The Swedish capital of Stockholm is in essence an aggregation of different islands making water a quasi-omnipresent element during your visit. The Scandinavian city is often underestimated in comparison to other European homologues, which is mainly due to its location and its lack of world renowned postcard sights.
Whilst the argument of cold and long winters cannot be turned down, the accusation of the expensive Swedish lifestyle has to be put into perspective. Although it is true that your Stockholm stay won’t be on the cheap side, the quality of services and products generally justifies the prices. It is furthermore essential to emphasise the amazing hospitality that is diffused by locals in the Swedish capital.
In a nutshell, Stockholm definitely deserves more than just a weekend. This fact is highlighted by the following 10 suggestions.
1. Get around Stockholm via the hop-on hop-off boats
Using the hop-on hop-off boats makes commuting a true Stockholm experience. It is the ideal way to get a great overview of the city’s main parts which are perfectly connected thanks to the water routes. You have seven different stops on the circuit and you can catch a boat every fifteen minutes which makes it the fastest transportation method to reach certain destinations.
2. Have a culinary experience in Gamla Stan
Talking about Swedish cuisine, classic Swedish meatballs as well as traditional reindeer meat dishes have to be listed along with the different fish-based delicacies. One of the best places to try out the previously mentioned dishes is Gamla Stan.
The charming Old Town attracts tourists and locals alike with its vast range of restaurants inside its maze of cobbled streets. The two addresses recommended in this guide are Restaurang Kryp In (Prästgatan 17) and Slingerbulten (Stora Nygatan 24), bearing in mind that there are many other options (advisable to book a table a day in advance because most Old Town restaurants are quite small). Gamla Stan moreover invites to have a drink in one of its cosy bars such as Wirströms Pub (Stora Nygatan 13) or Pharmarium (Stortorget 7), no matter if it is before or after your meal (or even both).
3. Have a stroll around a gourmet temple
If your culinary desires could not be entirely satisfied in Gamla Stan, Saluhall (Östermalmstorg/Östermalm Square) is the place to go to. This high-quality market hall knows how to convince even the most demanding gourmet. Its numerous stands offer mainly regional products such as salmon, reindeer meat or Swedish cheese which you can purchase and take back home.
You can naturally also eat in one of the restaurants located inside the market hall.
4. Visit Skansen
Skansen (Djurgårdsslätten 49-51), a hybrid between an open-air museum about traditional Swedish lifestyle and a zoo hosting regional animals is definitely a venue not to miss during your Stockholm stay. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to learn about how Swedes lived in the past, whereas on the other hand, you can observe members of the regional fauna such as brown bears, elks, reindeers or wolfs in a close-to-wilderness habitat. Skansen doesn’t only stand for Stockholm but represents the entire Swedish country.
5. Discover a legendary ship
The Vasa Museum (Galärvarvsvägen 14) is a maritime museum located on the island of Djurgarden in Stockholm. Scandinavia’s most visited museum showcases the almost fully intact 17th century Vasa ship which is named after the former Swedish king. The warship was salvaged after it had sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628. Being something completely different compared to modern ships, Vasa definitely has its own flair and impresses every visitor. Apart from the Vasa ship which constitutes the heart of the museum, you can learn more about Swedish history, mostly the time when the kingdom was a great European power back in the 17th century.
6. Hang out in Gröna Lund
Also located on Djurgarden, Stockholm’s funfair Gröna Lund (Lilla Allmänna Gränd 9) is a popular spot to have uncomplicated juvenile fun. Even if Gröna Lund is smaller than most other funfairs, mostly due to its central location, it has over thirty attractions for kids and adults at its disposal. Besides classic roller coasters and carousels, Gröna Lund is famous for hosting concerts (mainly pop and rock) during the summer months. In this respect, the venue has hosted world renowned musical icons such as Bob Marley and Elton John over the years.
7. Embark on a day trip to Vaxholm
In central Stockholm, you have the opportunity to take a boat which navigates you from the capital through the Stockholm archipelago to Vaxholm. The Stockholm archipelago, or Stockholm’s Skärgard is an archipelago of roughly 24,000 islands (some of them are very small though) in the Baltic Sea eastwards from the Swedish capital. The archipelago stretches over 60 kilometres from North to South.
All of the islands are connected thanks to many boat and ferry lines. Some islands are uninhabited and natural reliefs dominate the image of the archipelago.
Aside from innumerable nature related locations, the archipelago boasts some larger towns as well. That is the case of the aforementioned Vaxholm which is often seen as the capital of the archipelago. Apart from attracting tourists, Vaxholm is also a popular destination for Stockholm residents who frequently like to escape the capital after a busy week of work by spending a day in this lovely and very quiet town.
8. Discover your talent as a singer and/or dancer
Back in the capital, again on Djurgarden, you should visit ABBA – The Museum (Djurgårdsvägen 68), an interactive exhibition about Sweden’s most famous band. Despite its name, the venue cannot really be considered as a museum in the traditional way as it focuses more on getting its visitors into action.
You can in this context take the microphone and perform the hits of the Swedish pop group or you can merely test your dance skills while moving to the tunes of the 70’s an early 80’s. Especially if you are from the ABBA generation this spot is a must, but a visit also pays off for younger generations given that you will learn about general music history and certainly enjoy yourself.
9. Check your knowledge about the Nobel Prize
The expression “Nobel Prize” rings a bell for everyone, but few people actually link it to Stockholm. The award was in fact named after the Stockholm-born scientist Alfred Nobel and the annual ceremony takes place in the Swedish capital since its inception in 1901. (except for the Nobel Peace Prize which is awarded in Oslo, Norway).
While visiting the Nobel Museum (Stortorget 2) which is located in the former Stock Exchange Building on Stortorget square in the heart of Gamla Stan, you will discover that the Nobel Prize is awarded in 6 different categories (Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, Physiology/Medicine and since 1969 also Economic Sciences).
You can obviously have a look at the list of laureates in each category and you will even have the opportunity to reproduce several Nobel Prize related experiments. Furthermore, the museum depicts the biography of the prize’s founder Alfred Nobel. Next to the exhibition room, you can find a small cafeteria offering refreshments, notably the Nobel Ice Cream which has the reputation of being the best in town.
10. Enjoy a city panorama
To finish your stay in the Swedish capital in some style, why not enjoy a drink and a stunning panorama view at Erik’s Gondolen (Stadsgarden 6) ? In addition to being a restaurant, this venue is also an open-air sky bar. This insider spot is a local’s favourite and it is located on the less touristy Island of Södermalm, in the South of Stockholm.