Because of its numerous and varied attractions, Stockholm offers an array of city tours guaranteed to meet the interests of just about any traveler eager to soak up some local culture and history.
Being sprinkled over 14 islands, and with its constantly changing viewpoints, Stockholm is perfect for two-wheeled discovery. Bike lanes run throughout the city, for convenient, safe cycling. In addition, bike rental firms are plentiful.
Considering that Stockholm stretches across so much water, seeing Stockholm from the water is an enjoyable must and there are a variety of boat tours available. The Under the Bridges of Stockholm, Royal Canal, Historical Canal, and the early Good Morning Stockholm tours concentrate on central Stockholm and take from 50 minutes to 2.5 hours.
Check out three of Stockholm’s newest museums. Enjoy everything ABBA at the ABBA Museum, part of the Swedish Music Hall of Fame. Also, stop by Spritmuseum and Fotografiska to experience their one-of-a-kind exhibits.
The Millennium Tour—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
There’s probably no book series that has captured the imagination of adult readers like author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series)—which have become bestsellers around the world. So follow along in Blomkvist and Salander’s footsteps while getting additional background information about the characters and the author.
For a truly unique tour of Stockholm, try rooftop hiking, where everybody gets a bird’s-eye view of Stockholm from the rooftops of the city. The guided tour is a unique combination of climbing and sightseeing, but definitely for people who are not afraid of heights.
Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour
Probably the best way to create a custom itinerary is on the Stockholm City Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour aboard an open-top double-decker bus that allows visitors to see the sights of Stockholm at their own pace.
Stockholm’s history stretches from the beginning of the 13th century and forwards. That equals almost 800 years of culture, stories, conflicts and historical artifacts. And all of these time periods are covered by different museums and attractions.
For older history, the National Historical Museum on Östermalm is recommended which is packed with history from as far back into prehistory as they can go, via the Viking era to the Middle Ages. A stone’s throw away you’ll find the Army Museum, which will give you an authentic picture of war as experienced by the soldiers and their families from Viking times onwards. And of course – the jewel in the crown – the Vasa Museum. Located on the island of Djurgården, the museum displays the almost fully intact warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628.
For contemporary history, a visit to the Stockholm City Museum, situated in a 17th century palace next to Slussen is good place to start. From there it’s only a short walk to Gamla Stan, the oldest city district and Stockholm’s heart and birthplace. In Gamla Stan you’ll also find the Royal Palace and if you’re lucky you might catch the changing of the guards (or even the royal family!)
Another great cultural attraction is Skansen, the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden which is situated on the beautiful island of Djurgården, The many exhibits over the 75 acre site include a full replica of an average 19th-century town, in which craftsmen demonstrate their skills in period surroundings.
Want to taste some decidedly Swedish flavors? Head on over to the brand new Spritmuseum (Museum of Spirits), which is just next door to Skansen or try Östermalmshallen market hall (Stockholm’s oldest market).
Last but not least, Stockholm’s two world Unesco World Heritage sites, Drottningholm Palace and the Woodland Cemetery are definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in culture and history.
Creative and Trendy
Art, architecture and design play an integrated part of Stockholm city life. Music, food and fashion are at the cutting edge and the shopping is as good or better than even the largest capitals.
The Swedish Flavors
It’s not all meatballs and herring. On the contrary, the Swedish cuisine has taken huge leaps in the last decades with award winning chefs and restaurants. The flavors are still distinctly Swedish though – tack och lov (thank goodness).
The Spring Salon
The art museum Liljevalchs opens every year with a large exhibition called Vårsalongen, "The Spring Salon". Artists from all genres send in contributions of their latest and most interesting works and a juror selects which pieces will be part of the exhibition. The result is a playful, ecclectic mix of styles and artistic quality.
Christmas Dinner Cruises with Strömma
Climb aboard one of Strömmas vintage boats and enjoy classic Swedish Christmas food and drink while the wintery archipelago passes outside the window. Strömma has a wide range of Christmas cruises of various lengths and for example with Utö Christmas market as a stop on the way.
Every year for 70 years the Stockholm City Theater has offered free outdoor theater, concerts, clubs and dance performances to the public. Very popular, get there early and bring a picnic!
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this very Swedish food tradition. Fat Tuesday was traditionally the last opportunity to stuff yourself before the lent and in Sweden a tradition developed of eating buns, called "fastlagsbullar" or ”semla”. The semla is usually made up of a cardemom bun filled with sugary almond paste and topped whipped cream. Some also like to soak it in warm milk. You can find these buns in most pastryshops in Stockholm but Vete-katten in the city center is a hot tip for an authentic and very tasty experience. Here, thousands upon thousands of semlas are sold during the course of the week.
EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS
Leave the big city and experience another side of Stockholm. You will find historical sites, quaint towns, lakes, forests and the archipelago.
To the west you will find Lake Mälaren, with its wooded coves, parks, beautiful castles, mansions and world heritage sites. To the north, east and west, the salty Baltic Sea awaits you with 30,000 islands. To the north, you will discover charming villages, the university town of Uppsala and the Walloon ironworks; to the south, the sea horizon, hiking paths and the junction Nynäshamn; and to the east, near-lying Nacka and the porcelain town of Gustavsberg.
Birka, situated on the island of Björkö, was an important Viking trading community in the ninth century and the place where Christianity was introduced to Sweden. There are guided tours on the island, as well as a museum that displays the archaeological finds of the Viking site.
Drottningholm Palace and Court Theatre
The residence of the Swedish Royal Family. Visit the 17th century Royal Palace, the Chinese Pavilion, and the unique 18th century Royal Court Theatre where the original scenery and machinery are still in use. Operas and concerts are staged during the summer.
Mariefred and Gripsholm Castle
Mariefred is a quaint and picturesque town situated by Lake Mälaren. Gripsholm Castle is open to visitors, and is home to the largest portrait collection in Sweden. The oldest inn in Sweden, Gripsholms Värdshus and Hotel, enjoys a beautifully location in the heart of the town.
Sigtuna, founded in 980 AD, it is the oldest town in Sweden and the place where the first coins were minted. Much of the original town plan remains to this day.
One of Europe’s best-preserved baroque castles and a testimony to Sweden’s period as a great power. The castle features splendid interiors, an armory with weapons and exotic objects, and the building site of an unfinished banquet hall dating back to 1676.
Steninge Palace and Cultural Centre
Steninge Palace and Cultural Centre consists of a beautiful 18th century palace and a national heritage stone barn with an art glassworks, candle-making facility, factory outlet, gallery and restaurant.
A picturesque little 17th century town with charming small hotels. Trosa is surrounded by a beautiful open landscape on one side and the archipelago on the other. On the way there, visitors can make a stop at Tullgarn Palace, with its 19th century English park.
Sweden’s fourth largest city and a centre of scientific skills and knowledge. Uppsala’s University was founded in 1477 and was the alma mater of botanist Carl von Linné – Sweden’s most famous scientist. Uppsala is also Sweden’s religious centre and the residence of the Archbishop.
Sweden’s first town, founded in the 10th century. Small-scale and pedestrian friendly, with charming wooden buildings by Lake Mälaren, less than an hour outside of Stockholm. Good selection of stores, cafés, restaurants and hotels, plus an interesting museum. The district is rich in rune stones, to fascinate history buffs. Sigtuna can be reached by train, bus, or boat from the center of Stockholm. Nearby is Skokloster Castle, a first-class attraction. Skokloster was the residence of one of Gustav II Adolf’s generals when Sweden was a superpower, and the castle interior from the mid 17th century has been kept completely intact. Steninge Palace and Rosersberg Palace is also situated close to Sigtuna.
Idyllic archipelago town with many well-preserved wooden houses from the turn of the last century, painted in the archipelago’s typical delicate pastel tones. Vaxholm has numerous charming restaurants, cafés and shops.Waxholm Hotel, with its great views of the fortress and harbour, is a classic choice for lunch or dinner, or, why not a Christmas Buffet. Vaxholm is easily accessible year round, by Waxholmsbolagets boat traffic or by bus. If you take the bus, the trip is covered by Stockholm's public transport service and thus also included in the Stockholm Card.
Stockholm is sometimes referred to as “the Royal Capital” and as a visitor you’ll quickly discover why. The Swedish monarchy has left its marks wherever you turn.
The Swedish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world. In fact, Sweden has had a king or queen for more than a thousand years. While being a constitutional monarchy only (Sweden has been a democracy since 1921), even today the royal family plays a natural and important part in Swedish society.
One reason for its popularity is that the Swedish royal family is very visible and often takes the time to interact with its fellow Swedes and visitors alike. It’s also a very accessible monarchy, making Stockholm a great place to visit for anyone interested in the history of the European royal families.
Far from being museums, you can actually visit the places where the royalty work and reside, like the Royal Palace in Gamla stan and the Unesco World Heritage site, Drottningholm Palce.
The former is within walking distance from downtown Stockholm and houses the Royal Apartments, the Hall of State, the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry, the Treasury, the Tre Kronor Palace Museum, the Armoury and the Museum of Antiquities of Gustav III. The Changing of the Guards ceremony takes place Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12.00 and on Sundays and public holidays at 13.00.
The Drottningholm Palace is a 50-minute boat ride from the city center or approximately 30 minutes by coach or by public transport. If you have half a day to spare, you really should try to go!
Stockholm is overflowing with experiences and sights, whether you are into art and culture, history, shopping, wining and dining, or nature. Or if it’s all of the above, even better! Here you can combine diverse experiences and pleasures in a single day.
The Stockholm Card is a visitor’s passport to 80 attractions in Stockholm. They can browse virtually all of the city’s excellent museums, and ride a sightseeing boat or ferry, the subway, an SL bus, or a streetcar.
The platform-booted and sparkly Swedish band that took the pop world by storm between 1970 and 1983, likely Sweden’s biggest export, gave us the hits like “Dancing Queen,” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You” among many others is now immortalized in a state-of-the-art museum where visitors can view the band's stage clothes, artifacts, concert footage, interviews, and more in a contemporary, interactive setting. Visitors can sing and dance with ABBA holograms, don a digital costume projected on to them in a special booth and record a song. Photos and videos of the experience can be shared on Facebook and other social media.
Sweden’s history with alcoholic beverages comes to life at Spritmuseum, the museum of spirits, located on the popular island park of Djurgården in central Stockholm. In addition to immersive exhibitions, the museum features a tasting room, restaurant, and bar. Cruise passengers will also want to visit the Absolut Art Collection, showcasing works by modern greats, including Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, all housed within Spritmuseum.
Fotografiska is a new museum showcasing the best work in international contemporary photography. The museum, located in a beautiful historic building on the docks of Stadsgården in Stockholm, is perfectly suited to cruise passengers, with a convenient waterfront location.
The Modern Museum is one of the world’s most prestigious museums highlighting international art from the 20th and the 21st centuries.
A “don’t miss” attraction - The Vasa Museum displays the only intact 17th century ship in the world, the 226-ft.- long warship Vasa that sank in 1628 on her maiden voyage.
Skansen Open Air Museum
The world’s oldest and prettiest open-air museum, founded in 1891. Visit old Sweden in miniature with some 150 historical buildings, workshops and a zoo containing Nordic animals.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace was built in the 18th century and is one of the world’s largest inhabited palaces, with more than 600 rooms - many of which are open to the public.
Stockholm’s City Hall is known as the city’s majestic landmark with its not-to-be-missed panoramic view of the city from its stately tower that makes for a great photo op.
The Nobel Museum
Located in the heart of Old Town - The Nobel Museum illustrates a century of creativity. Follow the changes of the 20th century through the work and ideas of more than 700 creative minds.
Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and currently the private residence of the Swedish royal family, is famous for its stunning rococo interiors and baroque gardens.
The Royal National City Park
The world’s first National City Park is a green lung forming an arc more than six miles long, stretching around and through the city. You can encounter deer and hares, even foxes and elk, and see rare birds and insects, right inside the city. There’s an abundance of things to see: museums, an amusement park, castles, restaurants and hotels. The park is made up of several park areas which are easy to reach by public transportation and ferries.
The park areas around Brunnsviken lake are part of Nationalstadsparken, the National City Park. They’re popular for picnics, swimming and recreation. The area features a beautiful rolling park setting, a botanical garden, cafes, palaces and several buildings of historic interest.
Haga Park, on the western shore, was laid out between 1771 and 1793 on the initiative of Gustav III. The park has promenade streets along the shores and beautiful avenues. Many buildings of historic interest are located here: Gustav III’s pavilion, the Copper Tents, Haga Castle and the Butterfly and Bird House. Haga Park is one of the leading examples of English parks in Sweden. This style of park developed in England as a reaction to the rigid gardens of the Baroque period. The philosophy was that parks should be based on natural features instead.
As its name implies, Bellevueparken on the southern shore is situated high above the parks and Brunnsviken lake, with a view over these features. The studio and museum of the sculptor Carl Eldh are also located here.
Attractions on the eastern shore include the Bergius Botanic Garden and several boat clubs, as well as the Swedish Museum of National History and Stockholm University.
The Bergius Botanic Garden and Park
A scenic botanical garden near Brunnsviken. Take beautiful walks among thousands of plants from around the world. The famous Victoria House has the world’s largest water lily. In the Edvard Anderson Conservatory, breathe in the scent of fragrant Mediterranean flora and admire exotic plants from the tropics, Australia, and the deserts of South Africa and California
The green island of Djurgården, close to central Stockholm, is beloved by both Stockholmers and tourists. Djurgården is a calm oasis which has been royal land since the fifteenth century. There are fine areas to stroll, for example around the Djurgårdsbrunn canal and Blockhusudden. Djurgården is also home to several of city’s top museums and attractions, as well as enjoyable cafés and restaurants. It’s easy to reach Djurgården on foot, by the Djurgården ferry boat from Gamla Stan/Slussen, by tram from Norrmalmstorg or by bus.
The Kaknäs Tower
The Kaknäs Tower is the hub of all TV and radio transmission in Sweden. The 155-metre tower gives you a fantastic view of Stockholm and the city’s surroundings.
The Woodland Cemetery
A place of sublime beauty and poetry. Created over a period of a quarter century (1915-1940) on about 250 acres of pine-covered boulder ridge under the direction of the famous modernist architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz.
Considered one of the most important works of the modernists, it evokes a Nordic philosophy on nature, life, and death. There are also a number of beautiful chapels and a visitors center. The Woodland Cemetery is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994.
Södermalm – trendy, charming and unique
This area is home to a multitude of unusual, interesting and contemporary boutiques for fashion, design, interior décor, vintage merchandise and curios. In general the selection on Söder is trendier, younger and more bohemian than in downtown.
Södermalm is a district of small boutiques. SoFo – the area south of Folkungagatan – along with Götgatan, has become a diverse scene for the new and unexpected, as well as top-class vintage merchandise. This is a place for fashion and design mavens to find things that have been much written about as well as unique items.
If you walk west down Hornsgatan from Slussen, you’ll reach Hornsgatspuckeln, with its row of galleries. Art and handicrafts in different styles and Efva Attling’s first jewelry store can all be found here. Further up Hornsgatan between Mariatorget and Zinkensdamm is a cluster of vintage clothing stores, such as the well-known Judits Second Hand, Herr Judit and classic budget savers such as Stockholms Stadsmission and Myrorna.
Rest your feet at one of the cafés around Nytorget in SoFo, or at Mellqvists Kafé Bar on Hornsgatan, just like Mikael Blomqvist, the hero of Stieg Larsson’s novels.
Stockholm has justifiably earned a newfound reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting, diverse and creative gastronomic destinations. And no wonder, with its enormous range of world-class restaurants and many award-winning chefs who create exciting food, inspired by Swedish history and traditions as well as the surrounding world, all resulting in the opportunity for visitors to indulge in dining experiences that are out of the ordinary. And the city itself offers wonderful settings to enjoy a meal. You can sit lakeside in one of Stockholm’s many outdoor restaurants or in a medieval cellar in Old Town.
A unique twist in many Swedish kitchens is the tendency to embrace locally produced and pure natural ingredients. From north to south, different kinds of ingredients are produced, where today’s ecological focus means the production of the freshest and healthiest selections of berries, vegetables, fish and meat products.
Indeed, some traditional Swedish culinary specialties not to be missed are local cheeses, salmon, herring, and other fish, wild game and berries, most of which you’ll find at some of the dining selections we’ve listed below.
On the upper end of Stockholm dining options, there’s F12 with an eclectic mix of different food traditions and with an atmosphere that’s trendy and good enough to rate one star in the Michelin Guide. The Mathias Dahlgren in the Grand Hotel, named after its namesake chef, specializes in managing the heritage of the classic French dining room with only 36 guests served in this two star Michelin restaurant, while the adjacent one star Mathias Dahlgren Food Bar has room for another 64 diners.
But fine dining doesn’t have to be expensive. At the moderately priced B.A.R., seafood lovers can head to the restaurant’s aquariums filled with a choice of fish they can pick out for dinner. There’s also an oyster and champagne bar.
For visitors seeking classical Swedish dishes, are you up for a little reindeer stew, maybe a nice hunk of ham shank? That’s the kind of hearty fare you can expect at Kvarnen, the city’s legendary restaurant, bar and waterhole with a century-old history, in the old blue-collar district of Sodermalm. Expect to enjoy well-made, classic Swedish fare with a modern touch at Den Glydene Freden, Sweden’s oldest restaurant, located in the Old Town.
Stockholm is worth visiting for the shopping alone. Swedish fashion and design brands are all the rage at the moment and where better to shop for them than in the city where most are based? The majority of shops are within walking distance in the compact and cozy city center and almost all have generous opening hours, including Sunday opening.
This is where you find the department stores, the clothing chains and most of Stockholm’s bigger brands. In general, the shopping in downtown is more affordable and geared towards the young and trendy.
The city’s most affluent shopping district and home to exclusive international labels, side by side with smaller boutiques and high-class Scandinavian design in fashion and decor. No shortage of exclusive goods here.
Wedged between downtown and Östermalm, Biblioteksstan (Librarytown) is home to many of the new Swedish fashion brands such as Acne, Whyred, Hope, and Byredo as well as top international brands like COS and Marc Jacobs.
Eclectic and cozy are two words that pop up when describing the shopping in Södermalm. A great mix of unusual, interesting and contemporary boutiques for fashion, design, interior décor and vintage.
The very popular blocks South of Folkungagatan are home to some of the most creative boutiques in town, offering everything from quirky to trendy. The whole neighborhood is buzzing and new cafés and restaurants pop up on almost a daily basis.
You’ve heard of IKEA and H&M, but there are many more Swedish brands making it big on the international scene. Many of them have their flagship stores in Stockholm, so why not take the opportunity to discover Swedish fashion in its natural habitat.
There are plenty of Viking horns and T-shirts with moose. Here are top tips for those seeking something else – something with that little extra touch. Farther down you will read more about the places mentioned.
Ceramic animals by Lisa Larson
Very popular ceramicist Lisa Larson has presented a Skansen series with figurines that represent Nordic animals such as moose, seals and bears. Lisa Larson’s pieces usually become collectors’ items. They are for sale in Skansen’s gift shop.
Trays with a Sergels Torg pattern
You can now take home with you the pattern that covers the lower half of Sergels Torg in central Stockholm! Sold in Designtorget shops, among other places.
Textiles by Josef Frank
You will find this pattern on cushions, curtains and trays in practically every home in Stockholm. Sold at Svenskt Tenn and elsewhere.
How do you recognize a Swede? Nowadays many say by the unusually tight pants they wear. The style originated in Stockholm, with designers like Cheap Monday and Acne on the leading edge. Here is a list of places where you can find a pair for yourself.
Falu red paint
If you have traveled around Sweden, you no doubt have noticed that many houses are painted red. The red paint is made according to an old formula with iron oxide from the mine in Falun in Dalarna. Sample cans are in the gift shop at Skansen.
Swedish clogs have become a hot item again, seen on stars such as Sex and the City’s Sara Jessica Parker, for example. Put your money on a classic model with the Moheda brand (usually to be found at Åhléns City, for one) or a modern variation from Swedish Hasbeens, which is sold at Grandpa boutiques and at Tjallamalla, among other places.
Taxfree: All non-EU residents are eligible for tax free shopping. Make sure to get a tax refund check at the store and then visit the Global Blu counter at the airport for the refund. Look for the international tax free sign on the store window for affiliated stores.