Ikea has become an important part of Sweden’s identity abroad and the flat-pack furniture giant now has more than 300 stores around the world. However, the biggest one of them all is still in Sweden.
It’s located just outside Stockholm, around 15km southwest of the city centre at Kungens Kurva. Some would say that you haven’t experienced Sweden properly until you’ve paid it a visit.
Thankfully there’s a completely free bus that will whizz you from central Stockholm to the big blue-and-yellow warehouse in 20 minutes flat.
To find out what all the fuss is about, we decided to hop aboard. Just to be clear: this is not a sponsored post and we don’t have any connection to Ikea. We’re only in it for the chance to eat cheap meatballs.
How to find the free Ikea bus
First off, you’re going to need to get yourself to Vasagatan 38, a short walk north of Stockholm’s main train station in Norrmalm.
At the time of writing the actual bus stop was just opposite the Nordic Light Hotel. We’ve marked the exact spot on the map below.
The bus departs from this stop in central Stockholm nine times every weekday, between 10am–7.15pm. It doesn’t run on weekends.
|Bus from Vasagatan, Stockholm
|Return bus from Ikea
Times correct at the time of publication but are subject to change.
Time to board!
Why pay for an expensive hop-on, hop-off bus ticket when you’re visiting Stockholm? The Ikea bus provides a great free way to escape the centre for while, and will give you a feel for life away from the main tourist areas.
The bus has air-con and surprisingly cosy seats, so you can kick back and watch the Stockholm scenery passing by as the journey begins.
After setting off, the bus will make its way out of the city, passing the handsome spires of Gamla Stan.
Shortly after that you’ll enter a tunnel that sinks down below Södermalm. When you emerge on the other side, most of the views are of factories and warehouses. Welcome to the suburbs, folks!
The whole journey takes around 20 minutes, depending on traffic. Plumping for one of the rush hour buses can add another 10 minutes or so to the journey time.
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Arriving at Ikea
The bus drops you right outside Ikea in Kungens Kurva. Remember where you are – when it’s time to leave, the bus will pick you up from exactly the same spot, on the same side of the road (don’t cross the road for the ordinary bus!).
Into the “labyrinth’s web”
Prepare to enter a vast maze of futuristic household goods and flat-pack furnishings – or, as one member of staff called it when we visited, the “labyrinth’s web”.
The largest Ikea in the world has five separate levels, selling all kinds of household stuff: there are beds, desks, fridges, TVs, lamps and kitchen appliances, plus paper towels, vases, tote bags, kids’ toys… and yes, meatballs. But more on those later.
The inevitable “I’m completely lost” phase
When you get lost inside Ikea (and you will), the best idea is to ride the escalator from the top level straight down to the exit.
Alternatively, you can take the lift to the ground floor and follow the white arrows on the ground. The crucial word to remember is utgång (it means ‘exit’ in Swedish).
If you’re really lost, ask one of the Ikea staff for help. They may also be able to spill the beans about the secret shortcuts and moving walls that help employees get around the shop more quickly.
Mountains of meatballs
If you don’t want to spend your money on furniture and kitchen supplies, and are just looking for a truly budget Swedish experience, head to one of the store’s food outlets.
At Ikea the whole point in the food is to keep people from leaving the place, so prices are insanely low – you can grab a plate of meatballs and a soft drink for as little as 15 SEK, and a coffee will set you back just 5 SEK.
Just be warned: the main restaurant here can get very busy.
Returning to Stockholm
When it’s time to go back to Stockholm, wait for the bus on the same side of the road as it dropped you off.
Important bit: the final bus leaves Ikea at 7.45pm. The bus stops several times on the way back, calling at Hornstull, Fridhemsplan, Kungsholmstorg and finally at Vasagatan 38.
Is this whole free bus thing a big tourist trap?
Well, it’s definitely a great way for Ikea to get people through the door, but you don’t have to go there to buy any furniture.
Both tourists and locals use the free Ikea bus, and there’s nothing stopping you from joining them, even if it is just a way for you to get a cheap meal and a bit of a sightseeing tour.
Once the bus stops at Ikea, the same driver turns around and goes straight back to the city, so there’s not even really any obligation to get off the bus and enter the store.
However, if you want to be able to tick another classic Swedish experience off your bucket list – meatballs at the world’s biggest Ikea – then you might as well go in.
Map showing the pickup location for the Ikea bus
Need more ideas? Here are 100 free things to do in Stockholm.