Unveiling the Gems of Sweden: Top Things to Do in the Land of the Midnight Sun (updated 2023)
Sweden offers a plethora of diverse and captivating experiences for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities. From the picturesque archipelagos and pristine forests to the modern urban centers and historical landmarks, Sweden has something for everyone. Whether you’re fascinated by Scandinavian design, crave outdoor adventures, or want to indulge in culinary delights, this Scandinavian gem has it all. Let’s explore some of the top things to do in Sweden, showcasing the country’s unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and modern innovation.
Surprisingly there is so much to do with many Stockholm attractions to keep you busy and actively touring the 14 different islands in the city’s archipelago. But if you just have enough time to visit the main sites and try something fun in the city, check out these 20 top things that you can do in Stockholm. Maybe you can do it all and more depending on your timeframe and interest in exploring the entire city or the outer islands with most of these cool places to explore and activities around the city..
Experience These Top 20 things to do in Stockholm – what’s cool, fun, historic and must visit places
How to get to Stockholm, Sweden
Getting to Stockholm, Sweden is convenient and easily accessible. Here are the main ways to reach the city:
By Air: Stockholm is served by several international airports, with Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) being the largest and most commonly used. Arlanda Airport is well-connected to major cities worldwide and offers a wide range of international and domestic flights. From the airport, you can reach the city center by express train, airport shuttle bus, or taxi.
By Train: Stockholm is well-connected to neighboring European countries by train. There are direct train services to Stockholm from cities such as Copenhagen, Oslo, and Helsinki. The central train station in Stockholm is called Stockholm Centralstation (often referred to as Stockholm C), located in the heart of the city. Trains from other Swedish cities also arrive at this station.
By Bus: An extensive network of long-distance buses connects Stockholm to various cities in Sweden and neighboring countries. Companies like FlixBus and Nettbuss operate routes to and from Stockholm. The main bus terminal in Stockholm is City terminalen, conveniently located adjacent to Stockholm Central station.
By Ferry: Stockholm is situated on an archipelago, and ferries provide an alternative and scenic way to reach the city. Ferries from destinations such as Helsinki, Turku, Tallinn, and Riga arrive at the ports of Stockholm. From the ferry terminals, you can easily access the city center using public transportation or taxis.
By Car: If you prefer the flexibility of driving, you can reach Stockholm by car via well-maintained highways. Sweden has an efficient road network, and Stockholm is connected to major cities in Sweden and neighboring countries. However, keep in mind that parking in the city center can be limited and expensive, so it’s advisable to research parking options in advance.
Once you arrive in Stockholm, the city’s efficient public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the metro, will allow you to navigate the city easily. You can also explore Stockholm’s picturesque streets and landmarks on foot or rent a bike to enjoy the city’s bike-friendly infrastructure. With its various transportation options, reaching and getting around Stockholm is a breeze, enabling you to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant Swedish capital.
Weather and best time to visit Stockholm
Stockholm experiences a temperate climate characterized by distinct seasons. The best time to visit Stockholm largely depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to engage in. Here’s an overview of the weather and the ideal times to visit:
Summer (June to August): Stockholm truly shines during the summer months. The weather is generally mild to warm, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). Days are long, with the phenomenon of “White Nights” occurring, where the sun sets late in the evening. This is the peak tourist season, and the city comes alive with outdoor events, festivals, and lively street cafes. It’s an excellent time to explore the archipelago, enjoy boat tours, and bask in the long days of sunshine.
Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to October): Spring and autumn offer milder temperatures, with average highs ranging from 8°C to 15°C (46°F to 59°F). These seasons showcase Stockholm’s beautiful parks and gardens as they come alive with colorful blossoms or vibrant autumn foliage. Spring is a great time to visit for those seeking fewer crowds, while autumn offers a chance to witness the stunning fall colors. Keep in mind that rainfall is more frequent during these transitional seasons.
Winter (November to March): Winter in Stockholm is cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing. The average highs range from -1°C to 3°C (30°F to 37°F). Snowfall is common, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. Winter activities such as ice skating, skiing, and exploring Christmas markets add to the charm of the season. However, be prepared for shorter daylight hours and colder conditions. If you enjoy winter sports and festive atmospheres, visiting Stockholm during this time can be rewarding.
It’s important to note that weather patterns can vary, and it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before your trip. Regardless of the season, Stockholm offers a unique and vibrant experience year-round, with each season showcasing different aspects of the city’s beauty and cultural offerings.
Here’s what to do in Stockholm now
#1 Shop your heart out in Drottninggatan
A visit to Stockholm is not complete without checking this pedestrian street with all the main fashion brands in this busy shopping street in the central district of Norrmalm. Drottninggatan is filled with all the popular department stored, designer boutiques and local specialty shops that make the street the shop til you drop spot, dining area and must go to entertainment district from day time and late into the night.
Here’s a walking tour highlight to Drottninggatan below
#2 See the royal jewels, old palace ruins and new palace all in one museum
One of the fun things to see in Stockholm is the changing of the guards in front of the royal palace. Also, when your at the palace, a visit to see the interior galleries is worth the effort along with the two more museums you can visit in once place. With the price of admission you can see the underground museum of the old palace ruins, the collection of the Swedish royal jewels, and the royal chambers, staterooms and other important galleries in the royal palace. You have an option of choosing any of the three museums, but it is definitely worth the time and money to visit all three and get a fantastic introduction to the Swedish royalty and its history.
** Get your advanced tickets to the Royal Palace Museum here for more information and booking.
#3 Visit Drottningholm Palace
Located on the island of Lovon, about 7 miles west of the city’s historic district is Drottningholm Palace which is where the King and Queen of Sweden now lives, but most of the galleries and public rooms are open for the public to visit. The castle is a Unesco World Heritage site of a 17th century Swedish designed castle with Rococo interiors. Outside of the palace you can also visit the large garden park designed in Baroque, French and English style influences. There are also interesting adjunct buildings like the Chinese pavilion, the castle church and the court theater.
Visit the royal palaces of Drottninholm below
#4 Visit the flagship store of H&M and IKea stores
Of all the places to visit in Stockholm, checking out both H&M and Ikea stores is a must since their headquarters in Stockholm, a visit to their flagship stores is a must for anyone that enjoys their merchandise and product design. H&M’s flagship store is located on the busy walking promenade at Drottninggatan in Norrmalm, there are many other H&M stores all over the city so you will find one practically in every district. Ikea’s flagship store is located at at Kungens Kurva, in the suburb of Skärholmen.
#5 Explore the cool art in the metro systems
You wouldn’t think that sightseeing in Stockholm includes visiting the metro but Stockholm’s largest art show is actually located in the underground metro systems. Traveling through the metro, each stop is like visiting an extended gallery with 90 of the 100 stations designed with murals, engravings, mosaics, sculpture and other mixed media applications. Since the 1950s, over 150 artists have helped to create a stunning range of artwork throughout the entire metro system especially the blue, green and red lines.
Check out the cool subway stops of Stocholm below
#6 Wander through the Old town at Gamla Stan
In the middle of Stockholm’s archipelago is the old town of Gamla Stan located on the small central island of Stadsholmen and one of the most popular Stockholm sites to explore. The historic district is a fine example of an intact medieval old town including the main royal palace and museums. The district is filled with beautiful architecture in a colorful assemblage of Mediterranean hues which make the entire center a very attractive and popular tourist venue for walking the narrow streets, beautiful squares and attractive galleries and shops.
** Consider this Old Town walking tour here to learn more about the main monuments and historic of this beautiful area of the city.
Check out this walking tour of the Old town of Gamla Stan below
#17 Try out the Swedish smorgasbord
Tasty little bites are popular in Stockholm with a lot of bars and cafes serving local delicacies in a smorgasbord platter or better yet a specialty plates that serves up local favorites. These include the typical Swedish meatballs, herring, fried meat and potatoes, and a variety of pickled roots. To find some really good smorgasbord in the city, check out this review website of places to eat here. and hopefully you will become a Swedish smorgasbord fan.
#8 See the latest events in Stockholm
There is always so many interesting events and things to do when you visit Stockholm, it’s a city that inspires and creates up the minute. Stockholm filled with cool galleries, exhibits, and rotating shows that are worth looking into when are looking for something unique and fun to do in the city. To check out the latest events happening in Stockholm check out this website for more inspiration on what to do while you are visiting.
#9 Take a cheap ferry ride through the archipelago
The public ferry system covering the 14 islands around Stockholm’s archipelago is efficient, cheap and a wonderful way to explore the different islands and attractions around the city. You can get an SL day pass or pay per ride to the many stops and each quay has a detailed map to show you the various routes available. You can also visit online here for more information on schedules and how to get to a particular attraction or destination by ferry system.
#10 Visit the Vasa
Sweden’s historical treasure is a 380 year old warship called the Vasa. Salvaged from the muddy waters where it sank on its maiden voyage in 1628, the Vasa is full of history and intrigue. You can visit the ship at its waterfront museum at the Vasamuseum on the left tip of Skansen island and then tour the beautiful botanical garden close by. To check out more details on Vasa and the museum, you can check out their website here.
** Book your advanced tickets to visiting the Vasa Museum here for more details and booking in advanced.
Check out the cool Vasa Museum below
#11 find some cool views of the entire city
Sodermalm is also a fantastic spot to get nice scenic views of the entire city with its many islands. If you walk uphill on the island stay close to the perimeter viewing areas around Fjallgatan and Folkungagatan streets all the way to the eastern part of the island. For more awesome views of Stockholm and surrounding islands, check out this website here. Many of these places are typically where local like to hang out and enjoy those magnificent views of Stockholm.
#12 Visit Stockholm’s concert hall
The iconic blue concert hall at Hötorget is in the heart of Stockholm and an important landmark not just for being the home of the philharmonic orchestra but also where the annual Nobel Peace prize are awarded and also the Polar music prizes. There are guided mini tours, concerts and exhibitions that happen regularly or like most locals the area around Hötorget is a popular meeting area and spot for the local morning market.
#13 Check out some of the popular museums in the city
With over 50 museums spread around the city, you will have plenty of choices and not enough time to visit all of them at one time. But if you want to check out some of the most popular with locals and tourist alike check out these museums below and it will probably be the best thing to do on a cold or rainy day in the city. Some of the most popular museums worth checking out on a typical grey or rainy day include the following: photography museum, modern art, history museum, Museum of Nordic culture, Nobel prize museum, the National museum and the open air museum at Skansen. For a complete list of museums to explore, check out this website of Stockholm’s museums here.
** Book your advanced tickets to visiting the Nobel Prize museum here for more information and booking in advance.
#14 Visit the Stadshuset or Stockholm City Hall
This is Stockholm’s most prominent landmark, City hall also plays host to some of the world’s most esteemed people at its Nobel Prize awards banquet which are held annual in the building’s Blue Hall. City Hall designed in a national romanticism style original to Swedish design and the tower features a spire with three golden crowns. This is one of Stockholm’s most visited tourist attractions with grand ceremonial halls, museum and a tower that you can climb to check out views of the entire city.
#15 Changing of the guards at Stockholm’s royal palace
Considered one of the finest and most beautiful changing of the guards in Europe, this is a must see event at the royal palace entrance grounds. The elaborate mid day show is filled with pomp, dazzling and sharp uniforms and even a marching band on horseback. The music and marching ensembles are present a precision spectacle and some surprising modern twists at the performance that will make you smile and want to see more. Just make sure you do come early to get a prime spot for taking some great photographs of the event.
Experience the beautiful changing of the guards in Stockholm below
#16 Explore the hipster neighborhoods in the Sofo district
The Sofo district in trendy Sodermalm is where all the young and hipster crowds congregate at their favorite hang out spots. The area is filled with coffee shops and cafes, cool bars and clubs along with all the fun shops and galleries that attract an uber hip crowd in the area. The main shopping promenades at Gotgatan and the main square at Medborgplatsen in center of the island. This is where many of the hipster crowds congregate before heading out to some of the smaller spots and nightclubs around the island. For a better look and guide of the area, check out this website on Sofo here.
#17 Stockholm’s green parks
Stockholm’s parks are abundant and well loved by the locals, and it doesn’t take too much effort to be in a world of green not to far from the city center. Over 26 parks are easily accessible throughout the city, from the vast green oasis at the Djurgården to a national park located in the city called the Ecopark. Nature and wildlife are evident all around the city and you can enjoy some lovely parks when you are tired of visiting many of the attractions and monuments around the city. For more information and details, check out this link on Stockholm’s parks here.
#18 Check out what’s hot in Swedish design
A unique Stockholm point of interest is Swedish design and Scandinavian design which is very hot all across Europe and also in the international marketplace. There are a variety of Swedish design trends that cover fashion, home and lifestyle areas that are prevalent in the many galleries and shops around the city. Popular areas to discover these shops include the Sofo district, Ostermalm for designer boutiques and the walking promenade at Drottninggatan in Norrmalm. If your interested in learning more about the fashion design icons, specialty boutiques and shopping in Stockholm, check out this website for inspiration and what to see in the area. For those interested in interior design and lifestyle, check out this link for places to discover and shop in Stockholm.
#19 Visit the open air museum of Skansen
With over 150 traditional Swedish style buildings housed in this open air museum in Skansen, all of the buildings are original and have been transferred to this site. You can tour the buildings, watch traditional crafts being made and sample some traditional foods from the different regions of the country. For current updates and information about the open air museum, check out the Skansen museum website here.
** check out the open air museum at Skansen here for more infomation and booking your visit here.
#20 Visit Skeppsholmen
This tiny island in the center of Stockholm’s archipelago is easy to walk on foot to see the beautiful views of the surrounding islands and historic sites. The island also has many popular museums that are a must visit for the Architecture, modern art museum and the museum of Asian treasures. At the tip is also the fortification of the brick Kastellet that protected the city from any invaders from its prominent vantage point.
Here’s a tour highlight visiting Skeppsholmen below
More details on your Stockholm visit
How to get around Stockholm
Getting around Stockholm is a breeze, thanks to its efficient and well-connected transportation system. Here are the main modes of transportation you can use to navigate the city:
Public Transportation: Stockholm has an extensive network of buses, subways (T-bana), trams, and commuter trains (pendeltåg). The public transportation system is operated by SL (Storstockholms Lokaltrafik) and offers comprehensive coverage of the city and its surrounding areas. You can purchase single-ride tickets or rechargeable travel cards, such as the SL Access Card or the Stockholm Travelcard, which provide unlimited travel for a specified period. These cards can be used on all modes of public transportation.
Stockholm Metro (T-bana): The metro system is a convenient and efficient way to travel within the city. It covers a large part of Stockholm and connects to suburbs. The metro operates from early morning until around 1 am on weekdays (extended hours on weekends). Stations are well-marked, and trains are frequent, especially during peak hours.
Buses: Stockholm’s bus network complements the metro system and provides transportation to areas not covered by the subway. Buses operate throughout the city, including the outskirts and neighboring suburbs. Bus stops are clearly marked, and schedules are available at the stops and online. Many bus routes operate 24/7, making them a reliable option for late-night travel.
Trams: Stockholm has a limited tram network, primarily serving the city center and parts of Djurgården. Trams offer a scenic way to explore certain areas, and they are particularly convenient for reaching popular attractions like the Vasa Museum and Skansen.
Ferries: As an archipelago city, Stockholm has several ferry lines that connect various islands. These ferries are an enjoyable and scenic way to explore the city’s stunning waterways. Public transportation tickets and travel cards can be used on most ferries, making them a convenient option.
Taxi and Ride-Sharing: Taxis are widely available in Stockholm, and licensed taxis are easily recognizable by their yellow color and taxi signs. Ride-sharing services like Uber and local equivalent apps are also operational in the city.
Walking and Cycling: Stockholm is a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly city. Many attractions and points of interest are within walking distance of each other, especially in the city center. The city also provides dedicated bike lanes and bike-sharing services, allowing visitors to explore on two wheels.
With these transportation options, you can easily navigate Stockholm and explore its diverse neighborhoods, attractions, and natural beauty. Plan your routes using online journey planners or mobile apps for real-time information on schedules and connections. Stockholm’s transportation system ensures that you can make the most of your visit and enjoy all the city has to offer.
More inside tips to visiting Stockholm outside of the tourist attractions
When visiting Stockholm, there’s much more to explore beyond the popular tourist attractions. Here are some inside tips to make the most of your visit and discover the hidden gems of the city:
Södermalm Neighborhood: Venture beyond the city center and explore the trendy district of Södermalm. This bohemian neighborhood offers a vibrant atmosphere, unique boutiques, cozy cafes, and a thriving food scene. Stroll along Götgatan and explore the side streets to discover local shops, vintage stores, and charming parks. Don’t miss out on climbing the panoramic viewpoint of Monteliusvägen for breathtaking views of the city skyline.
Djurgården Island: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Djurgården Island. This serene oasis is home to beautiful parks, historic buildings, and cultural attractions. Explore the lush greenery of Djurgården’s Royal Djurgården Park, visit the famous Vasa Museum to see the well-preserved 17th-century warship, and immerse yourself in Swedish history at the Skansen Open-Air Museum.
Local Food Markets: Experience the local culinary scene by visiting Stockholm’s food markets. Östermalm Food Hall is a must-visit, offering a wide selection of fresh produce, gourmet delicacies, and traditional Swedish dishes. Visit on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds. Another option is Hötorgshallen, a vibrant market where you can sample Swedish delights and international cuisine.
Art Galleries and Museums: Stockholm is rich in art and culture, and there are numerous galleries and museums beyond the well-known ones. Visit Fotografiska, a contemporary photography museum with rotating exhibitions that showcase both local and international artists. The Museum of Ethnography offers insights into diverse cultures and traditions, while the Hallwyl Museum provides a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of a wealthy family in the late 19th century.
Explore the Archipelago: Take a boat trip to explore the Stockholm Archipelago, a stunning collection of islands and islets surrounding the city. Hop on a ferry or join a guided tour to experience the natural beauty, charming villages, and picturesque landscapes. The archipelago offers opportunities for swimming, kayaking, hiking, and even staying overnight in a cozy cabin or seaside retreat.
Fika Culture: Embrace the Swedish tradition of “fika” – a coffee break accompanied by a sweet treat. Explore local cafes and bakeries to enjoy a leisurely fika experience. Try traditional pastries like cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) or cardamom buns (kardemummabullar), paired with a cup of coffee or a refreshing herbal tea.
By following these inside tips, you can delve deeper into Stockholm’s local culture, cuisine, and hidden treasures. Beyond the famous attractions, you’ll discover a vibrant and authentic side of the city that will make your visit truly memorable.
Where to stay in Stockholm
There are so many wonderful and one of a kind hotels worth staying at in Stockholm with unique features, here are some of my favorites
The Radisson Blue Waterfront Hotel – Great location, beautiful rooms and view, the hotel service is great and service is consistent and friendly.
Nobis Hotel – perfectly located with easy access to the old town, service is great and prompt. Located in a historic building but with hip and modern appeal and conveniences
Lydmar Hotel – a beautiful boutique hotel with nice rooms, beautiful views and exceptional customer service. Gorgeous design aesthetic, art and lovely details make this a special hotel to stay in.
Grand Hotel – is just that grand, luxurious and in a perfect location. The hotel boasts beautiful rooms and design, excellent views, full breakfast buffet service in a historic Stockholm property
Check out some of the other gorgeous and cool centrally located hotels in the city here for more details and current prices.
Touring activities for Stockholm
If you only have one day in Stockholm to visit, there are plenty of fun outdoor and tour activities you can participate around Stockholm. Check out these sightseeing Stockholm tour groups that offers some unique activities, tour experiences and venues, below
Do the Hop on Hop off and ferry system here for access to the main attractions and key sites to visit by bus or water ferry.
Stockholm grand tour by coach and boat – a comprehensive city tour and canal cruise the old town and historic district, main tourist attractions and other fun venues on this tour
Welcome to Sweden culinary food tour – This fun food experience is not to be missed if you want to savor some of Stockholm’s history, roots and delicious food venues indulging in classic Swedish meatballs, soups, to desserts and chocolates.
Stockholm bike tour – for an active experience exploring the city by bike, you will go through the old town, many different islands and many of the city’s top attractions
Stockholm pass – this pass allows you entrance to over 60 top attractions, museums and boat or bus tours which is a great deal if you have a longer time frame to visit the city
Think about the Go City Stockholm Pass for entry to many attractions and the Hop on Hop off bus to all these fab places to visit.
For more unique tours and excursions around the city, check out these other Viator tours here for more details.
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Conclusion on top things to do in Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and modern sophistication that makes it a must-visit destination. From its picturesque archipelago and historic Old Town to its world-class museums, vibrant neighborhoods, and trendy culinary scene, Stockholm has something to delight every traveler. Whether you’re wandering the cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan, exploring the cultural treasures of Djurgården, or immersing yourself in the city’s design and fashion, Stockholm offers a wealth of experiences to indulge in. The city’s efficient public transportation system, welcoming atmosphere, and commitment to sustainability further enhance the visitor’s journey. Discover the unique charm and Scandinavian allure of Stockholm, where tradition meets innovation, creating a truly memorable travel experience.
I hope that this has inspired you for exploring some of these wonderful attractions and landmarks around Stockholm. Have you been to some of these places and have some other interesting things to do and explore – please do share them in the comments section below.
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