Yesterday was my daughter’s 17th birthday. My gift to her: a 17-day trip in Sweden.
She arrived in Stockholm yesterday morning. I arrived several hours later, at 2 p.m. She flew from our home in Asheville, North Carolina. I flew from my second home in Helsingborg, Sweden.
Our journey has some lessons for cruise travelers to Sweden in that it illustrates just how easy, and inexpensive, it is to get around the wonderful country.
Bicycles & Busses In Sweden
I began my journey on the outskirts of Helsingborg. Had I not had luggage, I would have bicycled into town as I do on many days, pedaling dedicated bicycle roads that run through forests or along the coast. America could learn a lot from Sweden and neighboring Denmark about bicycles as an alternative means of transportation and lifestyle. In fact, part of the reason I moved here initially was that I wanted to be part of a bicycle culture.
But as I had luggage, I took the bus into town. I began by launching an iPhone app for the local transportation authority Skånetrafiken to load the bus schedule into town. Not only does the app tell me when the bus will depart but also when I should begin walking from the apartment! The app shows footprint icons to indicate the time that should be allotted to walking.
After arriving at the bus stop, I step on board and pay with my JoJo card (pronounced YoYo). The card offers a 20 percent discount for travel within the region, including the train to Copenhagen, a little more than an hour away, and to Gothenburg, more than two hours north.
The cost for the 15-minute ride from the bus stop near our apartment into town is less than US$2.50.
In Helsingborg, I connected with the airport bus, not to Copenhagen, though I often use the airport there, but to Ängelholm-Helsingborg, a small airport with cheap flights to Stockholm. I prefer the Ängelholm airport because I often find that flights to Stockholm are cheaper than from Copenhagen, and I can leave home two hours before my flight instead of three hours before my flight when going through Copenhagen.
Also, though clearing the security line is usually efficient at Copenhagen airport, clearing security in Ängelholm-Helsingborg takes no more than 5 minutes, thanks to the lower loads and less frequent flights from here.
Cost for the 30-minute transfer to Ängelholm-Helsingborg airport: about US$15. My one-hour flight from Ängelholm-Helsingborg airport to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport on SAS, by the way, was only US$75. (Kullaflyg, another carrier that operates from Ängelholm-Helsingborg, offers low-cost flights to Stockholm’s Bromma airport, which is more convenient to the city center than Arlanda airport).
Had I not been meeting my daughter at the airport, I would have traveled by train, about five hours but delivering me to the center of Stockholm. Cost on SJ, Sweden’s largest train operator, is about the same as flying (sometimes less) but arguably more convenient. From Arlanda airport, for example, you still have at least 20 minutes to get yourself into the city.
Getting Some Rest At A Cheap Airport Hotel
My daughter arrived at 7:35 a.m. so I arranged for her to have a day room until I arrived seven hours later. There were two options in the airport, Radisson Blu Sky City, which was pricey and not so flexible with the hours. She could have a day room from 8 a.m. until noon or noon until 6 p.m. or combine both.
Rest & Fly, however, allowed her to check in any time, charging SEK150 for the first hour and SEK50 for each additional hour. That’s a total of SEK400 (Sweden uses the kroner, not the Euro), which at current exchange rates makes the cost of six-hour stay about US$55.
Rest & Fly could be a good option for cruise travelers who arrive in Arlanda on international flights and want to get a little shut-eye before heading into the city. It’s a good chance that if you arrive at the city hotels before noon, your rooms will not be ready anyway — sometimes they’re not ready for check-in until mid-afternoon. Of course, you could always check your bags and go for a walk, but taking a short nap in a day room is another option.
Getting From Arlanda To The City Center
I’ve covered getting around in Stockholm, and getting between Arlanda airport and the city center, extensively on the Stockholm Cruise Blog.
That said, we traveled to the city center by Arlanda Express, which offers the fastest way to Stockholm’s Central Station, 20 minutes. Taxis, on the other hand, can take about 40 minutes (for the best rates on taxis between the city center and Arlanda airport, see this post).
Using Arlanda Express allowed the two of us to travel for the price of one, because children 17 and under go for free with a paying adult. Cost: SEK260, about $35.
There are cheaper ways to go: The airport bus, Flygbussarna, takes about 40 minutes and costs SEK99 for adults and SEK79 for the youth rate, less than US$25 for both of us.
Once in Stockholm, we picked up two Stockholm Cards, which includes free admission to museums and attractions and free travel on public transport.
Now that we’re here, it’s time to explore Sweden’s capital. You can begin your own exploration by clicking on the Stockholm Cruise Blog.
Questions? Feel free to contact me.