As good looking as its famously photogenic inhabitants; Stockholm simply wishes to be explored from every angle and direction. From the grandiose waterside hotels which welcome you into the Swedish capital to the open air museums of central Stockholm, beauty is never far away in this most mesmerising of cities.
A collection of unique and eclectic neighbourhoods stitched together across 14 islands, Stockholm is ripe for exploration with new experiences waiting around every corner and across every bridge. Offering everything you’d want from a Scandinavian capital and then some, the streets of Stockholm are lined with colourful architectural masterpieces housing a wonderful blend of shops, restaurants and bars.
Famously friendly, the locals of Stockholm are just waiting to welcome you to their proud city and help you navigate the tiny winding streets which connect the old with the new. Celebrate Stockholm’s past in the many unique museums propping up some of the finest buildings in the city, or check the latest trends in the ultra-fashionable downtown area; it’s all possible in show-stopping Stockholm.
So, if you’re planning a day or two in Stockholm as part of a cruise through Scandinavia, here are a selection of tips and things to see and do whilst exploring Sweden’s beautiful capital.
Getting Around Stockholm
A very flat and compact city, Stockholm is perhaps best experienced on foot. Wrap up in a warm, woolly scarf to protect against the Scandinavian winds and hit the streets, pottering through the 14 different islands at your own pace. An absolute hub of small, designer boutiques and quaint workshops, some of the small buildings in the city offer some of the biggest surprises – so if you’re whizzing by, you could miss some absolute treasures.
The café culture in Stockholm is very much alive and well, so there’s an abundance of places to stop and power up if you grow a little leg weary during your journeys. In the most wonderfully Scandinavian style, the public transport of Stockholm is regular, prompt and incredibly simple to navigate – ideal if you want to journey a little further out of the very centre of the city.
Although heading into the city with a plan is always advisable, we’d recommend setting an hour aside for aimless wandering – you never know what treasures you’ll unearth.
What to See and What to Do
Gamla stan is Stockholm’s proud Old Town, and one of the very best preserved medieval centres in the world. Dating back to the 13th century, Gamla stan is awash with medieval alleyways, cobbled streets and ancient architecture. Home to the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral, the Nobel Museum, and the Riddarholm church, it is incredibly easy to lose a good few hours in the Old Town – drinking in all the culture and history the city has to offer. The eastern waterfront side of Gamla stan is one of the most famous scenes in Stockholm – home to the picture perfect harbour of Skeppsbron, rich with uniform Scandinavian architecture. We’d recommend starting your Stockholm adventure right here, where it all began.
A visit to the Stockholm Royal Palace in the evening always proves to be an unforgettable experience, with the twinkling lights reflecting off the adjacent waters. Home to the Swedish Royal Family as well as the offices of the King, the Royal Palace offers some of Stockholm’s best photo ops. Also, be on the look out for Grå Gubben, the resident ghost who is said to guard the palace, and is apparently able to predict the future.
Whilst most of Stockholm’s islands are buzzing with activity, culture and history; Djurgården is an absolute oasis of tranquillity. The peaceful green island has been royal land since the 15th century and is lovingly maintained to welcome locals and visitors alike. Djurgården is perhaps the best place in Stockholm to take a few moments to rest, relax and soak up the atmosphere of the city. The island is also home to a number of Stockholm’s most popular museums and galleries.
One of which is ABBA: The Museum. Take a trip back to the 70s and enjoy one of the more recent chapters in Sweden’s captivating history with one of the most iconic pop bands of all time. The interactive museum gives you a chance to experience what life would be like if you disrupted the course of history and became the fifth member of Sweden’s most popular group. You’re given the chance to get behind the mixing desk and even check out Benny’s famous piano. Great for those who like their music to be sprinkled with a little bit of cheese.
After glancing enviously at the beautiful locals, you’ll undoubtedly be longing to know some of their well-kept style secrets. Head over to the Bibliotekstan district of the city, the undoubted fashion capital of Stockholm where designer labels fight over shop space, selling to the most fashion-conscious Stockholm locals. Alongside the famous Swedish designer labels, you’ll find flagships for Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Burberry amongst others. Pay particularly close attention to the J.Lindeberg store, the global flagship for one of Brad Pitt’s favourite brands.
Gourmet Street Food and Classic Swedish Beer Halls
Stockholm, like all the Scandinavian capitals, has something of a reputation for pricey cuisine, but that is not to say that affordable, delicious eats can’t be found if you know where to look. The street food scene is absolutely thriving in Stockholm (unsurprising when you consider how trendy both the street food and the city currently are), with vendors selling a huge selection of authentic ‘peasant’ dishes from all around the world.
The classic Stockholm street food staple is their take on the humble hot dog. The Swedish hot dog tends to arrive encased in a massive crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside baguette with an array of extra fillings including sauerkraut, garlic, pepper and curry sauce. There’s nothing quite so satisfying on a cold Stockholm evening that tucking into a hot, thick beef and pork sausage slathered in delightful curry sauce, all housed within a baked-to-perfection baguette.
Or for something a little sweeter, head over to Chokladkoppen, a charming little café right in the heart of Stockholm’s Old Town. This cosy café is the perfect place to sit, people watch and savour a massive mug of coffee and a decadent slice of chocolate cake.
When you need something a little stronger than coffee, make for one of Stockholm’s celebrated beer halls. Germany may be more famous for their long, atmospheric ale houses, but the Swedes certainly love a beer hall too – with old, traditionally-decked out watering holes offering up a huge selection of local and overseas beers.
We’d recommend Kvarnen if you’re tempted by an authentic taste of a Swedish beer hall. With a seemingly endless array of beers on tap and friendly bar staff; Kvarnen is a huge hit with locals as well as visitors. If you fancy a quick chinwag with the Stockholm natives, this is the place to go – the locals always seem to be keen on having a chat.
Want to squeeze every last drop of culture and interest from Stockholm? Free Tour Stockholm offers two different guided tours every day for visitors to join free of charge. The two tours are different from one another with ‘Modern Stockholm’ focusing on modern architecture and civic buildings, and ‘Medieval Stockholm’ navigating through the famous old town.
Led by knowledgeable, experienced and friendly locals, the free tours provide an insider’s view of the city, and are absolutely packed full of interest and intrigue. With an English-speaking tour guide, you’re sure to learn a thing or two about the evolution of Stockholm over the centuries and discover what makes this Scandinavian city so special and impossible to forget.
Stockholm is always a popular stop during a Scandinavian cruise, with many of the world’s major cruise lines visiting Sweden’s beautiful capital. For a huge selection of unbeatable deals on Scandinavian cruises, click here, or call our friendly sales team on 0808 231 3669.