Also called the Venice of the North, Stockholm is truly a beauty to behold.
I found it amazing how effortlessly modern Stockholm blends into its ancient past, since it is basically a living and breathing museum. Stockholm is a pilgrimage spot for food lovers and Viking aficionados alike. Its music scene will baffle you too.
Spread across many islands, it is a compact, welcoming city that never fails to surprise. Come here for the history, stay here for the warmth.
The Best Time to Visit Stockholm
The best season to hit Stockholm would be summer, which is from June to August when the days are long and the city is bathed in a beautiful, soft light.
Fun Facts about Stockholm
- The city of Stockholm consists of 14 islands but you probably won’t realize it because they are connected seamlessly.
- The archipelago of Stockholm has even more islands: a whopping 25,000 islands in a stretch of 150 miles by 50 miles! It is famous for its cruises.
- A plague wiped out about a third of the entire population of Stockholm in 1710.
- The subway system of Stockholm is known as the world’s longest art gallery because of intricate paintings, mosaics and sculptures inside the stations.
- In 1901, the city held the first Nobel Prize ceremony. Today, the Nobel Museum holds the ceremonies and famous awardees visit here.
The Top 10 Attractions in Stockholm
10 – Royal Armoury
The Royal Armoury
is found in the cool cellar vaults of the main Stockholm palace and has free entry. The displays here are a family collection of sort with memorabilia spanning 500 years – childhoods, weddings, coronations, wars and even murders. Famous of the displays here are Gustav II Adolf’s battle steed called Streiff, Gustav III’s famous masquerade ball costume right before he was shot in 1792 and weaponry and armor through the history of the various kings. Most significant here is the collection of coronation coaches including the one from the crowning of Adolf Fredrik and Ulrika Eleonora back in 1751. Children will love the try-it-on armor in the playroom here.
9 – Nobelmuseet
Housed in the Börsen building, Stockholm’s old stock exchange, the Noble Museum or Nobelmuseet
houses the history of the Nobel Prizes and laureates each year. The museum is has emphasis on invention and innovation and has the most fascinating displays of the Nobel Prizes through the years including short films, interviews with significant laureates such as Ernest Hemingway and Martin Luther King. Don’t forget to see the cafe chairs signed by the visiting laureates! The museum is teeming with laureates from around the world during the ceremony which is presented right here! We recommend the free guided tours here.
8 – Gamla Stan
Stockholm’s Gamla Stan
or the Old Town is by far the most well maintained medieval city center in Europe and it is from here that the great city was found back in 1252. This street is pedestrian friendly and has numerous churches, museums, bars and cafes along with shops and is very tourist friendly. The various colored houses have remained since the Middle Ages and you can see the frescos and cellar vaults occasionally. Gamla Stan’s main streets are Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan. Visit the oldest square in Stockholm called Stortorget from where the city’s oldest street Köpmangatan (dating back to 14
th century) runs. Walk down the Mårten Trotzigs grand, the narrowest alley in the Old Town which is , only 90 centimeters wide!
Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
7 – The Royal Palace
Also called Kungliga Slottet
Stockholm’s Royal Palace is home to Sweden’s royal family and is supposed to be the largest castle in the world that is still used to house the royals with a whopping 608 rooms. It was built on the ruins of an earlier castle called Tre Kronor that burned down in 1697. However its north wing survived and the new building was made around it. It took 57 years to rebuild it. The highlights of the castle include the Versailles’ inspired Karl XI Gallery and Queen Kristina’s silver throne. Although it has baroque and rococo art, the palace is a working government building. Guided tours are available here and a ticket will get you admission to the Museum Tre Kronor, the Royal Treasury and Gustav III's Antikmuseum. Don’t miss the Changing of the Guard at 12.15pm Monday to Saturday.
6 – Vasamuseet
The Vasa Museum or Vasamseet
is Stockholm’s prized possession. It contains the massive warship Vasa which is 69m long and 48.8m tall. It set sail on 10 August 1628 under the Swedish crown but within 15 minutes, the architecturally unsound ship tipped and sank to the bottom of Saltsjön into obscurity, taking with it most of the crew where it would remain for 333 years until in 1961, it was raised again. It is supposed to be the world’s best preserved ship – more than 80% of the original vessel was found preserved since the brine in the water didn’t destroy it. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle, it was painstakingly reassembled. Walk in to see a short film on the birth and swift death of this famous Vasa dynasty warship; you will also find exhibitions. Pirates of the Carribean fans will find it especially amusing since the crew of the film franchise developed the vessels in the films taking inspiration from the Vasa.
5 - Gröna Lund Tivoli
The Gröna Lund Tivoli
is Stockholm’s answer to Copenhagen’s Tivoli but is not as grand. Opened in 1883, it is Sweden’s oldest amusement park and has around 30 adrenaline pumping rides from the carousels to the roller coaster. Spend some family time here in the several eating and drinking places in the park. You can avail of the Åkband day pass that offers unlimited rides. You can also go to a concert here; in fact Bob Marley himself had performed here in 1980. Since the park is situated on the harbor, you can catch a great sunset view of the city from here too.
4 - Skansen
Another star attraction of Stockholm, Skansen
is the world’s first open-air museum. Founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, it aimed to tell visitors how Swedes lived. The museum has around 150 traditional Swede houses and other exhibits like small villages, commerce and industry – kind of like a miniature Sweden. Highlights include the Nordic Zoo with animals like elk, reindeer and wolves; the glass-blowers’ cottage; staff in period costume making handicrafts; a small bakery and Hazelius’ old mansion. The museum also has around 46 buildings from rural Sweden. There are cafes and kiosks all around the park. Visitors can also indulge in a range of activities including folk dancing.
3 – Moderna Museet
Modern art maniacs will have a ball at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet
. This museum has free entry and has a wide collection of 20 th century paintings, sculptures, photography and video art installations highlights of which include works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Francis Bacon and Matisse along with Scandinavian and Russian artists. The building itself was designed by famoys Rafael Moneo. You can also find a good collection of temporary exhibits (admission fee is 100 kr) and children’s workshops here. Unwind at the Café Blom here which is in a secluded courtyard and served good salads and coffee. You can also visit the well stocked gift shop.
2 – Kaknästornet
is Stockholm’s ‘TV Tower’ and is where major local television, radio and satellite broadcasts happen. Built in 1967, this 155 meter high tower was once the tallest building in the Nordic nations but was surpassed in 1971 by another building in Finland. Owned by the Swedish broadcasting Teracom, it is open to the public which makes it one of the best viewpoints of the entire city. You can get amazing views of the sunset from the observation deck and later grab a bite to eat at the restaurant below. The gift shop at the bottom has amazing souvenirs on offer as well!
1 – Spritmuseum
If you are an alcohol afficiando, you probably know that Sweden is famous for its liquor, especially Absolut Vodka. A visit to the entertaining Museum of Spirits
will leave you with one of the best hangovers you’ll ever have! Situated in two 18th century navy buildings, the museum is dedicated to the history and manufacture of all kinds of liquor and related traditions and holidays. A ticket will allow you to be a part of a liquor tasting ceremony. Drunks can recover in the hangover room which has bright lights and head-hurting music. Don’t forget to sample the beer on tap at the 'Beer Pier' while enjoying their multiple multimedia exhibits. No judgments here!
Top Events in Stockholm
What to eat in Stockholm
- Pyttipanna – This is a Swedish classic which includes pan-fried diced potatoes, onions, and sausages served with a side of fried eggs and pickled beetroot.
- Toscakaka – This is traditional almond caramel cake is out of this world and is usually made at homes with the recipe being passed down from generations.
- Stekt strömming – This means pan-fried herring which is often served with lingonberry, mashed potatoes, dill, and melted butter.
- Ankbröst med lingonsås – Meaning duck breast with sweet and tart red colored lingonberry sauce.
- Husmanskost – Meaning home-cooked food, this is a blend of potatoes and root vegetables along with organic meat like reindeer and moose and local Baltic seafood.
Getting to Stockholm
Air – Stockholm’s Arlanda airport is located 37km north of the city and is served by most European airlines. Catch the train into Arlanda Express train from the airport to the Stockholm Central Station.
Rail – High speed trains from the Nordic countries like Denmark service Stockholm and will take you only a few hours to reach Stockholm’s Central Station. Road- Most European highways connect major European cities to Stockholm. The most popular route is the E4 that comes from Copenhagen.
Ferry – Many cruise liners and vessels leave from Stockholm’s harbors to Helsinki and Oslo among other cities daily. Enjoy your overnight journey in these well-equipped boats.
Getting around-and-about in Stockholm
Metro & Trams
- Also called the tunnelbana, the metro is a very efficient and cheap way to get around Stockholm. Tickets can be bought at machines inside the stations. You can also use the city pass or metro cards. Fines for traveling without a ticket are heavy at 1500 SEK. The trams also run over ground but are slower although a better way to see the city.Bus
– Stockholm has a decent bus network that cover both city and surrounding areas.Taxis
– Uber is available here as are local taxis which can be hailed anywhere but are relatively expensive. Cycling
– Stockholm is a very cycle-friendly city with safe cycling lanes everywhere. Rent a cycle from Stockholm City Bikes
for a three-hour period.
Where to stay in Stockholm
List of Recommended Souvenirs
- Swedish Clogs – Clogs are so Swedish and you can find them at most department stores around the city.
- Swedish Candy – Pick up authentic Swedish caramel candy from Pärlan. We recommend the sea salt flavor and also licorice!
- Handblown Crystal: Pick up some handblown crystal from Stockholm, an art mastered in the southern regions of Sweden and let it be the subject of awe when you get home.
- Dala Horse: The Dala Horse is an iconic symbol from the Dalarna region. Pick up a hand-painted one from any store – each one is different.
- Dinnerware from the Nobel Museum – feel like you’re part of a Nobel Prize banquet with dinnerware from the shop at the museum.
Top Tips for Travelers to Stockholm
- Wear comfortable walking shoes always because the ancient cobblestones will wear out your feet and carry your heels with you if you want to go partying.
- Carry a waterproof covering (like a raincoat or a jacket) on you since it can get chilly and rainy at any time.
- Rent a cycle to get to places since Stockholm has a good cycle network.
- Use the metro if you want to get to places fast and also see the amazing artwork in the metro stations.
- Instead of converting into the local Krona (SEK), use your card to save on conversion rate and conserve your dollars or euros.
Enjoying Stockholm on a Budget
- Take a free walking tour in Stockholm since it is a cheap way to see the city which is expensive and meet new friends. Tours usually start from Gamla Stan and last a few hours. Free Tour Stockholm is one such company.
- Don’t go to sit-down restaurants since they are more expensive. Try local food at street stalls or even food markets which are more economical. You can also try lunch buffets at local restaurants.
- Don’t buy water instead refill your bottles from the taps found around the city. A bottle of water usually costs a hefty $3.
- Visit the free parks in Stockholm. In winter they even have free ice-skating! Parks include Djurgarden, Gärdet, Langholmen, and Ralambshovsparken. They are good for taking in local life and relaxing.
- Invest in the Stockholm Pass that gives you access to attractions, public transports, discounts at restaurants, etc. Prices start at 535 SEK for a daily pass.
Day trips from Stockholm
Roughly 11 kilometers west of Stockholm lies the one of the homes of the royal family, the Renaissance Drottningholm Slot which was built in the 17th century. Visit the guard room or the Corps de Garde which is now decorated with extravagant gilt-leather wall hangings. Next make your way to the baroque style Karl X Gustav Gallery which tells of this king’s military exploits. Don’t miss the elaborate State Bedchamber of Hedvig Eleonora which is the country’s most expensive baroque-styled room. You can easily spend a whole day here walking around the palace and the gardens. It is best to take a guided tour here.
Located only 40 kilometers northwest of Stockholm, Sigtuna is famously known as the oldest surviving Swedish town having been founded in 980 AD in the Viking Era. Visit Sitguna to see the most historically accurate Swedish village with the oldest street Storagatan. The first Swedish coins were minted here in 1000 AD according to excavations. Visit the ruins of medieval churches and the old Viking parliament, see the rune stones and sit near the Lake Mälaren. You can find cute boutiques and craft shops here as well.
Visit the closest archipelago island to Sweden’s capital where you can also go to the largest museum
in Stockholm's archipelago. The channel in which the island lies is used by sea vessels going to the capital. The Vaxholm fortress has been in its present form since 1839 but did not have any military significance. It is here that the museum is located with old artifacts. You can walked down Vaxholm’s cobbled streets and see small old candy-colored summer houses from the 19th century. Vaxholm dates back to 1647 and has some old buildings likes a typical fisherman’s house.
Visitor Information & Useful Links
Tourist Information Centers:
Airport Arlanda Visitor Center
Emergency Contact Numbers
Emergency Police/Fire/Ambulance Services : 112
Hospital directory : 171 000
Karolinska vägen (off of E4 North), Stockholm, Sweden08-517 700 00
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