Let’s be honest – not everybody has the time to explore a place for weeks. Sometimes we just need to make the most of the time we have. In this part of our “One Day” series, we’re looking how to spend one day in Stockholm, Finland. Stockholm is exceedingly beautiful, rich in history, very fashionable, a tech hub, and the perfect place to grab a fika.
Having resided in Finland for 9 years, I visited Stockholm on multiple occasions and fell in love the city right from my first visit. While one day in Stockholm may not be enough to explore everything the city has to offer, you will still have plenty of time to explore and get a good feel for the city. For your convenience, this post includes a free map for a self-guided tour of Stockholm. And now, off you go 🙂
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Table of Contents
One Day in Stockholm – WHY & HOW
There are a couple of reasons for why you might have just 24 hours in Stockholm. Perhaps you are on a cruise, in the city for business or you managed to snag a super cheap flight deal to visit Stockholm for a day. No matter the reason, we’re here to make sure you enjoy your one day in Stockholm as much as possible!
Notes About the Stockholm Walking Tour
Ideally, we would recommend for you to spend 2-3 days in Stockholm in order to see everything. But if you simply want to enjoy the beautiful architecture, the historic monuments, and churches, as well as some of Stockholm’s museums, one day should suffice.
Most tourist attractions in Stockholm are within walking distance, which is why we have decided to include a self-guided walking tour in this post. You can find the map at the end of the post. The tour will take you past the city’s major attractions, the charming Old Town, the Royal Palace, great museums, shopping streets, restaurants, and cafes.
If you feel jaded along the way or the weather takes a turn for the worse, feel free to take a break. We haven’t included attractions like the Drottningholm Palace or the Ericsson Globe in the walking tour as they are a bit out of the way and you would need to use public transport to go there.
We have tried to create a walking tour of Stockholm with appropriate stops for you to relax, and to have coffee and lunch.
YOUR ONE DAY ITINERARY TO Stockholm
The total length of the tour is 9 km which is ideal for a long day with stops for museum visits and refreshments. You may also choose to use public transport between some of the stops. 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 can plan your trip with public transport here.
You will find a map of the Stockholm walking tour at the bottom of this post together with practical information and recommendations on how to extend your stay. During your Stockholm walking tour you will see:
– Central Station
– City Hall
– Riddarholmen Church
– House of Nobility
– Gamla Stan (Old Town)
– German Church
– Stockholm Cathedral
– The Royal Palace & The Royal Armory
– Vasa Museum
– Drottninggatan & Hamngatan
Stockholm Walking Tour
Your walking tour of Stockholm starts and concludes at Stockholm Central station. We recommend that you start early in the morning so as to get the most out of the day. The train station has been around since 1871 making it nearly 150 years old. It is one of the busiest stations in the Nordic region with around 200,000 visitors a day. There are plenty of cafes and stores inside.
The City Hall is situated on the island of Kungsholmen, only a short walk away from the Central Station. The City Hall is one of the most recognizable sights in Stockholm with its tower reaching a height of 106 meters. The tower is noted for its 3 golden crowns at the top, which is the Swedish coat of arms. There is a possibility to visit the Tower Museum and to go to the top of the tower for some breathtaking views of Stockholm at a cost of 50 SEK from May-September. However, the City Hall is only open to the public through guided tours. The City Hall is also renowned for its opulent ceremonial halls and grandiose works of art. It also plays host to the great Nobel banquet held every year in December.
The Riddarholmen Church is situated on the small islet of Riddarholmen. It is the burial ground for Swedish monarchs housing over 200 graves. There are a number of pewter and gold coffins as well as an array of stone crypts. It is also the only remaining medieval abbey in Stockholm with parts of it dating back to the 13th century. It was built as a Franciscan abbey for the Greyfriar monks. The Riddarholmen Church is open to the public from May-September. The cast iron church steeple is very beautiful and interesting to look at.
House of Nobility
The House of Nobility is one of my favorite buildings in Stockholm. It is a magnificent work of 17th-century Baroque architecture. It was constructed between 1641 and 1672 as a base for the Swedish nobility to congregate and host events, the building currently houses an organization for Swedish nobles and provides the meeting place for the Assembly of Nobles every three years. The House of Nobility is open to the public on weekdays only between 11 am and noon for a fee of 60 SEK. The interior of the building is not as impressive as the exterior with the exception of the Grand Hall which is stunning! It’s best just to take a picture of it from the outside. For more information please see riddarhuset.se.
Stortorget is the colorful and exuberant main square in Old Town Gamla Stan. It’s the oldest square in Stockholm and a popular meeting point for tourists and locals. A less known and rather sinister fact is that the square was the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath of 1520 when Christian II of Denmark beheaded 80 Swedish noblemen and displayed a pyramid of their heads in the square.
The architecture is stunning, especially the colorful facades of some houses. Another impressive building in the square is Börshuset, the former stock exchange building. It was opened in 1778 and has a neoclassical design. Today the ground floor is home to the Nobel Museum.
There are plenty of sites on the square and in the surrounding streets. It does get quite busy here, so be patient if a tour group comes through every now and then. There are many nice cafes and restaurants here which makes it’s a great place for people watching. Stortorget is the ideal place for a fika (coffee accompanied by some pastries like the delicious cinnamon buns)! Go to Chokladkoppen or Kaffekoppen here for a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and a delectable cinnamon bun.
Gamla Stan (Old Town)
The Old Town is arguably the highlight of Stockholm for many visitors and I hold the same view. I can’t utter enough superlatives about how much I love this place.
Dating back to the 13th century, the Gamla Stan is the birthplace of Stockholm and is the most central island of Stockholm. Today, it is one of the largest and best conserved medieval centers in Europe that looks like an open-air museum. There are some beautiful churches and museums in Gamla Stan, including Sweden’s national cathedral Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum.
Gamla Stan is full of narrow winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings painted in various shades of gold. It’s easy to get lost in the myriad streets and alleys of Gamla Stan and it’s always best to wander in the more quiet ones. My favorite ones are Österlånggatan and Prästgatan. Be sure to check out Mårten Trotzigs Grand as well which is the narrowest street in Stockholm at 90 cm (35 in) in width.
There are a number of restaurants and shops in this tourist heart of Stockholm. Some are good but some are specifically geared for the tourists.
The German Church is the most visible landmark of the legacy of Germans in Stockholm. The German Church was originally built in the 14th century as a guild house for the German merchants of the Hanseatic League. Its current appearance originates from the 17th century. The church’s spire, built in 1878, is 96 meters tall and is the highest point in Gamla Stan. In accordance with Lutheran tradition, one does not have to pay to enter as it is a functioning church. The interior is very ornate and gilded, with richly colored stained glass windows depicting scenes from daily life or religious figures and an ebony-alabaster pulpit. I was glad to have gone inside.
Built in 1279, the Stockholm Cathedral is the oldest church in Stockholm. It is the site of religious services and concerts, as well as royal coronations, weddings, and funerals. The church has a unique and beautiful collection of medieval and contemporary art, including the metal statue of St. George and the Dragon which is an amazing work of art. The interior is quite tasteful with exposed brickwork and some beautiful but not extensive carving. It was interesting to observe the interior Gothic style which strikes a contrast with the Baroque exterior. The entrance fee is 40 SEK.
The Royal Palace & The Royal Armory
The Royal Palace is one of the largest palaces in Europe with over 600 rooms and is the official residence of the Swedish Royal Family. It doesn’t look so much like a palace from the outside but the building is still quite remarkable and the interior is quite good. However, if you’ve visited other major palaces in Europe like Versailles or Schönbrunn, it will seem a little inferior. The Palace was mostly built during the eighteenth century in the Italian Baroque style, on the spot where the Tre Kronor castle burned down in 1697.
The palace museums are amazing and very informative! They explain the history of Sweden, the Royal family and the palace through a variety of exhibits.
If your timing is right, be sure not to miss the daily changing of the guard at noon (Sundays and holidays an hour later). The price of admission is 160 SEK. Due to time constraints though, we recommend only a quick stroll through the Palace. For more information please visit the official website.
The Royal Armory is situated on the southeast side of the Royal Palace. Established in 1628, it is Sweden’s oldest museum. The armory is surprisingly free of charge and well worth a visit. The resplendent ornate royal carriages used by the Swedish Royal Family throughout the ages are the highlight of the armory. An array of armor, jewels, swords, uniforms, ball gowns, robes and other trappings from the long and glorious history of Sweden are also on display. The subdued lighting adds to the intrigue of the traditions, culture, and history of Sweden. I really enjoyed this place!
Lunch at Tradition
Head to this great restaurant for a sample of Swedish food. The restaurant as the name implies offers traditional Swedish fare – herring, smoked salmon, meatballs, lingonberries, cloudberries etc. meaning you won’t be disappointed.
You will now make you your way to the island of Djurgården via Strandvägen. Strandvägen is hands down my favorite street in Stockholm and makes for a perfect stroll between Gamla Stan and Djurgården. Strandvägen is a boulevard that was completed for the Stockholm World’s Fair 1897 in Östermalm district. It is known as one of the most prestigious addresses in town.
Strandvägen is broad 1.2 km long waterfront esplanade where one walks along cafés and luxury boats. The other side of the tree-lined boulevard boasts magnificent architecture, with one palatial building after another. The line of sight of the singular height edifies takes the vision to the horizon, an amazing vista. There are several high-end fashion stores and a number of swanky restaurants here.
If I had to choose between Stockholm’s myriad museums, the Vasa Museum would be my top pick. I absolutely love this museum and have been there three times!
The Vasa is the only preserved 17th-century ship in the world and it is an amazing example of 17th-century shipbuilding. To see this magnificent vessel inspires awe and to hear its fate is almost a comic-tragedy. It sailed for 20 minutes, proclaiming the power of the Swedish king and nation to all. It then sank after a gentle gust of wind.
The ornate carvings are beautiful. As well as the ship itself, there are lots of displays about life on board ship, and even some of the skeletons of those whose lives were lost in this tragedy.
There is sufficient information located conveniently around the ship to keep you further stimulated and also educate you and to its history, canons, decks. The museum also gives us a glimpse of what life was like 300 years ago, as shipbuilders and sailors. The price of admission is 130 SEK and it is well worth the price. Find more information on the museum’s website.
Drottninggatan & Hamngatan
After having seen the major attractions on the walking tour, you will make your way back towards Central Station via Hamngatan & Drottninggatan, two of Stockholm’s premier shopping streets. Hamngatan is the location of NK (Nordiska Kompaniet), which is Stockholm’s most chic department store.
Drottninggatan is nearly a 2km long pedestrian street and there are many shops and boutiques along this street, although most of them belong to major retail chains. Drottninggatan is home to many tourist shops as well as some excellent pubs and restaurants. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from to have a great dinner that you’ve earned after all that walking.
From Drottninggatan, you make your way back to Stockholm Central Station, understandably tired but very content with the sights you’ve seen and the great photos you’ve snapped 😃
Your Stockholm Walking Tour Map
Stay A Little Longer
Ideally, we would recommend that you spend 2-3 days in Stockholm. There are many beautiful sights which we had to exclude from our one-day walking tour, such as the Drottningholm Palace and the Ericsson Globe. In addition, you should reserve a day for exploring some of Stockholm’s trendy neighborhoods, such as Södermalm. Or just spend a day in Stockholm’s amazing museums (did you know there was an ABBA museum?!).
Where to Stay in Stockholm
We recommend that you book your hotel room well in advance as reasonably-priced hotel rooms do tend to sell out quickly. During the low-season you should expect to pay around 100€ for a double room and during the high-season 150-200€ is not unheard of.
These are some properties we recommend based on their location, price, and ratings. We have made sure to only include properties which are within walking distance of all major sights.
If you want to save some money, there are some cheaper hotels available. However, please note that while you will have a private room, you will need to share a bathroom with other guests.
Alternatively, check out our complete guide to the best hotels and hostels in Stockholm for all budgets!
Now, what do you think? Is there anything we have missed or anything that you would do differently? Which is your favorite spot in Stockholm? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Let’s stay in touch!