Stockholm is an excellent destination if you are looking for a long weekend break. I have always wanted to visit the capital of Sweden after my visit to Malmö. After the capital of cool, I can say that Stockholm is now part of my top European destinations for a city break. With a rich coffee culture, amazing design, great architecture and surrounded by water, the Venice of Scandinavia has all the ingredients for an amazing weekend away.
To help you get the most out of your weekend in Stockholm, follow me. Hope you will enjoy the visit, so without further ado, here the ultimate guide to Stockholm.
- 1 Practical information
- 2 Things to do and see in Stockholm
- 2.1 Know the neighbourhoods
- 2.2 Embark on a cultural and art tour
- 2.3 Eat like a local (where to eat in Stockholm)
- 2.4 Shopping in Stockholm
- 2.5 Stockholm Pass
Stockholm’s main airport is Arlanda Airport situated in the northern side of the city. The airport is served by several airlines including Air France, British Airways, SAS or Norwegian.
From the airport, the quickest way to get to the city is via the Arlanda Express which only takes 20 minutes to get to Central Station. Trains depart every 15 minutes and costs Skr 280 (£22) each way.
If you are not in a rush to get to the city centre like us or if you are looking for a cheaper option, get on the airport bus. Flygbussarna takes about 45 minutes to reach CityTerminalen (very close to the Central Station) and costs much less at Skr 99 (£8) each way. There are very many too with buses every 10 to 15 minutes. However, they can sometimes be packed when they arrive at T2. There’s free wifi on board which is handy.
When to visit Stockholm
Stockholm is excellent to visit all year round and its distinctive seasons means that you have a different experience each season. Our visit was in in Spring (April) which is a perfect moment to visit as the city is not yet flooded with the summer tourists and it is warm enough to carry out most of the sightseeing on foot.
Spring can be rainy in Stockholm as we have learned while there: it wasn’t freezing, the weather wasn’t ideal either as it was intermittently sunny and rainy. So when planning to travel in Spring, bear this in mind and pack warm clothes and comfortable shoes.
Summer is ideal thanks to the warmer weather. Summer is the perfect time to visit, especially if you include a day trip to one of the many national parks like Tyresta National Park. July and August are excellent time for hiking. Winter is beautiful, but it can be freezing with temperatures reaching the minus figures. And contrary to the summer, the sun usually prefers to hide so you might only see it for a couple of hours a day. But I’m sure, the snow, Christmas lights and markets will make it up for the lack of sun.
How to get around
Stockholm is a city made for walking as you can walk to pretty much anywhere. Walking was very pleasant even though it was raining most of the time. You can pretty much walk the old town in one day.
Of course, you have excellent transport links like the metro which is very practical and buses. The ticket is valid for 75 mins, and you can travel as much as you like within that period.
Cycling is very common as most of the cities in northern Europe. Stockholm does promote cycling well with bikes lanes everywhere and cycling guides. If you are into cycling, why not check this cycling guide by VisitStockholm?
Accommodation in Stockholm
Planning a trip to an unknown city can be daunting so to help you with your selection, here some centrally located hotels.
The Sheraton Stockholm is in a great location both for its access to the central train station and transport to the airport but also for its closeness to several sights. We received an upgrade to a water view room which was terrific.
Miss Clara by Nobis
Miss Clara by Nobis opened in 2014 is located in the city centre not far from the shopping street of Drottninggatan and the metro station Hotorget. The rooms in this boutique hotel have both an Art Nouveau style and minimalist Scandinavian look. I liked the dark furniture. The rooms offer all the amenities you would expect with the bonus point for bathrobes since our room was a deluxe room. However, it was a shame that we didn’t have a kettle in the room.
Ice Hotel Stockholm
Hotel C is close to the main train station is stylish with a modern Scandinavian look. It is also home to the famous Icebar.
Radisson Blu Waterfront
The Radisson is ideally situated in the city centre, and next to the train and bus stations, the hotel offers views of Stockholm’s City Hall (Stadshuset) building.
Things to do and see in Stockholm
Contrary to most capital cities who are buzzing with people rushing to get to places, I found Stockholm to be calm and relax. The city is made up of 14 islands and the main ones each have their distinctive characteristics. There are lots of things to do in Stockholm.
Know the neighbourhoods
Stockholm is one of the best European cities to live. The capital city of Sweden is a charming city with an architectural, historical, cultural and gastronomic heritage. Furthermore, it’s idyllic, calm, ecological and colourful. Its neighbourhoods have a different atmosphere, which will satisfy everyone.
This area also known as City is the modern and commercial district of Stockholm. The central location makes it easy to get to most sights on foot but too easy to get public transport like the main train and bus stations. It’s where you find all the affordable and high street shops. So if you are looking for a day of shopping, you will be pleased with the significant choice of shopping centres, pedestrians streets filled with boutiques. As well as shopping, there are lots of museums, galleries and government buildings to check out.
Gamla stan which means “old town” is the historic centre of Stockholm. With old buildings, narrow streets, this area has lots of charm and should be on every itinerary. Major attractions in this area are the Royal Palace and the Swedish Parliament.
It’s the posh neighbourhood of Stockholm with beautiful buildings and lots of green spaces where you can relax. There you will find luxury and fashion boutiques like Acne Studios or design stores. Wander around the pretty streets or enjoy the seaside views.
Södermalm is known as “Söder” or “The South Side” is the arty and hip neighbourhood of Stockholm. Don’t only visit SoFo but explore the lesser known areas like Hornstull and Skanstull. The up-and-coming Hornstull is a great place to wander to on a sunny day. While exploring the surroundings, you see lots of restaurants, cafes, independent and vintage shops. If you venture to the close to the waterside, you will find a great outdoor market (Hornstull Marknad) selling anything from old books to dresses and food trucks.
Vasastan is mostly a residential area but with lots of small local restaurants, small shops and vintage stores. If you like beautiful architecture stop by the Stockholms Stadsbiblioteket, the national library and landmark of the neighbourhood.
Embark on a cultural and art tour
While visiting a city, my focus is usually on wandering along the streets, discovering the neighbourhood, getting a feel of the atmosphere and of course finding cool addresses. However, on this occasion, I only visited Fotografiska (museum of photography) on Södermalm. Since I love photography, I was keen on seeing this museum. The museum is set on several floors, each depicting a different work by famous photographers. If you love photography, come here to enjoy the exhibitions and appreciate the view over the sea. I enjoyed the exhibits of Ellen von Unwerth’s “Devotion! 30 Years of Photography Women” (until 20th May) and of Christian Tagliavini (until 10th June) “The Extraordinary World of Christian Tagliavini”. And of course, history lovers will need to make a stop by the Vasamuseet. The museum holds the remains of the warship Vasa which sank just minutes after being launched on its first trip in 1628. The ship can be viewed, but people aren’t allowed to board it.
Eat like a local (where to eat in Stockholm)
Stockholm offers, like many big cities, a vast range of food options whenever you enjoy eating like the locals or international cuisine. Most people who have been to Sweden or Ikea would have had the national dish – meatballs. Swedish food is more than just meatballs (although delicious), it includes lots of seafood and reindeer due to the geography.
Wanting to eat traditional Swedish food, we headed to Bakfikan after asking for recommendations. The restaurant situated next to the Opera House had an impressive set up as you seat in a u-shaped bar. The food was excellent and the service impeccable.
Stockholmers and Swedish people, in general, have a sweet tooth and enjoy eating cakes and pastries with coffee. So to “fika” like a local, head to Fabrique on Sodermalm. This local bakery is perfect to immerse in the coffee culture. Get a Fairtrade coffee along with a kanelbullar (cinnamon bun).
Shopping in Stockholm
When it comes to shopping while on holiday, you usually find two types of tourists: the one that does not like shopping but will still find themselves in souvenirs shops buying all kind of keepsakes. On the other hand, the shopping addicts will want to explore the array of designer shops and design boutiques that make Sweden. Again here is a list of must-visit shops to have a bit of that scandi-chic vibe.
Åhléns department store:
Åhléns Stockholm City is at the intersection of Drottninggatan and Hamngatan and is one of those department stores that sells absolutely everything – from candles to designer sofa. Check out their brand household goods for excellent quality.
Lagerhaus is perhaps my sister’s favourite shop in Stockholm. This home decoration shop is full of colourful, fun and diverse products to help you design your home. The affordable prices make it an excellent place to buy decorations to take home. There you can find things like lightning, pillows, vases, tableware, gifts and much more.
The store offers lots of practical products for your home, office and garden. The products are natural, well designed, innovative and of good quality. It reminds me of the Japanese store Muji. The shop itself is beautifully decorated with lots of plants. Like most of the shops in Stockholm, the staff are amicable and welcoming.
The Stockholm Pass gives you access to attractions and tours. The guidebook which is included in the pass gives you more details on the things to do and see in Stockholm. Unfortunately, the public transport isn’t included in the pass however you can add a travelcard add-on for unlimited use of buses, boats, trains and trams during your entire trip. So, is the Stockholm Pass worth it? The answer is yes, especially if you are a first timer in the Swedish capital and intent to explore the city’s cultural heritage. At 845 Sek per adult (2 days) or 1045 Sek (3 days), the pass is worth every krone! We used the Stockholm Pass to get on the hop and off boat as well as visit the museums mentioned above.
Have you been or planning to go to Stockholm? If the perfect city break for you includes sightseeing, shopping and immersing yourself in the city’s culture, then Stockholm might be your call.
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