Visiting Scandinavia on a backpacker budget
You might think it’s impossible to travel in Scandinavia on a tight budget. However, anything is possible if you are willing to search for the most friendly budget solutions! With a reputation for beautiful people, designer interiors and an expensive bar scene, Scandinavia can intimidate backpackers – but don’t be afraid – there’s plenty of cool stuff to do if you’re visiting Scandinavia on a backpacker budget!
If you’re yearning to see the wonders of Scandinavia then you don’t have to bring your own beers and live off pickled herrings – there is another way! Despite being pricier than their European neighbours, these icy countries have warm hearts and plenty of places that are budget friendly. We went in search of bicycles, saunas, ABBA looking people and trolls (the good kind…)
Visiting Copenhagen, Denmark
The Danish capital is as good looking as the people, with colourful houses lining the harbours, a cobbled old town and plenty of bicycles and boats. There’s something for everyone here whether you’re into palaces, a hippy alternative scene, partying or wooded parks. There are even beaches – yes beaches – easily accessible on the metro line (packed in summer but a little bit cold in winter). Copenhagen is a city that also offers some tranquility and nature near the city center as well as late night Tuborgs (the local beer that’s not Carlsberg).
Although the main sites, such as Tivoli Gardens from summer to Christmas, are expensive to pay for entrances, there are plenty of free museums and galleries, as well as cool places to walk and see, such as the ‘alternative’ neighborhood, or ‘free state’, of Christiania. The main attraction here was the hippy settlement / marijuana smoking / artist community that has lived here since the 70’s, enjoying the lakeside setting and relaxed drug laws to create a community. The harbor area is also worth walking around – the most popular tourist draw is the picture perfect Nyhavn (New Harbor) where the houses are particularly brightly coloured and have formed the backdrop for movies such as The Danish Girl. Many of the key buildings such as the opera house and palaces can be seen from the waterfront too – get on your bike!
Where to Eat in Copenhagen
Yes it’s home to the world’s number 1 restaurant and full of expensive (tasty) restaurants, but it’s also home to the open sandwich (Smorrebrod) which are little delicious topped breads. These are abundant and inexpensive and you can find them all over town – try them. It’s also got the awesome Copenhagen Street Food market where you can get great deals on traditional Danish food or international cuisine. There’s even a student discount night and live DJs so check out their events and head over to see them – check their website as they’re relocating from Paper Island in 2017. Failing that the city is full of hot dog trucks that sell a darn good dog!
Top Pick in Copenhagen
Even if you don’t have a sauna experience you’ll see at least one naked lady here in the harbor as Hans Christen Anderson’s ‘Little Mermaid’ (an emblem of the city) sits in the water.
Where to Sleep in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Downtown Hostel is the best hostel in town, fact, and it’s right in the centre by the main square and shopping street. With live music, great happy hour bar prices, a great atmosphere and very cool retro design, we love this central hostel for its friendly vibe.
Visiting Malmo, Sweden
This little city is often skipped on the backpacker’s map as it’s just across the bridge from Copenhagen and lesser known, but there are some cool things to do here and it’s a little bit less expensive that Copenhagen too! From here you can take the train at a really reasonable price to Stockholm, just make sure you book in advance.
Malmo’s center of town has Christmas markets, ice skating and plenty of traditional boutiques to explore – mostly selling Swedish handicrafts and designer goodies – along with some great little art galleries.
What to eat in Malmo
We have to confess that we ate Elk Stew and loved it… There are also plenty of restaurants that serve other traditional foods such as soups, salads, smorrebrods, pickeled things, lots of salmon and of course Swedish meatballs. Malmo also has a large selection of Arabic restaurants and you can get some really delicious grilled meats or kebabs too.
Top Pick in Malmo
Our favourite thing to do in Malmo is the traditional sauna on the sea. Naked and all year round! Yes, that means you can do as the locals do and jump in the icy sea after a good cooking in the birch wood traditional saunas.
Visiting Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden’s capital is famous for it’s colourful medieval center, Gamla Stad, and the many islands that the city spreads across, forming its distinct skyline. The old town is on its own island and is small enough to walk around the cobbled streets and admire the vibrant architecture, even on a grey day. Other more modern parts of the city, such as the cool bars to the East and shopping area to the West can be reached easily by metro.
Where to Eat in Stockholm
Not the most budget friendly place to eat, we recommend that you enjoy one of the lunch meal deals for a good value Swedish feed. Meatballs are obligatory!
Where to Stay in Stockholm
City Backpackers Stockholm is the friendliest hostel in town with a great bar terrace, cosy chill our area and a sauna – yes for real. They’re located close to all the shops in the city centre and a great place to meet other travelers. Don’t miss the Viking Tours for something a little bit different!