Tag Archives: Stockholm

What to do in Stockholm and what to see in Stockholm

The Best of Stockholm Travel Tips

The Swedish capital of Stockholm is a fascinating destination and is included in our best European cities to visit post. If you’re planning a trip to Stockholm, then this round-up of our best suggestions for things to do in Stockholm should help you make the most out of your time there.

Historical Attractions in Stockholm

Stockholm’s most famous museum is the Vasa Museum, home to the 1620s ship which sank and spent 300 years in the Baltic Sea, before being salvaged and becoming the centrepiece of this museum.

Things to do Stockholm

The Vasa by Scarygami

Another interesting museum in Stockholm (which has some 70-odd museums!) is the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, which recently underwent extensive renovations. As a whole, Stockholm has a fascinating medieval history and many places to see evidence of it, including the Old Town area known as Gamla Stan.

gamia stan stockholm

Gamla Stan by lyng883

Sports fans might like to check out Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium (Stadion), venue for the 1912 Olympics.

For something different, try the House of Nobility in the centre of Stockholm, a historical building which now features the genealogical history of the noble families of Sweden. Alternatively, the Stadshuset (City Hall), home to the Nobel Prize banquet, can be an interesting place to explore, especially if you climb the tower for some great views over Stockholm.

Things to do Stockholm

House of Nobility by roger4336

Free Things to Do in Stockholm

A free attraction which Marcus suggests is underrated but very interesting is to visit the Swedish House of Parliament or Riksdag. It’s situated on an island – easily reached via a pedestrian bridge – and offers regular tours, including tours in English, and they’re all free.

Things to do Stockholm

The Riksdag by dtsomp

If you’re looking for some interesting exhibitions but are short on cash, then the Kulturhuset (“Culture House”) in Stockholm is a great way to spend your time. It has numerous floors of exhibitions, which might include photography, films and artworks, and most exhibitions will be free to enter.

Things to do Stockholm

The Kulturhuset by Anna-Stina

Enjoying the outdoors is possible (but different) in both summer and winter at the Kungstradgarden – it’s also the venue of the fantastic Christmas Market in December.

Things to do Stockholm

Kungstradgarden by ollesvensson

Although tours of the Skogskyrkogården World Heritage-listed cemetery are available, Marcus suggests giving yourself a free tour instead.

Palaces and Churches in Stockholm

The Riddarholmskyrkan is a church on a small island in Stockholm which dates back (in part) to the thirteenth century, and is the burial place for a number of Swedish royals.

Things to do Stockholm

Riddarholmskyrkan on a grey day by Eoghan OLionnian

An hour out of Stockholm by boat, the Drottningholm Palace is where the Swedish royal family live but the general public can access most of the palace’s grounds.

Things to do Stockholm

Drottningholm by tehzeta

Also a short trip out of Stockholm, to the north, you can find the Ulriksdal Palace which used to be the royal family’s summer residence. You can look through the palace buildings during summer and through the grounds at any time of year.

Things to do Stockholm

Ulriksdal in winter by lefant

Film, Food and Getting Around in Stockholm

Film buffs might like to time their visit to coincide with the Stockholm International Film Festival in November – it might not be a high profile festival but apparently there are plenty of great films to be seen.

If you’re feeling peckish while wandering Stockholm, then you can stop in to the Hötorgshallen Markets with all kinds of local and international foods to try. To add a great view to your meal or drink, you can try the Mosebacke Etablissement during summer, which has a great outdoor seating area.

Things to do Stockholm

Feast from Hotorgshallen Markets by patrikneckman

How you get around Stockholm depends a lot on the season (but the metro, of course, is fine all year!) – in summer, you might want to try the Stockholm City Bikes scheme.

Things to do Stockholm

Stockholm City Bikes by bjaglin

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More Tips for Things to Do in Sweden

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Following the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Stockholm

Before I even start, I should tell you all, I don’t really like the Millennium books; “Girl with Dragon Tattoo” being the first in the series of Stieg Larsson’s crime novels.  I think they are overly detailed, they slog along, and they just seem a bit too stereotypical at times.  Luckily, this isn’t a book review.  Because even if those details can become a bit much, those details also give the reader a good glimpse into Stockholm as a city.

Knowing what café is on what street on what island in Stockholm might not be necessary for moving the plot along, but for those who have been on that island, on that street, at that café, it’s a fun exercise.  It makes for a great travel trip while visiting Stockholm in Sweden.

The Stockholm City Museum seems to agree.  The museum offers walking tours of Stockholm, stopping at places that appear in the Millennium books.  Because of the international popularity of the books, tours are offered in a variety of languages: French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish and Russian.

girl dragon tattooPicture courtesy of StefanRos

Of course, they also offer an English language tour, which leaves every Saturday at 11:30 am.  The tour lasts about two hours and tickets can be purchased, for 120 SEK, from a few different places, including the museum itself.

Regardless of your opinion of the book, Södermalm, the island which is host to much of the action in the books, is a beautiful place and well worth wandering.  You’ll be surrounded by great little stores, bars, cafés, restaurants.  Not only that, but the area offers some amazing people watching, as the Stockholmers mill about on a Saturday.  Pick the Saturday after everyone gets paid (usually the 25th of each month) and you’ll be amazed how the city comes to life.

girl dragon tattooPicture courtesy of Robin Iversen Rönnlund. 

Keep in mind you do not meet at the museum! Instead, the meeting point for the tour is Bellmansgatan 1, for Millennium fans, better known as the apartment of Mikael Blomkvist.

More Stockholm Tips

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Vikingarännet – Ice Skating with Vikings in Sweden

Looking for a little outdoor activity at your next European destination?  Look no further than the Swedish winter then.  Sweden seems to take pride in lengthy outdoor activities in the midst of the cold and dark.  There is Vasaloppet, a cross country ski race covering 90 kilometers and said to follow the route of King Gustav Vasa in 1520.  The race has been held since 1922.

However, a new tradition has come about, harkening back to a time even before Vasa and the 1500s.  Since 1999, Vikingarännet has attracted long distance ice skaters every February who are willing to tackle the 80 kilometers between Uppsala and Stockholm.

Courtesy of linek

The race is skated on Lake Mälaren, a large fresh water lake that, according to the organization, follows “along an old viking route.”  This is of course in reference to the landmarks along the way.  The old Viking town of Sigtuna, for example, is on the shores of Mälaren as well as Drottningholm Palace (not so much a Viking landmark, but an impressively beautiful palace nonetheless).

Courtesy of Carles Tomás Mart

This year’s race will take place on either the 13th or 20th of February depending on ice conditions.  So if you’re the outdoorsy type, the type that thinks it’s not really a vacation unless you sweat a little, head up north to Sweden and take part in Vikingarännet.

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Swedish Winter Activities – Ice Hockey Games

Stockholm is in the midst of another winter.  It happens every year and every year it is dark and cold.  That’s one of the reasons Stockholm isn’t always at the top of the list of best places to visit in Europe during the winter.  Which is a shame.  The city has so much to offer.  Stockholm is amazing shrouded in snow, and the Christmas markets are hard to beat.

But there are so many other things going on in the Swedish winter.  Like sports.  There’s bandy, and ice skating, and skiing.  And hockey.  Of course, hockey.  The Swedish professional hockey league, Elitserien, is one of the best hockey leagues in the world.  The talent pool is deep and is usually home to several NHL prospects or former NHL players.  One year the second division even managed to sign Ed Belfour, a potential Hall of Fame player to play for the season.

Ice Hockey in Sweden

The nice thing about ice hockey in Sweden is that you don’t need to be interested in hockey.  The game becomes more of a cultural experience.  The singing, the chanting, the mass of people in black coats preparing to head back into the Swedish winter waiting outside, it all comes together to give a greater understanding of Sweden and a look at a part of life that so many people forget when traveling abroad.

It needs to be experienced in person. It also needs to be noted that if you have small children who speak Swedish, the language can be a bit, well, adult.  Be warned, but enjoy!

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St. Lucia Day in Stockholm, Sweden

Winter is a surprisingly good time to visit Stockholm.  Or at least December is.  Despite the dark, the Christmas lighting and any snow lying around really brightens up the city.

With all that darkness, brightening up the city is pretty important to most Swedes.  That’s what makes Lucia such a great holiday.  Way back when calendars weren’t always on the same page as they are now, the longest day of the year was said to be the 13th of December, St. Lucia day.  Today, that tradition is celebrated in Sweden with candles to light the winter (and plenty of delicious baked goods).

The traditional celebration involves a young woman, chosen as Lucia, leading a procession of stjärngossar, or star boys.  On her head is a wreath of candles, and in her hands she carries lussekatter, or St. Lucia Buns, along with coffee.

Photo by Bengt Nyman.

In the early 1900s, an official Lucia was elected in Stockholm and that has continued to this day.  Every year, voting is held for Lucia, who is then crowned at Skansen and leads a procession on Luciadagen.

This year, the crowning will occur on the 4th of December, the procession will, of course, be held on the 13th of December. Skansen during the Christmas season is an amazing experience.  Coupling that with the Lucia procession is even better and makes for one of the best places to visit in Europe during the holiday season.

More Stockholm Tips

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More Tips for Things to Do in Sweden

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Skogskyrkogården – All Saint’s Day in Stockholm

I’m back in the US for Halloween this year for the first time in several years.  It’s a strange phenomenon, what with the candy and costumes.  It’s especially strange because of the lack of celebration in Sweden.

Turns out I’ve grown accustomed to a much more subdued celebration, and one that is a bit different – All Saint’s Day.

Picture by: Michael Cavén

All Saint’s Day in Sweden is a national holiday that always falls on a Saturday between the 31st of October and the 6th of November.  It will not be celebrated with small children running around knocking on doors in hopes of collecting enough candy to last a month, or at least the weekend.  Instead it will be celebrated with candles.  Lots and lots of candles.

There is no better place for this Swedish Holiday, Alla helgons dag, than SkogskyrkogÃ¥rden in Stockholm – The Woodland Cemetery that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Each year, the entire cemetery is lit up by candles.  An already impressive natural landscape is given an otherworldly glow.  Whether you’re going for that hint of creepiness (and it’s there because after all it is a cemetery lit up by candles in the dark of night), to a sense of peace, SkogskyrkogÃ¥rden is a great destination for All Saint’s Day.

More Stockholm Tips

You’ll find lots of tips for things do do in Stockholm in our best of collation post.

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Stockholm International Film Festival

Just about everyone has heard about Cannes.  Berlin. Venice.  Even film festivals in Toronto and Sundance make the news from a continent away.  However the Stockholm International Film Festival is pretty low profile, even within Europe.  Last year nearly 200 films were screened at this annual Stockholm event. The line-up for this year’s festival, which runs from November 17th to November 28th in venues throughout the city, is now being announced on the Stockholm International Film Festival website.

Picture by: plindberg

To view any of the films, you need to buy a membership. There are a few different options, one being the standard membership card.  This will cost you 220 SEK and is good for several other events over the course of one year (starting in August).  If you’re a student or under 21, the same card will only cost you 160 SEK. Of course, if you have some money to spend and want to support the festival get the Bronze Card.  The Bronze Card costs 1400 SEK and gives you plenty of extra perks for the price.

The membership cards are required to view any of the films.  Of course, a ticket is also required.  Tickets to each individual film will cost you 70 SEK.  Having spent a large part of my life as a poor student, this bothers me.  If you are also a poor student, the student discount comes in handy, and if you’re a poor student interested in film, it doesn’t take too many screenings before the average costs drops.  Considering your standard movie at your standard movie theater in Stockholm will usually run you over 100 SEK, it isn’t completely outrageous. All that being said, the membership card plus the individual ticket cost adds up.

I love Stockholm. I think it is one of the best places to visit in Europe.  But November in Stockholm is cold.  It’s dark, it’s winter.  So really it’s an ideal time for an indoor event.

More Stockholm Tips

You’ll find lots of tips for things do do in Stockholm in our best of collation post.

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Great Eats in Stockholm – Hötorgshallen Market

I walk a lot when I travel. I pick out church spires on the skyline and I walk to them. Instead of waiting at a bus stop I walk along the bus line.  I don’t believe there is a better way to see a city than to walk it.  Even living in Stockholm, I walked almost everywhere.  There were parts of the subway line I never explored, simply because I could walk it.

All that walking made me hungry though, and finding a quick bite to eat that was also portable in Stockholm isn’t always easy.  Often times it feels like the only options are the same old fast food joints or a kebab.  And while I love kebabs (and the occasional fast food joint for that matter), it’s nice to have a change.

Stockholm Food Markets - Hötorgshallen

by: johanloman

That’s what makes Hötorgshallen so great. This centrally located Stockholm food market offers all kinds of delicious, and portable, food options.  There’s even a dry fruit stand that offers samples. Something I was always willing to take them up on.

Along with the dried fruit, you’ll be inundated with cheese, chocolate, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables.  You can find food from various corners of the world.  Turkey. Japan. Mexico.  Sweden.  It’s almost overwhelming.  And it’s definitely worth it.

Stockholm Food Markets - Hötorgshallen

by: Nenyaki

Unfortunately, Hötorgshallen has limited hours on the weekend.  The market is actually closed on Sundays and only open from 10-16 on Saturdays (for a full listing of opening hours click here).  Despite the limited hours, try to plan a stop at this Stockholm food market next time you’re in the Swedish capital.

More Stockholm Tips

You’ll find lots of tips for things do do in Stockholm in our best of collation post.

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Visit the Swedish House of Parliament – A free Stockholm attraction

Sweden is a monarchy.  After this past summer’s big wedding, most of the world knows that.  Of course, the Swedish monarchy has no power.  Power resides in the parliament.  The Swedish Riksdag.  This is especially important right now because Sweden is holding an election this Sunday, the 19th.

Voters throughout Sweden will be casting their ballot for the party which they believe is best fit to govern the country.  Even Swedish voters abroad have the opportunity to make their voices heard.  And many have and will continue to do so until the ballots close.

But for those of you who are not Swedish citizens, you can still get a little piece of the Swedish political action.  By visiting the Riksdag of course.  It’s a great free Stockholm attraction and rather underrated

The Swedish House of Parliament is located in Stockholm, Sweden.  Just a stone’s throw away from the Royal Castle, the Riksdag sits on an island.  Stockholmers and visitors alike walk by it every day on one of Stockholm’s busiest pedestrian walkways.

Few seem to go in.  Which is unfortunate because the Riksdag offers free public tours.  In English even.  While the parliament is in session, tours are offered on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) at 13:30.  During the summer months (end of June to the end of July), tours are offered every weekday at 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, and 15:00.  The tour lasts an hour and is a great way to learn more about Sweden’s political system and the Riksdag itself.

More Stockholm Tips

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Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm, Sweden

With the Royal Wedding between Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling just having wrapped up here in Stockholm, I spent the day with some of my visiting family out at Drottningholm Palace.

There are plenty of ways to get to the palace from Stockholm, but the boat trip is by far the most scenic.  Boats leave from just in front of the Stockholm City Hall and cost about 160 SEK.  The trip lasts an hour and floats you through the islands of Lake Mälaren.  When the sun is shining, it is one of the most beautiful parts of Sweden, when the sun isn’t shining… well, then it’s not one of the most beautiful.  Luckily for us, the sun was bright and the weather warm.

Drottningholm Palace is the residence of the Swedish Royal family, despite this; areas of it are usually open to the public. Not this time.  Of course, that’s not much of a surprise considering the circumstances.  Instead, we wandered through the surrounding park in the sunshine, eventually making our way to the Chinese Pavilion.

We went in.  We shouldn’t have.  The building is supposed to be one of the best examples of rococo design with a Chinese influence in Europe.  That may be, but the building is worn down, there is little information and walking through the building takes about ten minutes. Plus, it will cost an adult 70 SEK to get in.

So if you’re visiting Stockholm, be sure to check out Drottningholm Palace.  Just save your money and skip the Chinese Pavilion. 

More Stockholm Tips

You’ll find lots of tips for things do do in Stockholm in our best of collation post.

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