Things To Do In Stockholm
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, lies on the Baltic coast. It is built on 14 small islands that are connected by about 50 bridges. (About 20 minutes away by boat begins the rest of a much larger archipelago of over 30,000 islands.) Stockholm’s cathedral and Gamla Stan date back to the Middle Ages. At the Royal Palace, witness the changing of the guards accompanied by a lot of music. You can take pictures as the colorful sentries march counterclockwise around the palace in front of amused spectators.
Check out the Vasa Museum and learn about a ship that is considered the last remaining merchant ship -- it can still be admired in its original condition. Get to know more about the history and architecture of Stockholm in the Old Town. Discover one surprise after another as you wander through its cobble-stoned paths, shops, gardens, and parks.
When To Go:
The ideal time to visit Stockholm is during the summer months of June until August; this is unfortunately also the time when hotels raise their prices because the temperature is at its warmest. The normal highs go to somewhere around 68 -71 degrees Fahrenheit, with the warmest temperatures happening in mid-July. It's still imperative to bring or wear extra layers of clothing as the thermometer might make a random drop of 10 to 20 degrees in the evening. The fall and spring seasons are cooler, with normal highs in the 50s and 60s. Winters in Stockholm have a tendency to be cold, but are perfect for explorers intrigued by the winter games or interested to spend a beautiful Christmas holiday in its really snowy atmosphere. And since the hours of daylight are very short in the winter, light-themed celebrations of every kind are important features of Swedish life even before and after the holiday season!
These are the things to do when in the city of Stockholm:
The Vasa Museum houses one of the most interesting artifacts of Stockholm. Inside you can see the Vasa warship, which sank in Stockholm’s harbor at the beginning of its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628. It was finally raised from the seabed in 1961. Most of its contents -- such as 4,000 coins, provisions of meat and butter, and neatly folded sailors’ clothes -- were preserved by the salt water. The ship is authentic in every detail. The museum highlights the interesting history of this ship -- an epic story of grandeur, ambition, and navigational error.
The museum has a small film about the ship and all the details of its design and how it sank. For the most part, it consists of the original photos and shows how the ship was found 90% intact. The museum combines historic pictures and the latest multimedia technology to inform everyone about the ill-fated journey of this 17th-century warship that sank immediately after its construction and launching. The size of the huge ship truly strikes a sentimental chord and leaves a good impression. Inside the museum there is free Wi-Fi and a cozy cafe where you can have a delicious meal for a reasonable amount.
Stockholm Old Town (Gamla Stan)
The historic center of Stockholm is situated on three islands. The biggest and most important is the Stadsholmen island where you can find the top tourist attractions. The second largest island is the Riddarholmen. There are tourists that explore this part of the town, but the souvenir shops and cafes are not here. Instead, on this island you can find the tombs of the Swedish kings and the Riddarholmskaya Church.
Incidentally, the name of the city comes from the Swedish words "stock" (log), and "holm " (island.) Stockholm literally means "Island of logs." In the Old Town you can see the Royal Palace with the changing of the guard; the German Church (Tyska kyrkan) and the Nobel Museum; and the narrowest street in the Swedish capital, the famous Lane Morten Trotziga whose width is just less than 3 feet. To enjoy your excursion around the entire city, purchase a Stockholm Card that seriously saves time and money.
The center of the Old Town (Stortorget) is the largest old square in Stockholm. It does not look as big as it seemed before, but still it is fabulous, beautiful and cozy. It is on this area in 1520 when Danish King Christian II arranged a mass execution, which was nicknamed the "Stockholm Bloodbath".
They say that the number of white stones (which is now 92) on the front of the red building (House Schantz) corresponds to the total number of people executed at that time. Capture the spirit of the old town while wandering through its magical alleys and squares. Almost all the souvenir shops in the Stockholm Old Town close very early, often at 4:00. So do not delay buying souvenirs until the evening -- or risk running out of gifts to bring home to family and friends.
Be sure to allow a half-day or a day to visit the Djurgarden (ideally, choose a sunny day!) where you will be very comfortable and close to nature. The name refers to the Djurgården island and the park that rises above it and not just the park-zoo (which is actually called Skansen). It is a wonderful park throughout the winter including its snow and ice, and also in summer when it turns all green and flowery. The pure nature is ideal for relaxing, walking, and running. It is marvelous to spend time here in the winter while holding a cup of hot chocolate, or in the summer to enjoy those rare moments of sunshine together with the busy squirrels that hop around.
Numerous attractions are also present on the island like the Nordiska Museum and the Vasa Museum (both recommended), the open-air theme park/zoo Skansen, and a playground for children called the Junibacken.
The museum of Waldemarsudde and the Gröna Lund amusement park are both worth a visit. The Museum of Abba must also not be left out of your itinerary. It is easy to reach the Djurgarden because it is fairly central and well connected (take the tram no. 7). If you come on foot, turn off just past the bridge so that you can pass through the beautiful Blue Gate. Another tip, if you come in the winter season, always check the weather forecast. It is very impressive to walk along the frozen lake, but it's not really advisable to find oneself in the middle of the park during a heavy blizzard.
The Monteliusvagen is a small wooden street on a hill with great views to the city. In good weather, you can sit on a bench, watch life on the waterfront with moored boats bobbing, while admiring the water and the rooftops of the old city. And then with the same pleasure, walk on the old cobblestone streets and sit in a quiet little café. Besides the beautiful views of the old town, town hall, and Kungsholmen, the site is located on the Metro and very accessible from all modes of transport. There are many shops and points just to relax and gather your strength before you move on to the next hill --where there is a tower -- and then further to Långholmen and perhaps still further across the bridge to Kungsholmen.
Stockholm City Hall
The Stockholm City Hall is the best example of the so-called Swedish romantic style architecture. It was designed by architect Ragnar Östberg and opened on the evening of the summer solstice of 1923. It was built with an incredible number of bricks and its tower is almost 350 feet high. It is adorned with the three golden crowns that are the true national coat of arms and emblem of the city.
Take the guided visit (duration of about 50 minutes) to find rooms with interesting furniture of various (and sometimes unusual) shapes, stories, and art works in an environment where they usually held the meetings of the City Council of Stockholm. For the record, the city hall hosts the famous ceremony for awarding the Nobel Prizes, and the subsequent banquet is hosted in the Blue Room. Learn more about the winners and the royal family in the beautiful Golden Hall that is richly decorated with mosaics of gold tiles.
The changing of the Royal Guard occurs at the Royal Palace every day at 12:00 noon; it is a half-hour full of pomp and glamour. Some days it is complete with the military band and sometimes there is a cavalry that participates, which makes the hundred-year-old spectacle more interesting. Usually, the relieving guard begins its march from another part of the city and they march all the way from there with sounding trumpets and banging drums up to the royal palace.
At the treasury room you can see the crown jewels. In the arsenal section, you can see exhibits illustrating the history of the Swedish kings for 500 years, complete with the armor and weapons, and the monarch’s ceremonial carriage and collection of royal dresses. In addition, you can wander along the magnificent palace halls. There is no entrance fee but taking pictures of the interior is strictly prohibited.
The Fotografiska offers a good number of displays that promise not a dull moment; there is an interesting selection of exhibitions and a great cafe with a panoramic view on the top floor. The special part is that there is a huge window front in this café where one has the most wonderful view of the city of Stockholm. It's worth spending a couple of hours there and you can start the day by exploring this part of the city with a visit to the photo museum.
From the center it provides a pleasant stroll along the promenade. On the upper floor there are two featured photographers with very creative images -- the hidden Chinese cities and the blurred images. All other photos are of the highest quality and worth seeing even if you are not very interested in photography otherwise. The admission fee is also affordable.
Skansen Open Air Museum
The Skansen Open-Air Museum is an ethnic village designed to introduce the way of life of local people in previous times. Here you will see the historic basic livelihoods like spinning and weaving as practiced in the old days. You can walk along the old mills, houses, and the mini-zoo. The tour is ideal for families with children as they get to discover more interesting facts about Sweden.
You can see how Swedes lived in past centuries. The zoo has a Timur, moose, tarantula, snake, and crocodile. There are lots of interesting things to do while in this open-air museum aside from walking all day. Wander through the park, go to the cabins showing different times and crafts, ask the rangers about everyday life (they are fluent in English), or pass by the zoo that houses simple domestic animals. Almost everything is really in the open. The grounds are quite large so be prepared to walk in your comfortable shoes. Do not miss the delicious bagels and cinnamon for $2.20.
The Millesgarden is one of the most peaceful places to visit in Stockholm. The grounds here are breathtaking; the extraordinary statues of Milles that dance around the reflections in the water are among the most rewarding surprises of Stockholm. The further you stroll, the more you see angels, men suspended on giant hands, and more amazing sinuous shapes that move and hover in the air.
The journey to get there is quite comfortable, it is highly recommended to take the underground funicular. After the ride, you can exercise a little on the way there (you have to do a bit of road and it is slightly uphill but the landscape is very impressive, especially in winter with snow.) For the return, try taking bus number 207 and the metro tram (convenient, almost opposite the exit). The amazing sculptures here are very special, so make sure to bring a good camera with you.
Right near the town hall is the jetty from which steamers leave (every hour) for Drottningholm Palace, the residence of the King. At the ticket office you can find a schedule or you can just buy a ticket on a boat going there and get the entrance to the museums too -- the Royal Palace and the Chinese Pavilion. Tickets can be purchased in the museum on arrival, too. When you enter, immediately check the location map so you will not miss any important points of the palace. This residence of the monarchs of Sweden (and at the same time a UNESCO monument since 1991) is an impressive country residence.
Drottningholm has a park, theater, and teahouse. Thanks to King Johan III, who in the XVI century chose the site for the construction of a palace on the shores of Lake Mälaren, the palace complex has found wonderful natural architectural surroundings. Johan III built it for his wife Catherine Yagellonki, hence the name "Drottningholm" which literally means "Queen's Island." Throughout its long history, the palace has changed owners, monarchs, architectural styles, interior furnishings and park layouts. Since 1777 the palace is the official royal residence and protected accordingly.