It’s been a long time coming, but today we are finally sharing our top things to do in Stockholm, almost two months after our fabulous trip there! One thing that I can say with great confidence, regardless of the UKs exit from the European Union, Europe will remain one of my favourite places to explore on our yes escapades. And this visit to Sweden has equally convinced us that Scandinavia will be a destination of choice within that because we 100% fell in love with its beauty and atmosphere.
Sweden is stunning, serene and bursting at the seams with chic and interesting things to do and see. You get the exciting buzz of a city (without it being too overcrowded) but can also take a trip to remote islands of the archipelago to relax and unwind.
We went for 5 days, but I think you could certainly squeeze it in to a long weekend.
Here’s the lowdown on our favourite things to do in Stockholm; where we went, what we did and what we would recommend to you lovely lot.
our favourite things to do in Stockholm
Mornington Hotel Stockholm Bromma.
The Mornington hotel isn’t in the centre of Stockholm, but it is just a 15 minute walk from the nearest metro station. Solna Strand takes you straight into the city without any fuss. The hotel is also on the direct bus route from the airport. You just need to get the Flygb bus towards Brommaplan T-banna and get off at Voltavägen.
We boarded on a bed and breakfast basis, and the food was tasty and plentiful. The staff were helpful and welcoming and all spoke English). The room was much larger than we expected, clean and modern.
Not to be missed attractions
Stockholm’s old town is a gorgeous historic hub with winding streets, good restaurants and some of the cultural hotspots of the city.
This includes Kungliga Slottet, the royal palace. Beautifully imposing from the outside, you can get much closer to this regal site than you can in the UK. I loved wandering around the cobbled streets and admiring the architecture. We didn’t go inside but we did visit on Sunday for the changing of the guards. This takes place at 12.15pm Monday to Saturday and 1.15pm on Sunday, May through to August. Timings outside of this season are less frequent.
This used to be the Kings Garden but is now a paved area lined with bars, restaurants and the occasional open air concert. My favourite thing about it though is that the trees that lined the pathways were in bloom when we visited in May.
I am a sucker for some pink blossom but I defy anyone not to be wooed by this beautiful sight. For something so simple, it was totally awe-inspiring.
Another place to roam (have you noticed a theme here)? This pretty portside street is lined with beautiful grand buildings opposite the sparkling waterfront. It’s a great place to sit and soak up the atmosphere, and also where you catch most of the ferries to the archipelago.
If you stroll along the Söder Mälarstrand on secluded Monteliusvägen (Montelius road) you get some of the best panoramic views in Stockholm. From this vantage point you can see Lake Mälaren, Gamla stan, Riddarholmen and the City Hall.
Trip to the archipelago
If we were in Stockholm for longer this is the one area we would explore much, much more. Our trips around the archipelago were hands down the top of our list of our favourite things to do in Stockholm.
We did two trips, the first from Stockholm to Fjaderholmanen. It’s the closest island to Stockholm at just a 30 minute boat ride, and you can make your way around the whole island in less than 20 minutes. It’s rustic but beautiful. I have frequently daydreamed about going back to the little rocky bay we found there to sit with my face basking in the sun whilst gazing back at beautiful Stockholm. It was peaceful and perfect, well worth the trip.
We also dined at a lovely restaurant here, impressive for such a remote island, but more on our culinary adventures will follow in a future post.
After our trip to Fjaderholmanen, we were worried that we should have ventured further out, to somewhere like Vaxholm (a 3 hour round trip from Stockholm). But we had a brunch cruise booked for the following day that covered a similar amount of time so we thought this might cover much the same ground. We were proved right on our trip. When we saw Vaxholm we also realized it was reminiscent of a little Stockholm and we wanted to experience a much less populated island, so it was definitely the right combination for us.
Our brunch cruise was with S/S Stockholm and it was incredible. The brunch was super tasty and free flowing and the views were idyllic. It was the perfect way to experience the archipelago – but if you want to explore an island on foot, we definitely recommend mixing it with the Fjaderholmanen trip so that you can experience island life first hand.
Connected to Stockholmby a small footbridge, this is a gorgeous little part of Stockholm. It is calm, relaxed and another great spot to get a good view back at the city. Perfect in the sunshine.
This one is especially for the book geeks. (Particularly the committed ones, as it was a tiny bit of a trek from the central we were in on the day that we wandered up).
This city library is absolutely incredible. With tiered bookshelves surrounding you from every angle, it’s a book lovers dream and well worth a peek, if only just to grab a sneaky snap.
Museums and galleries
I have to be honest, Museums aren’t usually my first destination when I am on holiday. I prefer to be outside exploring. But this museum was like no other that I have visited.
It focuses on the maiden voyage of the huge war ship Vasa, which sank to the bottom of the sea within minutes of setting sail. You can see the restored ship with you very own eyes and learn about the story of those aboard.
I said that I don’t usually frequent museums when abroad, and galleries tend to fall to the same fate, but when I read about the Fotografiska I knew it would be on the list to visit while we were there. I love photography and am currently on a crusade to improve my own – so I was totally up for absorbing some inspiration from some of the experts.
Fotografiska is open late most evenings so we went after dinner one day. It was the perfect evening activity. There was some utterly beautiful and thought provoking photography.
The modern museum in Stockholm. It is totally free so perfect if you happen to have a rainy afternoon and are looking for something to occupy a few hours. There are sculptures outside which are really fun and great to photograph. Some of the exhibits inside weren’t quite our thing but we did see the work of Picasso, Warhol and other famous artists.
Shopping is something that also isn’t my first choice of things to do on holiday, but I spotted a couple of cool shops in one of my travel guides that loosely tied in with our circle walk, so we popped them on the to do list.
I totally adored this shop. It was like paradise of treasures, mainly of the vintage furnishings and antiques variety. There were some gorgeous globes that would look perfect in our lounge, and some sparkly rings that totally captured my heart but alas we couldn’t quite justify the pennies.
Definitely recommend a visit though. It was packed with pretty and you might just find yourself a little treat.
The self-styled ‘magazine-junkie’s-paradise’ this shop has an extensive collection of local and international magazines. The perfect place to find a bit of plane reading.
Aside from our travel to the hotel itself, we went everywhere on the Metro. It served us well. It was easy to navigate, convenient and a bit of a tourist attraction in itself as the metro stations are like underground caves – some decorated with weird and wonderful modern art.
That said, I don’t think we quite worked out the best way to take advantage of the ticket system. They do have an oyster style card available but we couldn’t decipher whether it was worth it for our short trip, so we opted for single tickets in and out every day. This didn’t work out too badly because we only went in and out once per day. One thing that we did pick up though, is always look for the machines to buy your ticket from. Every station we saw had them. If you buy them from the ticket seller in the station you get charged about 14SEK more. It isn’t loads but can add up over the course of your trip.
Exploring on foot
One of my favourite things to do on the first day in a new city is to have a wander. It helps you to get your bearings and see some of the architecture of the city.
On our first day we followed the ‘walk in a circle’ loop from the Stockholm entry of 36 hours in Europe book. It was the only grey day of our trip but we fell in love with the city hall Stadshuset, saw the best view in the city, explored some cool districts and made it to the outer reaches of Kungsholmen. It was tough on the feet but was worth it to cram in so much and soak up the atmosphere of the city.
You know by now that I rarely do a city break without a bus tour. This was particularly useful in Stockholm, because the loop only took a couple of hours and meant we could go round once to get a gauge on where everything was and decide the stops we wanted to get off at, and then alight on our second loop. Our thoughts on where to stop did change as we went round so it was well worth taking the opportunity to scout everything out.
So that’s a whistle stop tour. If you are looking for your next city break this is somewhere that really should move to the top of the list. I will be honest, the rumours that it is expensive are true. But I would honestly say it is worth it – and for a short break that you budget carefully for it doesn’t have to cash in at significantly more than other cities.
Unless you hit the alcohol of course, that might just break the bank…
We went right at the end of April and the beginning of May, which was perfect timing because generally we had beautiful weather and it wasn’t too busy. I wouldn’t go much earlier because some of the ferries don’t run and attractions aren’t open as regularly.
There was a definite chill in the air when we hit the sea breeze, so if you do go around the same time make sure to take layers. When you are in the sun it is toasty but you will need jackets for when you are in the shade, or out at sea!
If you have been and have any suggestions of things to do in Stockholm please do drop a note in the comments box below!