Scandinavia has a bad reputation for being the most expensive region in the world. Denmark is bad, Sweden is worse, and Norway takes the cake. In fact, you can see the effects of pricing by where the locals buy their booze — Norwegians head to Sweden, the Swedes go to Denmark, and everyone tries to get to Germany where beer is cheaper than Coke.
But is Sweden expensive?
Yes, Sweden is expensive, but not for everything. If you’re comparing your wine prices against Germany, you’re going to be unimpressed, especially if you’re looking at the cheapest bottle available in each country. But compare against mid-range prices in the UK or New Zealand and it all doesn’t seem quite so bad. The tax on wine seems to be a per-bottle price, so there’s no low-range options, but if you’re prepared to spend the same as you’d pay for a nice bottle back home, you can get a nice bottle in Sweden too.
It’s similar in the supermarkets. If you’re accustomed to buying the cheapest options at home, you’re not going to enjoy grocery shopping in Sweden – there doesn’t seem to be a lot of budget options. But the mid-range prices aren’t unreasonable.
Where you might have problems though, is the transport: it is definitely not cheap. Even the locals complain about the prices of long-distance train travel, and local transport is a wallet drainer as well. One ride on the public transport network in Stockholm is 30 kroner, and a 72-hour pass is 200 kroner. It’s better in Goteborg, where you’re looking at 25 kroner and 130 kroner for the same tickets. Scandinavia is one of the regions where a Eurail or Interrail pass is definitely a good investment.
Accommodation is comparable to other places in Europe – a bed in a hostel dorm will cost you about 25 euros, which is expensive but not more than you’d pay in many parts of Germany, for example. But you can get around that by couchsurfing – just buy your host a bottle of wine!