Anybody who knows me knows I’m a killer for a good flight deal. A large majority of my travel patterns are based on where I’ve found a cheap flight. Stockholm is somewhere that I’d seen popping up on flight alerts for a while due to the emergence of Norwegian Air. Due to some trickery with currencies and the GBP crashing in the aftermath of Brexit, I was able to snag a non-stop flight to Sweden from the West Coast for under $300 – over a holiday weekend.
Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. “You’re going to Sweden over the weekend from California?!” At least it was a 3-day weekend!
WAS NORWEGIAN AIR WORTH THE PRICE?
This was the first time I’d flown Norwegian Air and I was a little nervous. I’ve seen a few horror stories about people being delayed for crazy amounts of time (*foreshadowing*), but I remember only seeing those stories as the airline was first launching so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. I checked into the flight at LAX in one of the most seamless check-in processes I’ve ever had. The employees were helpful and friendly. I’m somebody who regrettably brings about 25 pounds of electronics (laptop, cameras, etc.) in a carry on bag which normally isn’t an issue so I was very nervous the check-in agent might try to weigh my backpack and tell me I had to check it. The agent didn’t look twice and happily sent me on my way. Upon arriving in my seat for the flight, I was ecstatic to find out I had the entire 3-seat row to myself – what I like to call poor man’s first class. Despite the fact that Norwegian is a budget airline, no part of the experience made it feel that way.
ARRIVING IN SWEDEN
My 3 friends who were flying to Stockholm from New York instead arrived a couple hours before me, so I had to get back from the airport myself. Taxis cost about $50 one-way, so the best way for me to get to our hotel was to take the Arlanda Express from the airport for about $25. The ride is quick at about 20 minutes and the train has power outlets and free wi-fi, so no complaining there!
My friend spent some time working for Sheraton, so my friends and I decided to use her employee discount to stay at the Sheraton Stockholm Hotel. Even without the discount, I’m pretty sure the price for the hotel isn’t that extraordinary so I would highly recommend the hotel for anybody traveling to Stockholm! The hotel is located right across a bridge from Gamla Stan which Stockholm’s famous Old Town so it was no more than a quick walk to most things we wanted to do.
THE STOCKHOLM EXPERIENCE
We arrived in Sweden mid-late afternoon, so we figured the best way to acquaint ourselves with Stockholm was to go to a pub crawl that night. The pub crawl took us to 3 bars all over town and ended taking us to a club. I definitely recommend it if you’re interested in meeting people from all over the world. I don’t think the deals on the alcohol that came with the pub crawl were that worth it, but the social aspect was well worth the money.
On our second day in Stockholm we wanted to take in all the city had to offer. We walked about 10 minutes from our hotel to Gamla Stan and wandered the narrow, colorful streets. Stockholm is on the water so there’s no shortage of beautiful sights. Some cities in Europe have so many landmarks and museums and tourist traps that you can often feel pressured to see every one of them in a limited time which leaves you no time to take in the atmosphere. I went into this visit to Stockholm not really knowing what to see which, I think, made me enjoy the city itself much more. We were able to just roam around and get lost in the city itself and stumble upon different churches and museums.
While I’m far from a foodie, my friends were dying to try some Swedish sausages (I didn’t realize that was a thing!) at a deli restaurant called The Hairy Pig. This restaurant couldn’t be much smaller, so if you decide to check it out, it’s definitely possible you might need to wait like we did, although we only waited maybe 20 minutes until somebody left. We ordered a charcuterie board with melted cheese that was to die for. I decided to live outside the box and order a pork roll sandwich instead of the standard sausages – both were incredible. I’d definitely recommend checking this restaurant out if you find yourself in Stockholm!
Because of the short time we were able to spend in Stockholm, we spent more time wandering around and getting lost than being tourists. The one touristy thing we did get to see, however, was the Vasa Museum which I HIGHLY recommend. The Vasa was a Swedish warship that they spent years building which, 15 minutes after leaving the harbor, sank. The fascinating thing about this museum is the entire ship exists conserved in this museum the exact way it looked when it sunk in the 1600s.
After visiting the Vasa Museum, we spent the next few hours walking around. I was only actually able to see the Vasa Museum and spend the last day walking around with my friends because I received a text message from Norwegian around 10 in the morning saying my flight was already delayed 4 hours. This meant I was now scheduled to depart around the same time my friends traveling back to New York were departing. We were able to split a cab back to the airport and pay less than the $25 per person cost of the Arlanda Express since there were 4 of us. Be on the lookout for a post about the worst travel experience I’ve had on my flight back from Stockholm to Los Angeles. Spoiler alert – the flight was delayed for over 14 hours!!!
Overall, I loved Stockholm. It’s never a place that was at the top of my list, but I’m so happy I went. While Scandinavia as a whole is expensive, I didn’t feel like I was massively overpaying for everything and didn’t feel trapped into spending a lot of money. The emergence of Norwegian has made Stockholm arguably one of the most cheaply accessible cities in Europe from major US gateways (think Los Angeles & New York). I frequently see flights, often non-stop, to Stockholm for around $400. What are you waiting for?!