Best Things To Do in Stockholm
Stockholm is a great escape for the relaxed urban traveler. Here you can take a public ferry to the picturesque Gamla Stan or take a leisurely stroll among the relaxing grounds of the lush Djurgården park island. The capital is also perfect for those with a penchant for culture, housing an abundance of museums and galleries including the world's first open-air museum, Skansen, and one of the largest meeting places of contemporary photography in the world, Fotografiska. Take in how the royals lived at the Royal Palace and make sure to top off your visit with a trip to Monteliusvagen in Sodermalm, which features incredible views of one of Scandinavia's most famous skylines.
Updated April 27, 2020
- #1View all Photos
In Stockholm, travelers don't necessarily need to venture to one of the city's museums to learn about its past. Instead, stroll through Gamla Stan, the neighborhood where Stockholm itself was founded in 1252. Cobblestone streets, winding alleyways and colorful, classic architecture abound, creating a medieval atmosphere visitors can't seem to get enough of. But Gamla Stan's charming ambience isn't all the area has going for it. The neighborhood is home to some of the city's top attractions, including the Stockholm Cathedral, Parliament, the Nobel Museum (which houses exhibits about the Nobel Peace Prize and its laureates) and the Royal Palace. Gamla Stan is also where you'll find Stockholm's oldest street, Köpmangatan, and Mårten Trotzigs gränd alleyway, the city's narrowest pathway at only 35 inches wide at its smallest point.
Though travelers said there are plenty of cafes, shops and attractions here, some reviewers found Gamla Stan to be a tourist trap. Visitors said restaurants are often overpriced, and some were put off by the kitschy shops that catered to tourists. However, you don't have to spend money to get the best of Gamla Stan. Many tourists enjoyed simply strolling around the area and recommended everyone do the same, as they felt the scenery was the neighborhood's best asset. Gamla Stan is completely free to stroll through and aside from the various businesses that dot the area, is open for exploration 24 hours a day. For more information, visit the Stockholm Tourism Board's website.
- #2View all PhotosfreeDjurgården#2 in Stockholm1.8 miles to city centerAmusement Parks, Cafes, Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1.8 miles to city centerAmusement Parks, Cafes, Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
In Stockholm, you don't have to travel far to experience the famous Swedish countryside. At Djurgården, you can get exactly that and so much more. The island of Djurgården is situated right next to the city center, accessible via various forms of public transportation (ferries included), as well as on foot thanks to the numerous bridges that connect to it from Östermalm. The island is one big green oasis, perfect for biking, strolling or picnicking. But there's more to this giant park than meets the eye. What lies within Djurgården is a treasure trove of activities, including some of the city's top attractions. Here, you'll find Rosendals Garden, Skansen, the Vasa Museum and 21 other museums, including one dedicated solely to the Swedish pop group ABBA. There's also an aquarium and amusement park, perfect for traveling families.
But don't worry, there are still plenty of spaces to unwind. Hit up one of the island's many coastal or canal pathways, or rest your legs at Isbladskärret, a small lake area home to numerous different types of birds and small herd of Scottish Highland cattle. In addition, there are plenty of eateries scattered around the island (previous visitors particularly recommend getting a bite at the greenhouse cafe at Rosendals).
- #3View all PhotosfreeMonteliusvagen#3 in Stockholm1 mile to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND1 mile to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
If you're the kind of traveler who can't leave a new city without experiencing a vista or two, consider a walk along Monteliusvagen. At less than a half-mile long, this cobblestone-lined pathway may seem modest at first, but the views it offers of the Stockholm skyline pack a punch. The scenic path is perched atop the cliffs of Södermalm and faces Lake Mälaren, Riddarholmen (the small island adjacent to Gamla Stan) and city hall, where some of the annual Nobel Prize award ceremonies and banquets are held. Sodermalm, the area where the Monteliusvagen is located, is akin to SoHo in New York City. The trendy neighborhood features a variety of shopping options, from designer to vintage stores, art galleries, bars and restaurants. And if you're still itching for more views during your time in Sodermalm, walk about a mile east and you'll hit the Fjällgatan viewpoint, found conveniently above Fotografiska.
Recent visitors said this short stroll is lovely and best experienced at sunrise or sunset. Some suggested taking food for a small picnic at the available benches, while others said those interested in photography would be hard-pressed to find a better place to take a photo of the city. Whichever way you choose to experience Monteliusvagen, you'll be greeted with fantastic views, according to reviewers.
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On its maiden voyage in 1628, the most powerful warship in the Baltic, the Vasa, was afloat only minutes before capsizing in front of stunned onlookers in the city's harbor. Hundreds of years later, the massive, 226-foot-long ship was completely salvaged. The ship was so big that it took more than a year for it to be raised from the surface of the seabed. The Vasa has been put back together and extensively restored since then, with more than 95 percent of the ship originally intact. Thanks to this meticulous restoration, the ship is considered the only preserved 17th-century ship in the world and the oldest fully preserved warship in the world. Today, the Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, drawing in more than one million visitors a year.
In addition to the majestic ship, the museum houses a number of interesting exhibits about the vessel's history, including a look into what life was like at sea during that era, stories of the people onboard and a collection of artistic relics found on the ship. But the pinnacle for travelers is touring the Vasa itself. Recent visitors were in complete awe of the ship's incredible size and were amazed at the quality of preservation down to the smallest detail. Even those who admitted the attraction wasn't initially at the top of their must-see list left the Vasa Museum with a better understanding of why this facility is considered one of the city's top attractions. And speaking of the museum's popularity, don't be surprised if you encounter long lines and crowds during Stockholm's peak season (summer).
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Founded in 1891, Skansen is not only the world's first open-air museum, but also its oldest. The attraction illustrates five centuries of Swedish history through its showcase of 150 historical homes and farmsteads sourced from different parts of Sweden. Visitors can stroll through an 18th-century wooden church, a farmstead from northern Sweden and the town quarter, which consists of various 18th- and 19th-century homes and shops as well as period garb-clad historical interpreters who can also showcase traditional activities, such as spinning and knitting, among many others. Skansen is also home to a zoo, which features 75 different species and breeds of Scandinavian animals, including wolverines, otters and Scandinavian brown bears, to name a few. And if you start to feel peckish during your tour, there are five fine and casual dining options to choose from on-site.
Recent visitors thoroughly enjoyed their time at Skansen. Travelers said the place is so big, you could easily spend all day there and never get bored. Many in particular loved the zoo animals and said this is a great place to bring kids. What's more, historical interpreters speak English (among other languages), so visitors were happy they didn't miss out on presentations offered. And if you're visiting in the warmer months, some recommend having a picnic among the property's scenic landscape.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Stockholm1.8 miles to city centerFreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1.8 miles to city centerFreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Rosendals Trädgård is a public garden located on the island of Djurgården. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, or simply a scenic place to rest your feet, Rosendals is your answer. The attraction is a market garden outfitted with fields, a rose garden, orchard, flower beds, a vineyard and green houses, offering plenty of opportunities to unwind alongside nature. There's also an educational garden specifically for children. In addition to plenty of green spaces, there is an artisanal bakery, farm shop that sells biodynamically grown veggies and a plant shop. In the summer months, visitors can go out and pick flowers for purchase on the property. There is also the regularly lauded Greenhouse Cafe. Located right alongside gardens of its own, the cafe serves casual bites, primarily sourcing from the veggies grown on-site. And recent visitors can taste the freshness. Many travelers found the food served at the cafe and bakery to be delicious, and dining alongside gardens significantly enhanced their experience. Others were happy they brushed elbows more Swedish people than tourists here.
Unless you plan on eating or purchasing something at the on-site shop, the Rosendal's Garden is free to explore. Hours, however, vary. From May to September the attraction is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (though closed from June 24th to 26th for Midsummer) and from October to December the garden is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Due to weather conditions, the gardens are closed to the public from January to April. To get to Rosendals, take the No. 69 bus to the Djurgården stop, walk over the bridge and follow the canal; signs to the gardens will become present. For more information, check out the garden's website.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Stockholm1.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Stockholm is full of unique museums. There's one dedicated to the band ABBA, another to a sunken warship (the Vasa Museum), and of course there's Skansen, the world's first open-air museum. Fotografiska stands out in that it is entirely made up of contemporary photography. The museum presents four large exhibitions and 15 to 20 smaller exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing a variety of photography styles and subjects. Portraits, landscapes, black and white photos, series about war and even pregnancy have passed through Fotografiska. The museum aims to present a mix of unknown talents as well as big international names, some of which have included Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle and Nick Brandt.
Recent visitors offered mixed reviews of Fotografiska. Many travelers enjoyed the museum, raving about the interesting and thought-provoking photographs, while others felt the attraction was overhyped and overpriced. Some of those, however, admitted they weren't photography buffs to begin with. But what many did agree on was the top-notch dining options, as well as the stunning views of the waterways found within.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Stockholm0.6 miles to city centerCastles/Palaces, Museums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerCastles/Palaces, Museums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
While Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia actually live at Drottningholm Palace (some 20 minutes west of Stockholm), Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace) serves as their workplace and is the setting for most official receptions. It's also a popular tourist attraction. Visitors are allowed to tour the Royal Apartments, Treasury and the Tre Kronor Museum. The name apartments are given to signify a series of state rooms, and there are about four different sets of apartments within the Royal Apartments including the Orders of the Chivalry, Guest, State and Bernadotte apartments – the latter of which contains 14 rooms alone. And we haven't even gotten into what's in the Treasury and the Tre Kronor Museum. Safe to say it would be hard to see the palace in one afternoon. But if you are short on time, don't miss royal relics, including crowns and swords, found in the Treasury, or the Hall of State, found in the Royal Apartments. Today, the Hall of State acts as the venue for official functions, but up until 1975 it was the meeting place for parliamentary sessions. It's also the home of a silver throne that was gifted to the former Queen Kristina for her coronation in the 17th century. Whichever room you decide to venture into, expect truly grandiose interiors throughout.
Visitors were definitely impressed with the magnificent architecture and decor of the palace, and had a few suggestions on how to tackle the massive attraction. Many considered the Armoury a must-visit, as well as the changing of the guards ceremony. Others highly recommended paying extra for a guided tour, which some said greatly enhanced their experience of the palace. However you decide to tour the attraction, don't get discouraged if you don't see it all. With more than 600 rooms, it's one of the biggest palaces in Europe.
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