Stockholm’s cobbled medieval heart, Gamla Stan, is a lovely place to stroll, with its yellow-ochre houses, antique shops and cellar bars. At its centre is the 18th-century Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), where you can watch the changing of the guard (12.15pm daily and 13:15 on Sundays and public holidays) in the courtyard – all for free.
Few major cities boast as much clean, swimmable water as Stockholm. A top spot for a dip is the family-friendly beach at Smedsuddsbadet on Kungsholmen island; Rålambshovsparken, the nearby park, attracts a younger crowd. Just pitch up – no fee necessary.
Stockholm’s green lung is the wooded island of Djurgården (pronounced ‘your-gore-den’), where serene cycling and walking trails wend between picnic spots and world-class museums. Don’t miss the Vasamuseet, housing the 69m-long, 17th-century warship Vasa. Like many of the city’s museums, entry is free with a Stockholm Card (from 525kr/£42).
Station interior on the Blue Line, Stockholm (Shutterstock)
Venture underground to explore 110 kilometres of sculptures, paintings and mosaics in Stockholm's subway system. Wander through the world's longest art exhibition, with works from over 150 artists, to learn more about Swedish culture and the most influential art movements from the 1950s to present day.
Green and pleasant ‘Long Island’ was home to Sweden’s largest prison until 1975; the building is now a budget hotel. Swim off one of the isle’s sandy beaches or just top up your tan.
If you plan well, you can enjoy some of Stockholm's best museums for nothing. The Moderna Museet displays the work of some of the world's most celebrated 20th-century artists, from Marcel Duchamp and Louise Bourgeois to Salvador Dalí and Henri Matisse, and admission is completely free on Friday afternoons from 4–6pm.
Stockholm archipelago, Sweden (Shutterstock)
Stockholm’s KulturFestival brings over 600 events to the city every August, from world music to stand-up comedy to dance. The best bit? 99% of events are free.
The Kulturhuset is a ‘cultural living room’ with six floors of galleries, libraries and theatre spaces. Events are ticketed, but you can browse art and graphic novels, play chess and admire the fifth-floor views for free.
The once-working-class district of ‘Söder’ now brims with creative energy. Stroll the lofty Monteliusvägen cliff path (ideally at dawn or dusk) for spellbinding (free) views back over the city.
Fancy escaping the city for a while? Hit the 30,000 islands of the Stockholm archipelago for a lifetime of hikes, coves and campsites – the Right of Public Access means that you can wild camp, and spend your days walking and island hopping. OK, so a five-day unlimited-travel ferry pass for will cost you 420kr (£34) (plus a 20 SEK card charge £2), but we reckon it's well worth every Krona.
Main image: Scenic summer panorama of the Old Town, Stockholm (Shutterstock)
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