Sweden is quite expensive but like any place in the world, you can always find things to do for free 😀 Stockholm is no exception, you can visit the old town, go to a museum, visit one of the many parks or take a free walking tour.
However, Sweden has surprised me several times with other FREE things (at least these things are not free in the UK)……
Sweden is widely touted as having a great education system that is free to all citizens. But did you know they mean all education. That’s right- your high school (obviously), Bachelor degree (pretty good) and Master’s degree (yes-really)- plus all the summer/evening courses you might want to take to develop your education are completely and utterly FREE*
2) Health and Fitness
There is no denying Swedes are a healthy bunch. The wonderful concept of “lagom”(having just the right amount) means they are less likely to eat an entire pizza on a Friday night, and their love of the outdoors means they are often out and about.
However, Sweden makes it pretty easy to be healthy. Stockholm Stad has over 30 outdoor gyms (utegyms) that are completely FREE to use. They are made of wood and steel so you can use them all year round (except when covered in snow of course!). If that’s not enough, it’s common for employers in Sweden to subsidise the cost of a gym membership or other sport/activity.
Sweden has a public right of way (Allemansrätt). This means you have the right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land you find (expect for private properties). Sweden has amazing natural beauty: Lapland, the archipelagos, the beaches, the mountains……waiting to be explored…..
You can put up a tent, snack on wild berries or fruit and catch fish in any lake or river for your dinner. All completely FREE. Bit different to the UK, where it’s illegal to camp on public land or even better, in the US, it’s illegal to collect rainwater **
4) Language Lessons
When you move to Sweden, it would be great if you try to learn some Swedish. Unfortunately, Swedes are excellent at English and it’s easy to get by without speaking any. In fact, to be honest, more often than not, I am left feeling like an ignorant British tourist (Jag pratar inte så mycket men jag förstår lite!)
However, if you want to learn Swedish: lessons are completely FREE. The Swedish government has a national FREE Swedish language course to all immigrants (including foreign students). The Swedish institute also offers FREE online courses for distance learning and many universities also offer FREE Swedish language courses if you want to study full time or part time alongside your studies.
Fika is a wonderful Swedish concept. It’s one of digital ambassador Nishi’s favourite things about being in Sweden. Fika means ‘coffee break.’ But such a simple term does Fika injustice! For Swede’s the Fika is more like a religion. It’s completely ingrained in society. As such, they feel that no one should be without a Fika 😅 Coffee and assorted delicious goods are often served for FREE at events/student gathering/end of semester lessons. It’s also a common working culture to have a (semi-mandatory) Fika twice in the working day!
And some things I am surprised are NOT free……
6) Tap Water
Yes. You read correctly. It is not uncommon to be charged for a glass of tap water in a Swedish restaurant or bar. It’s not illegal and many restaurant owners feel it is well within their right, since you are taking valuable space in their establishment!
7) Public Toilets
Probably not going to affect your life too much. But public loos in Sweden are not free. In fact that are a extortionately expensive 10 SEK (1 EUR) per trip!
The healthcare system in Sweden is often used as a model by other countries. However, you might be surprised to learn that, contrary to many beliefs, healthcare in Sweden is not free. At least it’s not free at the point of care. When you go the local doctor, expect to pay about 200 SEK (~20 EUR) and around 400 SEK (~40 EUR) if you need to go to the ER.
As always feel free to get in touch if you have any questions x
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*Unfortunately these course are free for EU/EEA, or Switzerland citizens only.
**It is only illegal in some states.