How to explore Scandinavia for cheap

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This time, we’re here to show you how to see Scandinavia for less: how to save money on transport, accommodation, food and drink; how to book cheap flights to Sweden, Norway and Denmark; how to make a travel budget; the best times to visit; and some great free things to do

Northern Europe is famously one of the most expensive parts of the world to visit, but we’ve put together our top money-saving tips to help you make the most of your Scandinavian trip. Whether you’re in striking Stockholm, cool Copenhagen, outstanding Oslo, or one of the other fine cities, these tips and tricks will help you get the most out of your budget.

Have flexible travel dates

Kiwi.com's interactive calendar search metricKiwi.com’s interactive calendar allows for easy price comparison across any range of dates

What’s the best way to save on travel? Kiwi.com of course! The easiest way to start saving money on your Scandinavian trip is flexibility. Although we’re sure you’d like the best possible weather, it can get busy, and therefore, more expensive in summer. Travel in shoulder season (April — May, September — October) and use Kiwi.com’s interactive calendar to choose a range of dates. You’ll be able to see what trips cost on each day, so pick the dates with the lowest prices.

Another tip is to avoid mid-February to early March, as these are school holidays across the region, and everyone wants to strap on their skis or visit friends and family in other cities. Accommodation prices go up and local travel gets busier than usual.

Find less-used airports (or even other countries!)

Kiwi.com search results with mapGet creative with your route and you might save a lot of money

Often, flying into a city’s main airport is more expensive, so consider entering the country somewhere lesser-known. Go to Kiwi.com and search from your location to a country. Try Sweden, for example. After clicking Search, you’ll see routes to locations in that country, with a map. You can move the map around and see prices to nearby cities and countries. You might find that flying into, say, Oslo and then taking the train to Gothenburg is cheaper than flying directly to the Swedish city. You save money on the flight, plus you get a beautifully scenic train journey that you wouldn’t otherwise have taken. That’s a pretty nice bonus.

The other thing you can try is picking a city (maybe Copenhagen?) and when you type its name into the search bar, you can opt to look for other airports within a 250-kilometer radius. The map shows this as a circle that can be expanded or contracted to give you more possibilities or focus on a specific area.

Save money on food and drink

Woman eating brunch and drinking coffee at a café — ShutterstockLook out for happy hours and lunch menus — Shutterstock

Check the internet for offers and discounts. Loads of bars and restaurants advertise happy hours, special events, and their daily menus on their social media pages, so have a quick scroll before you head out. Indeed, getting your main meal from a daily lunch menu is often the thing to do; in Sweden, for example, roughly 100 kronor (around €9) will get you a choice of maybe three main course options with a side dish or two, a drink, bread, and possibly the option of a salad bar if the place has one. The options change every day, so you’ll have plenty to choose from any day of the week.

If you’re self-catering, be aware that smaller, local branches of supermarkets sometimes charge more for the same items you can find in their larger, out-of-town versions; basically, you’re paying for convenience. Head to the superstores to stock up on basics you know you’ll need, rather than going to the small shop every day.

Save money on accommodation

City bikes lined up in Nyhavn in Copenhagen — ShutterstockCycling is a great, cost-effective means of getting around Scandinavian cities — Shutterstock

It pays to do a little bit of research before you start booking a place to stay. Naturally, prices in city centers are going to be higher, so why not get a place a little way outside the city and do what the locals do — go by bike! With the money saved on accommodation, you’ll have more than enough spare to rent a bicycle for a few days.

In Copenhagen, for example, you can rent a bike for a week for as little as 425 krone (€57) meaning you’re not only saving on accommodation, but also on traveling around the city, and you’re doing your body a favor too, which in turn, means you can treat yourself to that extra slice of cake guilt-free!

Check out national tourist associations as well for special deals. The STF (Swedish Tourist Association) costs 345 krona to join (€32), but offers discounts on over 250 hostels, hotels, guest houses, and cabins in the wilderness. Again, depending on how long you stay, the membership may very well pay for itself.

Set a daily budget

Swiping Revolut card in a card reader — ShutterstockRevolut is a must-have for smart travelers — Shutterstock

It might feel like you’re being a bit hard on yourself — you are on holiday after all! — but if you’re really serious about saving money, set yourself a daily budget. One of the best ways to do this is to download Revolut. With the Revolut app, you can set a daily spending limit, and it’s also a great way of doing all things financial on your travels.

If you’re traveling in a group, any disagreements about money can be easily solved, as Revolut can split bills for you (no more unseemly arguments in restaurants!), get you the correct local exchange rate, and also offer discounts and special offers from global brands, including Kiwi.com!

Get a travel card or city pass

Tivoli Gardens at night — ShutterstockTivoli Gardens is one of the attractions you can go to for free with the Copenhagen Card — Shutterstock

One of the easiest ways to get to know a city is cruising around on its public transport system. Okay, maybe being stuck in a metro car isn’t particularly scenic, but many Scandinavian cities have extensive tram networks, and these are great for sightseeing on the cheap.

Some example prices: in Oslo, a seven-day travel card costs 323 krone — about €33. Now that might seem quite a bit to pay in one go, but bear in mind that this covers buses, trams, the metro and ferry trips, plus when you break it down, it comes to just €4.70 per day.

Copenhagen is another example. The Copenhagen Card not only gives you access to all the city’s transportation, but also free entry into 89 attractions, from castles to museums to canal cruises and more. A three-day pass costs €108 (again, it seems a lot in one go), but if in those 72 hours you visit, say, Tivoli Gardens, the National Museum, the Modern Art Museum and take a canal tour, you’re saving €15 already. The website even has a cost calculator so you can balance time and money perfectly.

Take a walking tour

Tourist taking photos in Stockholm — ShutterstockWalking tours are massively underrated (especially when they’re free!) — Shutterstock

It sounds obvious, but many people still overlook the value of a walking tour. Most cities offer a free version, often given by a local who does it simply for tips and for the joy of showing off their city to a constantly-rotating cast of people.

They’re great for a few reasons. Firstly, you’ll get your bearings within the city. You’ll be guaranteed to hit all the main sights, finding your way easily from one to another, so when you come back again, you’ll know the best route. Secondly, you’ll get a bit of the lore of the city, a living history alive with odd characters and sensational stories. Thirdly, your guide will know all of the best places to eat and drink, what to see and what to avoid for later. Finally, of course, it’s free!

Check out what else is free

@kiwi.com Save this video so that you don’t break the bank on your next trip to Norway!✅ #norway #norwaytravel #norwaynature #nature #visitnorway #norwayphotos #traveltiktok ♬ TRIPPIN’ HOME – Eric Davis

The final way of saving money is simply to see what’s free to do. The answer is probably way more than you think.

In Stockholm, a bunch of the biggest and best museums are free of charge, including the Medeltidsmuseet (medieval history), Historiska Museet (Vikings and royalty) and the Moderna Museet (modern art). Accelerator, inside a former experimental physics lab at Stockholm University, hosts rotating exhibitions “where art, science and social issues meet”.

In Oslo, it’s a similar story. The Natural History Museum, the City Hall, Edvard Munch’s estate at Ekely, the Intercultural Museum and many more sites are free to enter. There are also a bunch of parks and gardens that include things to see: the Vigeland Sculpture Park, Botanical Garden, and Peer Gynt Sculpture Park are all filled with unexpected sights.

Copenhagen, and you can watch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace, head to the little theme park of Bakken in the woods to the north of the city, or, even more uniquely, explore the city by water while helping to keep it clean. The GreenKayak system means you can borrow a kayak for free and explore the city’s harbor and canals, the deal being that you agree to fish any garbage you see out of the water with your gloves and grabber and pop it in a bucket. The city is renowned for being an urban area with water clean enough to swim in, so you can help to keep it that way while exploring in an unusual manner.

Do you want more travel articles? Visit Kiwi.com Stories.