With 14 islands and more than 50 bridges on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago, Sweden’s charming capital, Stockholm, offers travelers the beauty they eagerly seek when they plan a city break. But the breathtaking views are not the only attractions in the Nordic pearl and you’ll find there is no shortage of epic things to do in Stockholm during your visit.
Some of the highlights include a great number of museums, theaters, concert halls, churches and art galleries waiting for culture enthusiasts from all over the world. Even the subway system can easily impress art aficionados, offering them the chance to admire “the world’s longest art gallery”.
Last, but definitely not least, Stockholm is known for its spirited nightlife and a large selection of cafes, bars, and high-end restaurants. With so many interesting things to do in Stockholm, if given the opportunity, you should spend more than three days in Sweden’s capital.
However, since this is not always an option, this itinerary will help you make the most out of your short stay in this amazing city.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Pocket Stockholm (Travel Guide)
15 Best Things to do in Stockholm
HOT TIP: Before you get started exploring the city be sure to purchase a Stockholm City Pass. This little gem will give you free entry to more than 60 top attractions in Stockholm during your visit. This includes museums, theaters, churches and art galleries. The pass also gives you free access to bus and boat tours in Stockholm, making it an incredible value.
1. Take a Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus Tour
Stockholm is a big city and everything is quite far from each other. This is why many people prefer taking a hop-on/hop-off bus tour. If this is the case, there are plenty of bus tours you can choose from. It’s a great way to see all the top sights in just a few hours. We used the hop-on/hop-off bus to get our bearing of the city and some quick history.
We love using the hop-on/hop-off buses to plan our attack on the cities we visit, It allows you view the top sights so you can say yup need to visit that or that’s it, It’s now off my must-visit list. But if you are old-fashioned and you prefer exploring the city on foot, here is how your first day in Stockholm can look like.
Top hop-on/hop-off bus tour: City Sightseeing Stockholm Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
2. Get Close to the Swedish Spirit: Wander Around Gamla Stan
Like every city with a rich history, Stockholm has its own ‘Old Town’. Gamla Stan is one of the largest and well-preserved city centers in Europe. There is no better way to begin your journey than exploring the place where, in 1252, Sweden’s capital was founded.
Not only will you have the chance to relax and admire the beautifully arranged cobblestone streets and alleys, but you can also visit several museums and churches.
Take your time and look at the imposing buildings, feel the unique character of the area, and don’t miss seeing Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm. Then, the Nobel Museum and the fascinating Cathedral of Stockholm.
Don’t forget: Lonely Planet Stockholm City Map
3. Learn from the Locals: Join a Walking Tour
Getting to know a new place by yourself is not only an interesting activity, but it is also adventurous and filled with surprises. Yet, being guided by a local is a great way to get closer to the soul of the area. This is why every traveler should consider joining a tour.
Not only are there many walking tours available in Stockholm but some of them are based on tips, which is a great deal for people who travel on a budget. These “free tours” are informative and interactive.
They give you the chance to catch a glimpse of history, learn interesting things known only by the locals, as well as meet new people and have a good laugh together.
Top 3 guided walking tours:
- Stockholm Highlights Tour, Vasa Museum and Walking Tour of Gamla Stan ** Top Pick **
- Stockholm Small-Group Walking Tour
- Stockholm Private Walking Tour
4. Indulge in the Local Food: Östermalms Söderhäll
Visiting museums, art galleries, and joining interesting tours are great ways to learn about the places you visit. But the truth is that to feel the pulse of a city and get closer to the locals you must eat and drink as they do. So, why not visit a local food market?
Östermalms Söderhäll will meet the desires of all foodies. Though the historical building is under renovation until 2019, there is a temporary place set up where you can indulge in all the Swedish delights you can think of. This is a great place for having a delicious, fair-priced lunch or an early dinner surrounded by both travelers and locals.
Our Top Recommended Tours:
5. Watch the Sunset from Monteliusvägen
Whether you are a romantic person or not, walking the Monteliusvägen path is a must when in Stockholm. The best time for this activity is early in the morning when the sun rises or late in the evening to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets you have ever seen.
The views of the Lake Mälaren, the City Hall, and charming islet Riddarholmen are breathtaking. And if you are lucky enough to be there when the Northern Lights are visible, your heart will stop beating for a moment. Make sure you grab a jacket and a warm drink since evenings in Stockholm are cold no matter when you visit the city.
6. Learn about Stockholm’s dark side
I don’t know anyone that doesn’t enjoy a ghost tour. Being a port, Stockholm has some pretty wicked stories to tell. The best way to learn the history, hear the stories and walk in the steps of the past is by taking The Original Stockholm Ghost Walk and Historical Tour.
While I can’t promise that you won’t get scared, I know we were a little bit, I can promise that you’ll have an incredible time.
7. Go Underground: Visit “The World’s Longest Art Gallery”
When told that one of the most interesting things to do in Stockholm is “visiting the metro”, all travelers are surprised. Who could imagine that a metro ride involves admiring the world’s longest art exhibit? But it’s real!
The Stockholm Subway System is filled with amazing art experiments of today as well as pieces of art signed by talented artists of the 1950s. Each station is decorated in a unique way, making traveling by metro an exciting adventure for art aficionados from all over the world.
So, make sure you don’t miss this spectacular attraction!
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Pocket Stockholm (Travel Guide)
8. Explore Stockholm’s Most Important Landmark: The Royal Palace
Located in the Gamla Stan, the Royal Palace is not only the most important landmark in Stockholm but also the largest palace in Europe. It has more than 600 rooms, five very interesting museums, and it is a must-visit if you want to understand the city.
This is where the majority of royal receptions and events take place and where the King of Sweden lives. You won’t have the chance to see him but you will have the opportunity to admire some of Sweden’s treasures.
Make sure you don’t miss visiting Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities where you can admire some fantastic Greek and Roman sculptures brought from Italy. Also, don’t miss visiting the royal apartments, the Halls of the Orders of Chivalry, and the lovely reception rooms.
9. Visit Djurgården: The Paradise for Museum Enthusiasts
Located in central Stockholm, Djurgården is an island filled with museums, art galleries, historical buildings, monuments, and even an amusement park, known as Gröna Lund. It is literally a cultural paradise.
You can get to the island from the Royal Palace by taking a boat and this will give you the chance to see the city from a different perspective without paying for a boat tour.
There are many museums that deserve your time, but Skansen and Vasamuseet should definitely be on your must-see list.
Founded in 1891, Skansen is the world’s first open-air museum. Not only does it give you the opportunity to walk through five centuries of Swedish history, but it also includes a full replica of an average 19th-century town, as well as a zoo, making it a great place for people traveling with kids.
There is no better way to take a fascinating look into the history of Swedish life!
Yet, your history thirst will not be satisfied unless you see the only almost intact 17th-century ship that has ever been preserved. For this reason, you must visit the Vasamuseet, a maritime museum that is famous all over the world, mainly for this warship that sank in 1628.
Prepare yourself for facing a big crowd since this is the most visited museum in Scandinavia.
10. Visit the ABBA Museum
We had so much fun visiting the ABBA Museum during our visit to Stockholm. This place is a blast from the past in an incredible interactive history of one of the most beloved bands on the planet. Look the part, play the part, assist the part and well, you get the picture.
There is even a live recording studio where you can sing along to your favorite songs.
11. Catch a Glimpse of the Beautiful Modern Art: Moderna Museet
Though the Stockholm Subway System is one of the best things to do in Stockholm for people passionate about art, your city break is not complete without visiting Moderna Museet.
Located on the island of Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm, this fascinating museum offers enthusiasts the chance to admire works of art signed by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, and many other renowned modern artists.
Besides the permanent collections, there are also many other interesting exhibitions. Thus, before your visit, make sure you check out the museum’s website.
12. Dive into the Stockholm Medieval Museum
Located north of the Royal Palace and built around the findings from the largest excavation in Stockholm, Museum of Medieval Stockholm is another attraction that should be on your must-see list.
Expect to be amazed by a fascinating underground exhibition showing part of the original 16th-century town wall. In addition, you will have the chance to admire a warship and wander around a medieval graveyard. Don’t worry, it’s not too creepy!
Top Recommended Viking tours in Stockholm:
- Viking History Small Group Tour from Stockholm: Half Day Including Sigtuna ** Top Pick **
- Viking History Small-Group Trip from Stockholm including Sigtuna and Uppsala: Full Day
- Viking History Small Group Trip from Stockholm Including the Runic Kingdom: Short Day
13. Give Yourself a Treat: It’s Time for “Fika”
“Fika” is a famous Swedish word (a verb and a noun) referring to a coffee break. It doesn’t have a set time like the British 5 o’clock tea, but it is always a social occasion for people in Sweden. Since it is your last day in Stockholm and you already visited so many things, why not give yourself a Swedish treat and stop for a coffee and a snack?
You can indulge in something sweet or a sandwich while savoring your coffee. But if you want to really pamper yourself as Swedes do, enter a bakery or pastry shop and go for a delicious äppelkaka (apple cake) or a kanelbullar (cinnamon bun).
14. Enjoy an Evening Tour
Stockholm is an amazing city during the day but it is also fascinating when the sun goes down. Swedish people know how to have fun so there are many ways you can enjoy Stockholm at night. If you don’t want to just have a couple of drinks in a bar or dance in a club, joining an evening tour might be a great choice.
If you want to party, you can opt for a wild pub crawl and have a full nightlife experience while mingling with new interesting people. Or, if you want to have a different adventure, you can always join a captivating Stockholm ghost walk and historical tour.
These night tours are for travelers who are looking for intriguing things to do in Stockholm. But this doesn’t mean you should expect to have a paranormal experience. Just some fun under the moonlight.
Other tours you simply can not miss while in Stockholm:
15. Top 2 Day Trips From Stockholm
- Sweden Daytrip: Lund & Malmö City Tour: The Swedish towns of Malmö and Lund are perfect complements to each other—Lund is rich with Viking history, while Malmö is a hopping cultural hub. This small-group tour from Copenhagen allows you to experience the highlights of both locations alongside a guide, with round-trip transportation for a seamless experience. If you choose, explore Malmö on your own after the tour and return by train (ticket included).
- Small group Swedish History Day Trip to the countryside, UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE Candiade area Markim-Orkesta from Stockholm: Book a visit to the Swedish countryside and get out of the crowded city. Look at the historical and cultural landscape unique to Sweden. This tour includes hotel pick up and drop off. This tour takes place in the countryside with traditional red cabins including Swedish history. See the bronze age remnants, Viking age run-stones, and medieval churches.
Where to Stay in Stockholm
Looking for a great hotel for your long weekend or vacation in Stockholm? We have put together the top hotels we recommend for your Stockholm vacation. These hotels have some of the best locations in Stockholm and are rated well be other travelers.
- Top luxury hotel: Lydmar Hotel
- Top mid-range hotel: Hotel Rival
- Top budget hotel: First Hotel Brommaplan
- Top hostel: The Red Boat Hotel & Hostel
Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.
Multi-Day Tours From Stockholm
- 3-Day Stockholm Archipelago Kayaking and Camping Tour: Camp and kayak in the Stockholm’s archipelago during this 3-day outdoor adventure. Follow an expert kayak guide, who will provide informative commentary about the culture and history of the archipelago, for three days of paddling and camping amongst the pristine islands. Between stops at the tiny harbor villages, keep your eyes open for native wildlife like oystercatchers and seals in the Swedish wilderness. This small-group tour is limited to 8 people and is available in both beginner and intermediate versions. All meals and the use of tents and kayaks are included.
- Experience the best of the wilderness – but still with all comfort: Combine the wilderness with comfort and relaxation! Sweden for real! Only 2,5 h from Stockholm you will find the wilderness. Stay at Hotel Sommarhagen with full comfort and a fully licensed restaurant. Relax in the outdoor hot tub when the sun sets over the fields and lake. Hike through the spellbinding forest, have a whole lake to yourself. Take a tour with a canoe or cycle on small countryside roads. Listen to the sound of the rich wildlife and the silence.
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