Stockholm holds a very special place in my heart. A few years ago, on a whim, I flew out to stay with a friend that I’d met in South Africa and only known for 2 weeks. It was one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions of my whole life. I got to call Stockholm my new home, meet some of the sweetest Swedes, and pop around to other countries for short trips. No matter where I went, Stockholm remained my favorite and I’d recommend it to anyone for a visit.
This episode of Weekend Wanders is packed full of my recommendations, tips, & tricks for a weekend trip (or longer!) to Stockholm, rather than just a recap of a weekend getaway of mine.
Here is my Weekend Wanders Guide to Stockholm
Gamla Stan – The “old town” is a picturesque island, home to the palace as well as some of the oldest remaining buildings of Stockholm. The narrow streets and cobble stones feel like a wonderful maze with surprises behind every turn. I absolutely love getting lost here and discovering little hidden squares like this one:
Stortorget – The oldest square in Stockholm, located on Gamla Stan and extremely picturesque. It is very touristic, so prices at the cafes here will be much higher. Opt for heading to the restaurants and cafes along the south or east side of the island if you’re hungry.
Royal Palace – Located on Gamla Stan, the palace is everything you’d expect from a royal home, though the outside is less than impressive. Entrance is free with the Stockholm Pass
Ride the Metro – This sounds silly but the underground stations are actually elaborately decorated with different artistic themes. They’re a site to see in themselves so try to dip down to a few like T-Centralen.
ABBA & Vasa museums – These museums showcase the history of the Swedish band ABBA and the history of an ancient Viking war ship. They’re also conveniently located next to each other on Djurgården, which is a wonderful island to stroll along on any day.
Nobel Museum – Any visitors remotely interested in the Nobel prizes will love this museum on Gamla Stan.
Nordic Museum – This building is beautiful inside and out and is dedicated to displaying the cultural history of Sweden. Pop over here after the Vasa/ABBA museums because it’s right across the path.
Mariaberget Viewpoint on Södermalm – Walk along the Monteliusvägen path to get gorgeous panoramic views like this:
In The Summer
Midsommer – This holiday celebrates the longest day of the year and is by far the highlight of summer in Sweden. Locals desert the city to gather on the tiny islands of the archipelago in Stockholm skärgård to celebrate the day with food, drinks, and dancing around the maypole. If you have a chance to experience midsommer with locals, TAKE IT!
Gröna Lund – This theme park is Swedens oldest and is located on the beautiful island of Djurgården. It’s a great way to spend a summers day if you have the time or make it a top priority if you’re traveling with children.
Local’s Tip: Take a boat trip to Fjäderholmarna for an authentic Swedish sea food and feels of the archipelago. You can take the boat right from Slussen in downtown Stockholm.
Skansen – This open air museum and zoo should be next on your list after a day at Gröna Lund.
Out of Office – a free monthly party for young professionals. It’s usually held in a large venue and is always packed!
Kayaking – Try your hand at a kayaking lesson or a paddling tour through the archipelago. You’ll get a very different vantage point this way and some exercise!
In the Winter
Christmas markets – Starting in November, the Christmas markets instantly brighten up Stockholm in the dark winter. The market in Kungsträdgården is my favorite and the biggest. There’s an ice skating rink and stalls with all the traditional Swedish holiday treats. There is also a market in picturesque Gamla Stan, but it’s much smaller as the old town is quite tight.
Where to Stay
- Lydmar Hotel – A great location, fashionable Scandinavian charm, with waterfront views of the palace and Gamla Stan
- Scandic Grand Central – The Scandic brand is very popular throughout Scandinavia and a safe bet. It’s also very close to the central station – perfect if you only have a night and/or need to catch an early bus to the airport
- Hotel Rival – A boutique option on Sodermalm with an art deco restaurant, concert hall, and restaurant
- City Backpackers Hostel Stockholm – A central, budget option for travelers. (It’s a Europe’s Famous hostel!)
- AF Chapman Stockholm – Yes, this is a SHIP hostel! It’s also owned by HI Hostels so you can use your loyalty card for discounts!
- Jumbo Stay – A hostel inside a kitted out jumbo jet airplane! It’s quite far from the city center, closer to the airport funny enough. But it’s a really unique experience if you have the time and passion for planes!
Where to Eat
- Rolfs Kök – Modern Nordic food
- Brasseriet Operan – Located inside the Royal Swedish Opera House, it has royal decor and a refined atmosphere.
- Smörgåstårteriet – Amazing Scandinavian dishes and a 7 course tasting option at a decent price.
- Riche – The meatballs are amazing!
- Himlen – This is located at the top of one of the tallest buildings in Stockholm with 360degree views of the city, perfect for a date!
- Fotografiska – A photo gallery + restaurant!
- Hermans – A great vegetarian option with beautiful views
- Pane Vino – Delicious Italian food and lovely ambiance
- Ellora – Stop in here if you’re in the mood for Indian cuisine
- Orangeriet Bar & Café – With charming decor, eatery, and cocktails, set right on the water with indoor & outdoor seating, this is the sweetest brunch spot.
Coffee is one of the biggest aspects of Swedish culture and there are no shortage of cafes. Some are great for working, some are nice to grab a fika.
By the way, a ‘Fika’ is taking time out of the day to meet with a friend for coffee and a pastry. It’s a tradition that helps people time a little bit of time to relax and connect with another person – a tradition more countries need to adopt.
- Mellqvist Kaffebar
- Drop Coffee
- Il Cafe Soder – I love working from here!
Don’t forget to try the typical Swedish cinnamon buns when you fika!
A Night Out
I love a fun night out with friends, especially in the summer when the midnight sky still emits a subtle glow of light.
- Spy bar
- Soap Bar
- Cafe Opera
- Marie Laveau
Many travelers want to visit the Ice Bar while in Stockholm. It’s great fun if you go with a group, but it isn’t a traditional bar that many people frequent. If you expect to go for a night out, you may be disappointed at the sparseness of the crowd. Bring a group of friends to enjoy it!
Tips & Tricks
Stay Away from Cycling – You may think it’s a great idea to live like a local and see the city by bike, but please don’t. Many residents of Stockholm use bikes as primary means of transport and take it very seriously. They don’t want to navigate around sightseeing tourists that block the bike lanes. Think of the bike lanes as highways: you wouldn’t want get caught behind a car that’s driving half the speed limit, weaving from lane to lane due to looking at the sights, do you? So please spare locals of it.
Everywhere accepts card – Cash has become nearly obsolete. Everywhere from the restaurants to local shops accept card and prefer it. Most do prefer and sometimes require a PIN to be entered instead of signature, so try to get one from your bank before you travel. Otherwise, use applepay or androidpay to avoid needing to use a signature for every transaction!
Public Transit Cards – You can purchase the Stockholm Travelcard for 230SEK and I believe it’s well worth it. It gives unlimited transit for 72 hours and it works on all public transit. Consider that one journey (any combined travel within 75 minutes) costs 43SEK.
If you’re in Stockholm longer than a weekend or intend to use a lot of public transport, perhaps think about getting an SL transit card which gives you discounted journeys (30SEK per journey instead of 43). You can purchase one anywhere you see the SL sign (small shops, 7-11, etc) for 20 SEK and reload them nearly anywhere as well.
Everyone Speaks English – This is very handy for visitors but it doesn’t hurt to learn a few key words like ‘tack’ for thank you and ‘hej’ (sounds like ‘hey’) for hello!
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