Stockholm holds an extraordinary 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 two 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. But, no matter where I went, Stockholm remained my favourite, and I’d recommend it to anyone for a visit.
This article is packed full of my recommendations, tips, and tricks for a weekend trip (or longer!) to Stockholm, rather than just a recap of a weekend getaway of mine.
Must-Sees in Stockholm
The “old town” is a picturesque island, home to the palace and some of the oldest remaining buildings of Stockholm. The narrow streets and cobblestones feel like a beautiful maze with surprises behind every turn.
Stortorget is the oldest square in Stockholm, located on Gamla Stan and highly 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.
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 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 ancient Viking warship history. They’re also conveniently located next to each other on Djurgården, a beautiful island to stroll along on any day.
Any visitors remotely interested in the Nobel prizes will love this museum on Gamla Stan.
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.
In The Summer
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. So if you have a chance to experience midsummer with locals, TAKE IT!
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 travelling with children.
Local’s Tip: Take a boat trip to Fjäderholmarna for authentic Swedish seafood, and the archipelago feels. You can take the boat right from Slussen in downtown Stockholm.
This open-air museum and zoo should be next on your list after a day at Gröna Lund.
Out of Office
This is a free monthly party for young professionals. It’s usually held in a large venue and is always packed!
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
Starting in November, the Christmas markets instantly brighten up Stockholm in the dark winter. The market in Kungsträdgården is my favourite 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 trendy throughout Scandinavia and a safe bet. It’s also very close to the central station – perfect if you only have a night and 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 – This is a central budget option for travellers. (It’s a Europe’s Famous hostel!)
- AF Chapman Stockholm – Yes, this is a SHIP hostel! It’s also owned by HI Hostels, so that you can use your loyalty card for discounts!
- Jumbo Stay – It is a hostel inside a kitted out jumbo jet aeroplane! It’s pretty far from the city centre, closer to the airport, funny enough. But it’s a unique experience if you have the time and passion for planes!
Where to Eat
- Rolfs Kök – Modern Nordic food
- Brasserie Operan – Located inside the Royal Swedish Opera House, it has royal decor and a refined atmosphere.
- Smörgåstårteriet – Amazing Scandinavian dishes and a seven-course tasting option at a reasonable 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 ambience
- Ellora – Stop in here if you’re in the mood for Indian cuisine.
- Orangeries 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 most significant aspects of Swedish culture, and there is 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 spend a little bit of time relaxing and connecting with another person – a tradition more countries need to adopt.
Here are some of the must-try coffee shops to check out:
- Mellqvist Kaffebar
- Drop Coffee
- Il Cafe Soder
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. Here are the must-try:
- Spy bar
- Soap Bar
- Cafe Opera
- Marie Laveau
Many travellers 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!