Best things to do in Stockholm, Sweden – A complete City Guide
A fashion haven, museum retreat, an innovation hub and base for enthralling adventurous tours where a serene lake connects different parts of the city – all of this and yet basking in the royal feel with lots of stunning palaces and elaborate royal gardens – that’s Stockholm for you! I was lucky to have spent a few days in Stockholm and have explored the city to my heart’s content. So, here I am guiding you with the ‘Best things to do in Stockholm City’. In this guide, I shall be explaining you the different ways in which you can travel inside the city, know what are the places of interest and the best way to enjoy each attraction.
Stockholm City Guide
➡ Stockholm Introduction
As you all know, Stockholm is the Capital of Sweden. Sweden as such, is very open in its approach and welcomes new talent to the country and allow them to flourish with its efficient infrastructure and a favourable environment. This in turn leads to a breeding ground for innovative ideas making Stockholm as the second most prolific tech and start up hub in the world, first being the Silicon Valley.
Stockholm city is made up of 14 islands which is connected by Lake Maralen that in turn flows into the Baltic Sea. Sweden is also one of the most populated cities amongst Nordic countries. Education in Stockholm is top-notch and is home to many reputed educational institutions. Every year, Nobel Prize winners are awarded in a grand ceremony here in Stockholm. There is also a Nobel Museum dedicated to the Nobel Laureates which displays some of their inventions and the struggles they underwent to achieve those. Stockholm is also one of the cleanest cities in Europe due to the absence of fumes spilling factories and industries in the city.
➡ Stockholm Archipelago
Stockholm Archipelago consists of more than 30,000 islands! Can you believe that? The cluster of islands increase as we move closer to the shore. Sandy beaches, fishing villages, rocky isles, caves, caverns, islets and much more – there is an island for every mood. These islands can be reached through frequent boats and ferries. Or, if you don’t want to visit the islands and just see some of them from far, then, you can take an archipelago tour which takes you around some of Stockholm’s famous islands. You can often see locals and tourists enjoying their Stockholm holidays by cosily settling on the waterfront, swimming with kids in the shallow waters or relaxing in their hammocks on some of the lovely islands of Stockholm Archipelago. Check this website to know more about Stockholm Archipelago.
➡ Visa to visit Stockholm, Sweden for Tourism
As a standard practice, a valid Schengen Visa is required for Indians to visit Sweden. To know more about acquiring a Schengen Visa, see this post. A cover letter is equally important to obtain a visa, check this post to learn more on how to write a cover letter for Schengen visa.
➡ Some of the best tours you can do while in Stockholm
This post is going to be a detailed one and you shall get a lot of information about Stockholm here. If you are in a hurry and want a cheat sheet then, have a look at these tours, which are worthwhile doing in Stockholm, in the section below.
➡ Top 10 Things to do in Stockholm
- Enjoy museums and other sightseeing places with Stockholm pass: Enjoy the freedom of visiting more than 60 attractions free of cost with this pass. It is a must have while in Stockholm. Click here to check prices and ratings.
- Go on a exciting bike tour: Stockholm: 3-Hour Guided Bike Tour
- Cruise along River Maralen for a Royal Canal Boat tour: Stockholm: Royal Bridges and Canal Cruise.
- A gastronomic walking tour: Stockholm 4-Hour Food and Walking Tour
- Exciting Segway tour of Stockholm: Stockholm Heights and Shoreline: 2-Hour Segway Tour
- Travel around the city in Hop-on-hop-off bus and boat: Stockholm Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour by Bus & Boat
- Enjoy the scenic Stockholm with this walking tour: Scenic Stockholm: 3-Hour Walking Tour
- Explore Stockholm Archipelago: Stockholm Archipelago 1-Hour Tour by RIB Speed Boat or Full-Day Stockholm Archipelago Sailing Tour or Kayaking Day in the Archipelago or Kayaking day in Archipelago.
- Freeze your beautiful moments in Stockholm with a professional photoshoot: Private Professional Photo Shoot in Stockholm
- Walk on a roof of an old Presidential building on a roof-top-tour: Takvandring Roof-top tour of Stockholm
➡ Best time to visit Stockholm
Just like every country, Sweden too has Summer, Spring and Winter. The summer months are late May-Early September, are the warmest with temperatures soaring till 30 degrees. There is ample daylight and even the mid night sun is celebrated in month of June.
Spring is when things turn around. In April and early May, the snow from the cold winters starts to melt as sun peeps from behind the clouds. While in late September and October, gloomy weather is accompanied by occasional showers which will eventually turn into snow fall.
October to March is when Sweden is under the spell of fresh snow in Winter. Lakes turn into skating rinks and people make merry in ski resorts. Often, Northern lights are spotted during this time too!
➡ Getting around Stockholm
Considering the available public transport options, traveling around Stockholm shouldn’t be a hassle at all. While we were in Stockholm, we used almost all modes of transport and we loved just how convenient it is to go around Stockholm. And it is absolutely easy even for a first timer to figure out how to travel between different corners of the city! Just look into your google maps or ask at your hotel desk for different options to go to a place and you will get your answer!
Public transport in Stockholm is extremely efficient and tourist friendly. Apart from the local buses that ply from one corner of the city to another, we have Hop-on-hop-off buses that stop at all the famous landmarks. We can get off at any place and catch another bus just to hop off at another. Exactly opposite to the previous concept is the non-stop bus that takes you around Stockholm City showing you the places of attraction in Stockholm from the comfort of your seat.
Just download this app and you are sorted. You can either buy the tickets from the app or SL Centres, underground ticket booths and newsagent kiosks.
Metro in Stockholm is one of the bests in the world, not only for its extremely efficient transportation system with lesser carbon footprint, but also for its unique art in its stations. Often touted as the ‘World’s longest art gallery’, Stockholm’s metro stations are a destination in itself. With more than 100 stations out of which 90 of them have been decorated with beautiful murals, mosaic paintings and abstract art. While in Stockholm, don’t miss this even in a blink!
A superb way to explore Stockholm and its Archipelago is thorough boat tours. Apart from connecting different parts of the city, it’s a beautiful way to explore Stockholm neighbourhood. There are boat taxis and hop-on-hop-off boat tours too. As the boat sails through the deep blue waters of Lake Maralen, a nostalgia seeped in and I drifted away into a dream world! Such is the magic of the place!
Stockholm is an amalgamation of 14 islands connected by 57 bridges and going on a boat tour, though touristy, is the best way to feel the chilled out vibe of Stockholm city. While there, check out the Ocean Bus or the Amphibian boats – these are amazing! It is a vehicle which acts as a boat while in water and as a bus while on road! So cool, right?
Trams in Stockholm runs through the Djurgården area as there are no metro services in this route. The scenery en route is gorgeous and several famous museums and parks in Stockholm are covered in this route. I’m sure you are going to love this tram ride, just like we did!
Stockholm is a Bikers paradise. Men dressed in formals zoom by in swanky bikes, children, women and elderly – people of all ages, profession and sect use bikes in Stockholm. There are a lot of parking spaces for cyclists in Stockholm. There are dedicated biking lanes and Stockholmers make the optimum use of these. As a result of which new parking spaces are built every year.
Taxis in Stockholm, no doubt are the fastest way to go from one destination within the city to another. That also goes without saying that it’s also one of the fastest ways to empty your wallet. Yes, taxis are expensive in Stockholm. Unless and until it’s absolutely necessary, I’d say taxis are a no-no.
There are so many modes of transport within the city that taxis are rarely preferred by tourists. Even to get from airport to your hotel in the city, there are a lot of trains and buses. Arlanda Express is the super-fast train that takes just 20 minutes to get to the Stockholm Central Station which is located in the heart of the city.
If you still need to take a taxi, be aware that taxi prices in Stockholm is not regulated. So, every company has its own rates. Make sure you confirm the same with the driver before the ride.
In 4 days we stayed in Stockholm, we never once felt the need to rent a car. If you are in the city for a few days, like were, then renting a car is unnecessary – not to forget the parking hassles and overhead of parking fees. If you are an ardent reader of our blog, you would have been aware our love for driving. But, we always have advocated against self-drive cars inside the European cities and we have always rented a car when we have to drive between the cities. You may want to read our Italian self-drive experience in this article here or read our Iceland road trip here.
➡ Stockholm passes and tickets
Stockholm Pass is a sightseeing card which entitles you free entry into many of Stockholm’s top attractions. This is definitely a go to card for you, if you wish to make the most of your stay Stockholm by visiting as many places of attractions possible. You can combine your Stockholm Pass with a Travel card from which you gain free access to unlimited public transport for a slated amount of time. Check this website for more details on Stockholm Pass.
The travel card I mentioned in the previous paragraph, is called the SL card, where SL means Stockholm Local Traffic which is the organisation that handles the public transport in Stockholm. Check this website for fares and routes: https://sl.se/en/
➡ Different areas in Stockholm
While travelling to a new city, it’s always good to get familiar with the different parts of city – this helps not only to be clear on what we see and do while we are there, but also aids in keeping confusion at bay while we are there. For Stockholm first timers, I am introducing you a few prominent areas in Stockholm where you can stay put or plan your stay according to your taste and liking. Also in the next section, where I list down ‘What to visit in Stockholm’, I shall divide those into sections, area wise.
Gamlastan is the heart of Stockholm and its old town is undoubtedly one of the major attractions in Stockholm. As this area is swarmed with tourists all the time, Gamlastan neighbourhood is well equipped to cater the crowd. There is no dearth for hotels, restaurants, cafes, ice cream shops and souvenir shops here. Gamlastan is also connected to every corner of the city – be it through metro, trams, buses or by boat.
Where to Stay in Gamlastan?
Kungstradgarden is not the name of an area, but is a huge park which is a landmark in itself. Kungstradgarden translates to King’s Garden as there was a beautiful French garden that stood here a couple of hundred years ago. Later it was used for Military regime and was open to public in 1875. It is one of the most photographed locations in Stockholm and a cherry blossom festival is hosted here every April.
The reason I added Kungstradgarden here is because there are prominent sightseeing attractions in the perimeter of Kungstradgarden, so you might want to consider staying here. If you decide to stay here, then don’t miss visiting Drottninggatan, which is the shopping street and the Indian Street Food & Co restaurant serves some yum Indian food 🙂
Where to Stay in Kungstradgarden?
Östermalm is Stockholm’s posh neighbourhood with high end residential complexes and classy nightclubs. It’s also a shopping haven bustling with designer labels and expensive outlets. Östermalm is close to Stockholm Centre and is well connected to every part of the city.
Djurgarden is by far my favourite area in Stockholm. It has everything one needs to spend a peaceful and happy holiday in a happening city. Sure there are crowds in Djurgarden, but that definitely won’t deter you from enjoying your time there. Countless trees shading the sprawling museums of all sorts, lush gardens overlooking the serene waterfront, largest open-air museum, an amusement park, underwater world and what not! You can easily spend 2 days and still not be able to completely explore Djurgarden area – that is how beautiful and huge the place is.
Vasastan is the quiet, residential neighbourhood in Stockholm. It is dotted with cool cafes, bars, restaurants and vintage shops. There are a handful of beautiful attractions in vicinity of Vasastan – stunning architectural structures, expansive parks and lovely galleries are a part of it.
Sodermalm or ‘South’ district in Stockholm is a lovely part of the city which connects other areas through gorgeous bridges and Lake Maralen just adds to the beauty. Sodermalm is an amalgamation of appealing neighbourhood, delightful cafes and hangout places with amazing views.
➡ Stockholm What to see:
Now that you know a little bit about Stockholm, I’ll not keep you waiting for more. You came here to know about ‘Places to see in Stockholm’ and you will get that info in this section. As I mentioned earlier, I will make your job easier by segregating the places of interest – area wise. This will be helpful for you to plan your accommodation and activities in Stockholm. In this exhaustive list below, you can choose the places you’d like to visit depending on your liking and interests. So, lets dive in straight into the information pool!
- Gamlastan Old town: Stroll alongside the vibrant buildings in Stockholm’s old town which eludes a sweet medieval charm.
- Post Museum: The Modern day technology has evolved to a pace where messages reach opposite corners of the world within fraction of a second. How about experiencing those days when a letter would take days or weeks to reach a destination just hundreds of kilometres far – then head to the Post Museum and relive those days.
- The House of Nobility: This was commissioned by the Swedish Nobility in 17th century and consists of exquisite architecture, some of the best in North Europe.
- Stockholm Cathedral: Built in early 13th century, the Stockholm Cathedral houses some unique objects which are held in high regard in European art scene.
- The Nobel Museum: Moving stories of Nobel Laureates, their invention, short films about their life and things that changed the 20th century are on display here.
- The Royal Armoury: Swedish Royal armoury, costumes of kings and queen and other artefacts which a proof of the days gone by are on display here.
- The Royal Palace: The official residence of the King of Sweden, built in Italian Baroque style and houses more than 600 rooms. This sprawling palace is a must visit while in Stockholm.
- The Riddarholmen Church: A final resting place of all Swedish kings, Riddarholmen Church is also known for being the only preserved Medieval Monastery church.
- Almgren Silk Weaving Mill: is Stockholm’s only existing Silk Mill with original machines and documentary of how silk was weaved.
- Dansmuseet – The Museum of Movement: Displays a huge collection of Rolf de Maré’s dance related artefacts. He was the leader of Ballets suédois in Paris. Also housed in the museum is a video library of good number of video films and books on Russian dance.
- The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities: How about delving inside Mediterranean history and antique souvenirs in the heart of Europe? If your answer is yes, then head over to this museum and take a journey to Mediterranean while in Stockholm.
- Royal Swedish Opera (Kungliga Operan): Is Sweden’s national stage for opera and ballet. Its interior is grand and expansive – it has to be seen to be believed.
- The Hallwyl Museum: If you’d be interested in seeing how the rich lived in the past century, then you may be interested in visiting this museum to relive the relics of bygone era.
- The Royal Stables: is where the Sweden Royalty’s Mews or the combination of Stables + Carriage house is situated. It is open to public via guided tours.
- Army Museum: A complete and detailed exhibits of Sweden’s history of war, peace, everything then and now!
- The Swedish History Museum: Famed as Sweden’s largest museum, this hosts an array of things which are held in high regard with respect to Sweden’s historical and cultural significance.
- Nordika Museet or Nordic museum: An elaborate display of the lifestyle and history of the people of Nordic region with a clear progression in chronological order clearly depicting the subtle differences as how the modern day practices came into existence. Grab an audio guide here and time travel to the olden and golden days.
- Junibacken: Sweden’s largest children’s bookstore and is Stockholm’s 5th most visited attraction. Children can travel inside a fairy tale world with the characters they’ve read only in books.
- The Vasa Museum: Here is where we can see the world’s only 17th century ship, which sank just minutes after it was flagged!
- Museum of Spirits and Absolute Art Collection: Here is where art meets the Spirit. If you are one that is high on art and love quirky stuff, then go here!
- Museum of Biology: This is an interesting museum where we can learn more about Scandinavian mammals and birds in their natural habitats.
- Aquaria Water Museum: A mini amazon rain forest setting and a collection of small and uncommon sea animals are the highlights of Aquaria Water Museum.
- Liljevalchs Art Gallery: Built by architect Carl Bergsten, this is one cool museum with really interesting art exhibits.
- ABBA, The Museum & Swedish Music Hall of Fame: ABBA is a popular Swedish pop band whose original costumes and other band related things are on exhibit here. There is also an interactive platform where we can try on their costumes and sing along and have it recorded!
- Grona Lund: is the Sweden’s oldest amusement park and is known for its unique location by the waterfront, amidst buildings.
- Skansen: World’s oldest Open-Air Museum is located here in Skansen. A lovely zoo replicating animals natural habitat and has been made to look as real as possible. Skansen has its own Aquarium. Beautiful gardens and parks takes a whole day to explore every inch of Skansen.
- Prins Eugens Waldermarsudde: Is a small lovely museum displaying painting from Sweden’s famous artists. It also offers great views and a beautiful garden to spend a few peaceful minutes.
- Rosendale Palace: Built to be Sweden Royalty’s summer Palace, it is an excellent example of exquisite Swedish architecture.
- The Theil Gallery: Famed as one of Sweden’s finest art museums, Theil’s Gallery hosts art work of some of Sweden’s renowned artists.
- Vikinglav Museum: A walk inside this museum gives a complete overview of the life of Vikings, how they came into existence and where all they travelled to and what they did. Don’t forget to fill your tummies in the Glod restaurant here in Vikinglav Museum.
- The National Maritime Museum: As the name says, it is a Maritime Museum with details of 17th century Swedish ships and vessels. It also has an interactive, creative workshop for children.
- The National Sports Museum of Sweden: An interesting exhibit of various sports with a facility to try your strength and skills at those games. Also on display is the info about Olympics. Kids will have a nice time here as they can be qualitatively engaged.
- Swedish Police Museum: This museum is all about Swedes Police cars, uniform and how things work in the Police Department. Entrance for Kids is free here. Adults have to pay 60 SEK.
- The National Museum of Science and Technology: Sweden is known for innovation and it’s no surprise that there is a museum dedicated to Science and Technology. The museum is a breeding ground of invention and it’s definitely a good idea to bring kids here and introduce them to show how things work and spark that little Einstein in them.
- The Kaknas Tower: This is the hub where all the TV and Radio signal broadcast happens. The observation deck from this tower offers amazing views of Stockholm skyline and archipelago.
- The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities: Sweden is a melting point of cultures – this can be proved with this museum which displays beautiful sculptures and art from Asian counterparts.
- Moderna Museet: This museum is dedicated to modern art and on exhibit is art work from prominent artists like Picasso, Dali, Derkert, and Matisse.
- The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design: If you are studying architecture and design or have interest in it, then you can visit this museum to learn about Swedes architecture, then and now.
- Stockholm Concert Hall: One of the masterpieces in Swedes Architecture, the Stockholm Concert Hall is where the Nobel Prize Ceremony and Polar Music Awards are held every year.
- The Strindberg Museum: Home of the great Swedes author, August Strindberg – this museum gives an insight into the life of the author – his style, likes and interests.
- The Jewish Museum: This museum features history of Jews in Sweden and on display are the artefacts that are preserved till date. The museum theatre showcases films and documentaries of the oHhoojkjklife of Jews in Sweden.
- Svens-Harrys(art museum): Sven-Harry Karlsson, an award winning Swedish builder who was an ardent collector. On display here is his extensive art collection which includes grand ball room designer gowns of Swedish Royalty.
- Bonneirs Kansthall: is the art display of international contemporary art in Sweden and is an independent and non-profit art institution.
- Drottningholm Palace: Stockholm’s celebrated UNESCO Heritage site, Drottningholm Palace was built in 17th Century and is the permanent residence of the royal family.
- The Woodland Cemetery: It is a cemetery but also considered as a work of art. There is a certain degree of emotion that eludes from visiting this place – no wonder it is awarded the title of UNESCO Heritage site.
- Sky View: An exciting gondola ride over the World’s largest Spherical building that offers exhilarating views of Stockholm city and skyline.
- The Toy Museum & Stockholm Transport Museum: This is an interesting museum for kids to visit and learn more about the local transport in Stockholm. Toy trains and mini models keep them engaged and be ready to answer a lot of questions!
- Fotografiska : a contemporary photography hub where thought provoking photographs fill the gallery. Many photography exhibitions are held throughout the year too.
- The City Hall and City Hall Tower: Stockholm’s City tower was built with 8 million bricks and the Gyllene Salen or the Golden Hall, is decorated with 18 million gold mosaic tiles where an after party is held for Nobel Laureates and the royalty. And the City Hall tower offers amazing views of the city.
Whoa! Has this finished yet? With such a detailed list, I bet you need not do any other research on where to go in Stockholm and things to do. Let me also help you by giving a few itinerary ideas to make your job even easier.
➡ 3 Day Stockholm itinerary
Day 1: Visit Gamlastan old town early in the morning to experience it sans the crowd. Also visit the adjacent Nobel Museum and walk to the nearby Riddarholmen Church. Book your exciting roof top walking tour and then proceed to experience the Stockholm Archipelago by boat in the evening.
Day 2: Keep aside an entire day at Djurgarden and I doubt that a whole day would be enough to explore all of it. But, nonetheless select the ones from the list which you really want to visit and finish off those first and then explore the rest if you get time (which I doubt!)
Day 3: Be the tourist in Stockholm today and visit as many places as you can. I can’t zero it down to one area today as there are many more interesting stuff left to do than what you did in past two days. If you ask me, I’d say do the Royal Palace, Drottningholm Palace, Rosendale Palace, The City Hall and City Hall Tower, The Kaknas Tower. I know these are miles apart, so plan your day accordingly. Also go through the list again and choose the places that interest you.
I am not a city person and didn’t expect that Stockholm will impress me so much. It was a beautiful surprise. I really am so thankful that I got to visit Sweden and especially my trip to Stockholm was a revelation.
I’ve tried my best to list out the best places to visit in Stockholm. Hope this helps you to plan your Stockholm Itinerary and let me know in the comments if you find it useful.
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