Finding somewhere cheap to stay in Sweden isn’t difficult. There’s an extensive network of youth hostels (of an exceptionally high standard) and campsites, while hotels and guesthouses are common in towns and cities. Self-catering accommodation is generally restricted to youth hostels and campsites, where cabins are often equipped with kitchens.
Accommodation prices in Sweden vary according to the day of the week or the season. Pricing falls into two main categories: the higher price is charged for stays from Sunday to Thursday outside of the summer peak (generally mid-June to mid-Aug); the lower rate is charged on Fridays and Saturdays. This lower rate is also applied every day during the summer peak. Remember though that this rule does not apply across the board and there are some places that actually charge higher prices in summer in line with most other countries; this is usually the case with hotels on the west coast. When we give two prices in the guide, these reflect the difference in price according to season or day, with the high-season and weekend rate generally given first. Single rooms, where available, usually cost between sixty and eighty percent of the price.
Youth hostels in Sweden (vandrarhem) turn up in the unlikeliest of places. There are over three hundred of them dotted across the country, in converted lighthouses, old castles and prisons, historic country manors, schoolrooms and even on boats. Quite simply, they offer some of the best accommodation in the country. Forget any preconceptions about youth hostelling: in Sweden, large dormitories are few, and rooms usually sleep four to six people.
The majority of hostels are run by STF (Svenska Turistföreningen; t 08 463 22 70, w svenskaturistforeningen.se). Apart from the STF hostels there are a number of independently run hostels, usually charging similar prices; we’ve mentioned the most useful in the text, and tourist offices will have details of any other local independent hostels.
Fell stations and cabins
Fell stations (fjällstationer) provide top-notch, hostel-like accommodation along mountain hiking routes; prices vary and are given in the guide. They’re usually better equipped than the average youth hostel: rooms are private rather than dorms, and each fell station has a sauna, a shop and a kitchen.
Mountain cabins (fjällstugor), of which there are around ninety, are often no more than simple huts out in the wilds and are wonderful for getting away from it all. Run by the STF, they generally are often located at convenient intervals along popular walking routes. Both fell stations and mountain cabins allow you to use a sleeping bag without a sheet underneath.
Hotels and guesthouses
Hotels and guesthouses (usually family-run bed and breakfast establishments) needn’t be expensive, and although there’s little chance of finding any kind of room for under 550kr a night, you can often find good-value hotel rooms in summer, especially between mid-June and mid-August, when business people who would otherwise fill the hotels during the week are on holiday. The only parts of the country where summer discounts don’t apply are in some of the popular holiday destinations in southern Sweden such as Gotland, where prices can actually go up in summer. Nearly all hotels include a huge self-service buffet breakfast in the price, which will keep you going for much of the day.
Campsites, cabins and self-catering
Practically every town or village has at least one campsite, and they are generally of a high standard. To pitch a tent at any of them you’ll need the Camping Card Scandinavia, which costs 140kr and is issued at the first site you visit; contact the Swedish Camping Site Owners’ Association (w camping.se). It costs 140–200kr for two people to pitch a tent at an official campsite and most sites are open from June to August. For details on camping rough, see Sports and outdoor activities.
Many campsites also boast cabins, each of which is usually equipped with bunk beds, a kitchen and utensils, but not sheets. Self-catering in cabins is a good way to keep costs down. Cabins start around 500kr per night for a two-bed number. As usual, it’s wise to ring ahead to secure one. Sweden also has a whole series of cabins for rent in spots other than campsites, often in picturesque locations such as in the middle of the forest, by a lakeshore or on the coast. For information and to make a booking, contact the local tourist office.