Now, before I start this, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary I need to confess something – and it is going to sound very ignorant of me, so for that, I apologize.
I’ve only ever associated visiting Stockholm and Sweden in general with IKEA and Swedish Meatballs.
Yeah, I know. And just so I can complete the process of making myself look even more like a jack-ass, I also thought Swedish Meatballs was only an IKEA thing. You know a gimmick – something to lore a family of four in for an afternoon of shopping with a relatively inexpensive meal that can feed everyone.
But no. Sweden is so much more!
Nothing wrong with IKEA of course. But when I’m talking about things to do in Stockholm, I’m talking about eating that Swedish-style hard flatbread with cream cheese. I’m talking about those piping hot Swedish-style cinnamon buns. I’m talking about drinking beer made from honey (mead, mjod) and enjoying that beer with some badass Vikings. I’m talking about traditional Dala (Dalecarlian) Horses, cheese, and yes they do have Swedish meatballs – and they’re damn right!
Oh, and how can I forget about ABBA – remember them? And Pippi Longstocking – remember her? Whether it’s 36 hours in Stockholm or 2 days in Stockholm, meatballs with honey beer or Viking sailors swabbing the deck to the tune “Mama Mia” – I’ve put together a pretty awesome Stockholm itinerary.
But before we get into some Stockholm points of interest, here is some history of this rather imperial, Vienna-ishhh looking city.
- The first mention of Stockholm was in 1252
- It was built by a Swedish ruler named Birger Jarl and grew pretty quickly because of a trade agreement with Lübeck, Germany
- The city came to be regarded as the Swedish capital in 1436.
- After several conflicts between the Danes and Swedes, in 1523, Stockholm was liberated from Danish rule by Gustav I Vasa
- Stockholm developed rapidly in the mid-17th century
Best Place To Stay In Stockholm
Business travellers can book your Stockholm Airport transfers in advance and forget about trains, boats, taxies and buses.
Hotel Älvsjö is a two-minute walk to Älvsjö Station that takes you to Stockholm Central Station. All rooms have free tv and wifi and include a free buffet breakfast.
$$ Approx. CAD 75.00 per night
📍Johan Skyttes Vag 190, Alvsjo 125 34, Sweden
First Hotel Fridhemsplan
Hotel Fridhemsplan is a designer hotel that boasts 222 spacious Deluxe Rooms equipped with a sauna, jacuzzi, bathtub or Turkish steam bath.
$$$ Approx. $95.00 CAN per night
📍Sankt Eriksgatan 20, 112 39, Sweden
Grand Hôtel Stockholm
The Grand Hôtel is the place for celebrities and high-profile people that overlooks the Royal Palace and Gamla Stan
$$$$ Approx $320.00 CAD
📍Sodra Blasieholmshamnen 8, Sweden
Getting to the Stockholm City Center
SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) is the largest domestic airline for Sweden’s major airports. Most flights depart from Stockholm Arlanda, which is 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Stockholm.
Getting to and from Stockholm Arlanda and Stockholm City Centre, you can take the Arlanda Express train, Flygbussarna Airport Coach, commuter train or taxi. Also, most of the well-known car rental companies can be found in Stockholm Arlanda.
The other Swedish airports; Bromma, Skavsta-Nyköping and Västerås, are also close to Stockholm and have some airport shuttle bus service. I almost fell for The Arlanda Express option based on how lovely their both look and how quickly they catch you. Suitcase in hand lost like a tourist they entice you with a 20-minute train ride.
The Arlanda express train will get you from Arlanda Airport to/from Stockholm Central Station in about 20 minutes, and it runs every 15 minutes. Naturally, this is the most expensive at 295 SEK (Swedish Krona) roughly $40.00 or 570 SEK (return) at about $78.00. Also, it costs extra to purchase your ticket on-board the train. That said if you can spend $80.00 on a return ticket well then this probably doesn’t matter to you.
The best option is the Flygbussarna Airport Coaches which depart every 10-15 minutes and take about 35-45 minutes. That will cost you an easy 99.00 SEK which is approximately $13.50. Please note – as I mentioned already cash is not accepted on-board the buses. Buying your ticket on the Flygbussarna website or in the app we score you the best price.
The Cheapest option is local transportation called Stockholm, SL. To use the SL, you’ll need to buy a ticket. They have tickets and travel cards for either short or long trips. The single-use travel cards are valid for 75 minutes, 24 Hours or 72 Hours)
The Access Card SL Card (an electronic smart card) costs 20 SEK is about $2.70 and can be reloaded and reused. The total travel time between the airport and Stockholm Central Station is about 43 minutes – with your suitcases, no thanks.
Taxi services are available at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Bromma Airport. It takes about 40 minutes on a good day, and they will gladly accept credit cards with pleasure.
**Please note: Taxi fares in Sweden aren’t regulated, which means prices can vary between companies. The Visit Stockholm website, recommends visitors use the services of well-known firms like Taxi Stockholm, Taxi 020 and Taxi Kurir.
Boats can take you from the city centre to the Stockholm islands. However, there are a few key lines that will make it easy to jump between the central islands.
- The year-round Djurgården ferry shuttles between Slussen (at the southern tip of Gamla Stan) and the island of Djurgården.
- The Sjövägen 80 line connects central Nybroplan with Frihamnen, stopping at Allmänna Gränd on Djurgården along the way.
- This route is handy if you want a quick way to get from the downtown area to the museums on Djurgården.
Thing’s To Know About Stockholm
- Sweeden is a mostly cashless society which means most places will only take credit, debit and other forms of digital payments (phones, watches). Keep an eye on the high conversion rates + convenience charges your bank will gladly charge you. Most places in Stockholm’s old town and grocery stores will accept cash, but your local coffee shop most likely will not accept cash.
Things To Do In Stockholm
The night before…
Nomad (Dinner) + House Beer “Nomad.”
Near our Airbnb, Nomad Swedish Food & Bar serves up Swedish cuisine in the Stockholm city center, at Upplandsgatan 2a. This was my first taste of Swedish Meatballs outside IKEA. Yes, I’m was moving up in the world! Nomad is also known for its venue for live music and DJs.
3 Days In Stockholm
Espresso House is a Swedish coffee chain that started as a small cafe, inspired by both the Italian and American coffee cultures. Today it’s the largest coffee shop chain in Scandinavia with over 400 coffee shops across Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.
Stockholm Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Stockholm was primarily built during the eighteenth century in the Italian Baroque style. It was built on the same spot where the “Tre Kronor” castle burned down in 1697. It is open to the public and offers five museums like Gustav II I’s Museum of Antiquities, the Tre Kronor Museum and the Treasury.
Be sure to visit Visit the reception rooms which are classically designed in their eighteenth and nineteenth-century style. The Rikssalen (the Hall of State) with Queen Kristina’s silver throne and Ordenssalarna (Halls of the Orders of Chivalry) are all worth checking out.
Meanwhile, around Noon be sure to head out to the courtyard and watch the daily Changing Of The Guard – check out the regular schedule HERE
Gamla Stan – Stockholm’s Old Town is one of the best maintained medieval city centres in Europe as well as the most visited. The oldest part of Stockholm was founded in 1252.
Stuténska Huset (Square/Open Space)
The colourful medieval townhouses seem in the square were rebuilt in the middle of the 17th century. The original façade was added in 1780 and designed by Stockholm Master Mason J.W. Friese, who wanted it to match the eastern gable of the Storkyrkans.
In the Stuténska Huset, we stumbled across this cute and cozy cafe called Chokladkoppen. Delicious food with local ingredients, cold and hot drinks and a unique old building in the heart of Gamla stan, Stockholm old town.
The Nobel Museum contains all the essential information about the most prestigious prize in the world, The Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, and the Nobel Laureates. They have guided tours and films that take you from conception to the Nobel Banquet.
Storkyrkan aka The Great Church aka Sankt Nikolai kyrka (Church of St. Nicholas) aka Stockholms domkyrka (Stockholm Cathedral) and was constructed in 1279. It showcases some unique objects such as St. George and the Dragon sculpture (1489), the legendary Vädersoltavlan (1535) and Lena Lervik’s sculpture” Joseph and Mary” (2002). It has been a Lutheran church since 1527 but is also home to a wide variety of religious services.
The wedding of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel took place in Stockholm Cathedral on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Obelisk at Castle Hill
Unfortunately for me, the Obelisk at Castle Hill was not there and in its place was its base, some construction equipment and some barriers. So if it returns by the time you visit, know that the Obelisk at Slottsbacken is near the southerly entrance of the Royal Palace. It’s considered to be the very centre of Stockholm. Gustav III commissioned the 22-metre granite obelisk, and Louis Jean Desprez designed it.
Now I know we just had lunch at Chokladkoppen, but Gordana wanted ice cream. I heard stories that the smell of freshly baked waffle cones can be picked up from 10 meters away – which is most likely how we ended up here. Cafe Kakakbrinen serves a variety of ice creams, waffles, gelatos, sorbets and more.
The German Church
The German Church, sometimes called St. Gertrude’s Church, belonged to the German Saint Gertrude Parish of the Church of Sweden.
Mosebacke Terrassen (Drinks) & Fly Drone
Mosebacketerrassen at Södra Teatern is an outdoor area with a wee bit of everything and is well known for its unbeatable view of Stockholm. Different coloured plastic chairs or wooden benches, a terrace and a beer garden. It was still light out, so the patio was rather empty. I took the opportunity to fly my drone; however, I will be back after dinner at Meatballs For The People.
We left Stockholm’s old town, Gamla Stan and headed out to the Katarina-Sofia area for a couple of reasons. First, we were looking for a safe place away from the old town to fly my drone. Second, as a lover of photography, the Stockholm travel guide suggested this place called Fotografiska which displays year-round exhibitions of contemporary photography. Lastly, I learned of this place called Meatballs For The People that we can visit for dinner.
With a name like that, I was sure I could erase this thought of Ikea meatballs being the only representation of what Swedish meatballs can taste like.
Katarina kyrka (Church of Catherine) is one of the significant churches here in central Stockholm. The original building was constructed in 1656–1695, but like most churches, it had succumbed to fire and was rebuilt in the 1990s.
Fotografiska has four unique large presentations for contemporary photography and about 20 smaller exhibitions that are displayed annually. The souvenir shop, restaurant and bar upstairs (which We’ll talk about in a minute) are pretty cool too. As you know, I usually tend to avoid museums when creating layover and stopover itineraries as they tend to be a huge time suck. However, now and then I make exceptions and Fotografiska is well worth it.
Fotografiska (Lounge, Bar, Coffee, Snack or Dinner)
On the top floor of the Fotografiska café, you’ll find gorgeous views of Stockholm’s old town and Gröna Lund while savouring a beer, coffee/tea or a snack.
And while you’re processing all the amazing photography you saw in the exhibits below the restaurant of Fotografiska is busy winning prestigious awards like the Gold Dragon Award.
Meatballs For The People
Meatballs for the People is a restaurant and bar that serves up 14 kinds of meatballs made of ingredients like elk, beef, and salmon.
Yes. Yes. And Yes. Classic Swedish meatballs. Delicious. It’s packed, so come early. IKEA I like your meatballs too but Elk. Wow!
Back to Mosebacke Terrassen for drinks, views and music.
Stockholm City Hall
Stockholm City Hall is one of the most visited tourist attractions and one of Sweden’s most famous buildings. With offices that house two hundred people, including the Municipal Council, it is renowned for its grand ceremonial halls and unique art pieces.
The Stockholm City Hall is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet held on December 10 each year.
Evert Taubes Terrass | Statue of Evert Taube
Evert Taubes Terrass is a tranquil and relaxed chill-out spot that offers great views of Stockholm and Stockholm City Hall over lake Mälaren from the quiet island of Riddarholmen.
Sunset is truly the best time to come.
Taube (the park’s namesake) was a beloved composer who grew up on the Gothenburg archipelago. He’s immortalized in the joyful statue at the corner of the park.
Also located on the island of Riddarholmen close to the Royal Palace in Stockholm is The Riddarholm Church. It is the burial church of the Swedish monarchs.
House Of Nobility
The House of Nobility was commissioned in the 17th century by the Swedish nobility and is an excellent example of architecture in northern Europe. The walls of the Session Hall are decorated with the 2.326 coats of arms of the Swedish aristocracy.
I was on the fence about mentioning this place but here goes…
The location is perfect and in the absolute best place to attract tourists on one of the most touristy streets in Stockholm. This leads to everything being pricey, which, as you could imagine, comes with the territory of that type of location.
The coffee was ok, and the waffle was ok. I’ve definitely tasted better, but then again I’ve drunk coffee in places like Italy where coffee is an art. I’ve eaten waffles in places like Belgium which are known for waffles. So my palette tends to be a bit more refined than that of the average traveller.
Ok, I’m done being pretentious now. Let’s move on.
The Parliament House (Riksdagshuset) is open to anyone wishing to attend a debate or public hearing. This, of course, is something I wouldn’t do back home in Toronto. So, I won’t be doing it here in Stockholm while on vacation.
That said, for those who are interested. Between September and June, when the parliament is in session, you can visit Riksdagshuset for guided tours. You can discover how Sweden is run and Swedish legislative history.
The museum is created around the findings from the most extensive excavation in Stockholm. The underground exhibition highlights 55 meters of the original 16th-century town wall, a medieval graveyard and a warship.
Royal Swedish Opera
The Royal Swedish Opera is Sweden’s national stage for ballet and opera and has been the national venue for opera and ballet – since 1773.
You can see Kungliga Operan as a member of the audience during one of their shows, or you can take a guided tour.
St. Jacobs Kyrka
St Jakobs Church is one of Stockholm’s most distinguished, oldest and often overlooked churches. It’s in the same spot across the water from the Royal Palace since the 16th century with its red colouring.
Kungsträdgården, also known as Kungsan, is one of the most popular hangouts and meeting places with its central location and its outdoor cafés. During summer its hosts’ open-air concerts while during the winter there’s an ice rink.
Gilded Crown on Skeppsholmsbron
The Skeppsholm Bridge is a 165 metres long and bridge that connects Blasieholmen to Skeppsholmen. Made by the Motala Verstad Group in 1861, it was the first forged wrought iron bridge to be constructed in Sweden. The gilded crown sits on the railing of the bridge, and from here you’ll get great views of the Stockholm Royal Palace.
Eric Ericson Hall is a concert venue named after the Swedish conductor and Eric Ericson and is run by Eric Ericson International Choral Center. On one of the walls, there is a seven-meter high image of the Sea’s song by Anita Graffman and Marina Aittalat.
Located on Skeppsholmen island, Moderna Museet has an extensive collection of art from the twentieth century to today, with works by artists like Picasso, Dali, Derkert, and Matisse. The large and temporary exhibitions combine contemporary art modern classics.
The building was designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. The museum also has a children’s workshop, a store and a delightful restaurant with a gorgeous view of Djurgården and Strandvägen.
Skeppsholmen (Ferry Terminal) to Allmänna gränd (Ferry Terminal)
Two different ferries depart from Skeppsholmen. Be sure to grab the one headed to Djuurgarden (unless you want to head back to the Stockholm Slussen kajen in Gamla Stan. Once on this ferry, you will need to start contemplating how much time you have and which museums you want to see. At this point, you might only have time for two, and you will need to either see more on day three or do something else. Either way, I have you covered.
Gröna Lund is an amusement park on Djurgården Island. It is comparatively small compared to most other amusement parks. It has 30 rides and is open from late spring (April/March) to September.
If you have time and depending on your interests or the time of year, you can either hang out at Gröna Lund, save it for day three or just pass through. Gordana and I were here in September, and the park was closed, so we just passed through.
Saw this sign in a window while walking through Gröna Lund – I wonder how millennials will feel about this…
ABBA The Museum is an interactive exhibition about the pop band – well you guessed it ABBA. It opened on May 2013. I do really love a handful of ABBA songs like “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” Lay All Your Love On Me,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and my absolute favourite “Money, Money, Money.” – Funny enough, but not enough to fork out CAD 34.00.
If ABBA is your thing, you should know that the museum is cashless so save money and buy your tickets online.
Technically speaking ABBA The Museum is not a museum as it has no collections, does no research and is an absolutely for-profit establishment
Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum)
The Nordic Museum is committed to the cultural history and ethnography of Sweden and was founded in the late 19th century by Artur Hazelius. The museum has over 1.5 million objects in its collection that include pieces from the early modern period in Swedish history, about 1520 to the contemporary period. The Museum also contains buildings from all around Sweden, an extensive collection of documents and approximately 6 million photographs dating from the 1840s until today.
The Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia with about a million visitors a year because it has the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world.
More than 95 percent of the boat is original, and it is decorated with hundreds of carved sculptures. The 69 meter Vasa warship sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628. In 1961, get this, 333 years later it was salvaged with more than 95 percent of the original boat.
There are about ten different exhibitions around the ship that talk about life on board the vessel. There is also a film about Vasae that is shown in 13 different languages.
Strandvagen Boulevard (Take a walk)
As we head back to Gamla Stan for dinner, we took a walk along Strandvagen Boulevard. It is lined with high-end fashion stores that are housed in charming eighteenth-century buildings.
Strandvägen is part of the most exclusive district in Stockholm, with its affluent restaurants and a harbour jammed with luxury boats and yachts.
Aifur (Dinner) + Honey Beer
The last stop of the day needs to be here at Aifur Krog & Bar – which by the way was recommended to me by another tourist who checking out out a souvenir shop. She is now a friend of mine 🙂
The restaurant is filled with replicas of Vikings’ tools, furniture and cutlery. Extended family-style seating, servers dressed in medieval garb and musicians playing old medieval instruments. It’s like a scene out of Game of Thrones where each guest is announced, and the crowd goes wild.
3 Days In Stockholm
The ABBA Museum, the Vasa Museum, Nordiska Museet and Gröna Lund as well as Skansen, Junibacken which I’ll talk about next are all on the island of Djurgården. So you can move things around as you see fit.
Skansen is the world’s oldest open-air museum, with houses and farmsteads, display Sweden’s history and how they once lived from every part of the country. From customs and traditions to work and celebrations like singing, dancing and concerts in the summer, and Christmas markets in the winter. It’s very cool but will take some time to get through – get your ticket HERE.
Founded by Staffan Götestam, Fredrik Urström and Peder Wallenberg Junibacken is a children’s attraction and the 5th most-visited tourist attraction in Stockholm. It is dedicated to Swedish children’s literature more specifically Astrid Lindgren.
The interior design of Junibacken was made by Swedish artist Marit Törnqvist, who is behind the illustrations for more recent versions of Lindgren’s books. Junibacken also has the largest children’s bookstore in Sweden.
If you are planning on visiting SkyView, be sure to stop off at Sofia Kyrka.
Sofia Church is one of the significant churches in Stockholm and was designed by Gustaf Hermansson during an architectural contest in 1899. It was inaugurated in 1906 and sits on top of a hill, surrounded by small wood and stone houses.
SkyView takes you to the top of the world’s largest spherical building, the Ericsson Globe. From the top, the Ericsson Globe is 130 meters above sea level, and from there you’ll get some spectacular views of Stockholm. The two SkyView gondolas depart every 10 minutes, and the entire visit takes about 30 minutes.
Sta Clara (Dinner)
Sta Clara has been serving traditional handcrafted Swedish food as well as central European dishes since 1953.
Day Trips From Stockholm
Drottningholm Palace (Day Trip)
Drottningholm Palace was constructed in the seventeenth century as the permanent residence of the royal family. It is Sweden’s best-preserved royal palace and one of Stockholm’s three World Heritage Sites. The castle was constructed based on a French prototype by architect Nicodemus Tessin, the Elder, and commissioned by Queen Hedvig Eleonora.