I LOVE Stockholm! I have to start with this bold line because I truly do. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and one of the top destinations for a short holiday. It spreads across 14 islands and each neighbourhood has its distinct style. Although Stockholm is an expensive city compares to most cities in Europe or in the world, there’s still a lot free things to do and to see, here’s my top list from my first ever trip to Stockholm!
Things to Do
1.Katarinahissen (Katarina Lift)
The lift originally was constructed in 1881 in order to create a shortcut between two neighbourhoods as one is much higher than the other. The current structure was after the rebuild in 1936 but it has been closed from 2010 over safety concerns. However, you can walk up there to enjoy an amazing view of Stockholm. Take metro to Slussen and as soon as you get out the station, it is right there and takes about 5 minutes to walk up there. It is a MUST visit and in fact we went back there for few times during different hours of the day!
2. Galma Stan / Old Town
We walked from Katarina Lift to the island next to it and it happened to be Galma Stan (didn’t know till afterwards lol). Uneven ground, narrow streets and alleys, you can feel the history in the air. It was filled with restaurants, cafés, ice cream places and souvenir shops but I wasn’t so keen to eat there as I felt it was quite touristy.
3. Stockholm Olympic Stadium
In a late morning, we visited Stockholm Olympic Stadium, where hosted 1912 Summer Olympic Games. It’s a classic stadium oozes history, simply stunning! You can read about it here.
4. Vasa Museum
The famous warship from 17th Century, which stayed underwater for more than 300 years and it is now presented inside a building. Do you know the feeling when you have an emotional connection to some historical works or places? I felt so amazed and started to tear up a little while standing in front of Vasa thinking about how many hours of works were spent on this beautiful ship originally and also to salvage and preserve it. 130SEK for adults, 110SEK for students and under 18s go free. It also has guided tours in English every half an hour from 9:30am till 4:30pm.
5. Stockholm Public Library
YES I am recommending you to visit a library, in fact this is one of the most notable architectures in the city! Make sure to enter the building to take a look (and some photos) of the inside! Stunning!
6.Skogskyrkogården (The Woodland Cemetery)
Another unusual place to visit, a cemetery… It sets in calm pine woodland, features a blend of architecture and nature. Give yourself some time to walk around the cemetery, think about stuffs in life or leave your mind blank just to enjoy the peaceful enviroment.
7.Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art and Architecture)
This museum has temporary art exhibitions as well as the collection which is free for charge. The collection is arranged along the timeline of history of modern art, not only feature works from Swedish artists such as Lennart Rodhe, Siri Derkert, Axel Fridell, but also consists work of some recognised Western artist like Pablo Picasso. Photography was a big part of the collection, covers works from the 1840s to now. You can download free audio guide app to help you to know more about the artworks.Apple App Store | Google Play
Traveling by metro in Stockholm is a pleasure. Easy, fast and travellers will find a variety of artworks display in over 90 of the city’s 100 stations, paintings, mosaics, installations, sculptures and other durable art. The stations below are definitely worth an extra trip:
Where to Eat
1. Fried Herring @ Nystekt Strömming
Herring is a popular fish in Nordic countries, served fresh, pickled, fried and many different ways. This small food stand is right outside of Slussen metro station and their fried herring is DELICIOUS!
2. Meatballs for the People
When you mention Sweden to others, most of people will think about meatballs. There you go, this is probably one of the best places in Stockholm to try Swedish Meat balls and you’ll realise the ones you have from Ikea are crap. Website
3. Nytorget 6
It sits on a street full of restaurants, serves Mediterranean cuisine and refined Swedish cuisine. It also serve meatballs from Meatballs for the People. If you are looking for a restaurant with cosy vibes, top quality food and services, this is a place to go! Website
If you are a seafood lover, try this place, especially their grill menu! The waiter/waitress will lead you to a counter with display of fresh fishes they have on the day and you can ask the chef for recommendations. We got there around 8pm on a work night and the place was packed, maybe worth book a table in advance if you plan to go on a weekend night. Website
Fika! If you never heard about it before, it means Swedish coffee break. Similar to English afternoon tea, it’s a time to slow down to relax, meet friends and enjoy life. It’s a coffee break, some have tea instead but usually with some pastries or cakes. I was recommended by a friend who has lived in Stockholm for number of years, says it has the best bakery and cakes in town. It sits in the centre but can be a little difficult to find for the first time as it’s a little hidden in the corner. The interior is a little old-school but gives a cosy vibe for a traditional fika time. Website
If you are looking for a budget/quick fika break, this is a good choice. I had a cinnamon bun from here on the first day when I was exploring the old town. I was kind impressed with it, the downside is that there isn’t any seating. There is another one at the waterfront, a lot bigger and has seating inside and outdoors. The best part – they do fika for only 49SEK (filter coffee tho). Website
If you are looking for a budget meal but with great taste, fast food is probably most people’s choice and this Swedish fast food chain is pretty decent. It’s better than McDonald’s and Burger King in my opinion. Try their cheesy fries! Website
Getting around in Stockholm is very easy with metro, commuter trains, trams, buses and local boat transport. Get a SL travel card and you can go on most of them free and the card itself is very cheap. I got the 7 day pass which costs only 310SEK with unlimited rides. It is very convenient but also a lot of time we chose to walk as it is very beautiful and pleasing along the water and around islands.
There’s many ways to travel from Arlanda airport to city centre. Arlanda Express is the fastest but also a little pricy, costs minimum 280SEK for a return ticket. The cheap way to do it and also included in a SL Travel Card is taking Bus 583 outside of the terminal to Märsta Station and take the commuter train to the city centre, which takes about 1 hour.
You can purchase the travel card at all the metro stations and also at the airport and remember to keep the card for your next visit. It is re-useable for up to six years. Check out farer and tickets details here.
Hope you enjoyed this article and have a wonderful trip to Stockholm!