After arriving in Stockholm, clearing customs and taking the long walk through baggage claim, I headed to the ARN Express – an express train that connects the international airport to the central station in downtown Stockholm. I love quick City/Airport connections – it’s almost critical when doing weekend trips like this. I’ve can’t tell you how much I love the Heathrow Express or the Shanghai Maglev.
I decided to purchase my ARN Express Tickets online before departure. It’s great because you don’t need a paper ticket (with the online version at least) and you don’t even need to print a receipt (although I did, just in case the system didn’t work right). All you need to do is have with you the credit card which you purchased your tickets (online). As the ticket checker comes through you just hand her (or him, but on both my inbound and outbound two young women check my travel credentials) the credit card you used and you are good to go.
As I entered the station, I saw the train just pulling out. Luckily, the train was running every 8-10 minutes that time of day. I sat down and waited. Several people came running down the stairs and were visibly agitated that the train wasn’t there waiting for them.
The train pulled in and we all boarded. From the time the train entered the station until we were en route to the Central Station was less than 5 minutes. The seats were comfortable if not a bit tight. At least on my trips the train was a near ghost town. There was plenty of room to sit and to store your luggage near your seat.
Once aboard, it took less than 20 minutes to make it to the Central Station. The ticket checkers came and were very nice – two young women working in tandem, swiping cards and greeting every guest. The train is equipped with WiFi but on both my trips (in and outbound) it didn’t connect quickly not did it stay connected. I think I was able to get a quick FourSquare Check-In done (does anyone really care about FourSquare anymore?) and the next thing I knew we were pulling into the Central Station.
I had two big concerns about taking this train into the City: 1) missing the train and having to wait 30-60 minutes for the next one because of maintenance, etc on the tracks and 2) leaving the Central Station and walking the wrong way to my hotel. I knew my hotel was less than a 10 minute walk from the station, but if I went out the wrong door and started wandering down the street the wrong way, it would extend my transit time. Luckily I did some research before I left (as I usually travel without data on my mobile devices) and found the proper exit and upon hitting the street, I saw the Sheraton just a couple blocks away.
Next time I fly into Stockholm, I wouldn’t think twice about taking the ARN Express — and quite honestly, I didn’t put a whole hell of a lot of thought into the train. It was much cheaper than a taxi, got me where I wanted to go, very quickly and it felt very safe. I would also highly recommend this mode of transport for anyone visiting the City. I do wish Chicago had a nice high speed, direct train that would take you from ORD to the Loop – having a connected Subway is a great benefit, but I think we, as Chicagoans, need to step up our game.
How did you transit from ARN to the Central of Stockholm? Do you did the high speed trains or do you prefer the easy of a taxi after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight? What Cities do you think have the best Airport – City Center Transport options?