My Scandinavia travel posts continue and this is a long one as I did a TON over the course of the few days I was in town. If I had to pick the highlights of my trip to Stockholm, Sweden would be my visit to the Royal Palace, the incredible Fotografksia photography museum, and the Vasa Museum along with my guided tours of Drottiningham and the Parliament Buildings but good thing I don’t have to! Similar to Copenhagen, I rented a bike as a way to get around and even with six different bike rides I still walked more than 20 miles around the city. And believe it our not, I still factored in some down time for a few delicious meals, my favorite Summer drink, Aperol Spritz on the water, and a two hour visit to an amusement park. Take a look at my run down of 17 amazing things to do in Stockholm!
(1) Rent a Bike: Similar to my recommendations for Copenhagen, Stockholm is a very bikable city and though I chose not to do a bike tour I did rent one. With a three day card from City Bikes I was able to get all over Stockholm quite quickly and with 140 bike stops never had trouble finding a station near my destination plus there are bike lanes all over the city! It really is a great way to explore the Swedish capital.
(2) Explore Djurgården: This gorgeous island is owned by the Royal Family and is Stockholm’s version of Central Park. I took a bike and really got to know the island cycling around the perimeter and through a handful of the zig-zags. This island contains a few notable sights including Gröna Lund and the Vasa Museum, points three and four on this list. But the island has so much more to offer than these hot spots including the Nordiska Museet, gorgeous gardens, stunning harbors, and amazing bike paths.
(3) Explore the Vasa Museum: There are somethings you will say once and feel so embarrassed that you will NEVER say again and that happened to me when I called the massive ship located in the Vasa Museum a Viking Ship. I know now that is not correct. This famous maritime museum on Djurgården contains the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged (if it was a Viking ship it would have dated back to the 10th century). You can see in the photo below the museum was built around the 64-gun warship Vasa with parts of the mast escaping from the roof. The seven floor museum is incredibly well done with great interactive displays, recreations, and panels to explain exactly what you are looking at.
(4) Visit Gröna Lund: Similar to the Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen I visitied the Gröna Lund on Djurgården in the heart of the city. I bought tickets for a few of the park’s op attractions but my favorite ride was definitely the Swing Ride Eclipse which you can see I broke the rules and took my camera up to the top of the high flying seats! 🙂 The view was incredible from 400 feet in the sky and according to the website at one point during the ride we moved at an impressive 43 miles per hour.
(6) Explore Gamla Stan, the Old Town: The Old Town of Stockholm is cramped, squished, and crowded in only the way chic European cities can be. Small alleys twist and turn and then open into gorgeous courtyards and the residents take great pride in keep it clean so a visit is usually a pleasant experience. Nearly all of Gamla Stan is located on the Stadsholmen and the most famous spot might be the small square below, Stortorget, which not only boasts adorable colored townhouses but also the Nobel Musuem.
(7) Järnpojke, the Iron Boy: This is definitely the smallest and quickest attraction on this list – at only six inches tall this adorable little iron statue is the smallest public monument in Stockholm. It is located in the Old Town very close to the Stockholm Palace and it is considered good luck to rub his head and leave a coin or two. (It is also a popular dumping ground for any foreign currency coins which can not be exchanged and the nearby Finnish church gives all the money to the poor.)
(8) Walking Tour: In every single city I go to – in the U.S. or abroad – I try and take some sort of introductory tour on my first day whether that is a bike tour or a walking tour. I find them a great way to shake off jet lag and get acclimated with the layout of a new city, plus I have found you learn tons of things you would have never picked up from a guide book. I loved learning on my Stockholm walking tour that the country has practically free heath care, that maternity leave is 480 business days at 80% of your salary (extra cash between of government if you split the time between the parents) and that nothing over 3.5% alcohol is allowed to be sold outside of the liquor store.
(9) Stockholm Royal Palace: The first of the two Royal Palaces on this list, the Stockholm Royal Palace also got it’s own post last month but I would be remiss not to mention it here as it is truly quite a gorgeous spot an impeccably well preserved – plus the royals still live in one of the wings!
(10) Take Tour of Parliament: I did not think I was going to be impressed but the Swedish Parliament but I love when I am proved wrong – a very proud local Stockholm guide did an amazing job over the course of an hour describing how politics work in Sweden (the Speaker of the Parliament is more important than the Prime Minister) and the inter workings of all of the political parties (there are more than fifty, 15 of which are big and 8 of which are represented in 349 seats currently) as we toured the massive structure.
My third favorite part of the tour was walking around the real hallways as Parliment was out of session for the Summer and getting to admire the little details like the 29 logos around the ceiling, geographically ordered showing all of the counties in the country. The second best part was actually getting to sit in the red seats that the old, bi-partisan parliament used to use but that are now seldom occupied as the government needed a much bigger space. And the best part was getting to see the main room that you see on TV, the Riksdagen. Our free tour didn’t get to go on the floor but certain people did as they were with a member of parliament (the guy in white in the photo below) – still so cool!
(11) Kungliga Opera,Royal Swedish Opera: I tried to organize all of these spots in as logical geographic order so next comes the Opera House, just across the Lilla Värtan River from the Helgeandsholmen Island whose sole occupant is the Parliament House. It is still used for opera and ballet performances and the Royal Box is permanently reserved for the royal family in case they decide to pop in.
(12) Eat Local: My general feeling when visiting a new city is “When in Rome”. I would say I am a medium to picky eater but when I am somewhere new I make a point to try the local cuisine and sometimes I hate it (like Absinthe in Prague) and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised (like reindeer in Helsinki). I did not have any big fancy meals in Stockholm like I did in Copenhagen but if you are visiting I would recommend The Harry Pig. I opted for the restaurant, shown in the first photo below, but many opt for the very famous The Hairy Pig Deli also located in Galma Stan. Over the course of my time in Stockholm I stopped at many other local places and I don’t think I had a bad meal!
(13) Explore Kungsträdgården: This is a beautiful park in the middle of the city filled with families in the Summer and I’ve heard an great ice skating rink in Winter. I enjoyed my morning coffee and pastry here before heading off for the day and it was a great experience!
(14) Drottningholm Palace: The famous Summer palace located only 12 kilometers outside Central Stockholm is definitely worth a half day visit and an all access ticket for the guided tour, entrance to both palaces and the extensive grounds. A took more than 300 pictures during my visit so, of course, it got it’s own post already- check it out!
(15) Crown on Skeppsholmsbron Bridge: This is one of more than fifty bridges in the city of Stockholm but I will guarantee it is one of the most famous. Not famous because of where it leads to or the size of it but for the two gorgeous gold crowns, one facing Galma Stan and one facing the park. This bridge is not that large, the only big thing on the other side of it is the Moderna Museet but it is well worth a journey just for the photo opp.
(16) Stockholm City Hall: This is not just any city hall but one the country’s most famous buildings because of the beautiful architecture and according to the board of tourism it is one of the capital’s most visited tourist attractions. I popped inside for a few minutes but I actually found the outside prettier – especially the garden on the water!
(17) Spend Time on the Water: The last of the 17 items but certainly not the least, make sure you spend time on the water when you are in Stockholm. Whether that is on a boat, a ferry, a kayak, or at a restaurant on the water it is gorgeous and really gives you a sense of the local culture!
There you have it, 17 Things to Do in Stockholm!
Which of these sound the best to you?