Much like it’s neighbor to the east, this city is beautiful. Surrounded by water and green space that is a tribute to how much the Swedes value the outdoors, it’s easy to forget you’re in a major city.
First off, yes they speak English and they speak it well. Many places will even have menus and signs in both languages. Tours will also guide you in both languages.
Getting to the city center is very easy. You just take the Arlanda Express train which costs 295 Krona (about $32 USD) each way (or just under 600 Krona for round trip…there is a savings but it isn’t much). You can buy your ticket from one of the many kiosks with a credit card (make sure it has a chip or it’s useless in Europe) and you’re off to the city center in 18 minutes. Make sure you buy your ticket before you get on the train since the penalty for not having one is high.
The timing for the train is set to coincide with the last arrivals and the first departures so you should be fine as long as your flight isn’t delayed. Otherwise, you’ll have to take the bus (which at 45 mins isn’t that bad). Stockholm isn’t that large of an airport so getting through security should be fairly painless. Remember, if you’re connecting in the EU, you’ll be able to treat the initial departure as a domestic flight so you don’t need to get there that early (I’d say an hour is plenty).
Now here’s the rub. The Arlanda Express may run until 1 or 2 am but that doesn’t mean the metro will. So depending on the time of your arrival, you may have to take a taxi to your hotel and remember that the metro is a separate ticket to the Arlanda Express.
Once you’re in town, you’ll probably want to get a metro pass for the X number of days you’ll be there. It’s super simple and will give you access to all the buses, trams, and trains in the Stockholm area. Not only is it a time saver, it really makes life easier. Just swipe it at the gate when you enter the metro stop or at the front of the bus when you hop on. If you’re taking a tram, there’ll usually be someone there to check your ticket ( and yes, they really are checking) so make sure you have a ticket.
I’m going to do a separate post on the Stockholm Pass since I had a few questions about it as well. Hopefully I can give you an honest review and my thoughts can help you decide. You can read my review of the Stockholm Pass here.
One of the greatest things about the city is that they really embrace the cashless system. Some stores even write that they only accept cards (meaning you are SOL if you don’t have chip…). As someone who travels frequently and ends up collecting currency from all over, being cashless is fantastic for me. I still think it’s important to have some cash but even the smallest mom and pop shop will accept cards so cash really isn’t necessary.
In terms of cost, things aren’t as cheap as Tallinn but aren’t as expensive as Helsinki. A meal at MAX (their version of McDonalds or Burger King) will cost about $10-12 and meals at sit down restaurants were around $17-20. Also, this was just the food and didn’t include any alcohol and this wasn’t anything fancy either. My impression was that it cost almost exactly what I’d expect to pay in San Diego so take that as you will.
There are so many sites you can visit this post would be pages long if I went through each one. The one I would strongly recommend is the Vasa museum. Not only is it great for people who enjoy history, it’s also great for kids and families. It’s a bit of a hike to get there (but not bad if you take the tram) and I really enjoyed walking around and letting my inner child go crazy.