Stockholm is Sweden’s capital and largest city, built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges over Lake Mälaren.
The Swedish capital combines modern architecture and classic terracotta buildings, being one of the most beautiful cities in Scandinavia. It’s also known for offering its residents an incredible high quality of living.
Discover things to do and places to see in Stockholm, including the Old Town (Gamla Stan), emblematic museums (some with free admission), boat tours, and even a selection of shops with the Swedish design.
1. Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s Old Town, founded on the island of Stadsholmen in 1252. Around Stortorget, the main square, you’ll find the city’s oldest buildings and attractions, such as the Royal Palace, the Nobel Museum and Den Gyldene Freden, which, according to the Guinness World Records, is the world’s oldest restaurant that remains unchanged (boasting an eighteenth-century tavern environment) since it opened in 1722.
2. Vasa Museum
Located on the island of Djurgården, the Vasa Museum is home to the seventeenth-century warship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628, less than a mile off Stockholm’s harbour. After attempts to recover its cannons, the 69-metre-long ship was forgotten for more than 300 years. In 1961, however, it was found almost intact and recovered for the museum.
3. Island of Djurgården
Djurgården is a quiet oasis in the middle of Stockholm. In addition to museums (Vasa Museum, Skansen, Nordic Museum and Abba Museum), the island offers parks and activities for families. Accessible by bus and ferry, on a sunny day you may want to take a stroll along the Strandvägen, from the Royal Dramatic Theatre to the Djurgårdsbron bridge.
4. Boat Tour
A boat tour is one of the best ways to explore Stockholm. Under the Bridges, operated by Stromma, is the most complete sightseeing tour that visits Stockholm’s main attractions, going under 15 bridges. The tour takes 2h15, and runs between April and December. In winter, take the Stockholm Winter Tour instead. A cheaper alternative is a ride on the Djurgården ferry, part of the Stockholm’s public transport system. It runs from Slussen to the island of Djurgården via Gamla Stan. You can use your SL Card, or buy a single ticket on the quay.
5. Skansen Open-Air Museum
Located on Djurgården, Skansen is the world’s oldest open-air museum, dating from 1891. In addition to the zoo, with Swedish native animals, Skansen recreates a kind of pre-industrial mini Sweden, with farms and houses from different regions of the country. Actors wander about in costume showing life as it was in the nineteenth century. Skansen is also the place where Swedish traditions are celebrated, such as the midnight sun and Lucia festivities.
6. Stadshuset (City Hall)
Stadshuset is Stockholm’s City Hall, a distinctive building in the Swedish capital where the annual Nobel banquet is held every year. Even if you haven’t been invited, you can still sample the Nobel menu at Stadshuskällaren. As it so happens, this restaurant has been preparing Nobel’s banquet menu since 1901.
7. Medieval Museum
Under the Norrbro bridge, which connects Gamla Stan to the small island of Helgeandsholmen, you’ll find the Medieval Museum built around the findings from the largest excavation in Stockholm. These include part of the wall built by Gustavus Vasa and Helgeandshuset, a medieval church. The museum also provides insight into the history of Stockholm during the Middle Ages, using multimedia and faithful reconstructions of daily life. Free admission. The museum closes on Monday.
8. Stockholm Markets
The markets are always great places to experience local life. The Östermalm Food Hall, dating from 1888, has counters selling local produce such as vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, chocolate. There are several restaurants where you can sample the Swedish specialties, especially fish and seafood. In Hötorget square, in central Stockholm, you’ll find fruit and vegetable stands, which on Sundays give way to a flea market.
9. Swedish Design
If you’re looking for something special to bring home, here are some Swedish suggestions. Bookbinders is a chain selling stylish stationery, from simple notebooks to boxes to calendars and photo albums.
At Designtorget, the everyday objects created by promising Swedish designers are placed alongside pieces by renowned Swedish designers. They are selected by a jury according to style, functionality and innovation criteria, and sold exclusively in Designtorget shops. Svenskt Tenn is known for its unique textiles with floral and animal prints, and a selection of furniture, lamps, and gifts with the Swedish design.
10. Royal Armoury Museum
Part of the Royal Palace, the Royal Armoury Museum (Livrustkammaren) can be visited in separate. It is Stockholm’s oldest museum, collecting artefacts once in the possession of Swedish monarchs and their families. Free admission. The museum opens daily during the summer months; in winter, closes on Monday.