Stockholm, the Swedish capital, is known for its closeness to nature, booming tech scene, the Nobel prize, and its authentic welcoming of all people. It’s the most populated area in the country and Scandinavia as a whole despite being a city on 14 connected islands. Aside from its beauty, Stockholm is also the cultural and economic center of the country.
So, are you thinking of visiting Stockholm? This amazing city offers so much to tourists and is a beautiful part of Sweden. There are many incredible things to do in Stockholm, like visiting the charming old town, taking a ferry through the archipelago, and visiting the many museums.
The city’s design is incredibly unique, with the inner city consisting of 14 islands that are connected by bridges over Lake Mälaren. What makes Stockholm unique is that over 30% of the area is waterways, while another 30% is made up of green spaces. This means the city has the 4th best air quality out of the European capitals.
10 of The Best Things To Do In Stockholm, Sweden (City Center)
Here’s everything you need to know, including the best things to do in Stockholm, how to get around the city, and the most popular day trips.
1. Explore Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s old town and dates back to the 1200s. It’s one of the largest and best-preserved medieval centers in Europe, so as you can imagine is one of the most popular Stockholm attractions.
The old town itself is spread out over three islands and is considered the ‘beating heart of the city.’ It’s full of charming cafes, boutiques, and museums, so there is plenty to see. Stockholm’s oldest square and street are also found within this city region.
With its narrow, cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and plenty of places to eat, it’s not surprising that exploring Gamla Stan is considered one of the top things to do in Stockholm.
2. Sail Through the Archipelago
Even though the city center consists of 14 islands, that’s nothing compared to the 30,000 islands found just 20 minutes outside Stockholm.
The Stockholm Archipelago covers an area of over 650 square miles and is the largest of its kind in Sweden.
You can take a three-hour ferry ride to explore the thousands of islands, where you will come across stretches of sandy beaches, camping grounds, charming villages, and scenic views. The ferry even takes you to the last island before Finland!
The archipelago is one of the top things to see in Stockholm and is a must during your stay in the city. Even better is that if you’re planning to visit the capital in the winter season, some longer ferry rides are even free!
3. Skansen Open Air Museum
Skansen Open Air Museum is the oldest open-air museum in the world and is one of the best things to do in Stockholm if you’re a history buff.
Walking around this place makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, so it’s the perfect place to visit if you want to learn more about the country.
Artur Hazelius founded Skansen in 1891, and it was the first-ever open-air museum in the world at the time. Established to show future generations what life was like before the Industrial age in Sweden, it certainly accomplished that.
Aside from the many exhibits depicting Sweden’s past, there is also an open-air zoo with wolves, lynx, bears, reindeer, and moose, among other wildlife.
4. The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is located near the old town and is one of Stockholm’s best places to visit. It was built during the 18th century and is located on the spot where Tre Kronor castle burnt down in 1697.
The palace is the official residence of the King of Sweden and is one of the largest palaces in Europe.
Not only can you admire its beauty from the outside, but you can also tour the staterooms within. With over 600 rooms and five museums, the palace offers plenty for tourists. It also contains the armory and coronation carriages from the Royal Stable.
Make sure to time your visit, so you don’t miss the parade of soldiers and the daily changing of the guard.
5. Visit the ABBA Museum
The ABBA Museum is an interactive exhibition in Stockholm that celebrates Sweden’s most successful music group.
The pop group ABBA was founded in 1972 and rose to fame after they became Sweden’s first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. After this, the band became huge worldwide and has created many incredible albums.
The museum has plenty of ABBA memorabilia like stage outfits, instruments, awards, gold records, etc. However, it’s not the exhibits that make this museum so special.
The museum is centered around interactive experiences that invite you to sing, dance, mix music and even try on virtual stage outfits. That makes it the perfect family day out and one of the most popular things to do in Stockholm.
6. Explore the colorful metro stations
The metro stations in the city are a photographers’ paradise, and exploring them is considered one of the top things in Stockholm.
The city’s metro system is said to be the ‘world’s longest art exhibit’ at an impressive 110km long. Each station along the metro has its own unique art, either on the walls, floor, or waiting hall.
If you’re an art lover, Stockholm’s metro is one of the best attractions in the city as they truly are unique.
Some of the most popular metro stations to visit include T-Centralen Station, Solna Centrum Station, Tekniska Högskolan Station, Kungsträdgården Station and Stadion station.
7. Avicii Arena (Formerly the Ericsson Globe)
The Avicii Arena is one of Stockholm’s most iconic buildings and is famous for being the largest spherical building in the world.
The arena is Sweden’s national hockey arena, but it also hosts various other events, including concerts. Some of the world’s most prominent artists have performed here, including the Rolling Stones, Metallica, U2, and Madonna.
If you want an incredible view of Stockholm, then make sure you head up to the SkyView exhibit at the top of the globe. This is one of the best ways to see the city, so don’t forget your camera!
Formerly known as the Ericsson Globe, the arena is now known as Avicii Arena for the late Swedish DJ.
8. Gröna Lund
Gröna Lund is Sweden’s oldest amusement park, as it first opened in 1883. Although old, the amusement park is very up-to-date, with new rides added every couple of years.
Some of the most popular (and scary rides) include ‘Insane,’ ‘Eclipse,’ and ‘Monster.’ If you don’t fancy these nail-biting rides, you can choose to go for something a bit more relaxing like the carousels, teacups or bumper cars. There are also plenty of fun houses located within the park.
It’s important to note that Gröna Lund is only open from late spring to September, except for the Autumn break and Halloween. It’s one the more popular things to do in Stockholm with kids.
9. Kungsträdgården Park
Kungsträdgården Park is located just behind the Royal Palace and is a popular spot due to its central location and outdoor cafes.
Although the park can be visited at any time of year, Kungsträdgården is the most beautiful in April. When its twin rows of cherry trees blossom, it creates a beautiful flowery scene.
On Körsbärsblommans Dag, otherwise known as Cherry Blossom Day, thousands of people show up to walk under the stunning pink tree canopies. Exploring this park, especially in cherry blossom season, is one of the best things to do in Stockholm.
However, if you’re not traveling to Stockholm in April, this park offers plenty. If you head to Kungsträdgården in Winter, there is an ice-skating rink within the park, and in summer, there are plenty of installations or festivals.
10. The Nobel Museum
The Nobel Museum is located in Stockholm’s old town and is a great place to visit if you love culture and history.
The museum opened in 2001 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prize. Although it might not sound up your street, you will be incredibly impressed once you head inside and see the exhibits.
The Museum displays information about the Nobel Prize and the prize’s founder – Alfred Nobel. However, the most interesting part of the museum is that it exhibits information about past Nobel prize winners, where you get to see their story and their accomplishments.
Things to Do in Stockholm, Sweden: 3 Popular Day Trips
There are plenty of great day trip options for exploring areas outside the city center. Here are just a few of the most popular ones!
1. Drottningholm Palace
Drottningholm Palace is Sweden’s best-preserved Royal castle and one of the grandest buildings in the country.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a popular tourist attraction due to its beautiful design (modeled on the Palace of Versailles) and impressive gardens.
Although the southern wing of the castle is still home to the Swedish Royal family, the public is welcome to look around the rest of the palace and its grounds.
The best way to get to Drottningholm Palace is to take the metro to Brommapan and head to the bus terminal. The whole journey from Stockholm takes about 40 minutes; otherwise, you can choose to get a boat there.
Mariefred is a charming little town built around Gripsholm Castle. Its scenic surroundings and quaint feel make it a great place to visit from Stockholm.
Of course, the most popular place to visit is the castle itself, but other attractions include the deer park located outside the castle, the narrow-gauge railway, and S/S Mariefred.
The best way to get from Stockholm to Mariefred is by boat, as it’s a beautiful ride, but the journey does take over 3 hours. You can also choose to take the train.
Hellasgården is a great place to visit if you’re looking to spend some time in Swedish nature.
This outdoor activity center offers numerous activities such as canoeing, cycling, swimming, and fishing. There are also plenty of walking paths and jogging trails, and if you’re visiting during the winter, you can go ice skating on the nearby lake.
You can then choose to finish your day with a dip in the ice pool and then head to the sauna or steam room. Hellasgården is located only 20 minutes outside the city center, and the best way to get there is by bus.
Most Common Questions about Visting Stockholm Sweden
1. Getting to Stockholm
Stockholm Arlanda Airport is located about 40km (25 miles) north of the city center. To make things even easier, airport buses and trains will take you from the airport to Stockholm.
- Bromma Stockholm airport is also nearby, but it’s only a minor international airport used primarily for domestic flights.
- If you plan to travel around Europe before heading to Stockholm, then Eurolines is a great coach company. They connect the city with hundreds of other European towns and cities, making it a straightforward destination.
- Another great way to reach Stockholm is from Finland or the Baltic States by sea. The Turku to Stockholm Ferry takes 11.5 hours and costs as little as 15 Euro for a ticket. The Tallinn to Stockholm Ferry takes 17 hours and costs 120 Euros.
- The Riga to Stockholm route has ceased for 2022 and will likely reopen in 2023 (check the Tallink Silja Line website for more information).
2. Getting around Stockholm
When it comes to picking and choosing which things to do in Stockholm, you’ll have transportation options to get there and back.
- By far, the most popular way to get around is the metro. The system has 100 stations and is open between the hours of 5 am-1 am during the weekdays and all night on weekends.
- There are also plenty of bus routes in the city that reach areas the metro doesn’t. However, it’s important to note that bus tickets can’t be purchased onboard, and zone tickets or travel cards must be purchased in advance.
- Cycling around the city is also a great way to get around as there are plenty of bike paths and lanes in the town.
- Ferries are another popular way to travel as they service the areas of Djurgården and Hammarby Sjöstad islands and make a scenic alternative to the bus.
- Taxis are available in Stockholm, but they are costly. Ensure your taxi is registered and get a price estimate of the journey before you get inside.
3. The best food dishes to try in Stockholm
Stockholm has an array of tasty dishes, so here are just a few to try:
- Kjøttboller (Swedish meatballs) – Sweden’s meatballs are famous across the world and are often served in creamy gravy, with various sides including mashed potato and lingonberries. They are made using a combination of pork and beef and then lightly spiced.
- Palt (Swedish potato dumpling) – Palt is made by mashing raw potatoes and then mixing them with flour to make a dough. This dough is then shaped into a ball around a pork filling and is often served with butter.
- Fried herring – Fried herring is a popular dish in Sweden. Traditionally it’s tossed in flour, fried in butter, and then served with boiled potatoes or mash. It’s a popular street food in Stockholm, so it will be easy to find!
4. The weather in Stockholm
Before picking which one of these things to do in Sweden, and the region, you’ll want to keep the weather in mind.
- The summers in Stockholm are pretty comfortable, while the winters are long and freezing, with plenty of snow.
- The warmest month to visit Stockholm is in July, with an average high temperature of 22°C. Conversely, the coldest month to visit is February, with an average low temperature of -5°C.
- Generally, the summer season lasts between June and September, with the cold season lasting from November to March.
5. The best time to visit Stockholm
Stockholm is a great location to visit at any time of year, but the weather and crowds, therefore, prices can vary widely.
- It’s most popular throughout the summer months of June to August. This is when the temperatures are highest, but unfortunately, it’s the most expensive time of year to visit.
- If you don’t mind the weather being milder, the months of May and September are also great times to visit as the prices aren’t as high. The crowds also tend to be thinner at this time of year.
- If you aren’t fazed by the cold, you can travel to the city during winter to explore the Christmas markets and see a picture-perfect snowy version of the capital.
6. Is Stockholm safe to visit?
Stockholm Sweden is one of the safest cities in the world and has a very low crime rate.
- Although this crime rate has started to rise since the 1980s levels, the majority is petty crime and drunken brawls out on the street at night.
- Generally, tourists feel very safe when visiting Stockholm, and in 2017 it was even ranked by the Safe City Index as the 3rd safest city in the world, with a population of under 5 million.
7. Accommodations in Stockholm Sweden
There are plenty of great accommodation choices in Stockholm, but like traveling to European cities, it isn’t cheap. So here are some options for each budget.
- Budget accommodation: Archipelago Hostel Old Town (twin room with shared bathroom)
- Mid-budget accommodation: Biz Apartment Hammarby Sjöstad (medium-sized studio with private kitchen and bathroom)
- Luxury accommodation: Victory Hotel (a small double room with breakfast included)
- There aren’t any timeshares in the city center like many European cities. There are some outside of the city in the mountains and ski resorts but not in Stockholm itself.
Images Courtesy: Visit Stockholm Media Bank.