Stockholm is regarded as one of the most attractive cities on the planet and it’s not difficult to see why. This “Venice of the North” is spread out over 14 islands that are bound together with a filigree of deep blue waterways, pedestrian-friendly bridges, and emerald-green parkland. Stockholm’s 750-year history has yielded an eclectic architectural landscape and plenty of impressive cultural treasures. One day in Stockholm allows you enough time to get a decent overview of the city. Here’s our lowdown on how to make the most of your 24 hours in Stockholm and the best things to do.
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How to Get Around Stockholm
At first glance, Stockholm might seem a bit daunting due to the many islands and bridges, but visitors soon get their bearings and realize how convenient it really is to get around by walking. The best way to see the various Stockholm boroughs and discover many hidden gems in these areas is on foot.
In order to make the most of your limited time, you should make use of the well-functioning public transportation system consisting of 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.
Being the most cashless nation on the planet, coins or notes barely make up 1% of the value of all payments in a year in Sweden. 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 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. However, if you have to use a taxi, always check the yellow price label on the rear door window which indicates the price for 10 km journey. Otherwise, you can check out a licensed company like TaxiKurir to book a taxi.
Is the Stockholm Pass Worth It For One Day?
Buying the Stockholm Pass does not lead to any immediate savings. Yes, the Stockholm pass grants free entrance to most of the city’s attractions. However, the Stockholm Pass does not include free travel which is quite vexing. The 24-hour travel card costs 30 SEK while the 24-hour Stockholm Pass costs 669 SEK. Some of the best museums in Stockholm are free irrespective of whether you possess a Stockholm Pass or not. However, for the attractions that we’ve included in this one-day itinerary of Stockholm, the Stockholm Pass isn’t worth it.
Your One Day in Stockholm Itinerary
For this one-day itinerary to Stockholm, we have included the most popular sights in the various boroughs. 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. We understand that 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. You can choose between numbers 11 and 12 depending on your personal taste. Below we have compiled a list of the best things to see (or eat) in Stockholm over the course of 1 day:
- Gamla Stan (Old Town)
- Riddarholm Church
- House of Nobility
- Stockholm Cathedral
- The Royal Palace
- The Royal Armory
- Traditional Swedish Lunch
- Stockholm City Hall
- Vasa Museum
- Skansen Open-Air Museum
- Stockholm Metro Art
Start your one day in Stockholm with a wonderful breakfast at Vete-Katten, a wonderful old-fashioned cafe and pastry shop. This cozy cafe has tremendous cakes and pastries (go for the mouth-watering cinnamon buns and pralines) as well as filling sandwiches to boot. A generous amount of charcuterie, cheese, buns, teas, and coffee are also on offer.
2. Gamla Stan (Old Town)
Kick off your one day Stockholm sightseeing tour in the lovely Gamla Stan. Gamla Stan is the birthplace of Stockholm and it dates back to the 13th century. Gamla Stan consists of a lattice of twirling cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways that are bursting with an atmospheric mixture of picturesque old houses. Today, it is one of the largest and best conserved medieval centers in Europe that seems like a well-preserved open-air museum. I could spend days wandering aimlessly in Gamla Stan being transfixed by the architectural elements, stairs and the hairline medieval alleys here. 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.
While there are numerous charming streets in Gamla Stan, there are three of note which you should look into. First up is Prästgatan, a quiet street with picturesque old pastel-colored houses and devoid of any commercial displays. This street still has managed to retain its authentic medieval look and has been used in many movie productions. Look out for the Viking Age runestone etched in a building wall at the corner of Kåkbrinken and Prästgatan that is older than the city itself and depicts a serpent’s body in a decorative winding loop. The next one is Österlånggatan, one of the two main streets of Gamla Stan. Along with Prästgatan, it is my favorite street in Gamla Stan and shouldn’t be missed. Österlånggatan is home to antique shops, bookstores, and fabulous art and fabric boutiques and is very popular with Stockholm natives.
Keep your eyes peeled for Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, which at a width of 90 cm (35 in) at its slimmest, is the narrowest street in Stockholm. There’s also Västerlånggatan which is Gamla Stan’s most popular shopping street. Although it features some wonderful architecture, the street is usually flowing of people and is largely geared toward tourists. I would only recommend checking it out if you need to pick up some souvenirs.
3. Riddarholm Church
The magnificent 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 undergone several reconstructions over the centuries and attained its characteristic lattice-work, cast-iron tower after a big blaze in 1835. The cast-iron church steeple is undoubtedly its defining feature and great to admire.
Riddarholm Church is best known for functioning as the burial ground for Swedish monarchs for over six centuries. The interior of the church features a number of ornate pewter and gold sarcophagi, In addition to the 200 graves as well as an array of stone crypts. I wouldn’t recommend going inside as it will just eat up your limited time.
Stockholm was thought to be have been founded in the mid-13th century by Birger Jarl, a prominent Swedish statesman of that era. The name Stockholm stems from the words stock meaning “log” and holm meaning “islet.” Nobody knows for sure how Stockholm got its name with one account pointing to the pile of logs transported into the waters near Old Town while another account points to the Vikings using a log bound with gold while looking to determine the location of their new settlement.
4. House of Nobility
The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) is one of the most handsome buildings in Stockholm. The building is an exquisite example of 17th-century Dutch Baroque architecture and coloring. Sculptures of the Roman deities Mars and Minerva lie above the north entrance of the House of Nobility. The roof of the building is adorned with various allegorical statues. Riddarhuset served as the headquarters of the Swedish nobility to convene and host events and currently functions as the meeting place for the triennial Assembly of Nobles. The interior of the building is just as pretty as its exterior and its walls are adorned with approximately 2,320 copper coats-of-arms of the nobles.
Stortorget is the vibrant main square that forms the heart of Gamla Stan. It is Stockholm’s oldest square and has been a popular meeting point since the Middle Ages. The square’s western side is the most picturesque and features tall colorful patrician houses with curling gables. These buildings, which feature in countless postcards of the city offer a good picture of what the square must have looked like during imperial Sweden’s heyday in the 17th century. Stortorget is understandably pretty crowded with tourists who can be seen relaxing sipping coffee in one of the many cafes lining the square.
Stortorget is intricately linked with the Stockholm Bloodbath of November 1520, one of the most infamous events in Stockholm’s history. The Danish King Christian II vanquished the Swedish Regent, Sten Sture the Younger, and the Swedes made Christian as their king. Christian hosted a party to celebrate and invited Stockholm’s gentry promising amnesty if they cooperated with him. On the third and last day of the party, Christian broke his vow and rounded them up for heresy. The following day more than 80 Swedish noblemen and burghers were guillotined in the square on Christian’s orders.
The most famous building surrounding the square is that of the former stock exchange. This stylish 17th-century building was home to the stock exchange for more than 200 years till 1990. Since 2001, the Nobel Museum has called the building home. The museum celebrates the achievements of past Nobel Prize winners through a series of artifacts and smart multimedia installations.
6. Stockholm Cathedral
The Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan) is one of the must-see attractions in Stockholm and the one church you should definitely see from the inside. It is the oldest church in the Old Town having been constructed in 1279 and is of significant religious importance in Sweden since Swedish reformer Olaus Petri spread his Lutheran message around the kingdom from here. The cathedral has seen numerous religious services, royal coronations as well as weddings, and funerals over the years.
The interior is magnificent with glistening royal pews, intricate carving, and lierne vaulting. The cathedral’s primarily Gothic interior contrasts nicely with the Baroque exterior. While the church has a worthy collection of medieval and contemporary art, the star attraction is the riveting metal statue of St. George and the Dragon. Wood, iron and gold leaf were used in carving the sculpture 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). Entrance fee is 60 SEK.
7. The Royal Palace
With over 600 rooms the colossal Royal Palace (Kungliga slottet) is one of the largest palaces in Europe. The Royal Palace is the official residence of the King of Sweden, even though he and the Royal Family call the equally impressive Drottningholm Palace their primary residence. The Royal Palace was constructed between 1697 and 1754 on the spot where the Tre Kronor Castle was reduced to rubble after a fire in 1697. The Royal Palace is the symbol of Sweden’s era as a great power in the 17th and early 18th centuries and its sublime state rooms, apartments and artifacts are well matched to the Roman Baroque-style exterior.
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. 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. While it’s worthy to see the interiors if you have more time in Stockholm, I wouldn’t recommend going inside if you only have one day in Stockholm since it will chew up too much of your time. Just try to catch the ever-popular changing of the guard that takes place in the Outer Courtyard daily at 12:15 (Sundays and holidays an hour later). It is a relatively low-key affair with a bit of marching and flag hoisting.
8. The Royal Armory
Take a quick peek inside the Royal Armory (Livrustkammaren), which is located in the eastern wing of the Royal Palace. 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 contains a cornucopia of Swedish artifacts pertaining to the military history of Sweden, items of interest (including ceremonial costumes and coronation robes) from Sweden’s royalty, lavish carriages and even a sled from the royal stables. The museum gives a good insight into the history of costume as well as items related to politics and important historical events of Sweden. The dim lighting in the cellar where the carriages and sled are kept lends the place an atmospheric medieval vibe. The Royal Armory is among the most impressive armories I’ve seen and I was totally smitten with 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 Tradition 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. I strongly recommend the delectable meatballs that come with mash, gravy and lingonberry jam.
10. Stockholm City Hall
Situated on the island of Kungsholmen, the City Hall (Stadshuset) is probably the most defining landmark of Stockholm’s cityscape. The City Hall is regarded as a masterpiece of Swedish National Romanticism, with tinctures of Italian and Nordic Gothic architecture. I think it looks like a cross between a medieval fortress and a Renaissance palace. A whopping 8 million dark red bricks went into its construction, which took a monumental 12 years to complete. Its 106-meter tower is noted for its distinguishing three golden crowns at the top, which is the Swedish coat of arms.
The detailed interior of the City Hall stands in contrast to the somewhat lackluster exterior and the highlights here are the Viking themed Council Chamber, the Blue Hall, and the Golden Hall. The Blue Hall is best known as the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet that takes place here every year in December. The glittering Golden Hall is truly a sight to behold and its Byzantine style wall mosaics contain 19 million fragments of gold leaf. The mosaics are allegories of events and people from Swedish history.
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.
If you’re visiting sometime between May-September, you can ascend the tower of the City Hall at a cost of 60 SEK for breathtaking vistas of the city. 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.
11. Vasa Museum
No visit to Stockholm would be complete without seeing the Vasa Museum, undoubtedly one of the top things to see in Stockholm. It is home to the impeccably restored 17th-century warship, the Vasa, which sank only 100 m off the southernmost point of Djurgården on her maiden voyage in 1628. The ship’s fatal design flaws (it was too heavy and its hull was too slender to endure even the slightest swell) led to the sinking of this man-of-war. 30 people went down with the frigate in what was supposed to be the pride of the Navy. 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 brackish water of the Baltic Sea insulated the ship’s oak timber from attacks by shipworms.
What really makes the ship shine is the rich decoration, it features a total of 500 sculptures and 200 ornaments. They include grotesque replicas of human faces, lion masks, naked cherubs, sea monsters, and other carvings. There are also many sculptures of Biblical figures and figures from Greek mythology. Adjacent exhibition halls and presentations cover all the retrieved items, which give an invaluable insight into life on board the Vasa – everything from primitive medical equipment, preserved clothes, kitchenware, and even a backgammon board. 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). Entrance costs 150 SEK.
12. Skansen Open-Air Museum
If, however, you’re in no mood to be cooped indoors, you should 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 educate a growing 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. Skansen has still managed to retain its authenticity and is devoid of any garish displays.
Often dubbed “Old Sweden in a Nutshell”, Skansen features more than 150 historical farms and dwellings from all over Sweden were transported to Skansen, showcasing the life of both farmhands and the nobility, as well as the Sami people. The exhibits include windmills, manor houses, blacksmith shops—even a whole town quarter that was meticulously reconstructed. You can explore the traditional workshops and see glass-blowers, bakers, silversmiths, and other craftsmen demonstrate their skills. The buildings are many and varied, including a Sami camp and various windmills and churches. The adjoining zoo holds a full collection of large Nordic mammals like reindeer, elks, and brown bears, each contained within extensively wooden pens. Prices and opening hours vary seasonally so check the website before you go.
Stockholm is one of the most densely packed museum-cities in the world and is home to approximately 100 museums whose remarkable collections span every conceivable subject and interest.
One of my absolute favorite things to do in Stockholm is taking a saunter down Strandvägen. Strandvägen is a magnificent tree-lined esplanade overlooking the waterfront that boasts a horde of palatial Italian and French Renaissance style buildings with turrets and round towers. Two of the standouts are Bünsowska House (numbers 29-33) and Von Rosenska Palace (number 55). Strandvägen is understandably one of Stockholm’s most desirable addresses home to several prominent hotels, embassies and designer boutiques. It’s hard to imagine that in the mid-19th century, Strandvägen was an unappealing, murky street with dilapidated houses in a downward spiral.
14. Stockholm Metro Art
If you’re going to use public transport during your one day in Stockholm, you might as well use this opportunity to survey the art installations of the Stockholm Metro. Often dubbed the “World’s Longest Art Gallery”, the subway is absolutely gorgeous and features artworks ranging from pseudo underground grottoes to giant bronze flowers, mosaics, and murals. There are more than 100 stations on the Stockholm Metro and about 90 of these have intricate art displays. Obviously, you won’t have time to see them all, so you should just try and see three of the best in the city center. These are T-Centralen (all lines), Rådhuset (Blue line T10 & T11), and Kungsträdgården (Blue line T10 & T11).
T-Centralen is Stockholm’s oldest metro station and is characterized by blue vines and floral motifs which were meant to create a sense of tranquility for commuters. Rådhuset is one of the most impressive ones and resembles an underground pink grotto, leaving the bedrock exposed. It is replete with numerous archaeological findings. Kungsträdgården is the deepest one of all the stations and definitely the most visually interesting one. It resembles an underground garden and segments of its exposed bedrock are decorated with colorful mosaics. You can also see plenty of old statues, intricately carved columns, and water fountains. The station has even managed to develop its own functioning ecosystem and is home to a rare species of moss, a spider and a fungus found nowhere else!
Cap off your 1 day in Stockholm by spending time in Södermalm (locally known as Söder), Stockholm’s buzzing hipster haven. Originally a working-class district, it has reinvented itself after the industry left and artists and creative types moved in. Södermalm’s scenic landscape is characterized by craggy cliffs, turrets, and towers. While strolling around Södermalm, don’t forget to check out Mariaberget, known for its stone buildings and steep winding streets and alleys. Mariaberget is also the location of the Monteliusvägen viewpoint which offers some of the most scenic vistas of Stockholm. Fjällgatan, an old-fashioned cobblestone street which runs along the hilltop with well-maintained old wooden cottages is worth checking out as well.
Mikael Blomqvist, the male protagonist from Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium Trilogy lived in a swanky penthouse at Bellmansgatan 1 just beside Monteliusvägen.
Södermalm is known for its funky shopping options, trendy dining, and lively nightlife. There are plenty of antique shops, vintage stores & galleries here. The hip streets of Åsögatan, Bondegatan, and Skånegatan lie south of Folkungagatan and are thus popularly called “So-Fo”. Hornsgatan and Götgatan are full of small shops selling bric-a-brac and avant-garde Swedish design. Speaking of avant-garde, the outstanding Fotografiska Museum is also located in Södermalm. If you’re a photography buff. Fotografiska showcases exhibitions of both local and international photographers both in print and on film through a changing series of well-arranged exhibitions. One of the best things about Fotografiska is the generous opening hours, so make the time to visit if you enjoy photography.
There’s a vast array of dining options in Södermalm. I would recommend the trendy Nytorget Urban Deli which serves High-quality food amidst a quirky atmosphere. Otherwise, Faros serves some awesome Greek dishes.
Extending Your Stay
Normally, I would recommend that you spend at least 2-3 days in Stockholm. There are many beautiful sights which we had to exclude from this one-day itinerary such as the leafy Östermalm borough, the majestic Drottningholm Palace, and some more excellent Stockholm museums. You could even take a day trip to Uppsala or Sigtuna or visit the beautiful Gripsholm Castle 🙂. And while we’re on the subject of staying, check out our recommendations for the best hostels & hotels in Stockholm.
You May Also Like→ Got more time? Check out our in-depth itinerary to spending a marvelous 3 days in Stockholm!
→ Planning a trip to Denmark? Check out our guide to spending a perfect day in Copenhagen!
→ Going to Norway? Check out our guide to spending an idlyllic day in Oslo.
→ Big on the Nordics? Check out how to spend a blissful 24 hours in Helsinki!
Now, what do you think? How would you spend one day in Stockholm? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!