10 Things You Must Do In Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is such a beautiful and vibrant city with no shortage of things to do. So how can you narrow it down to get the most out of your time in the Swedish Capital? Here’s our guide to 10 things you must do in Stockholm.
Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm. Photo: Raphael Andres | Unsplash

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Dubbed the ‘Venice of the north’ Stockholm is a fascinating, historical city. Founded in 1252 and built on fourteen islands, connected by 57 bridges over the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren, there’s nowhere else quite like Stockholm.

Sweden’s capital city boasts an impressive mix of traditional quaint buildings and winding streets with modern urban and even futuristic architecture. This compact Scandinavian metropolis has an abundance of museums, galleries, beautiful parks, and brilliant restaurants that attract millions of tourists each year. 

So, whether you want to find out more about the city’s rich history, see some amazing art, or sample some delicious food, you can do it all. Here are 10 things you must do when visiting the awe-inspiring city of Stockholm.

1. Explore the Stockholm archipelago

A boat tour exploring the Stockholm archipelago
A boat tour exploring the Stockholm archipelago. Photo: Lukas Menzel | Unsplash

Where better to start your Swedish adventure than exploring The Stockholm archipelago? It is made up of some 30,000 islands of varying sizes and you could easily spend days exploring the archipelago. However, if you’re on a tight schedule and want to get a taste of the islands then Värmdö, Fjäderholmarna, Vaxholm, and Gustavsberg are good options. They are all easy to get to on public transport and within an hour of Stockholm’s city centre. There are also boat tours that will take you to and from some of the most popular islands. 

The islands are a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city and it feels like escaping to a different world. The stunning natural beauty, matched with the peace and tranquility makes exploring the archipelago a must-do on this trip.

Additionally, a boat tour of the city’s major islands is a great way to get your bearings of Stockholm. In fact, it will give you the opportunity to scope out islands that you’d like to spend more time on during your stay. Whatsmore, there are hop on, hop off boat ticket options, making it a convenient way to explore the whole city.

2. Discover Stockholm’s seafaring past at the Vasa Museum

The Vasa Museum, Stockholm
The Vasa Museum. Photo: monikawl999 | Pixabay

The Vasa Museum, located on the island of Djurgarden, is one of the most popular attractions in Stockholm and one of the most-visited museums in Scandinavia. The museum is dedicated to the history of the only intact 17th-century ship that has ever been found, the Vasa Ship. Discovered at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Stockholm in 1956, the Vasa has since been carefully restored and is open to the public for all to see and enjoy.

The exhibits at the museum highlight the science and technology behind shipbuilding and include artifacts such as the cannon that sank the Vasa. The exhibition hall itself has been fully climate controlled to preserve the delicate original timbers of the ship. It is a striking experience, to see such an impressive vessel.

The museum is open daily (excluding 24, 25 & 31 December), with varying opening hours, depending on the season. You do not need to pre-book tickets.

3. Visit Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Gamla Stan. Photo: Alexandre Van Thuan | Unsplash

Stockholm’s iconic Gamla Stan district, or the Old Town, dates back to the city’s inception in the 1200s and is one of the most picturesque places in the city. There is a wealth of historical attractions to admire among the medieval architecture. Here at Gamla Stan, you can see sights such as the Storkyrkan cathedral, the Royal Palace, and the Nobel Prize Museum.

Additionally, Gamla Stan also has plenty of lovely cafes, shops, and restaurants where you can relax and soak up the city’s culture. Therefore, you can do that innately Swedish tradition of ‘Fika’. This usually involves sitting down, having a coffee and a sweet treat such as a muffin or pastry. The Swedes really do have ‘Fika’ down to a fine art.

After your ‘Fika’ you can enjoy wandering through the small, winding, medieval streets and visit the main square of Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm. It is a fantastic place to visit if you are interested in history or simply want to enjoy the picturesque surroundings.

4. Check out the incredible art in the subway stations

T-Centralen Station, Stockholm
T-Centralen Station, Stockholm. Photo: Tom Podmore | Unsplash

Usually, a city’s subway stations are just a means of accessible public transportation for locals and tourists alike. But, Stockholm’s stations actually make for an incredible tourist attraction themselves thanks to the impressive architectural design and the artwork inside them.

Around 90 of Stockholm’s subway stations are creatively decorated with artwork and murals thanks to the Subway Art Project. Many of the stations also have a ‘cave-like’ design to them which only adds to their amazing look. We highly recommend that you set aside some time in your day to explore some of the best stations, such as:

  • Stadion Station: With a cave-like design and rainbow artwork. 
  • Tekniska Högskolan Station: Another cave-like design with a science theme behind the artwork.
  • Thorildsplan Station: A tiled design featuring classic computer game characters such as Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, and Space Invaders.
  • Solna Centrum Station: One of the most atmospheric stations, with artwork themes around climate change and other political issues.
  • T-Centralen Station: Another amazing cave-like design with distinctive white and blue artwork, in parts honouring the workers who built the station.

5. Fotografiska

Fotografiska. Photo: Claudio Schwarz | Unsplash

Fotografiska is one of Stockholm’s most popular photography galleries and features a number of exhibitions of contemporary photographers from around the world. Its permanent collection includes over 5,000 photographs covering a wide range of genres and subject matter. Some of the works exhibited are by a number of leading photographers such as Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and many others. 

In addition to its regular exhibitions, the gallery also hosts a wide range of special events and lectures throughout the year which provide additional opportunities for visitors to learn more about photography from some of the world’s leading experts in the field. In fact, the Fotografiska building itself deserves a mention. Stockholm’s old Customs House on the harbour is a beautiful brick building that you’ll want to photograph for yourself.

Finally, we highly recommend dining at Fotografiska’s award-winning restaurant. With a focus on sustainability, the quality of the food is second to none.

Fotografiska is open daily from 10 am – 11 pm, so there’s plenty of time to fit a visit into your schedule.

6. Have fun at ABBA, The Museum

ABBA, The Museum
ABBA, The Museum. Photo: ABBA, The Museum Facebook page

ABBA, The Museum is a popular tourist attraction alluring tourists and ABBA Fans from all over the world ever since it opened in 2013. The museum features a range of interactive displays which allow visitors to experience what it was like to be a member of the legendary Swedish pop group during the 1970s and features an extensive collection of original artifacts and memorabilia belonging to members of the band. 

The museum is also home to a permanent exhibition featuring a comprehensive timeline of the band’s extraordinary career and offers guided tours around the museum several times a day which provide an interesting insight into the life and work of the legendary group.

Interestingly, there is also a red telephone placed in the museum. When it rings you should definitely pick it up, as a member of ABBA is calling! The museum is a pilgrimage for fans of the band and a great experience for music lovers.

ABBA, The Museum is open daily, with varying opening hours, so be sure to check on their official website.

7. Stroll around the Royal National City Park

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm and its many green spaces. Photo: Yang Yang | Unsplash

Stockholm’s Royal National City Park is a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city offering visitors a wealth of beauty and nature just a short stroll from the city centre. Interestingly, it was the world’s first national urban park and it stretches for more than six miles around and in-between the city.

There’s no shortage of things to see in the park from museums, castles, and theatres to magnificent nature. From the rolling hills and towering trees to the lakes, streams, and canals. Additionally, you might just see some amazing wildlife in the park too. There’s everything from horses, deer, and moose to hares, foxes, beavers, and much more. There are not many city parks in the world where you’ll find such an array of wild animals.

A visit to the park is a great escape and a chance to slow down and enjoy some greenery for a while.

8. Take control of the Telefonplan tower lights

The Telefonplan Tower, Stockholm
The Telefonplan Tower. Photo: Holger.Ellgaard | Wikimedia Commons

Stockholm’s Telefonplan Tower is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city and is a stunning example of modern architecture featuring an innovative design. But, what is really cool about the tower is that you can take control of the lighting. Colour By Numbers is a permanent light installation that allows anyone to change the colours of the tower by using their mobile phone, by calling, or by using the Colour By Numbers app.

The installation was created by Artist Erik Krikortz, Interaction Designer Loove Broms, and Architect Milo Laven. They worked together to turn this disused tower at the former Ericsson headquarters into a public work of art. The installation is designed to get people more involved in their surroundings and participate in and influence art in the city.

9. Take a ride on the SkyView

SkyView, Stockholm
The SkyView. Photo: kallerna | Wikimedia Commons

A must-do for all ages when visiting Stockholm is a ride on the SkyView located in Stockholm Globe City, Johanneshov. The area is known for its shopping centre, and numerous venues, but the main attraction remains the SkyView. Each year it takes around 1.4 million people above Stockholm for a ride in the SkyView sphere. It gives visitors a breathtaking and expansive birds-eye view right over Stockholm, allowing for a glimpse of the beginning of the city’s archipelago. 

The ride in the glass sphere takes visitors 130 metres above sea level, in just 16 minutes. It takes you to the top of the Avicii Arena – the world’s largest spherical building/ To locals, the building is simply called Globen, which translates to “The Globe”. 

The SkyView is open Monday to Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm. It’s free to ride with a Stockholm pass, tickets purchased on site are card only, with bookings also taken online. Regular ticket prices vary so it’s best to take a look online for this information. 

10. Eat authentic Swedish meatballs

Maetballs For The People, Stockholm
A plate of meatballs from Meatballs For The People. Photo: Meatballs For The People Facebook

Foodies are in for a treat in Stockholm. The traditional dish is meatballs, or köttbullar if you wish to order like a local. The meatballs are usually served with mash potatoes, gravy, lingonberries and pickled cucumber. Vegans and vegetarians, don’t fret, it’s common to find meatless options on Stockholm menus. 

To aid your search for the best places to enjoy a meal of köttbullar in Stockholm, or something else, here are some restaurant suggestions, including vegan options, tried and tested by visitors who came craving.

  • Meatballs for The People: Enjoy a colorful meatball menu for lunch and dinner with flavours including beef and pork, as well as seasonal bear, boar, and reindeer. Vegetarians are also catered to at the farm-to-fork establishment. 
  • Tradition: As the name suggests, the restaurant serves traditional meatballs, but also has highlights tourists rave about like mushroom stuffed potato dumplings and herring three ways. 
  • Bistro Bestick: Aside from the generous serving of a traditional Swedish meatball dish, the menu at this highly popular restaurant includes seafood and steak dishes. 

If you’ve got a bigger appetite why not try the smörgåsbord options, a gluttonous feast that includes meatballs and other Swedish traditional foods.

Final Thoughts

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm. Photo: Anna Hunko | Unsplash

Whether you’re visiting for 24 hours, a few days, or a week, you will never run out of exciting and unique things to see, explore or experience in Stockholm. Coupled with centuries of culture, and a unique Scandinavian way of life you will leave with an impression that extends beyond the typical knowledge of a country famous for its IKEA shopping and traditional meatballs.

The Swedish have long since had the concept of ‘logam’, which loosely translates as ‘just the right amount is perfect’. Find your ‘logam’ in Stockholm and have a nice day, or as the Swedes say, ‘Ha en bra dag’.

Looking for more European travel inspiration? Then check out The Best European City Break Ideas For 2023 and start planning your next getaway.


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