Stockholm – Sweden
Stockholm is generally referred to as Beauty on Water, or Venice of the North which is understandable, as the city is built upon 14 islands. It is surrounded by Lake Mälaren, and by the Baltic Sea. Sweden’s capital city spreads out over 14 islands in Lake Mälaren and looks out proudly to the Baltic Sea to the east. Her grand public buildings, palaces, rich cultural history and museums tell her 700 year-old history beautifully (Stockholm vacation).
The mixture of old and new, greenery and water, picturesque narrow streets and engaging modern broad ones provides an attractiveness you rarely meet elsewhere. By steamboat you can take trips out into the archipelago, or go in the other direction to Lake Mälaren with its characteristic and amazing nature. Taking one of the canal boats one can see Stockholm from under the bridges which also is a charming way to discover this radiant city.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the Old Town (Gamla Stan); expect and get cobblestone streets, crooked but beautifully preserved buildings, the Royal Palace, gothic churches and excellent cafés, bars, restaurants and Swedish design-ware shops.
Understated, trendy, modernist, and borderline bohemian are apt descriptions for Stockholm’s sense of fashion. The city’s Nordic chic style—simple, clean, monochromatic, and layered—comes in all flavors. From high-end luxury brands to everyday affordable wear, there are specific districts in town that cater to every budget.
As water covers one third of the city area, the maritime life is an important aspect of the city. There are plenty of bridges, marinas and locks. The water is so clean that you can, in fact, catch salmon in the middle of the city, just a few minutes walk from the city centre. The climate is very much conditioned by the sea winds, so even the warmest summer day will be contingent upon the sea breeze finding its way into the city streets.
1 Gamla Stan
There are several beautiful churches and museums in Gamla Stan, including Sweden’s national cathedral Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. Dating from the 1200’s and crammed with must-see sights, attractions, cafés, authentic restaurants and boutique shops, the area of Gamla Stan (Old Town) is a living-breathing museum in its own right. For many this is the first stop on their journey of exploration. Certainly there’s no better way to instantly absorb the feel of Stockholm and get to grips with the city’s culture.
Plenty of souvenirs and gifts are available in the Old Town, and visitors will find themselves transported back to medieval times as they meander through a bewildering labyrinth of tiny winding streets. Mysterious vaults and ancient frescoes lurk behind picturesque facades. If visiting in winter, be sure to take in the marvellous Julmarknad (Christmas Market), an experience akin to being in a fairy tale. The largest of the attractions in the district is the Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in the world with over 600 rooms. In addition to the reception rooms, there are several interesting museums in the Palace, including the Royal Armory, with royal costumes and armor. Don’t miss the parade of soldiers and the daily changing of the guard.
Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum are all located here and should be high up on any sightseeing itinerary.
“I think of Gamla Stan as lots of narrow lanes with towering houses on each side, plus sudden wide open squares with sculptures and fountains and colourful buildings. Gamla Stan’s largest and prettiest square is called Stortorget . It is located in the centre of Gamla Stan. Colourful old merchants’ houses surround the square. On our visit street musicians were playing here and some people were dancing. This square has not always been peaceful though. In 1520 it was the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath. This refers to the massacre of Swedish noblemen by the Danish King Christian II.” – by a happy Stockholm traveler
2 Stockholm City Hall
Stockholm City Hall, the most iconic buildings with 106 meter tall tower, nestled at the water’s edge and topped by its spire featuring the golden Three Crowns, is one of the most famous silhouettes in Stockholm. Starred in countless images and postcards of the city. It is one of the country’s leading examples of national romanticism in architecture. The City Hall shop features specially designed souvenirs and presents that commemorate City Hall and Stockholm. Behind the magnificent facades are offices and session halls for politicians and officials, as well as splendid assembly rooms and unique works of art. Stockholm’s municipal council meets in Rådssalen, the Council Chamber.
The City Hall is open to the public through guided tours only. Guided tours are held daily in Swedish and English at certain hours. During summer months the tours are available in several other languages. During the same period you can also climb up inside the tower and enjoy a fantastic view over the city. Tours can be canceled with short notice due to events.
“The great Nobel banquet is also held in City Hall. After dinner, Nobel Prize recipients, royalty and guests dance in the Golden Hall, with its 18 million gold mosaic tiles.
Would be worth seeing if you have time. During the same period you can also climb up inside the tower and enjoy a fantastic view over the city. Tours can be canceled with short notice due to events.” – cited by an impressed traveler.
Hours: Open daily – guided tours only
Admission: Adults SEK70-100, Under 17s SEK20-40, Under 12s free (seasonal prices)
3 Vasa Museum
The incredible Vasa battleship is the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world, and a unique art treasure. More than 95 percent of the ship is original, and it is decorated with hundreds of carved sculptures.
The 69 meter-long warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628, and was salvaged 333 years later in 1961. For nearly half a century the ship has been slowly, deliberately and painstakingly restored to a state approaching its original glory. The three masts on the roof of the museum are not just a tourist draw; they were reconstructed to the exact height and specifications of the original masts. Today the Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, with over one million visitors a year.
There are ten different exhibitions around the ship to tell about life on board the ship. In addition there is a well-stocked shop and a pleasant restaurant. Tours of the museum take place every day. Free admission for children up to 18 years.
“A museum with “Wow!” factor. Do not miss it. Since most Stockholm visitors follow this advice, expect it to be crowded. Coming rather early in the morning turned out to be a wise move. The lines at the cash desks were short when we arrived – two hours later people were queueing far, far outside the doors.” – by a wise traveler.
Hours: Open Daily 10am-5pm (Wednesdays 10am-8pm, September-May), 8.30am-6pm, June-August
Admission: Adults SEK 130, Under 18yrs free
4 Royal Palace
A visit to one of the largest palaces in Europe could be a day out in itself. Located by the water’s edge on the periphery of Gamla Stan, this is the official residence of the King of Sweden, with over 600 rooms. Interestingly, the Queen’s residence lies elsewhere, on the beautiful island and UNESCO World Heritage Site Drottningholm (Queen’s island).
The Royal Palace also contains the Armory, with royal costumes and armor, as well as coronation carriages and magnificent coaches from the Royal Stable. Also mentioned earlier, make sure not to miss the parade of soldiers and the daily changing of the guard.
“You can take a tour around the state apartments which includes the guest apartments [where visiting Royals/dignitaries would have stayed], the beautiful Hall of State and Karl XIs gallery. The changing of guard takes place at noon every day, which we weren’t there in time for unforunately. One thing I liked was the modern room that had been gifted to the King & queen, it was a nice contrast and nice to think that in decades (centuries?) to come visitors will be able to see something of our style as well as the centuries old.” – remarked by a satisfied traveler.
Hours: Open Daily 10am-5pm
Admission: Adults SEK150, Under 18’s SEK75
Fotografiska is one of the world’s largest meeting places for contemporary photography and hosts an eclectic mix of exhibitions throughout the year. Four unique large exhibitions and about 20 smaller exhibitions are presented annually. There’s a restaurant, book, and souvenir store and from the top floor, one of the most enviable views over the city.
In recent years, the museum has seen a huge increase in visitor numbers and is now acknowledged as one of the world’s premier photography venues. The Bistro on the top floor is acclaimed as one of the city’s coolest restaurants (weekend brunch is particularly popular with locals) and the gallery hosts cutting-edge live and club music throughout the year.
“If you’re interested in art and especially photography, then Fotografiska is for sure a must. The exhibition is changing during the year, but the ones I’ve seen have all been very interesting! There is also a nice museum shop and a cafe/restaurant, plus a great view of the city from inside – or even better: just up the hill.” – awesome place to visit by a traveler.
Hours: Open daily Sunday-Wednesday 9am-9pm, Thursday-Saturday 9am-11pm
Admission: Adults SEK110
6 Skyview – The Ericsson Globe
Skyview is a glass sphere that rides along a track on the outside of a Stockholm concert hall. Situated on Stockholm’s southern fringe, SkyView takes you to the top of the world’s largest spherical building, the Ericsson Globe, one of Stockholm’s modern landmarks. From 130 meters above sea level, you’ll be treated to an unforgettable view over the entire city. Tours aboard the gondolas take about 30 minutes and depart every ten minutes. After the trip, sightseers can visit the restaurant and souvenir shop.
“One of the tallest dome. There are two slow moving capsules which can take 14 persons at a time. The ride is about 10 minutes. However you are required to see a short film show of about 10 minutes which gives you the details of the project. The ride to the top is wonderful. Breathtaking 360 degree view from the top. You can have a birds eye view literally. Its worth the experience.” – wonderful Bird’s Eye View by a traveler.
Hours: Open Daily
Admission: Adult SEK 145, Children (5-12 yrs) SEK 100, Seniors 65+ SEK 100, Children 0-4 yrs free
7 Sergels Torg
Sergels Torg is an important and busy public square in the very heart of Stockholm. In the middle of the square is a fountain with a 37 m tall crystal column, which was erected in 1974 after designs of the Swedish sculptor Edvin Öhrström.It is beautifully illuminated at night.
On the southern side of Sergels Torg, the Culture Centre “Kulturhuset” can be found. It was also inaugurated in 1974.
“If Stockholm has a center of activity, it might be Sergels Torg, a traffic-filled square with a great deal of cultural, political, social, and commercial bustle. There’s an underground shopping center, the main Tourist Information office is here, there are theatres and galleries and restaurants in the Kulturhuset just beyond.” – reviewed by a traveler.
8 Sightseeing Boat Tours
The sea flows through the arteries of Stockholm, and during the summer months, the city is quite literally awash with boats of all shapes and sizes. The fact that Stockholm is built on 14 beautiful islands connected by 57 bridges, makes a sightseeing tour by boat somewhat of a given. Stay aboard for the whole tour or hop on and off as you please.
Many city-dwellers own summer houses on the islands of the skärgården (archipelago) and spend, if not the entire summer there, then most weekends. It all makes for a Friday evening commute like no other. Bearing all this in mind, to experience Stockholm from the water is surely a must-do for any visitor. Take a trip under the bridges of Stockholm or while away an hour or two on the Royal Canal Tour. There are also hop-on, hop-off options with a valid ticket lasting 24 hours.
“Stockholm is a beautiful city, and what better way to see a city made up of islands than by boat? Strömma offers several tours varying in length and route. My husband and I chose the Under the Bridges of Stockholm tour. It was just under two hours long and took us by several points of interest, including Gamla Stan, Södermalm, Lilla and Stora Essingen, past the spot where the Vasa sank, Gröna Lund (the amusement park), and several significant buildings. The boat is covered and seats at least 50 people. There is a little café on board as well as a bathroom. The commentary is not done by a live person, however, but through headphones on the back of the seat in front of you. The commentary came in at least 10 languages, which is great.” – happy traveler.
9 Absolut Ice Bar
The world’s first permanent ice bar. Here, the temperature is -5°C all year round and the entire interior including the glasses, is made from 100% pure clear ice from the Torne River in Swedish Lapland.
A 40 minute experience includes a warm cape, gloves, an ice-cool feeling of exhilaration and an Absolute Vodka cocktail of your choice from the drinks menu, served in an ice glass!
A cool thing to try but don´t have so high expetations the bar is very small and there´s about 3-4 tables so it gets really crowded when there is over 20 persons.
A good tip is to book your tickets via internet it´s a little cheaper and you can choose what time you want to enter the Ice Bar, but of course you can go directly to the bar and pay when you get there but there can be a long line and you have to wait, if you book through internet you go by the line and enter at once.
IMPORTANT if you plan to take pictures inside the bar make sure you have extra batteries for your camera because it´s so cold inside the battery runs out really quick.
It’s a good idea to hold on to your glass after your first cocktail, as a refill only costs SEK 95 . All prices include VAT.
– Contributed by a generous traveler
Summer (june 1 – september 13)
Sun-Wed: 12.45 – 00.00
Thu-Sat: 12.45 – 01.00 (Drop-in from 21.45)
Autumn/winter/spring (september 14 – april 30)
Sun-Thu: 15:30 – 23:00
Fri-Sat: 15:00 – 01:00 (Drop-in from 21.45)
Check the best price to Stockholm