Stockholm is Sweden's capital city, and it's one of Europe's most beautiful, enjoyable destinations. Set in a vast group of islands on the Baltic coast, the city is crammed with historical sights, and few world cities are as romantic.
The Old Town (Gamla Stan) has enough intriguing side streets, markets, churches, and palaces to keep visitors wandering for days. But there's more than the enchanting Old Town. Stockholm has world-class museums like the Museum of Natural History, vast modern nightclubs like Göta Källare, and a huge array of gourmet restaurants to explore.
Whether you adore great food, nightlife, shopping, history or art, Stockholm is well worth a visit.
Stockholm is full of history, having been Sweden's capital for 800 years. You can feel like a Royal by touring the luxurious Royal Palace, visit the Riddarholmskyrkan, a Gothic masterpiece, or see the remains of the flagship Vasa, once the largest ship in the world.
Stockholm is also a delight for foodies. From elite Michelin-starred restaurants like Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen to high-class French restaurants like Grill and vegetarian havens like Hermans, everyone's taste will be catered to.
The city itself is indescribably romantic. Built on thousands of islands, every neighborhood has a different feel and most of them are stunningly beautiful. The historic houses are colorful, the waterfront is a joy to wander around, and the whole city feels completely enchanting.
The Swedes are great lovers of museums, and Stockholm doesn't disappoint on this score. Get to know Swedish animals at the Skansen Museum & Zoo, see Viking treasure at the Swedish History Museum, or indulge your taste for art at the Moderna Museet.
Stockholm is a visual delight, and there are plenty of ways to see it. From the captivating Under the Bridges of Stockholm tour, to the Stockholm Panorama bus and free English-language walking tours, there are so many ways to enjoy the beauty of Sweden's capital city.
Completely surrounded by water, Stockholm's medieval center is dotted with delightful churches and colorful houses. Wander the cobbled streets filled with cafés, bars and boutiques. Just beyond the Stockholm Cathedral, the Royal Palace - one of the largest in the world - hosts an entertaining Changing of the Guards. From there, the waterside views of the Parliament and the City Hall are pure eye-candy.
Each of Stockholm's islands holds beloved attractions, and the gem of Skeppsholmen is the Modern Art Museum. Housing an internationally renowned collection, these galleries are noteworthy and inspirational. On the grounds outside, the collection continues with an unparalleled sculpture garden, set against Swedish waterfronts and city views.
Dedicated to leisure parks, walking trails, and themed museums, Djurgården Island is a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike. Skansen is the world's oldest open air museum and doubles as the city zoo, home to friendly local animals. The Vasa maritime museum stands out for its incredible 17th-century ship, while the ABBA Museum offers a more stereotypical Swedish experience. There is something for everyone on Djurgården!
The quality of Scandinavian design is found in every café and every shop of this neighborhood, the motherland of contemporary Sweden. Local museums like Fotografiska are always ahead of the trends. A walk along Fjällgatann towards the Södermalm waterside offers a contrasting impression of Stockholm's 18th-century houses and age-old views.
"Allemansrätten", or Everyman's Right, allows anyone access to this endless constellation of islands, extending from Stockholm into the Baltic Sea. The archipelago forms a powerful, mystical geological setting for all kinds of uniquely nordic sport and leisure. The waters are host to annual action-filled sailing races and, when frozen over in winter, to dedicated skaters. Stay overnight for a phenomenal experience outside of the city center.
Stockholm is at its best in the summer time, when temperatures regularly go above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the city comes out to play. So time your visit between July and early September for the best of the weather. However, the Swedes also put on a great party at Christmas, and if you can stomach chilly mornings, April and May can deliver accommodation bargains, too.
Most people will arrive in Stockholm via Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN), which is about 25 miles north of the city center. To get into town you can either catch the Flygbussarna bus service (kr99, 40 minutes) or the Swebus service (also kr99, 35-40 minutes). There's an express train connection as well (kr530 for a return, 20 minutes), and you can take regular trains (kr135, 35 minutes). Taxis and car rental outlets are also available if you need them. Expect a taxi to cost just over kr400.
Stockholm's main train station, Stockholms Centralstation, has good connections to other Scandinavian cities and the rest of Europe via Denmark. When you get there, finding your hotel should be simple, as the station is a central point on the Stockholm subway network.
Arriving by car is rare, unless you drive from Oslo, Copenhagen, or other Swedish cities like Malmö. Those driving from Denmark from the south should take route E4 straight to Stockholm, while the E18 runs from Oslo across country to the city as well.
Stockholm's main bus station has international connections to Copenhagen, Oslo, and various Eastern European destinations and it could be a cheap way to get to the Swedish capital. Companies running buses into Stockholm include Swebus and Eurolines and buses generally terminate at Cityterminalen, next to the main train station.
Some of the best hotel views in Stockholm can be found in waterfront areas, where the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel is a wonderful place to stay. If you want to be near the main train station, the Grand Central by Scandic is another highlight while the Sheraton in the Old City is the ideal business hotel. There are plenty of hostels for budget travelers too, and two of the best are the Hostel Dalagatan and City Backpackers.
Gamla Stan – Stockholm's Old City, Gamla Stan is the seat of the Swedish Royal family (which you can visit for kr100). It's also home to architectural highlights like the gorgeous Riddarholmen Church and the city Cathedral, but its real attraction is the atmosphere. A walk around Gamla Stan is a magical experience.
Norrmalm – more of a commercial center, Norrmalm is right next to the Gamla Stan, and it's the place to go for high-end shopping, restaurants, and some of the best of Stockholm's buzzing nightlife.
Östermalm – one of Stockholm's most elegant neighborhoods, Östermalm hosts most of the city's finest museums. Highlights include the Museum of Science and Technology, the Swedish Museum of Natural History (which features an IMAX dome), and the quirkier ABBA: The Museum, dedicated to the world-famous Swedish pop group.
Stockholm has a fantastic public transportation system; wherever you need to go, you won't have a problem getting there. Services include the city subway, buses, overground trains, and even ferries between the many islands. The best way to pay is via the SL Access card, which costs kr20 and can be loaded with credit for day passes (kr115) or week passes (kr300). The subway is excellent, and runs 24 hours at weekends, or until 1:00 am on weekdays.
With such a good public transportation network, taxis aren't usually necessary in Stockholm, and they don't tend to be cheap either. Fares vary, but in every registered cab you'll see a yellow sticker with the maximum fare for a set distance (around six miles). Expect to pay between kr300 and kr500 for most inner-city journeys.
Driving is a good option if you are staying in the suburbs or want to explore the Swedish countryside. However, if you rent a car, be aware that a congestion charge of between kr10 and 20 applies for all vehicles entering the city center. Companies operating in the city include Hertz, Avis, and Alamo, and rates can be as low as kr300 per day.
Stockholm is a thriving, diverse shopping hub, and there are plenty of places to go to indulge your desire to find anything from souvenirs to Scandinavian design products. The main shopping street in the center of town is Drottninggatan in Norrmalm, where chains like H&M mingle with department stores like Clas Ohlson and vintage shops like Beyond Retro. If you are looking for smaller boutiques, check out Mood Stockholm, a trendy mall on Norrlandsgatan where stores include creative Swedish brands like Rodebjer and Samsøe & Samsøe.
Self-catering vacations are a good way to reduce the cost of visiting Stockholm, and you won't have trouble finding grocery stores in the inner city. ICA, COOP, Lidl, and Hemköp are all affordable stores with most of the groceries you'll need. Prices in general are quite high, at around kr40 for a gallon of milk and kr11 for a pound of apples.
Swedes take their food very seriously indeed, and Stockholm has some superb restaurants to try. At the highest end of the scale, there are Michelin-starred establishments like Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen and Esperanto. There's great pizza at Primo Ciao Ciao, Indian food at Shanti Gossip and gourmet seafood at reasonable prices at Wedholms Fisk. Expect a meal to cost upwards of kr400 for three courses, or kr200-250 for just a main.