Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Made up of fourteen small, picturesque islands the Stockholm archipelago is full of history, charm and surrounded by nature. Discover the top things to do in Stockholm, Sweden in this complete city guide.
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Where is Stockholm?
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and is located in the southeast part of the country. Made up of 14 small, picturesque islands and more than 50 bridges, Stockholm is an archipelago situated in the Baltic Sea. This Stockholm map includes all the top things to do and see in Sweden’s capital city. You can save and use it for your future trip!
The capital city is most recognized from the colorful buildings in Stortorget, the main town square located on the island of Gamla Stan in Stockholm’s Old Town.
Stockholm Weather: When is the Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Stockholm is in the summer months between June and August. This is when the temperatures are warmer and the daylight lasts the longest. The summer temperatures range from around 20°C-23°C (68°-74°F) with cooler nights. Both of my trips to Stockholm have been in the summer and the weather is just perfect that time of year.
Even when visiting in the summer be sure to pack a light jacket or sweater as the temperatures can still be a bit cooler especially in the evening.
Stockholm weather is pretty typical of that region with four distinct seasons. Late spring is also a pleasant time to visit however the weather can be a bit unpredictable with snowfall late in the season. Between early September and November, the leaves start to change color and the become cooler but still quite pleasant.
The winter months in Stockholm are significantly colder with average temperatures of -20°C (-4°F). During the winter the days are shorter with the sun setting around 3PM.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Stockholm is one of Scandinavia’s most colorful and charming cities. The picturesque architecture, vibrant facades, cozy cafes, boutique shops and informative museums make Stockholm a desirable city to visit. There are plenty of things to do in Stockholm and you should plan on spending at least 3 days in Stockholm’s capital city.
Founded in the 13th century, the old town of Gamla Stan in Stockholm is one of the most picturesque places in the city.
The well preserved cobblestone streets, colorful scandinavian architecture and wafting smells of cinnamon rolls makes this small historical island ooze with fairytale charm. Within this compact island you’ll find 17th & 18th century houses, the Storkyrkan cathedral, the Nobel Museum, the Royal Palace and Stortorget square.
Spend your time wandering the medieval streets, popping into boutique shops and stopping in one of the quaint cafes for a Swedish fika.
If you would like to learn more about the historical neighborhood of Gamla Stan you should check out a walking tour which lasts around 2.5 hours.
Located in the heart of Gamla Stan, Stortorget is not only the oldest square in Stockholm but is also the most recognizable. Three quarters of the square is lined with traditional Swedish architecture and color facades.
In the center of the square is the large well, an iconic symbol in Stortorget that dates back to 1778. Directly off of the colorful square is Köpmangatan which is one of the oldest streets in Stockholm.
Visiting Stortorget square is one of the top things to do in Stockholm and is one of the most popular places in the city.
Have a Fika
A traditional part of Swedish culture is to take a break from your day to enjoy a fika. The Swedish word fika basically translates to enjoying a coffee with the company of friends and a sweet treat such as a cinnamon or cardamom roll.
Having a fika is a way of life for Swedes and is deep rooted in Swedish culture. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for fika to be scheduled into one’s work day at the office. Typically a fika is a short mid-morning or mid-afternoon break lasting from around 10-30 minutes.
The Swedes believe in slowing down and enjoying the little things in life and fika is exactly that.
Enjoying a fika is one of the top things to do in Stockholm and something that you should incorporate into each day while you are there. Plus, it’s just an excuse to eat more of the delicious cinnamon rolls that Sweden is known for!
Some of the best places in Stockholm to have fika are:
- Sara’s Art & Coffee in Gamla Stan
- Naturbageriet Sattva Gamla Stan
- Drop Coffee in Södermalm
- Albert & Jack’s in Norrmalm
Visit the Nobel Museum
Located in Gamla Stan Stockholm in the famous Stortorget square, you’ll find the Nobel Prize Museum. The large museum showcases the creative art, inventions and works of Nobel Prize recipients and the Nobel Laureates.
Typically, a 45 minute long tour (in either English or Swedish) is offered every hour. However, the tours have temporarily stopped until further notice. Luckily you can still visit and explore the interactive museum without a tour. Inside you’ll find videos and artifacts showcasing the important discoveries in science, literature and peace.
The museum also gives an overview of Alfred Nobel’s life, how the fund was started and how it is still one of the most prestigious awards given out today.
- Location: Stortorget 2, Stockholm
- Cost: Adults 130 SEK ($14.85 USD). Children 18 yrs and under are free
- Hours: Thursday – Sunday 11 AM to 5 PM
Watch the Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace
The changing of the guards in front of the Royal Palace in Gamla Stan Stockholm takes place everyday at noon. Arrive about 30 minutes early to secure your standing spot in the front for unobstructed views of the spectacle.
In the summer months (from May to August), the changing of the Royal Guards is accompanied by a full military band that plays while on horseback and marches through the streets of Stockholm. It’s quite an impressive show that lasts about an hour.
The changing of the guards happens daily and is a popular thing to do when you visit Stockholm. You can find all of the information for the times on the home page for the Swedish Armed Forces.
Take a Boat Tour of Stockholm’s Archipelago
Since the Stockholm archipelago is made up of 14 islands a fun way to explore the city from a unique perspective is to take a boat tour. There are quite a few companies that offer tours around Stockholm with varying lengths of time depending on how long you’d like to spend out on the water.
Most of the tours will depart from Nybroviken in Norrmalm nearby Kungsträdgården. Additionally you will find other tours departing from either Strömkajen or Klara Mälarstrand.
For the more adventurous type you can even take a kayaking tour around the Stockholm archipelago.
Located just over the bridge from Gamla Stan, Stockholm is the hip and trendy neighborhood of Södermalm. Not that long ago this area was a bit run down, however over the last decade this district has been completely transformed into one of the most popular areas of Stockholm. This area is perfect for wandering around and discovering boutique shops and cozy cafes.
For some of the best views of the Stockholm skyline head over to the Monteliusvägen walking path. This path stretches a quarter of a mile and gives unobstructed views of Gamla Stan and the surrounding areas.
If you have even more time I suggest you head a little further west to a rocky viewpoint up on a small hill known as Skinnarviksberget. This scenic viewpoint is the perfect place to take in the Stockholm archipelago during sunset.
Katarinahissen (Katarina Elevator)
For some of the best views of the city, namely Gamla Stan, Katarinahissen is where you need to go. This industrial elevator and viewing platform dates back to 1881 and is located directly after the pedestrian bridge that connects Gamla Stan to Södermalm.
The elevator was originally built as a shortcut to allow easier access for people to travel from Slussen to the heights of Södermalm. The elevator has not been in use for many years but there are plans to restore it for future use. Currently you can still use the stairs and the viewing platform is free.
For additional views of Stockholms historical center head to the street called Fjällgatan. The street is lined with traditional Swedish buildings on one side and a panoramic view on the other.
Fotografiska Stockholm Museum
Located on the same island as Södermalm, the Fotografiska Museet is modern museum which hosts a large collection of some of the best contemporary photography in the world.
During my visit there were four large exhibitions on display and I was lucky enough to be in town during the Nick Brandt, “Inherit the Dust” exhibition. The collections change quite frequently and you can always visit their site to see which photographer they are showcasing at the time.
- Location: Fotografiska Museet
- Cost: Adults 170 SEK ($19.45 USD), under 12 years old is free
- Hours: Open daily from 10 AM to 11 PM
If you plan to be in the city for a few days and are thinking about visiting many of the museums and tourist attractions around the archipelago you might want to look into purchasing the Stockholm Pass.
The Norrmalm neighborhood is the main city and commercial area of Stockholm. This area is the primary transportation hub where you’ll find the Stockholm Central Station, as well as the main drop off for the Arlanda Express & Flygbussarna airport buses.
This area is also a shopper’s paradise if you are looking for trendy chain clothing and accessory shops. The best areas to shop are along Drottninggatan and around Sergels torg and Kungsträdgården. Gallerian and NK Stockholm are two of the main shopping malls in Norrmalm.
My favorite Scandinavian department store is called Illums Bolighus and is located very close to the Stockholm Central Station. Some of the best brands you can find here are Jukserei, Jane Kønig, Ilse Jacobsen, Enamel Copenhagen, Ferm Living, L:A Bruket, Maria Black, Muuto, Pernille Corydon Jewellery, Skandinavisk and many more.
If you are in the area you should stop into Albert & Jack’s Kungsgatan. It’s a nice deli style cafe with fresh breads, sandwiches and crepes. Try either the Swedish favorite cardamom cinnamon roll or the classic cinnamon roll.
ICEBAR Stockholm by ICEHOTEL
The incredible (and very chilly) ICEBAR was founded in 2002. It has been a popular spot for locals and visitors to enjoy a drink while imagining they are in the Arctic north. The ICEBAR is located inside Hotel C Stockhom nearby Stockholm’s Central station and is a unique place to visit in the city.
Every year the theme of the ICEBAR is redone. New statues are carved out of over 40 tons of ice from one of northern Sweden’s rivers. The carvings are done by experienced ice sculptors who come down from the famous ICEHOTEL located in Northern Sweden.
You can only visit and stay in Sweden’s ICEHOTEL during the winter months as the rooms melt every year. While I haven’t stayed at ICEHOTEL, I have stayed in an ice hotel called Sorrisniva. This igloo hotel is located in Alta, Norway.
The entire interior of the ICEBAR is made of ice including the glasses which the drinks are served in. The temperature inside the bar remains at a constant -5 C (19 F) and visitors are allowed to stay inside for 45 minutes.
Inside the main waiting area are places to safely store your belongings while you are inside the ICEBAR. You will also be given a pair of gloves and a cape to wear to keep you warm. However, I also recommend wearing appropriate clothing and shoes so you don’t get too cold.
- Location: Inside Hotel C Stockholm, Vasaplan 4, Stockholm, Sweden
- Cost: Online Booking: 199 SEK ($22.75 USD) alcoholic drink, 170 SEK ($19.45 USD) non-alcoholic, 99 SEK ($11 USD) ages 3-17; Drop in: 215 SEK ($24.55 USD) alcoholic drink, 175 SEK ($20 USD) non-alcoholic, 99 SEK age 3-17. The entrance cost includes one drink. A refill drink costs 95 SEK if you reuse your ice cup.
- Duration of Stay: 45 minutes
- Hours: Thursday – Saturday 3 PM – 10 PM (last entry 9:15 PM)
Located on the island of Djurgården, this multi-level museum is dedicated to the Vasa ship that capsized and ultimately sank in the waters of Stockholm in 1628. It’s quite a tragic story in that the Vasa ship had just set sail on its maiden voyage and sunk within minutes after leaving the harbor in Stockholm.
Due to a faulty design and open canon gun ports, the Vasa ship just couldn’t handle the windy weather and thus it met its’ fate at 32 meters along the ocean floor.
Astonishingly the ship was found, removed from the sea and restored after being buried for 333 years. In 1961 the Vasa ship was removed from the sea after almost 2 years of preparation.
The preservation of the 17th century ship is one of the best in the world and the ship is now on display at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. In the museum you can walk around and view the entire ships, admiring all the carvings and details that went into the design of the ship.
Also, on display are recovered artifacts, weapons and tools that were to be used on the Vasa. The Vasa is a breathtaking example of 17th century ship building and is one of the top things to do in Stockholm.
To reach the Vasa Museum from the Norrmalm neighborhood you can take the S7 tram from the Kings Garden (Kungsträdgården) stop. From here take the tram to the stop Nordiska Muset/Vasamuseet which will bring you right in front of the museum.
- Location: Vasa Museet
- Cost: Adults 170 SEK ($19.45 USD), under 18 years old is free
- Hours: Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM
tours in stockholm
Best Restaurants in Stockholm
Stockholm has many trendy restaurants and cafes which are serving up delicious food. The type of food ranges from traditional Swedish classics to international cuisines and everything in between.
A few of the best restaurants in Stockholm (and my personal favorites) are:
- Albert & Jacks
- Grillska Husets Brodbod
- Ruby Grill
- Naturbageriet Sattva Gamla Stan
- Louie Louie
- Restaurant Kryp In
- Greasy Spoon
Best Hotels in Stockholm
Stockholm is one of the trendiest cities in Europe and you can easily find a well designed, affordable space to stay for the duration of your trip. The best places to stay in Stockholm are in the neighborhoods of Gamla Stan, Södermalm and Norrmalm.
Click HERE for a list of all my recommended places to stay in Stockholm.
How to Get to Stockholm from Arlanda Airport
The main international airport is the Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The Stockholm airport code is ARN. Located 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside of Stockholm’s main city center, the Arlanda Airport is where most visitors will arrive when visiting Sweden’s capital city.
From Stockholm Arlanda Airport it is quite easy to reach the city center via public transportation. The fastest and easiest way is to take the Arlanda Express train directly from the airport. The journey takes less than 20 minutes and departs every 15 minutes from Stockholm C.
The cost is higher than other options but depending on how much time you have in the city you may not mind paying for the convenience. The base price for an adult ticket costs 299 SEK ($34 USD) one-way or 579 SEK ($66 USD) for a return ticket. There are discounts available when purchasing more than one ticket or for students and people over 65+ years old.
Another option to get from Stockholm Arlanda Airport to the city center is to take the SJ Train which takes around the same travel time. These trains run every few minutes and cost $38 for a one way ticket. To purchase the correct ticket enter Stockholm Arlanda Airport as your origin and Stockholm Central as your destination.
Alternatively you can take a bus to get from the Stockholm Arlanda Airport to Stockholm Cityterminalen in the center of the city. There are frequent buses through Flixbus that you can pre-book online and depart from the different terminals at the airport. The price starts at $4.99 USD for a one-way ticket and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
Another airport bus option is the Flygbussarna. This bus departs every 20 minutes from the Stockholm Arlanda Airport and arrives 49 minutes later in the city center. The cost is 119 SEK ($13.50 USD) for a one-way and 238 SEK($27.15 USD) for a return adult ticket.
How to Get to Stockholm from the Skavsta Airport
If you are already in Europe and can utilize the low cost air carrier RyanAir then you will fly into the Stockholm Skavsta Airport. The Skavsta Airport code is NYO and it is located 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Stockholm.
The easiest and most convenient way to get from the Stockholm Skavsta Airport to the Stockholm Cityterminalen is to take the Flygbussarna bus. A one way adult ticket costs 199 SEK ($22.70 USD) and a round-trip ticket costs 398 SEK ($45 USD). You can purchase your ticket online and it is valid for 3 months.