Stockholm is one of those cities which makes you fall in love with it right from the moment you set foot there. And why shouldn’t you! With its breathtaking setting, picturesque Old Town, opulent palaces, and dazzling cultural venues, you could easily spend a couple of days in Stockholm soaking in all the city has to offer. As a person who’s visited Stockholm on multiple occasions, I usually recommend that 3 days in Stockholm is the perfect amount of time to spend here. It gives you ample time to experience the city’s classic attractions and a little bit more 🙂
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How to Get Around During Your 3 Days in Stockholm
The best way to see Stockholm and discover its many hidden gems is on foot. It is a pedestrian-friendly city and you will truly appreciate its charm by walking. This resonates particularly strongly when sightseeing in central Stockholm and the Old Town. Many of the major attractions in these areas are within comfortable walking distance of each other. When in Gamla Stan, make sure to wear a comfortable pair of flat shoes rather than heels as they can get stuck in the pavement.
However, in order to make the most of your 72 hours in Stockholm, especially in order to get to some of the further lying attractions, you should make use of the well-functioning public transportation system. Stockholm’s public transport is top-notch and consists of the T-Banan (the subway), trams, regional trains, buses, and even a boat shuttle service to get from one island to another.
Keep in mind that if you take a bus or light rail trains you cannot buy your ticket on board, so make sure you have a ticket before you get on board. You will first need to buy an electronic smart card called the SL Access Card on which tickets are loaded. These cards can be bought at Pressbyrån kiosks, tourist information offices, and Stockholm Public Transport (SL) centers. Otherwise, you can also purchase single-use travelcards with tickets valid 75 minutes or 24 hours. You can find more information about fares and tickets and how to plan your trip using public transport here.
Sweden is the most cashless society in the world, coins or notes barely make up 1% of the value of all payments in a year. Some places in Stockholm don’t even accept cash, so just keep your cards ready.
Should you be visiting Stockholm in the summer, getting around on a bicycle is a fun way to see the city. Stockholm has great bike infrastructure and bicycle routes are clearly posted throughout much of the city. Stockholm doesn’t have a bike-sharing system at the moment but there are several places you can rent a bike. Renting a bike isn’t as cheap as in the other Nordic cities but if you’re interested you should check out Rent a Bike on Strandvägen or Gamla Stan Cyklar.
Taxis are totally not worth it as they are very pricey, and you’ll unnecessarily run up a high bill. Taxi prices in Sweden aren’t regulated so the prices vary vastly. Illegal taxi drivers have become an increasing problem in the city when hailing a cab on the streets, especially late at night and on weekends. However, if you have to use a taxi, always check the yellow price label on the rear door window which indicates the price for a 10 km journey. Otherwise, you can check out a licensed company like TaxiKurir to book a taxi.
Is the Stockholm Pass Worth It For 3 Days?
First of all, let me start by saying that the Stockholm Pass does not lead to any immediate savings. Yes, the Stockholm pass grants free admission to most of the city’s attractions. However, the Stockholm Pass does not include free travel which is a little annoying. The 72-hour travel card costs 260 SEK.
Some of the best museums in Stockholm are free irrespective of whether you possess a Stockholm Pass or not. If you’re planning on visiting a lot of museums and attractions that aren’t free, then buying the Stockholm Pass might be a good option. It does also beat the hassle of constantly waiting in line to purchase tickets. Thus, the Stockholm Pass MAY be worth it, depending on how much you would like to fit into Stockholm in 3 days.
Your 3 Days in Stockholm Itinerary
For this three-day itinerary to Stockholm, I have decided to give you a good mix of popular sights and off-beat corners. I’ve split the itinerary in such a way that it gives you a multifaceted view of the city. For your convenience, this post includes a free map of the top sights in Stockholm. You can find addresses of the attractions by clicking on the icons in the map.
Naturally, everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace. The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions. Below I have compiled a list of the best things to see (or eat) in Stockholm over the course of three days:
Day 1 in Stockholm
Day 1 of this ‘3 Days in Stockholm’ itinerary will cover the must-see attractions of Stockholm. You will be walking for most of the morning in the Old Town and should make use of public transport to get to the other sights.
1. Gamla Stan (Old Town)
Kick-off your 3 days in Stockholm in the famous Gamla Stan. I really love Gamla Stan, it’s probably my favorite place in Stockholm. Gamla Stan is the birthplace of Stockholm and it dates back to the 13th century. The basic layout of Gamla Stan is actually quite similar to that of Lübeck, the leading city of the Hanseatic League, which was in control of the Baltic Sea trading ports in the Late Middle Ages.
Gamla Stan consists of winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways that are bursting with an atmospheric mixture of lovely old houses huddled together on a triangular-shaped island. Today, it is one of the largest and best conserved medieval centers in Europe that looks like an open-air museum. Gamla Stan is home to some of the major attractions and well-known landmarks in Stockholm. In addition to this, there is a large number of cafes, boutique shops, bars, and restaurants located here.
Ah, I could spend days just leering at doors, windows and other architectural elements here. One of the best experiences is to visit early in the morning when light filters through the streets and the shutters on the buildings are still closed, it feels akin to being transported to Medieval times.
It’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of streets and alleys of Gamla Stan and it’s always best to wander in the more quiet ones. A new experience lies around every corner – antique shops housed in fine 15th- and 16th-century buildings, former merchant palaces, gabled houses adorned with ornate portals.
My favorite street in the Old Town is Prästgatan, a tranquil little street with pastel-colored houses and devoid of any commercial displays. This gem still retains its authenticity of a medieval street making it a sought after location for movie shoots. Look out for the runestone etched in a building wall at the corner of Kåkbrinken and Prästgatan that dates back to the Viking Age.
Gamla Stan’s most popular shopping street is Västerlånggatan and it runs through the heart of it. Although it is home to some beautiful architecture, the street is usually chock-full of people and feels geared toward tourists. For a more authentic experience check-out Österlånggatan, the other main street of Gamla Stan which is much quieter and home to some quaint boutiques.
A great photo opportunity is presented at Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, which at a width of 90 cm (35 in) at its slimmest, is the narrowest street in Stockholm. Be careful though, it so easy to overlook!
2. Riddarholm Church
The Riddarholm Church (Riddarholmskyrkan) is one of my favorite churches in Stockholm. It is one of Stockholm’s oldest churches and was built on the site of the late 13th-century Greyfriars abbey. The red brick church has expanded over the centuries and attained its characteristic lattice-work, cast-iron tower after a big blaze in 1835. The cast-iron church steeple is very beautiful and interesting to look at.
Riddarholm Church served as the burial ground for Swedish monarchs for over six centuries. In addition to the 200 graves, the interior features are a number of ornate pewter and gold sarcophagi, as well as an array of stone crypts in its interior. Admittedly, it’s much nicer on the outside though.
The church is open daily from 10:00 – 17:00 (mid-May to mid-September). It is open only on the weekends from 10:00 – 16:00 (mid-May to late November). Admission costs 50 SEK.
The first documented use of the name “Stockholm” dates back to 1252 when it featured in a letter written by Birger Jarl, a Swedish statesman who is generally regarded as the founder of the city. The name Stockholm is derived from the words stock meaning “log” and holm meaning “islet.” Its etymology is shrouded in mystery with one account pointing to the chunks of logs transported from Sigtuna into the waters near Old Town while another account points to the Vikings using a log bound with gold while seeking to ascertain the location of their new settlement.
3. House of Nobility
The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) is one of the prettiest buildings in Stockholm and one of my favorite sights in the city. The building is an exemplary work of 17th-century Dutch Baroque architecture and coloring. It was built as a base for the Swedish nobility to convene and host events. The building was the headquarters of the Swedish aristocracy from the 17th-19th centuries.
The building currently houses an organization for Swedish nobles and serves as a meeting place for the triennial Assembly of Nobles. The interior of the building is just as pretty as its exterior and its walls display some interesting artwork and are plastered with approximately 2,320 coats-of-arms of the nobles.
The House of Nobility is open Monday-Friday from 11:00 – 12:00. Admission costs 60 SEK. The cons of this place are definitely the limited opening hours.
4. German Church
The German Church (Tyska kyrkan) stands as a key testament to the power the Germans yielded in Stockholm during the days of the Hanseatic League. It was originally built in the 14th century and served as a guild house for German merchants. Its current copper-roofed red-brick appearance stems from the 17th century. The church’s spire is 96 meters tall and marks the highest point in Gamla Stan.
Gamla Stan was home to many German merchants during the 14th and 15th centuries. They were so influential in politics and were so dominant in the local trade that a law was even passed to suppress people of German birth from seeking a majority in the city council.
The richly fashioned gilded Baroque and Renaissance interior is very ornate and in my view is very elegant for a Lutheran church. The southern gallery features some beautiful paintings depicting biblical figures and scenes from daily life. Watch out for the ebony-alabaster pulpit and the richly colored stained glass windows!
You can enter the German Church for free but if you want to look around it costs 30 SEK. The church is open daily from 10:30 – 16:30 (mid-June to mid-August), 11:00 – 15:00 (mid-May to mid-June and mid-August to mid-September). For the remainder of the year the church is open from 11:00 – 15:00 (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) and 12:30 – 15:00 (Sunday).
Stortorget is the charming and vibrant main square in Gamla Stan. It is Stockholm’s oldest square and has been a central meeting point since the Middle Ages. It is surrounded by beautiful 17th and 18th-century buildings. Stortorget’s western side is the most picturesque and features tall pastel-colored stone buildings with curling gables. These buildings paint of good portrait of what the square must have looked like during imperial Sweden’s zenith in the 17th century.
Stortorget is usually pretty crowded but it’s also a great place to enjoy fika (coffee break accompanied by some pastries like the gobsmackingly scrumptious cinnamon buns!). Chokladkoppen and Kaffekoppen are two cafes lining the square that are perfect for fika.
Stortorget’s most famous building is that of the former stock exchange. This beautiful building was home to the stock exchange for more than 200 years till 1990. It is now home to the Nobel Museum which was inaugurated in 2001. The museum pays homage to the achievements of past Nobel Prize winners through a series of artifacts and smart multimedia installations.
HISTORY 101: STOCKHOLM BLOODBATH OF 1520
Though Stortorget is idyllic and peaceful now, it was the site of one of the most infamous events in Stockholm’s history, the Stockholm Bloodbath of November 1520. Denmark’s King Christian II defeated the Swedish Regent, Sten Sture the Younger, and the Swedes chose Christian as their king. None of the Swedes liked their new king but were promised amnesty if they cooperated with him, so they did. The king hosted a party at Tre Kronor fortress to celebrate and invited Stockholm’s most prominent people such as councilors, noblemen and priests. Towards the end of the festivities, Christian broke his promise and the partygoers were suddenly bolted in and rounded up for heresy. The following day more than 80 Swedish noblemen and burghers were guillotined in the square on Christian’s orders and a pyramid of their heads was displayed in the square.
6. Stockholm Cathedral
The Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan) is one of the must-see attractions in Stockholm. It is the oldest church in the Old Town having been constructed in 1279. Swedish reformer Olaus Petri spread his Lutheran message around the kingdom from here and it is thus of significant religious value in Sweden.
Religious services, royal coronations as well as weddings, and funerals have been carried out in the cathedral. Extensive refurbishments over the centuries have led to an Italian Baroque exterior and a 66-meter tall clock tower that is a prominent feature of Stockholm’s skyline.
The interior is marvelous with exposed brickwork and some intricate carving. The cathedral’s primarily Gothic interior contrasts nicely with the Baroque exterior. The church has an extensive collection of medieval and contemporary artworks. I was really impressed with the glistening royal pews and the exquisite black and white altarpiece. If there’s one church in Stockholm that you have to see from inside, it’s the Stockholm Cathedral.
The cathedral’s marquee attraction is the metal statue of St. George and the Dragon, regarded as one of the finest late Gothic works of art in Northern Europe. Wood, iron and gold leaf were employed in the sculpture’s carving and elkhorn was used for the dragon’s scales.
The Stockholm Cathedral is open daily from 09:00 – 16:00 (September-May), 09:00 – 17:00 (June) and 09:00 – 18:00 (July-August). The entrance fee is 60 SEK.
7. The Royal Palace
Boy! This place is huge. With over 600 rooms the Royal Palace (Kungliga slottet) is one of the largest palaces in Europe. The Royal Palace is the official residence of the King of Sweden. Oddly though, the Queen’s official residence lies elsewhere, in the equally impressive Drottningholm Palace.
The Palace was designed by the renowned architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger and was constructed between 1697 and 1754 in the Italian Baroque style, on the spot where the Tre Kronor Castle was reduced to rubble after a fire in 1697. It doesn’t look much like a palace from the outside since it’s a low-lying, rectangular yellow-brown edifice with two arms that stretch towards the water.
After the Tre Kronor Palace got smoldered in 1697, the Royal Family made Wrangel Palace their temporary residence until the reconstruction of the new Royal Palace in 1754. The Wrangel Palace, which lies on Riddarholmen in Gamla Stan has served as the home of the Svea Court of Appeal, the regional court of appeal since 1756.
The Royals have their offices at the palace, where they hold audiences with visiting dignitaries and host official state ceremonies. Besides this, the Royal Palace is home to as many as four museums. Here, you can visit the Museum of Antiquities, the Treasury, and the Tre Kronor Museum.
A large chunk of the palace’s 600 rooms are open to the public, and you can admire the sumptuous interiors and priceless works of art and craftsmanship. The ever-popular changing of the guard takes place in the Outer Courtyard daily at 12:15 (Sundays and holidays an hour later). It is a 30-40 min low-key affair with a bit of marching and flag hoisting.
The palace’s interior is luxuriously decorated in Rococo fashion. Due to the sheer size of the palace, palace fatigue can kick in and it’s worth focusing your explorations on only a few areas (unless you’re a palace junkie of course 😉). The highlights of the interior worth seeing are the grand Swedish marble and porphyry Western Staircase, the opulent Hall of State, Karl XVI’s Gallery and the Bernadotte Apartments.
I particularly enjoyed Karl XVI’s Gallery which is modeled on the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Each window here is paired with a niche on the inner wall, where some of the palace’s invaluable artworks and tapestries are displayed. It is the finest example of the Swedish Rococo style and is used for banquets hosted by the king and queen.
The Royal Palace is open daily from 10:00 – 17:00 (May-September) and 10:00 – 16:00 (October-April). The entrance costs 160 SEK. The Palace may be fully or partially closed in case of official receptions so check the website before you plan your visit.
8. The Royal Armory
The Royal Armory (Livrustkammaren) is one of the Royal Palace’s museums and the best one to see in my opinion. It is the oldest museum in Sweden having been founded in 1628. The Royal Armory initially served as a monument to the Vasa kings, and gradually grew to house a collection commemorating five royal dynasties.
The exposition isn’t too big and the name is misleading since it’s not so much about weapons as the ceremonial aspects. It contains a wealth of Swedish artifacts pertaining to the military history of Sweden, items of interest (including ceremonial costumes) from Sweden’s royalty and magnificent, elaborate carriages and even a sled from the royal stables.
Various cultural themes such as royal ceremonies, the history of costume, items related to politics and drama in the lives of the Swedish regents. The dark lighting in the cellar where the carriages and sled are kept lends the place a medieval feel. I really enjoyed observing all the artifacts here, especially those ornate carriages!
The Royal Armory is open Tuesday-Sunday and admission is free so it’s definitely worth the visit. Opening hours vary according to the time of the year, which you can check here.
9. Traditional Swedish Lunch
Head to Slingerbulten for a sample of Swedish cuisine. It is a reasonably priced restaurant offering traditional Swedish classics like herring, reindeer, smoked salmon, moose, meatballs meaning you won’t be disappointed.
When having lunch, you might also want to try Sweden’s national drink, aquavit (or snaps). It is distilled from potatoes or grain and flavored with herbs and spices, coming in many varieties. Aquavit goes well with food, especially herring and is served ice-cold in small glasses. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the stuff though.
10. Swedish Parliament Building
Since you’re spending a weekend in Stockholm, you can get a quick glimpse of the Swedish Parliament building. The Parliament House (Riksdagshuset) is the seat of the Swedish Parliament, the Riksdag. The building complex is divided into two distinct halves, the old building and the new one. The old building was lavishly constructed between 1897 and 1905 in Neoclassical style and features an attractive Neo-Baroque columned facade. An enormous relief of the Swedish coat of arms looms over the central bronze doorway.
Two large arches connect the two buildings, which are divided by a pedestrianized street. The new building was formerly home to the Swedish National Bank and is notable for its semicircular glassy bulge. I’m not a big fan of its design though. It is the hub of parliament activity and parliamentary debates can be seen here from the public gallery, which holds up to 500 spectators. One of the lesser-known facts about the Parliament building is that it actually used to be a mental hospital.
In the summer you can visit the Parliament Building on a guided tour. Tours in English commence at 13:30, every Saturday and Sunday, and are free of charge but have to be booked in advance. I wouldn’t recommend it though.
11. Stockholm City Hall
Situated on the island of Kungsholmen, the City Hall (Stadshuset) is one of Stockholm’s most recognizable buildings and features in countless images and postcards of the city. Visiting the City Hall is one of the best things to do in Stockholm and worth every bit of your time and effort.
The City Hall is regarded as a centerpiece of Swedish National Romanticism, with shades of Italian and Nordic Gothic architecture. A staggering 8 million dark red bricks went into its construction, which took a monumental 12 years to complete. Its tower is noted for its 3 golden crowns at the top, which is the Swedish coat of arms.
Though I personally feel that the City Hall’s exterior is a bit somber, its interior is what really sets in alight. Although the interior houses 250 offices for administrative staff, the highlights here are the Viking themed Council Chamber, the Blue Hall, and the Golden Hall. The Blue Hall is a banquet hall that is best known as the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet that takes place here every year in December. It has a lovely mosaic floor and magnificent staircase, and despite its name, it’s not blue.
The crowning glory of the City Hall is undoubtedly the aptly named Golden Hall. The Byzantine-style wall mosaics contain 19 million fragments of gold leaf and represent allegories of events and people from Swedish history. The motif on the northern wall is the Queen of Lake Mälaren while the southern wall displays different motifs from all around Stockholm.
Even though the Nobel Prize banquet is held at the City Hall, the Nobel Prizes are actually awarded in the Stockholm Concert Hall, which lies in the Norrmalm district.
There’s a possibility to go to the top of the tower for some amazing views of Stockholm at a cost of 60 SEK from May-September. Guided tours of the City Hall from April-October cost 120 SEK and 90 SEK from November-March. Tours in English start at each hour from 10:00 – 15:00.
12. Vasa Museum
No weekend in Stockholm would be complete without visiting the Vasa Museum, one of the top things to see in Stockholm. It is home to the immaculately restored 17th-century warship, the Vasa, which sank in Stockholm harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628.
The Vasa fell prey to an engineering blunder, the ship’s hull was too slender to endure even the slightest swell. This along with top-heavy rigging caused the ship to go down with 30 people barely a few hundred yards from her moorings. It lay preserved in mud for over 300 years, the ship was pulled up along with 12,000 objects in 1961, and now forms the core of the museum. The weak salt content of the water saved the ship’s oak timber from attacks by shipworms.
The ship’s massive size can be overwhelming, its length was about 69 meters and its main mast was more than 52 meters tall. What really makes the ship dazzle is the rich decoration, it features a total of 500 sculptures and 200 ornaments. Many of the sculptures are Biblical figures and figures from Greek mythology. There are also depictions of Swedish nobility, sea monsters, and royal insignia.
I really love the massive lion figurehead at the ship’s bow. The interactive exhibits allow for an understanding of how and why the ship was built, what life was like in Stockholm when the ship was built and how the ship was hauled up from the harbor. Be sure to go to check out each level for precious exhibits and wonderful vantage points!
The Vasa Museum is open daily from 08:30 – 18:00 (June-August) and 10:00 – 17:00 (September-May). The entrance costs 150 SEK.
13. Fotografiska Museum
The Fotografiska Museum is another must-see attraction in Stockholm and a must-visit for photography aficionados in particular. It is a relatively new museum that is housed inside a former Art Nouveau red-brick customs warehouse. Fotografiska showcases exhibitions of both local and international photographers both in print and on film through a changing series of exhibitions.
The museum runs 3-4 exhibitions at the same time, which are updated every few months. So there’s always some interesting stuff to see. The exhibitions are well laid out and the style and lighting are fantastic. Jacky and I have been here twice and loved it both times. The interesting thing is that the exhibitions often carry a social message.
One of the things I love about the Fotografiska Museum is the long opening hours. It is open from 11:00 – 23:00 (Sunday-Wednesday) and 11:00 – 01:00 (Thursday-Saturday). The entrance costs 165 SEK. Payment by card only!
The Fotografiska Museum also has a fantastic restaurant and bar upstairs with vistas as breathtaking as the photographic work downstairs. The food here is exquisite as well. In fact, the restaurant is considered one of the premier museum restaurants in the world.
Day 2 in Stockholm
Soak in the great culture of Stockholm by following this segment of this ‘3 days in Stockholm’ itinerary. You’ll be spending a considerable amount of time on the delightful island of Djurgården, an ideal location to escape the bustle of Stockholm amongst the groves of pines and spruce. After lunch, you can either revel in some museum hopping (choose between numbers 6 & 7 depending on your preference) or get an adrenaline rush at the Gröna Lund Amusement Park.
1. Breakfast at Vete Katten
Start off the second day of this three-day Stockholm itinerary at the famous Vete Katten cafe. Vete-Katten is an elegant cafe in the heart of Stockholm which is one of Stockholm’s most revered cake shops. Vete Katten has been around for nearly a century and is well known for its delicious cakes (would highly recommend their Princess cake), pastries, homemade pralines, teas, and coffee. It can get pretty busy here later in the morning on weekdays, but it should be alright on the weekend if you head there early.
2. Canal Tour
Stockholm’s spectacular natural setting between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic archipelago means that its waterways play a vital role in city life. The city simply needs to be seen from the water and a canal tour is one of the best things to do in Stockholm.
I personally love the Royal Stockholm Canal Tour. It departs from Strömkajen or Nybroplan in the center of Stockholm several times per day. The tour will take you by some of Stockholm’s most important islands and offer a completely different perspective of some of its monuments.
Stockholm is spread over 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges, earning the Swedish capital the sobriquet “The Venice of the North.”
What I personally like about the tour is that it takes you by areas of Stockholm you may not otherwise get the chance to see. It’s also refreshing to leave the hustle and bustle and surround yourself with greenery in the Djurgården Canal.
The tour takes place throughout most of the year, except during the winter months when the canals tend to freeze over. The tour lasts for about 50 minutes. You can also buy drinks on board. I recommend that you enjoy the view from the top deck, but try not to get a sunburn in the process like Jacky 😉
Next head to Skansen, one of Stockholm’s must-see attractions and beloved sights. Skansen opened in 1891 as the world’s first open-air museum to show a burgeoning industrialized society how people lived in the past. The exhibits at Skansen are based on traditional Swedish life and are a microcosm of Swedish history and culture. The thing I like about Skansen is that it has managed to avoid becoming kitschy like some similar ventures in other places.
More than 150 historical farms and dwellings from all over Sweden were transported to Skansen, showcasing the life of both peasants and landed gentry, as well as Lapp culture. The Town Quarter has lovely shops that are set up to operate as they did in the past, which is really nice. Glass-blowers, bakers and other craftsmen demonstrate their skills in traditional workshops.
The buildings are many and varied, including a Sami camp and various windmills and churches. On-site is a small zoo with 70 different animals, most of which are Nordic fauna, including wild animals from the frigid north such as reindeer, elk, lynx, brown bear, and the wolverine. Prices and opening hours vary seasonally so check the website before you go.
Head to Ulla Windbladh, an amazing restaurant serving traditional and modern Swedish cuisine. This gem of a place on Djurgården is very popular with locals. The food is delicious and moderately priced (by Stockholm standards). Not to be missed!
5. Swedish History Museum
If you are big on history and the Vikings like me, then no trip to Stockholm would be complete without visiting the Swedish History Museum (Historiska Museet). It is the most eclectic historical display in Stockholm, spanning a span of ten thousand years from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages.
It also covers the period of transition from the Norse Gods to Christianity and finally to a little about modern Sweden. There’s also a very nice exhibition of medieval church art containing a stunning assemblage of ornately decorated triptychs. The great thing about the collections is that they are presented in a manner that not only educates but entertains.
The museum covers Viking Age extensively showing their culture, lifestyle and many artifacts. This era is represented by exhibits including Viking swords with aesthetic embellishments, and Nordic animal-shaped ornaments.
The best part of the museum is definitely the much-vaunted Gold Room, a room protected like a bank vault and that has over 50 kg of gold treasures and 250 kg of silver uncovered in Scandinavia from the Bronze Age through to the Middle Ages. Particular highlights in the Gold Room are the gold collars and Elisabeth Reliquary, originally a drinking goblet adorned with gold and precious stones to enclose the skull of St Elisabeth of Thuringia!
The Swedish History Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11:00 – 17:00 (September-May) and on all days from 10:00 – 17:00 (June-August). The entrance is free so go and check it out.
6. National Museum
The wonderful National Museum is the largest art museum in Sweden. I love the 19th-century building itself that looks like one of the Renaissance palaces of Florence and Venice. The museum’s vast collection of paintings and sculptures from the late Middle Ages to the early 20th century is pretty impressive. Scandinavia’s largest collection of porcelain can be found inside the museum.
Stockholm is home to approximately 100 museums whose remarkable collections cover every conceivable subject and interest. It is thus one of the most densely packed museum-cities in the world and the museums are visited by millions of people every year.
There’s an abundance of European and Mediterranean artworks, and the collection of 17th-century Dutch and 18th-century French paintings is particularly strong. Greats like El Greco, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Lucas Cranach, and Rubens are on display. Rembrandt’s tantalizing The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis is a steal for the museum and shouldn’t be missed.
Obviously, the National Museum is perfect to get acquainted with Swedish art and artists like Carl Larsson, Alexander Roslin, and Anders Zorn. The Lady with the Veil, a seductive painting by Roslin, is one of the highlights of the museum and is symbolic of 18th century Sweden. Zorn’s Midsummer Dance is a wonderful imaging of Midsummer’s Eve in the Swedish province of Dalarna.
The National Museum is open from 11:00 – 19:00 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday) and 11:00 – 21:00. Entrance to the almost the whole museum is free (only special exhibitions come at a price), so it’s definitely worth checking out.
7. Modern Art Museum & Skeppsholmen
If you prefer contemporary art, you can skip the National Museum and visit the Modern Art Museum (Moderna Museet). I’ve gradually started to cotton to modern art and the Moderna Museet is one of the best art museums I’ve come across, a true haven for modern art aficionados. It houses modern and contemporary art including photography and film, from 1900 to the present day. The collection is split into artworks from three eras: 1900–45, 1946–70 and 1971– present.
You will come across works from all the big names in modern art such as Dali, Kandinsky, Matisse, Modigliani, Rauschenberg, and Warhol. It is especially strong in Cubist paintings, with works by Picasso, Braque, and Léger. Take a look at Dali’s unconventional Enigma of William Tell, Matisse’s evocative Apollo and Kandinsky’s geometric Green Split.
The most esoteric of all the artworks that I saw here has to be Rauschenberg’s Monogram, which includes an angora goat with a painted nose, with its midsection passing through an automobile tire. See whether you can interpret what this eerily hypnotic artwork means.
Visiting the permanent collection is free of charge, but some of the temporary exhibitions have entrance fees. The Moderna Museet is open from 10:00 – 20:00 (Tuesday & Friday) and 10:00 – 21:00 (Wednesday, Thursday, and the weekend).
The quaint island of Skeppsholmen used to be an important naval base and traditional wooden boats are still moored here. The majority of the naval buildings here have been restored and it is now more of a cultural center with an eclectic range of museums.
The richly wooded English-style park and inviting views towards Strandvägen and make Skeppsholmen the perfect place for a quiet stroll. Also worth checking out is the tiny islet of Kastellholmen with granite rocks and steep cliffs. It is home to a medieval-style 19th-century castle, the brick orange Kastellet-
8. Gröna Lund
If you don’t want to spend time inside museums, are young at heart or have kids in tow, a visit to Gröna Lund Tivoli is the perfect remedy. Located on Djurgården, Gröna Lund is Sweden’s oldest amusement park and has been around since the 1880s. It’s not as famous as its more renowned namesake in Copenhagen but it’s still a worthy opponent.
Gröna Lund isn’t very big, but it’s very clean and well maintained. It features over 30 rides ranging from child-friendly to exhilaratingly fast. Some of the best attractions include the house of nightmares, a ghost train, and an 80-meter free-fall tower. The park features a wooden roller coaster that is said to be one of the best of its type in the world. Gröna Lund boasts plenty of restaurants and cafés to satiate your hunger pangs.
The amusement park is only open for a little over four months in the year, from May-September. You can check the opening hours and prices here.
If you visit Gröna Lund, take a moment to admire the cluster of old houses on some of the narrow streets near the amusement park. This quaint community, known as Djurgårdsstaden, was established over 200 years ago and grew up around the shipyard.
9. Wander & Shop in Norrmalm
Norrmalm is the commercial heart of Stockholm that lies just north of Gamla Stan. It is well known for its department stores, shopping malls, exclusive boutiques, and nightspots. Norrmalm is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to architecture as there are some grand Jugendstil buildings but they are also a lot of ugly modern buildings.
Approximately one-third of Stockholm is parks and green areas and they add as much beauty to the city as the water does. Norrmalm has some beautiful parks like Kungsträdgården and Berzeli Park that serve as popular meeting places. Established as a private park in the 16th century for the Swedish aristocracy, Kungsträdgården is now filled with activities such as concerts in the summer and in the winter it’s a popular place for ice-skating.
Given that you are spending three days in Stockholm, you might want to do some shopping. Swedes are the most dapper of the Nordic lot and Stockholm offers some great shopping options from major retailers to luxury brands meaning that even the most demanding shoppers can get what they desire. Shopping in Stockholm gives you a fantastic opportunity into the world of Scandinavian design. Top products include glassware, ceramics, stainless-steel cutlery, silver, furniture, and textiles.
Some of the best streets for shopping in Stockholm are Drottninggatan and Hamngatan which feature major department stores like Åhlens City and Nordiska Kompaniet (NK). Biblioteksgatan is like the Fifth Avenue of Stockholm and is lined with luxury brand-name boutiques. There are plenty of tourist shops along the way if you want to pick up souvenirs. Check out Svensk Hemslöjd to pick up the iconic Dala wooden horse, Lapp handicrafts and other authentic Swedish souvenirs.
Between Hamngatan and Biblioteksgatan lies a small square called Norrmalmstorg. The square itself is nothing special and is most famous for the Norrmalmstorg bank robbery. This bungled robbery incident took place in the former Sveriges Kreditbank in 1973, located on the corner of the square. During the six-day standoff, a seemingly bizarre bond developed between the four hostages and their two captors. This strange occurrence baffled psychiatrists and spawned the term “Stockholm Syndrome”, which has since found its way into the popular lexicon. The ensuing chaos dominated headlines around the globe and was broadcast on television screens across Sweden.
There’s a wide array of dining options in Norrmalm. I would recommend Tjabba Thai for piquant and delicious Thai food prepared with authentic ingredients. Otherwise, Restaurang Underbar serves some great Lebanese food.
Day 3 in Stockholm
Day 3 of this ‘3 days in Stockholm’ itinerary focuses more on showing you something different. If you’re feeling like you’ve seen too much of the Old Town and the canals and are craving something different, this should give you a peek into the other side of Stockholm and some neighborhoods that are a bit unique.
The final day of this 3 days in Stockholm itinerary starts at Cafe Albert, one of the better independent cafes in the center which has a nice selection of cakes and pastries.
2. Drottningholm Palace
Even if your stay in Stockholm is limited, it’s definitely worth making the trip to the beautiful Drottningholm Palace. The royal palace in its present form dates to the end of the 17th century and was based on Italian and French architecture, making it one of the most regal buildings of its time. The Royal Family has used part of the palace as its private residence since 1981.
The Palace of Drottningholm is supplemented by the Court Theater (the world’s oldest theatre still in active use), the Theater Museum, the elegant Chinese Pavilion, and the surrounding Baroque, Rococo, and English style gardens. UNESCO added the whole complex to its World Heritage Site list in 1991.
The inside of the palace reeks of Baroque and Rococo and is most admirable. Highlights of the interior include Queen Hedvig Eleonora’s State Bedroom – a glitzy room that took 15 years to design, the Upper South Bodyguard Room – used for ceremonial occasions and decorated with stucco works and ceiling paintings, and Karl XI’s Gallery – featuring paintings of historical events, and Queen Lovisa Ulrika’s opulent Library. My favorite, however, is the Great Staircase which dominates the center of the palace with its trompe l’oeil paintings. Good English notes are available to help you weave your way through the rooms.
The aspect I love most about Drottningholm is its excellently manicured gardens and the three gardens are each different in style. The Baroque garden is laid out in a French manner and is embellished with statues, topiaries, and waterfalls. The has lots of hidden corners to discover like the Chinese Pavilion. Although well preserved, the Chinese calligraphy here seems a bit amateurish.
Adjacent to the Baroque garden lies a nature park which is home to a family of ducks and swans. At the very end of the park, you can even find a maze, although unfortunately the hedges have been abandoned for a more natural approach. You can still give it a try, though 😉
The Drottningholm Palace is open daily from 10:00 – 17:00 (May-September) and 10:00 – 16:00 (October-April). The entrance to the palace costs 130 SEK while the gardens are free to enter. The Palace may be fully or partially closed in case of official receptions so check the website before you plan your visit.
3. Lunch at Östermalm Food Hall
A visit to Östermalm Food Hall (Östermalms Saluhall) is a must for foodies. This is Stockholm’s best food hall and all kinds of delectable Swedish food is on offer ranging from vegetarian to seafood and meat to sweets. I highly recommend Lisa Elmqvist seafood restaurant for its excellent salmon and crayfish.
The shops here are open Monday-Friday 09:30 – 19:00, Saturday 09:30 – 17:00 and the restaurants are open Monday-Tuesday 11:00 – 22:00, Wednesday-Saturday 11:00 – 23:00.
The main building of the Östermalm Food Hall is closed for renovations until winter 2020 but the stalls are open in a new building across the road.
Östermalm aka the ‘Upper East Side’ or ‘Belgravia’ of Stockholm is one of the largest and most populous areas of Stockholm. It is distinguished by a conglomeration of upscale residential areas consisting of broad boulevards with some of the highest property prices in Stockholm. Don’t let this dissuade you though as Östermalm is an inviting neighborhood that certainly warrants a visit.
Walk around streets like Birger Jarlsgatan, Narvavägen, and Karlavägen and admire the beautiful architecture. Östermalm is home to many high-end fashion boutiques and top-notch restaurants as well as a heap of cozy cafes. Stureplan, which lies on the border zone between the Norrmalm and Östermalm, is where all the swanky, trendy bars and clubs are.
One of my absolute favorite things to do in Östermalm is to take a stroll along Strandvägen. Strandvägen is an elegant tree-lined boulevard overlooking the waterfront that is dotted with palatial Italian and French Renaissance-style buildings. Two of the best ones are Bünsowska House (numbers 29-33) and Von Rosenska Palace (number 55). Oh, what I wouldn’t give to live here!
Strandvägen is understandably one of Stockholm’s most prestigious addresses and is home to several prominent hotels, embassies and designer boutiques. At the end of the 19th century, Strandvägen was one of the worst areas in Stockholm, where homeless people, the destitute and prostitutes hung out. So times have changed a bit since then, to say the least!
5. Stockholm Metro Art
Traveling on the metro is usually dull and prosaic right? Yup, but Stockholm defies this. Traveling on the metro is one of the best things to do in Stockholm. It is akin to being in a mobile art gallery that allows everyone en route to experience the stunning beauty of incredible mosaics, murals, installations, and sculptures. It arouses feelings of being part of a modern-day archeological expedition, full of unexplored secrets and surprises. The best part? Admission to this gallery costs only the price of a train ticket.
Naturally, this splendid art display has been extremely well-received and highly lauded by Stockholm natives as well as foreign visitors. Every time Jacky and I are in Stockholm we spend some time on the metro just to admire the wonderful art. Traveling on the metro is generally safe but avoid empty carriages in the night.
The Stockholm Metro has more than 100 stations and about 90 of these have intricate art displays earning it the honor of being dubbed the world’s longest art gallery for decades. Some of our favorite stations to observe the art are –
a. Tekniska Högskolan (Red line T14)
b. T-Centralen (All lines)
c. Akalla (Blue line T11)
d. Stadion (Red line T14)
e. Kungsträdgården (Blue line T10 & T11)
f. Rådhuset (Blue line T10 & T11)
g. Näckrosen (Blue line T11)
h. Tensta (Blue line T10)
i. Solna Centrum (Blue line T11)
T-Centralen is fancifully decorated by blue vines and floral motifs intended to create a sense of tranquility for commuters. Rådhuset is replete with numerous archaeological findings and exposed bedrock resembles an underground pink grotto, leaving the bedrock exposed. Walking through Kungsträdgården is similar to walking in an underground garden and segments of its exposed bedrock are decorated with colorful mosaics. You can see plenty of old statues, intricately carved columns, and water fountains.
Cap off your three days in Stockholm by exploring Södermalm (Söder), which lies south of Gamla Stan. Södermalm has a dramatic landscape that is characterized by craggy cliffs, turrets, and towers. Once a bastion for the working class, it has reinvented itself after the industry left and artists and creative types moved in. Bohemian and hipster Södermalm stands in complete contrast to Östermalm. It usually features in the list of top hipster neighborhoods in the world.
What I love about Södermalm is that it has a very unpretentious vibe and is devoid of tourist hordes. There are plenty of unique shops, vintage stores & galleries. Hornsgatan and Götgatan are full of small shops selling bric-a-brac. Götgatan, on Södermalm, which stretches all the way across the island from Slussen to Skanstull, is probably the best bar street in Stockholm.
The hip streets of Åsögatan, Bondegatan, and Skånegatan lie south of Folkungagatan and are thus popularly called “So-Fo”. The prettiest street in Södermalm has got to be Fjällgatan, an old-fashioned cobblestone street which runs along the hilltop with well-maintained old wooden cottages.
While there are a couple of worthy sights to see in Södermalm such as the Katarina Church and the Stockholm City Museum, it’s really just fun to amble around and soak in the atmosphere. While ambling around Södermalm, don’t forget to check out Mariaberget, famous for its stone buildings, steep winding streets, and alleys. Mariaberget is also the location of the Monteliusvägen viewpoint which offers some of the most scenic vistas of Stockholm.
Mikael Blomqvist, the male protagonist from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy lived in a penthouse on Bellmansgatan just beside Monteliusvägen. You can also take a Millennium Tour in Södermalm which takes you past some of the principal locations from the books and movies.
7. Beer Pubs & Dinner
If you fancy a tipple, beer, and whiskey, in particular, you should pay a visit to one of Södermalm’s many pubs. Akkurat is one of the best ones and has an enormous selection of global beers, particularly from Belgium. They have a really good selection of single malts as well.
Craft beer connoisseurs should definitely check-out Omnipollos hatt, a pub run by the excellent Omnipollo brewery. Omnipollo is one of my favorite breweries and is also arguably Scandinavia’s finest microbrewery. Their imperial stouts and IPA’s are amazing and make for delicious libations. Both these places offer good grub but if you’re looking for something different you can check out Nostrano, a lively joint serving outstanding Italian food.
Where to Stay in Stockholm
Accommodation in and around central Stockholm provides convenient access to most of the main attractions. Check out my recommendations for the best hostels & hotels in Stockholm. I’ve listed the best accommodations in different neighborhoods for all budgets. Of course, just like in the rest of the Nordics hotel prices in Stockholm are pretty high.
Now, what do you think? How would you spend your 72 hours in Stockholm? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!