What To Do In Stockholm
Things to do in Stockholm, Sweden this summer.
Since i live here, I thought I would share some things to do in Stockholm when you visit as a tourist.
Although it is the capital of Sweden (and marketed as the capital of Scandinavia) Stockholm is not a metropolis and the city core is quite small as capital cities go. Everywhere you look you will find water and one solid tip is use the ferries and boat-buses that are available to take you on a water ride around Stockholm and under the bridges.
Images by me, or credited to source.
Stockholm The Water City
Here are some tips on what to do in Stockholm when visiting:
1. Take It Easy!
You are on vacation. So take some time off.
Lucky you because Stockholm is a great city for shedding stress and enjoying a restful holiday :)
The whole city center is not very big and public transportation is available in every direction and before you know it, you may have seen all there is to see anyway... So why rush it? Give our city some quality time and do like the locals: lounge in a lot of cafÃ©s and take it easy.
Our city is not a clubbers paradise or a fashion mecca or a cultural hotspot but there are many things to do and the waterfront itself is awesome - and everywhere!
The main thing is to not pack the days too full of events and whatnot. If you choose to plan in activities - make it one or two a day, not 5 or 6.
So, there you have it. The nr.1 thing to do in Stockholm is: relax!
Prepare yourself for Stockholm
Knopf makes smart maps based around first a general overview of the whole city and then subdivided into maps of the different city sections.
A more in-depth guide based around themed tours and walks. perfect for 2 - 3 day stays. Just under 200 pages of info including many images.
2. Take a Segway Tour
The tours go from city center out to the lush waterfront park of Djurgården. A playful way to see a lot of Stockholm in 1 hour. Great fun and anyone can do it! Check out the promo video by event organizer Upp och Ner.
3. Check out SOFO district.
A bit bohemian. A bit progressive. A bit avant-garde. Modern, kitschy, retro, and more alive than any other part of Stockholm.
Spend time in SOFO, the south city center, and go on a "fika" safari (cafe hopping). Sodermalm which is the city district has a core popularity called SoFo where there is a unusual concentration of cafes, restaurants, small shops and street-life. Although it is a bit bohemian, it is unspeakably expensive to buy a flat here these days, but a visit is a must. Favorite destination for many Swedes after work. If you like to shop quality second hand fashion, this is the place to be.
Don't buy clothes in Sweden - Come with what you need.
Clothes and shoes are unfortunately either expensive or utterly boring and mainstream here in my country. There is also not that much to choose from because most boutiques have been outmaneuvered by a few large stores. I strongly suggest you come fully kitted when you arrive.
Summers in Sweden are nice but there is never a guarantee against rain.
You will probably be walking quite a bit in Stockholm. Go for good and comfortable shoes rather than stylish (few here care).
One of my favorite activities in Stockholm!
Stockholm has a lot of bicycle friendly paths. With so many waterfront areas that are worth a visit, doing it by bike makes a lot of sense. Healthy and eco-friendly too!
The cheapest rental is the city sponsored Stockholm City Bikes which has a system with automatic bike stalls where you can grab a bike in one place, and return it in another. The service is used by locals and tourists and the bikes suit all tourist sizes since they are very easy to adjust.
Here or there, wherever you travel always protect yourself from the sun. Nordic Ozone layer is thin - so headgear is recommended.
The bike rental season starts on April 1 and ends in October. To use the system you purchase a magnetic card from one of the SL Customer Centres (central train station), or through one of the bigger hotels. See the official site for salespoints.
There are 94 automatic bike stalls throughout the city. You place your card onto the reader screen and it will unlock 1 bike from the stall. If you donÂ´t like the bike you got, or if it has a flat (very seldom) just hook it back into the stall and take out another bike. You can take out a bike in one location and return it to the system at any other location. If you are spending time in a place near a station, return the bike into the system rather than having it idle on the sidewalk.
You cannot take out 2 bikes at once so every member of your party must have their own card. You may only have the bike for 3 hours max. If you want to continue, just exchange bike to a new one in the nearest stall (and avoid your card becoming blocked).
A 3-day pass is about 25 dollars and worth every penny. There is also a whole season card which is 45 dollars which is a bargain if you visit often or are a resident ( I use these bikes all the time)
Tip: bikes have no locks. Bring your own for sidewalk parking when shopping, dining, etc.
When I travel I like to have a small backpack with me n daytrips. Carries water, snacks, a rain jacket and carries souvenirs I might buy.
5. Meet Swedes.
Sweden is a clean, well organized and very safe destination to visit and tourists are welcome wherever they go. Almost everybody in Stockholm speaks excellent English and we like to think of ourselves to be a social and approachable people.
Making contact is as easy as saying Hello to anyone in the street. Who knows, even a simple question about a direction might become a life-long story :)
If you are lucky enough to be here during Midsummer Eve (June 22) you should not miss the festivities which involve raising the traditional May-pole (in June...), putting on a flower garland and doing a bunch of strange dances. Check out the nearest park area of visit Skansen (see below) for the biggest party. "Midsommarafton" is our biggest event and a great venue for all ages. Many Swedes dress in folkore style on this day.
Photo by elisabet.sIf you want to meet someone for life - Midsummer Eve is considered the right moment :)
6. Visit Skansen.
Skansen is a heritage park where you will find a collection of old buildings and cultural features alongside the small-animal zoo. Established in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen was the world's first open-air museum.
Located on DjurgÃ¥rden Park area it is very easy to get to and great if you have kids traveling with you. Skansen has a mix of attractions for young and old and is a favorite destination for Swedes as well as Tourists.
About 1.3 million visitors find their way here per year. If you go, give it at least half a day - or a full day because the huge 75 acre (300,000 mÂ²) area has a lot to offer.
On Skansen you will find restored cultural buildings, restaurants, small animal zoo, and a bunch of re-enacting crew all dressed up in heritage style, a mini amusement park for children, and open air concerts.
There is a mini train for the kids and horse rides, and more. There is also a small-animal zoo for kids where they may get a chance to close enough to pet rabbits and chickens.
As you may imagine, Skansen is a favorite with kids and a splendid way to give travelling children an experience made for them, instead of all the boring grownup stuff tourists often do :)
Skansen is a open air museum but it is also a small zoo that highlights Nordic animals. A national event that gets the whole nation involved is name suggestions everytime the bears have cubs.
Bears, Wolves, Moose, Otters, European Bison, Goats, Hogs, a terrarium with lemurs and snakes, and more!
Sounds huge.. where is this "Skansen" again?
On DjurgÃ¥rden which is essentially in the middle of the city.
Small city, lots to see. Walking distance to almost everything :)
7. Glide over Stockholm in a balloon.
Stockholm enjoys a huge number of hot air balloon flights every summer that usually take place in the early morning or late afternoon.
The whole arrangement is professionally managed and regulated by the Swedish Aviation Department. Transportation to and from landing sites is usually included.
Experiencing Stockholm from above is unbeatable. Don't forget your camera!
8. Visit Stockholm Archipelago
Stockholm is a water city and our archipelago consists of over 30,000 islands and islets. You can purchase a island hopping pass which functions as a ticket on all the ferries that work like sea-busses. Many locations can be reached within an hour or two and once there, take a deep breath, stroll through old settlements and visit one of the local seaside restaurants. Or just spend some time on a pier with your feet dangling over the water.
It is very easy to get out on the water and there are a massive amount of ferries that depart several times a day from Stockholm city core. A lot of people commute to work by boat from neighboring counties.
One destination which is easy to get to by commuter ferry which leaves from Stockholm city center and takes you through some very nice archipelago scenery is the island port of Sandhamn. Once there, take the time to stroll out from the town core and explore the sandy beaches on the north side which you easily reach by foot.
The Stockholm Archipalgo is managed by a foundation that provides amenities and regulates tourism, policies and preservation. The foundation provides toilets and washing facilities at around 190 locations over a vast nautical area as well as actively supporting small farm establishments that keep grazing animals which keeps the island countryside open.
21,000 individuals, organisations and companies actively support the SkÃ¤rgÃ¥rds Stiftelsen as the foundation is called.
More info: Stockholm Archipelago Foundation.
9. Visit Tyresta National Park.
Get your sneakers or boots and take a tranquil walk on well-kept paths, or follow a animal path through the bush.
Tyresta is a national park and apart from a couple of gravel paths, everything else in the forest is left untouched. The total protected area is about 18 square miles and you can spend days hiking in Tyresta and still not see half of it.
I recommend you bring food and drink and have a picnic near one of the many small lakes in the area. You are also allowed to bring a tent and spend the night basically anywhere within the reserve.
Get to Tyresta park by taking the local train from Stockholm Central to Handen, and jump onto bus 834. Trip takes about 35 minutes. Like everyone else in Stockholm, the busdriver speaks English so don't be shy if you have questions about return passage.
The bust drops you off at Tyrest Village which consists of a couple of preserved houses with amenities such as toilets, cafe, a active stable and barbeque firepits. A number of excellent trails radiate from this position and maps are available at the tourist center on the same location.
Bring a camera, and GPS if you aim to trek through the forest off the trails! Tyresta website
Phot credits Wikipedia Holger.Ellgaard, Tim Honkalammi
Ok, so Gotland is a large island south east and not a part of Stockholm but.. you are so close to Gothic Gotland that you might as well give it a visit. :) If you are visitng Stockholm for a week that is plenty, and taking a overnight trip to Gotland is time well spent!
If you came to Sweden by car, or have a rental, take the ferry from NynÃ¤shamn port (40 minutes south-east of Stockholm) to Visby, the capital of Gotland. Check out the old town and then take a roadtrip up to the northern part of Gotland and check out the limestone basilisks called "Raukar" (they are not very big but we love all them, not sure why).
You can also go to Gotland with ferry by foot and rent a bicycle. Gotland is almost flat so it is easy pedaling. Bicycle riding also lets you go criss-cross along inland paths and socialize with the massive amounts of sheep that wander around.
There are a number of easy gates that you open (and remember to close!) as the trails often pass right through the sheep farms. If you see a farmer, say hello. You never know, you may get a free cup of coffee.
Whatever you do - you must take a moment to cruise around and through Gotland and check out as many of the 92 medieval churches on the island like I did on motorcycle.
Most of the ancient buildings are in excellent condition (still in use) and wherever you are, the next church tower is only 5 minutes away. You can often locate the next one by just looking for the steeples.
Several are from the 11'th century and worth a visit inside for their though-provoking architecture.
I have also made another lens about my Gotland touring on motorcycle.
11. Rosendals Garden - My personal favorite
A oasis for Swedes and tourists
There is one place in Stockholm that you must not miss to visit and that is Rosendals Garden cafe and restaurant which is located in the Royal Park DjurgÃ¥rden.
It is a well-known place and is marked out on all tourist maps but not so many tourists take the time to go there. Too bad because it is a singular place. It is easy to get to by tram train or buss and a 10 minute walk through park landscape.
Rosendals TrÃ¤dgÃ¥rd as it is called consists of a couple of greenhouses, two of which are converted into cafe. The rest of the greenhouses are used for raising plants and selling crafts.
They also have a small shop where you can buy marmalade, bread, and different herbs from the orchards. Pick you own flowers from the huge flower beds in summer!
The grounds around the greenhouses are ever-shifting and cultivated with flowers or crops mixed in with sometimes strange artwork and sculptures. There is a bar in the open courtyard and Rosendals TrÃ¤dgÃ¥rd also hosts different types of short courses in gardening.
Even though I have been there more than a hundred times, it is still a excellent target for my bicycle tour and a cup of coffee and fresh bread from their bakery is a hit every time. There is also a large orchard which is a superb location to doze in the sun under their collection of ancient and unique apple trees. Do not miss it.
Check out Rosendals Garden website.
12. Get Wet! - Clean water, long summer days... you did bring a bathing suit, right?
They call it the Venice of the North - but there is a difference: Stockholm is surrounded by very clean water. MÃ¤laren, our freshwater lake system which provides drinking water for millions of Swedes flows into the western side of the city and our half-salty archipelago sea starts in the middle and extends eastward through the city! The meeting point of the waters is Slussen waterlock which is right beside Gamla Stan (Old Town).
Coming to Stockholm in the summer without a bathing suit is unforgivable. Also, take the opportunity to rent a kayak or small boat and find you own bathing spot. Ok, so our water temperature won't be like the riviera but we are not far off in midsummer. Just find a spot and take a dip!
Although there are several municipal bathing spots where you can also find restrooms and buy snacks, the city does not impose any regulations of where you may bathe.In a nutshell: jump into the water wherever you feel like it!.
One spot where a lot of people bathe is the RÃ¥lambshov Park but I personally prefer to find a rocky outcrop on one of the many shores and jump into the clear water. It is great to come back up and dry on the warm granite cliffs!
Our water is not very salty and you will be fine putting your clothes on directly afterwards.
Image by question everything
13. Sail with the brigg Tre Kronor
The tall ship Tre Kronor is a brigg that you can either rent for a event (think very expensive wedding) or for corporate conferences etc. Cost starts at about $12,000 a day.
A much cheaper way to get on board and actually sail this ship is to participate in one of the public tours which are staged during the summer. If you happen to be in Stockholm during any of those dates - it might be a unforgettable experience. The ship which flies a total of 16 sails, is docked in Stockholm itself and getting to it is very easy.
You can also call or mail booking info at + 46 8 586 224 00 or email@example.com
Image by Carolina de la Fe
Get a Stockholm hotel room with a view.
There are many hotels in Stockholm and yet.. when the tourist season is in full boom (summertime) it can be extremely difficult to book a hotle room in Stockholm. So - early bird gets it :)
A very popular place to stay for backpackers those wanting something more than a traditional hotel is the Af-Chapman Hostel run by the Swedish Tourist association. This is a converted sailship. Don't let that spook you though because the restoration has been done with quality and the hostel has all the amenities that you may need including reception, cafe and bar. The best part is, it is situated on the islet of Kastellholmen which is smack in the middle of the city and 400 yards from Grand Hotel! 300 yards the other way is the Modern Museum and a couple of paces more gets you to the water-buss ferry that takes you to the amusement park.
Since we are a water-city, a boat hotel is a great place to stay in Stockholm that is near the city core but without the noise and traffic.
Premium waterfront homes
Take a ferry, or a "Under the Bridges Tour" and see some of the best, and most expensive, waterfront homes in Sweden. Lots of people commute to work like this!
The hop on and hop off system lets you take a break and visit any of the cafes on the way.
Stockholm is a lot about water, fresh air and open spaces.
I hope my suggestions will help you discover Stockholm. You may have noticed that I have not included "Gamla Stan", the Old Town district. I feel it has become so much of a tourist trap that it pales a bit compared to other amusements in Stockholm. Sure, it is worth a visit but a quick one to view the architecture. Be prepared to share the location with a massive amount of tourists though.
Neither have I mentioned any of our museums because they are a bit bleak compared to what you get when visiting Paris, London or most other capital cities. If you must go to a museum, the preserved royal Wasa ship would be my choice, and Skansen of course, which is our open-air museum.
As mentioned, Stockholm is a water city and this feature is part of the whole experience. This view is from the bridge connecting the eastern part of the city core with the park DjurgÃ¥rden where you will find many of the attractions such as Skansen, Wasa Museum and the amusement park GrÃ¶na Lund.
The restaurant and bar seen in the image is Strandbryggan Sea Club which is excellent place to lounge and enjoy Stockholm waterfront in a nice mix between tourists and the local Chamagne-sipping gang. Sea Cub has bar, restaurant, live music and events and organizes exclusive yacht charter.
You can also rent bicycles, sailing boats and canoes in the vicinity of the bridge which leads to DjurgÃ¥rden Royal Park. Although the area is not enclosed by anything other than water, there is a royal blue gate to the park area which is hard to miss.
Starting at this gate, there are a number of easy gravel paths that lead around and through DjurgÃ¥rden Park with billboard maps for easy directions. DjurgÃ¥rden is where you will find the Wasa museum, GrÃ¶na Lund amusement park, Skansen and Rosendals Cafe.
For more information about the city and surroundings see Wikipedia.