Tag Archives: Scandinavia

Traveling Sweden? Explore Stockholm on budget.

Everyone knows that Scandinavian countries are expensive (if to compare with the rest of Europe or US). After returning from long weekend getaway in Stockholm I can say that is possible to travel around the Sweden without a spending a fortune.

Stockholm View from Katarina lift view platform

Stockholm from Katarina lift view platform

Here are 3 suggestions that will save you some money during the trip to Stockholm and sightseeing the area:

1. Use some of the Europe’s low cost airlines for getting to Stockholm.

I did travel with Ryanair for the first time. Round trip cost me around $50 but if to buy tickets in few months advance then you can find even less. It takes to the Skavsta Airport that is around 100km away from the Stockholm. But there is a direct bus service organized & it takes around 1 h 20 min to get to the Stockholm. Tickets are sold at the Airport or you can get them online from Flygbussarna website.

2. For my stay I did pick one of the Scandic Hotels.

This is a popular Scandinavian hotel brand that has hotels in Northern Europe as well. What comes to these hotels they have a special offer for 2 or 3 night stays on weekends. So you can get 20 up to 35% discount if booked at the Scandic website.

Scandic Hotels

One of the Scandic Hotels in Stockholm.

Besides, why I like these hotels is that there is always free breakfast, free internet access and fitness facilities on site or near by area included in price. What comes to the Stockholm, then in summer time they are offering a bikes for sightseeing the city as well.  There are several Scandic Hotels in Stockholm, so you can choose any depending on destination area needed.

3. What comes to sightseeing then there are two options.

One – get Stockholm Card (1 day450 SEK or  two days 525 SEK) and have access to most of the museums and public transport for free. But I would suggest think ahead what are you interested to do in Stockholm. Count the admission prices and see maybe you can just buy a 24h public transport card for 100 SEK and get separate tickets to few museums. This is an option two.

This is what I did during my stay. First of all I had two days of sightseeing. Since downtown of Stockholm is pretty compact & you can walk simple walk  from place to place. Gamla Stan (Old Town) the place for a walk anyway. So I got this 24h public transport card, activated it on afternoon so I could use it on next day as well.

What comes to museums, then I decided to go to the Royal Palace.  Single admission ticket to any of three  Palace venues costs 100 SEK but you can get a combined ticket for 140 SEK. Besides there are 2 guided tours (English & swedish) included in ticket price as well.

Stockholm's Royal Palace

Stockholm's Royal Palace

 If you decide to visit Royal Palace on Sunday, then there are special Changing of the Guard ceremony at 12pm with horses. So you can easily spend more that tree hours in and around the Royal Palace. Than take a walk in Gamla Stan and go to the Katarina lift for a nice views of Stockholm’s downtown.

My other day I mostly spent in Djurgarden – a big island with a lot of museums and outdoor recreation areas. Depending on your choice, you can visit Skansen ( 70 SEK), Vasa museum or take a tram further on in island and go to Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde (100 SEK). This is how I spent my second sightseeing day in Stockholm.

If to count all my expenses for these two days, total cost of Stockholm’s sightseeing for me was 340 SEK (240 SEK for museums and 100 SEK for public transport card). Well, I was taking this trip kind of easy (with late breakfasts) but I did a lot of walking around the central part of Stockholm. And yes, I did some shopping as well 🙂

Of course, there is much more to do & to see in Stockholm but if you decide to visit more museums, than there will be no time for visiting Djurgarden.  Last thing what comes to Stockholm sightseeing is that there are City Bikes available for a rent. Hire a bike for 3 days just for 125 SEK & you are free to travel from one place to other.

Stockholm City Bikes

Rent Stockholm City Bikes from April 1 till October 31

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Visiting Stockholm. Day 2 – Outdoor Activities

Stockholm is build on 14 islands. Water cover on third of the city area. If to compare with other European travel destinations Stockholm often is called Northern Venice. Therefore a lot of sightseeing includes boat trips, ferries and crossing many bridges.
On my todays route thee was just one because I was going to Djurgarden. Island where you can find Skansen, Vassa Musseum, Junibacken and Tivoli. To get there you can go by ferry, bus or tram.  I took the tram N 7 – though there is just one line for it.

Stokholm's Tram N7

Stokholm's only Tram N7 Sergels Torg - Djurgarden

My idea was to go till the last stop & then I’ll see – go to the Skansen or there are some other things to do.  As day was really nice & sunny, many local people were heading same way. Because there is a big public park ( actually sometimes it was like forest) there but place was very nice.


People use it for a walks, runs, hikes, biking. If you are looking for some kind of fitness activity – it takes around 2 hours to get around the island. And as everywhere in the parks around the city – a lot of people are just sun tanning. Or setting themselves for the picnic…

Stockholm. Outdoor Activities

Stockholm. Outdoor Activities at the Djurgarden

Stokholm. Sculptures at the Prince Eugens Waldermarsudde

Sculptures at the Prince Eugens Waldermarsudde

If you have come so far – one of the places worth to visit is Prince Eugens Waldemarsudde. Formerly the residence of Prince Eugen (1865-1947) now this place is popular art museum. There are around 7000 works of sculpture, painting and craft.

Besides a selection on Prince Eugene own works, there are works from collections and temporary exhibitions. Entrance fee of 100 SEK is worth to pay for the visit to this mansion ( though there are a lot of sculptures in a garden around the main buildings). Afterwards take a walk around the area. The translation of Djurgarden is Game Park…

But at the end of long day with a lot of sunshine, there was one more thing to enjoy. Take a look yourself 🙂

Stockholm. Blossom Trees at the Kunstradgarden

Stockholm. Cherry blossom trees at the Kunstradgarden

 

Sightseeing in Stockholm. Day 1

After yesterdays walk around central part of Stockholm I decide start with  a visit to the Royal Palace.  Maybe it ‘ s influenced by last years royal wedding of Crown Princess Victoria but some how it feels good place to start. With live broadcasting of this event Stockholm got a lot of attention and introduction.

I begin my Royal Palace sightseeing by visiting Church  Service in Royal Chapel. I’m not really religious person but this the way to see this wonderful Chapel in Royal Palace. In summer it will be open for public but right now it is open to public just during the services on weekends (or special events like Easter).

Afterwords at 12pm there is a Guards Change ceremony &time to get a tickets for the entrance into Palace.  If visiting all three – the Royal Apartments, The Treasury and The Tre kronor Museum – there is a special combine ticket for 140 SEK. At 1pm there are a guided tours in The Treasury and at 2pm in the Royal Apartments (in English). Why not to use the offer included in ticket price 🙂

It is not allowed to take a pictures inside the Royal Palace because of copyright of the Royal Collections. you have to believe me – it was nice & worth it. I liked  guided tours as well. Both of them last for 40min, with a lot of interesting information about Swedish Royalty and  some Scandinavian history. Visit to The Tre Kronor Museum is the shortest one because museum itself is small  – several rooms dedicated to the original Tre Kronur Palace in Stockholm, destroyed in big fire back in 1697.

Afterwords I go through narrow streets of Gamla Stan to Slussen area for Katarina Lift but it is closed and I have another physical  activity by climbing up to the sightseeing platform.

Then to make my Swedish experience complete I the rest of the afternoon I spend shopping. You can find many big shopping centers in Stockholm but I wish to visit IKEA – one of the Swedish well known trademarks. If you wish to stay somewhere close to central part of the city  H&M, Ahlems are so big that it is easy to lose some time there.

Since this is Easter time I have ti keep in mind that everything has shorter working hours. But anyway, getting back to the hotel before 9pm sounds good. Because after long day of sightseeing bubble bath & sauna sounds tempting  and very relaxing 🙂

Hello Stockholm

Today was my first day here in Stockholm. I would call it arrival day 🙂

This time for my trip I’ m using Ryanair. To be honest I have to say that I was a little bit afraid because of some stories about bad service and so on. But to my surprise I can’t say anything bad about the Ryanair or service during / before/ after the flight.

Maybe it more concerns people who are traveling with low-cost airlines… Most of the people in my flight looked like regular travelers but few men were a little bit drunk & wanted to have conversation with some girls. …but the girls were mad because their luggage was taken away as too big for carry-on. Whole situation was kind of funny (I was sitting in opposite row) but otherwise nothing bad for this flight.

After arrival at the  Skavsta Airport everything went fast I was pretty soon already on aboard of bus taking me to the Stockholm center. But on the way bus had some technical problems (which only drivers knows what – but Sweden is Sweden ) and we stopped to wait for another bus to come.

During the bus ride (normally 1h20min) I started conversation with lady sitting next to me. At first it was because of the bus problem, then what they are doing here in Sweden & so on. Turned out the lady kind of knows someone I know … all this sounds like a regular conversation but the woman was speaking just Italian…

Never thought that while going to Sweden I’ll start to remember my Italian… it’s not that I speak fluently or remember everything but it turns out when it’s needed everything comes back itself. But I like the language itself therefore will have to think about some language studies… preferably in Italy 🙂

So finally we arrived in Stockholm just after 4pm. One thing that I’m very happy about is nice sunshine here in Stockholm. When traveling around & doing sightseeing weather is important factor. So – it’s sunny, bright afternoon… I found the way to my hotel & went for a walk. It turned longer that I expected but it was nice. Went to Old town – Gamla Stan. After this walk I have more or less some understanding where everything is located and I’m ready for serious sightseeing tomorrow 😉

Three things that show that spring has come (for those who don’t know) to Northern Europe and Sweden particularly :

1. In Stockholm many water fountains are working already;

2. Stockholm City Bikes are out for hire. Very reasonable offer – 3 days for 125 SEK. To keep this price with no penalties, bike has to be returned or changed after 3 hours. If you stay longer – seasons ticket cost 250 SEK .  As I did see today this service is very popular amongst tourists & some local people as well;

3. & to know for sure that spring is here – there were some trees blossom already in Kungstradgarden & a lot of people enjoying the view & sunshine in open air cafe around the park area.

First impressions about Stockholm? Very nice, tourist friendly Scandinavian city. It is Easter time but many tourist attractions, museums & shops are open. Everywhere are street signs so it is easy to find directions. Actually today I met more tourists wandering around with the maps. And I was one of them…  🙂

P.S I wish I could upload the pictures but forgot the connection cord at home … ups

5 Tips How to Save on Hotels

Everyone knows that costs of accommodation is an essential part of all the costs for any travel activities. In order to keep up with the travel habits, first step for budget friendly trips is to look for the ways to lover costs of the trip.

I’m one of those people – I want to keep on going to seminars I’m used to; I want to visit places I havent been; I want to return to the places I like. Well, I’m still looking for some comfort during the trip – internet access, breakfast, access gym / pool or fitness facilities… So, usually I’m interested are  2 – 3 star hotels. If it happens to find great deal – have nothing against 4 stars 🙂 But what I ‘d like to add that this rating of stars depends on country.

Here are 5 tips how to lover costs of accommodation from my experience:

1. – Check out big booking engines to see what are the overage offers for your chosen travel destination. If going to US, Travelocity is the first place to look. I know there are many other sites  but the main idea is to see the options at first. What comes to hotels in European countries I’m choosing Booking. com because they have very good  database for all European destinations. Lately they have added great deals ( with ‘reasonable prices‘)  of Russian main travel destinations as well.

2. Look for special internet offers on hotels website. Not always but very often you can find better price there than big hotel booking engines are offering. My favorite hotel for northern Europe and Scandinavia is Scandic Hotels. Amongst special offers there is one that offers up to 35% discounted price  – if to stay 2 or 3 nights. Often there are some special deals for particular hotels.

If the basic price is around 60 Euros or more, then often there are options to find offers for 44 Euros. For one of my next trips I have already made reservation for hotel in Stockholm for 384 SEK (~$60).  With courtesy breakfast, fitness facilities & free Internet access this price is very reasonable for Scandinavian countries or northern Europe.

3. Actually end of previous tip is beginning of this one – look what’s included in the price.  Maybe there are cheaper hotels, but if you have to pay for the breakfast or usage of internet per hour, then sometimes slightly higher price is better deal. This is why I like Scandic Hotels – always good breakfast & free WiFi access included. Holiday Inn might sounds good as well but mainly you have to pay additional for these services.

4. If you are flexible on your travel time, compare prices of hotel rooms for  weekdays / weekends. Tourist oriented hotels will have lower price during the week but hotels oriented to local business & events often have lower prices during the weekend.

Once while traveling in Norway, I stayed in two hotels while in Oslo. Because with all the prices in Norway, any hotel  accommodation around 600 – 700 NOK ($ 100 – 120)  is already a ‘good price’. So I found that there are two special offers for different days in different hotels. With some planing of activities / attractions to see & because I was traveling light, actually is was not so complicated to use them for my stay. But I saved more than third of total original costs for 2 night stay.

5. Join the club! If you are frequent traveler or usually stay in some certain hotel brand, sign up for the rewards program. One thing is that you will earn free stays, but besides it as a ‘prefered guest member’ might receive upgrades or special amenities. So price might be the same but additonal services are nice 🙂

Often hotels have special discounts for loyal customers up to 20%. If you are a member of some airline loyalty program already, then you can earn additional miles for the stay or get some special offer.

To read more ideas how to save on hotels, check out to my website AmberTravelBox.com. If hotels are too expensive, try vacation rentals or hostels (some might be not bad at all for company of 3 or 4 people).

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Exploring beauty of Norway in winter

Some time ago I participated in contest Norway.YourWay set by VisitNorway. My wish to be amongst 5 lucky persons to explore Norway this winter was great but I was not selected. The prize for the contest winners was great – 10 day trip with a lot of activities and adventures around Norway.

Well, it was already set in the rules for participation that 4 people will be selected from certain countries – UK, Germany, Spain and Netherlands. My hope was to be the one from ‘other European countries’. …not this time 😦 . Girl from Poland was chosen for this spot.

views of Norway

Travel destination - Norway

Anyway, this trip is about showing the world great outdoor travel  opportunities in  Norway during the winter. Norway.YourWay hava created a ‘trip of lifetime’ for participants. Lillehammer, Oslo, Bergen, Flam, Voss, Norefjell, Alesund, Tromso, Alta and North Cape are the places explorers are visiting (trip is going on right now Feb 18 – 27, 2011).

Adventure seekers are sharing with their travel experience &pictures on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. I found two of them very nice. I like Nancy’s blog NancyExpeditieNoorwegen  and VisitNorway Spanish branch blog. Even they are not in English, Google translation does wonders & pictures are wonderful 🙂

10 days is not a short trip to Norway. Not everybody will get a chance to do same route but you can get ideas about places you wish to visit in Norway. I see that if to divide this trip in two parts – southern and northern part of Norway, then there will be two wonderful journeys with a lot of sightseeing and physical activities. 

This Scandinavian country is very special and beautiful. I’ve been in Norway in spring  and in summertime, but now seeing these wonderful images from activities during wintertime I have great temptation to try it despite of cold weather outside.

Winter in Norwegian mountains

My favorite picture from Norwegian mountains

Cross country or downhill skiing, fishing in the sea and dog sledging are just a few activities provided for people getting to know Norway. Will see if 5 explorers and Norway.YourWay team will be lucky enough to find Northern Light.

Otherwise, enjoy the images from places Nancy and 4 other lucky explorers visited so far in Norway:)

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