is hands down the CHEAPEST meal you can get in Stockholm (a local told us!). So walk in, don’t be shy, and find the salad bar. This is not just a normal salad bar my friends, this is the most bomb salad bar with different mixed grain salads, grilled meats, fruit, and nuts for toppings. It is all charged by weight so take that into consideration. After you have filled up your bowl to your heart’s content, put a plastic top on it, grab your dressing of choice, utensils (you get charged for those as well) and head to the cash register. We ended up having a big salad for lunch which cost each of us about $9 USD. For dinner we split some meat, cheese, & beer and took it to our favorite park overlooking the city center and that was our dinner. All in all, we found that eating in Stockholm was more of an adventure experience. We were on the hunt for Hemkops, were overjoyed when we found one, and then had the experience of finding the perfect park bench where we were to enjoy it. I have fond memories of our meals in Stockholm:)
–Adult Beverages– Holy moly do not even try to drink out in Stockholm if you are remotely traveling on a budget. Go to the grocery for some beer (if you want anything stronger than beer you have to go to this special store regulated by the gov. and it has weird hours) and head to the top of the hill where the Hilton Stockholm Slussen hotel is in Sodermalm… keep walking up, up, up and eventually on your right you will find a swinging gate that leads to a wonderful park that overlooks the center… perfect for sunset. Lots of twenty-somethings bring their blankets, adult beverages, snacks and hang here. Great vibe going on.
–Lodging- We were in Copenhagen for a decent chunk of time and knew that we wanted access to a kitchen and refrigerator so that we could cut down on the cost of eating/drinking out. We also have loved our experiences with Airbnb so decided to go that route and stay just off of the main pedestrian street, Stroget. (Actually, the worlds longest pedestrian street! Fun fact.) Staying in the center reduced what we spent on transit as we walked everywhere and rented bikes one day. We also prepared almost all of our meals and perfected the art of picnicking with a view. (Get creative!)
-Food- As I previously mentioned, we cooked a lot of our own food apart from visiting the newly opened Street Food Market located on the Paper Island. To elaborate on the picnics we got creative with…if you go the Louisiana museum, I strongly suggest you pack a picnic and when you arrive, don’t put your things in a locker immediately… instead take your picnic fixings and find a cozy place out on the lawn overlooking the ocean and picnic before you take in the museum sights 🙂
–Adult Beverages- Denmark is famous for Tuborg and Carlsberg but there are also loads of other beers to try! And trying them all at bars would deplete your budget!! Go to a park, or the city center…invite some friends.. grab some chilled beers from the grocery and people watch, enjoy the company of others in the outdoors.
All in all, don’t let the fame of a country or city being SO EXPENSIVE deter you from visiting. There are always ways around it. You just have to do some digging. Enjoy!