Is Sweden expensive?

Mention that you’re going to Sweden and it won’t take long for someone to ask you: “Isn’t it expensive there?” And it’s sort of true: compared with other parts of Europe, Sweden can be a pretty expensive place to travel around. Things that seem nice and affordable back home – like a basic meal in a restaurant, or a glass of beer – can be frustratingly pricey in Sweden.

What makes Sweden so expensive? Well, partly it’s down to the country’s strict labour laws, which make it relatively expensive for companies to employ people. And partly it’s because of Sweden’s notoriously high taxes, which help to keep the welfare state well oiled.

It isn’t all bad news for foreign visitors, though. Brits and Americans will find that lots of everyday things in Sweden are actually cheaper compared with their home countries. Public transport is a great example: a huge cross-country train journey in Sweden can cost as little as a half-hour commute in Britain.

Another perk is that there’s no real culture of tipping; the price you see on your bill in restaurants and bars is the full amount you need to pay. Hotels and hostels can also be reasonably priced, and many museums and galleries are free to visit, so with a bit of careful planning it’s possible to eat, drink, sleep and sightsee around Sweden relatively cheaply.

If you’re considering a trip to Northern Europe but aren’t sure which country to visit, consider this: compared with Norway and Finland, Sweden can seem like a pretty good-value destination. Norway, especially, is far more expensive than Sweden.

On a global scale, Sweden isn’t even in the top 10 most expensive countries. Most surveys rank the overall cost of living below that of the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Americans may find Sweden considerably more expensive than it is at home, however.

So how much do things really cost? Here’s a quick guide to prices in Sweden:

How expensive is Sweden? Price
Train from Stockholm to Gothenburg 400 SEK
Draft beer 50–80 SEK
Dorm bed in a hostel 200–350 SEK
Double room at a budget hotel 500–1000 SEK
Sandwich to go 60–80 SEK
Cinema ticket 130 SEK
Bus ride within Stockholm 36 SEK
Mid-priced dinner for two 550 SEK

If you want more examples, be sure to take a look at our mega guide to the cost of living in Sweden – it covers everything from utility bills to domestic flights and sauna sessions.

Will you find Sweden expensive? A lot will depend on the exchange rate when you’re in the country. If the krona is relatively weak and you’re staying in hostels or budget hotels, you could travel comfortably on around US $90 or £65 a day. Actually living in Sweden is another story – if you manage to find some good long-term accommodation then your costs will be much, much lower.

Thinking of studying in Sweden? Although education is free for EU citizens attending Swedish universities, the cost of living in Sweden for international students is generally high. You may also have trouble finding somewhere to live, thanks to the serious shortage of housing in popular cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg.



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