Nicknamed the Venice of the north, Stockholm extends itself on fourteen islands that are connected by 57 bridges. The town extend from the central islands of Gamla Stan (the Old Town) and Djurgarden (King’s Garden) to Lovön where the Royals live, creating a web of incredible locations and iconic places. But which are the best things to do in Stockholm? In this travel guide all the answers you need to plan the perfect trip to Stockholm.
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Table of Content
- Discover the longest art gallery in the world
- Wander in Gamla Stan
- Go back in time at the Hallwyl Museum
- Climb on the largest hemispherical structure in the world: the Avicii Arena
- Embark on a sensory experience at Fotografiska
- Marvel at the grandeur of Drottningholm Palace
- Admire the only fully conserved 17th century warship at the Vasa Museum
- Learn about Swedish folk history and traditions in Skansen
- Visit the imposing Stockholm City Hall
- Sail onboard for an Archipelago Tour
- Visit the futuristic Artipelag
- Snösätra Wall of Fame
- One last word about the best things to do in Stockholm
Discover the longest art gallery in the world
Swedish creativity in arts (like architecture and design) is well known. For this reason it doesn’t come as a surprise if some of the best things to do in Stockholm involves art in all its forms.
But for sure the location of one of Stockholm’s most famous art installations, surprise the unaware tourists. Stockholm Metro Stations are a surprising and always changing art gallery that cost only the price of a metro ticket.
On the 100 stations 90 contain an art display or mural. It would be very difficult to see all of them if you are staying less than 2 weeks, but in this guide I’ve selected the best 16 that you should absolutely visit. And in my Stockholm in 3 days itinerary I’ve also included them in the itinerary so that it’s perfectly optimized (it’s the same we used to explore the city by the way!)
Wander in Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan means Old Town and its one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Stockholm. The most ancient buildings in Stockholm are there and they dates back to the Middle Ages.
Gamla Stan is without a doubt the most iconic neighborhood in Stockholm. If you are planning to visit it, you should absolutely check out my self guided tour in Gamla Stan (it has a map). It includes hidden gems and must-see landmarks.
Otherwise, don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about some of the most brilliant minds of the last century at the Nobel Prize Museum, stroll in the iconic Stortorget (and look for the hidden cannonballs), and visit the beautiful Royal Palace.
Go back in time at the Hallwyl Museum
The Hallwyl Museum offers a glimpse into the life of the aristocracy at the beginning of the 20th century. The location is a marvelous palace which was built in the 1898 for Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl.
After the couple’s death the building and everything inside it (including the collections of pottery and paintings) was donated to the Swedish state.
Since then the building haven’t been modified providing an unique time capsule from that period. Without a doubt this is one of the most interesting museums in Stockholm absolutely worth the detour!
Climb on the largest hemispherical structure in the world: the Avicii Arena
Also known as Ericsson Globe, the Avicii Arena is the largest hemispherical structure in the world. Dedicated to late Avicii, the building regularly hosts concerts and events.
Unless you’ve planned to attend one of those events, the Avicii Arena can be interesting to visit as you can climb on top of it with Skyview. The view from up there is unique and on clear days you can see quite far away. To book your visit/check out prices go to SkyView – Stockholm Live.
Embark on a sensory experience at Fotografiska
Fotografiska is a museum which displays, as you can guess by its name, temporary exhibitions of the greatest photographers.
What makes this museum really worth visiting, is the way it plays with spaces, the exposed art, and sounds. It’s a sensory experience that will feel like a dream the time of your visit. Of course you must be willing to open to this kind of experience.
Fotografiska has also an excellent restaurant that has a beautiful view over Stockholm. For more info about their exhibitions, to reserve a table at their restaurant, or simply check out their schedule, check out their website Welcome to Fotografiska Stockholm.
Funnily enough Fotografiska is also one of the most Instagrammable places in Stockholm, of course that highly depends on the exhibitions it is hosting, but the aesthetic of the exhibitions and the way they are presented is a guarantee of a great backdrop for your photos.
Marvel at the grandeur of Drottningholm Palace
Drottningholm Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a rich history dating back to the 17th century. It has served as the private residence of the Swedish royal family for generations.
The Palace and its gardens are a delightful sight reminding the grandiosity of other European Baroque palaces (how not to think of Versailles). The interiors were created by one of Sweden’s most famous sculptors: Nikodemus Tessin the Elder.
Visiting the Palace is one of the best things to do in Stockholm, but mind the schedules! The palace is regularly closed for official events or celebrations. To avoid bad surprises check out Drottningholm Palace official website.
Admire the only fully conserved 17th century warship at the Vasa Museum
Being a travel and history lover, I’ve seen a thing or two in my life that truly impressed me. The Vasa was of course one of them! Nothing can prepare you to the magical feeling of finding yourself in front of this majestic giant.
Like the flying vessel of some sci-fiction movie, the Vasa floats in a semi-obscure room which highly contributes in giving the warship a ghostly appeal.
The museum is dedicated to the construction of the warship and the events that lead to its shipwreck on its inaugural journey. And last but not least, the titanic task of bringing it back from the abyss.
If I could do only one activity from my post this would be it!
Learn about Swedish folk history and traditions in Skansen
Skansen is a full immersion in the last centuries of Swedish folk history and traditions. Tracing the lifestyle of Sweden’s people, the open air museum (which is also the oldest in the world) will let you discover the evolution of buildings during time.
The museum is peopled by actors wearing period dresses who will interact with you to explain how they lived back at their time.
Skansen has also an aquarium and some enclosures where Nordic animals are kept. The surface is very large and you could easily spend a full day there, especially during Summer when all the stands in the alleys are open.
Check out schedules on Skansen official website.
Visit the imposing Stockholm City Hall
Stockholm City Hall is one of the most important landmarks in Stockholm. Inaugurated in 1923, even after a century the building hasn’t lost an ounce of its grandiosity.
Something which contributes to its myth are the celebrations for the attributions of the Nobel Prizes that take place every year in December. You can visit Stockholm City Hall only via a guided tour. To check schedules book your tour check out Stadshuset official website.
Note: the City Hall metro stop Stadshuset is also one of the most beautiful metro stations in Stockholm.
Sail onboard for an Archipelago Tour
Stockholm archipelago includes more than 30000 islands and rocks! Exploring them on a boat or kayak excursion is one of the best things to do in Stockholm.
Depending on the type of activity you are willing to do and of course your budget, there are several possibilities for every type of traveler.
If you bought the Stockholm City Pass, and I highly recommend doing so if you are staying three days or more, there are several boat tours hat will let you explore some of the islands that are closer to the city center.
Remember to check the schedules, especially if you are traveling during Winter there are far less excursions and you may disappointed.
Visit the futuristic Artipelag
There are many beautiful modern/visual art museums in Stockholm, but what makes Artipelag unique is it’s location on a remote island in the middle of nature.
The museum itself fully blend in the surroundings with many beautiful views of the exteriors. When visiting it don’t miss the walk in the forest onboard of the Baltic Sea.
Your visit inside Artipelag will last about 2 hours, but the museum is situated quite far from the city center (about 20 kilometers). Globally the complete visit with the boat tour to get there will take you half a day. That’s why I strongly advise you to prepare your itinerary before going, to avoid skipping other attractions you may be interested in.
Snösätra Wall of Fame
Snösätra Wall of Fame is an hidden gem in Stockholm industrial neighborhood and one of Europe’s largest mural exhibitions. Street artists comes from all around the world to leave their mark on Snösätra walls.
As the space is limited some murals get covered by new ones, so each visit is an unique discovery. Snosatra is about 30-40 minutes away from Gamla Stan. I love this kind of places but just like for Artipelag thoroughly consider your itinerary before getting there.
On the bright side you can combine Snösätra with a visit to the metro stations of the green line.
One last word about the best things to do in Stockholm
Honestly, I left my heart in Stockholm. It’s one of Europe’s gems and probably one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. So ancient and modern at the same time, bustling but not chaotic, truly surprising and difficult to bring into words. So I’ll give you just one advice: by your tickets and go, you won’t regret it! And if you need further inspiration for your Stockholm itinerary check out our guides and travel tips for Sweden’s capital.
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