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What to do in Stockholm, our must-sees and our itinerary to visit the city so you don’t miss a thing

stockholm centre historique

After exploring northern Sweden, we’re in Stockholm for 3 days. It’s the colorful, tree-lined capital of the northern countries, not to be missed.

Stockholm is a capital of great cultural wealth, with museums where you can learn while having fun (yes, it’s possible). The city has the particularity of facing the Baltic Sea, so don’t miss its magnificent archipelago.

Here’s our itinerary, our must-sees, our tips and our tried-and-tested program for visiting Stockholm in 3 days and not missing a thing!

Must-sees: 11 things to do in Stockholm

In Stockholm, there’s something for everyone, summer and winter alike. We recommend strolling through the colorful houses, enjoying the many parks, interactive museums and exploring the magnificent archipelago.

It’s one of our favorite European capitals. We were lucky enough to visit it several times, and when you love it, you don’t count. We’re always happy to come back.

Here are our 11 must-do activities (we couldn’t narrow it down to 10):

1. Gamla Stan: visit Stockholm’s old town

This is the neighborhood not to be missed. Gamla Stan in Swedish translates into “old town” in French. We explored this district on an organized 2-hour tour, to learn more about the city of Stockholm and Sweden.

Stortorget Square, with its colorful facades, is the city’s most Instagrammable square. This is where the changing of the guard takes place – more about that below. This is also where you’ll find most of Stockholm’s souvenir stores.

We recommend you take the opportunity to admire the magnificent Royal Opera House.

2. Djugarden Stockholm: exploring the museum island

It’s theisland of Stockholm museums. If there’s one country where we recommend exploring museums, it’s Sweden. The Swedes have succeeded in making their museums instructive and interactive for young and old alike – yes, we promise, it’s possible.

For example, instead of simply showing images of the sculptures, at the Vasa Museum they have been reproduced life-size inside the museum. And generally speaking, children can touch everything, so we didn’t have to tell our daughter every 5 minutes “noooo don’t touch that” .

On this island, we recommend the Vasa Museum, the museum of Swedish disco band ABBA and the Viking Museum. We advise you to book your tickets in advance to avoid long queues at the ticket office.

3. Cruise in the Stockholm archipelago

A must-do activity. The city of Stockholm extends over 14 islands. The Stockholm archipelago is home to some 25,000 islands!

You have several options for visiting the Stockholm archipelago by boat, depending on how much time you want to devote to this activity. You can opt for an organized 2.5-hour cruise or a short trip on the ferries, a kind of public bus.

4. Take to the skies: skyview and rooftop

In Stockholm, you have several options for admiring the city from above.

  • Or take in the views of Stockholm, including its beautiful city hall, from Södermalm Island (point on our map below).
  • Climb to the top ofStockholm’s City Hall, the tower reaches a height of 160 metres (from May to September, approx. €6) and offers a beautiful view of the historic center.
  • Or have a drink on a rooftop (addresses below)
  • Or enjoy a ride in a SkyView glass gondola, which offers a beautiful view of Stockholm and the surrounding area.

You won’t want to miss this impressive white dome and its gondolas, from which you can soar high for a 360-degree view of Stockholm.

Of course, we advise you to take advantage of the viewpoints at sunset, when the view is even more beautiful.

5. Skansen: a small concentrate of Sweden

We’ve already told you that the Swedes are big on interactive museums. This huge open-air venue is the proof.

The Skansen Museum is a small concentrate of Sweden, where you can see over a hundred traditional habitats. There’s even a park with animals from the Far North (reindeer, elk…). You’ll be amazed at how much time passes in this open-air museum.

6. Stockholm metro: a veritable art gallery

The Stockholm metro is a veritable art gallery, with 90 stations decorated by some 100 artists. Don’t hesitate to embark on a treasure hunt for the prettiest resorts! It’s a great idea for an activity when visiting Stockholm in winter or when it’s raining!

Our favorites:

  • T-centralen: this station is magnificent with its blue vine-leaf motifs.
  • Radhuket: this ochre resort will make you feel like you’re in a cave
  • Thorildsplan: this resort will transport you back to the video games of the 80s, where the stars were Pac Man and Super Mario.

7. Covered market: try local specialities

We’re not going to lie to you, we weren’t generally thrilled with Swedish gastronomy. There are two dishes we’ll remember: the meatballs (see address below) and the Fika break (translation = coffee and gourmet break with friends) accompanied by its Kanelbullar (a soft cinnamon roll), Sweden’s emblematic pastry!

We recommend a stop at theÖstermalm food market to try it all out.

➡️Si If you’d like to learn more about Swedish gastronomy, you can opt for a guided tour that includes a tasting of Swedish specialties.

8. Sunset in the Sodermalm district

This is one of our favorite Stockholm neighborhoods full of trees and flowers. We loved wandering around and getting a good view of the Swedish capital.

You have 2 options for enjoying the sunset. Either head for the Kinnarvksberget viewpoint , where you can sit on the rocks and watch the sun set on the opposite shore. You can admire Stockholm’ s magnificent red-brick Town Hall and its tower, which dominates the city. Or enjoy it from the roof terrace of the Museum of Photography.

9. Palais Royal and the changing of the guard

During our guided tour, we learned that Swedes are very attached to their royal family. Because it aims to be close to the people and multicultural (the King and Queen have French origins). Members of the royal family are free to marry whomever they wish.

Located in the Gamla Stan you can visit Stockholm’s royal palace and/or attend a small ceremony lasting about thirty minutes: the changing the guardat 12:15 pm when we were there (remember to check before you come, as changeovers don’t take place every day in winter). Come early, as it’s very busy. Note that in winter, the ceremony is shorter and a little less impressive. At the same time, we didn’t feel like standing still outside for too long at -15 degrees.

10. Tivoli amusement park

The island of Djugarden also boasts a large amusement park: Grona Lund Tivoli. You’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of attractions almost with your feet in the water.

11. Stockholm City Hall

Stockholm City Hall (Stadshuset in Swedish) is located south of the Kungsholmen district. You won’t want to miss its imposing red-brick façade and tall tower.

You can visit certain rooms on a guided tour in English or French (approx. 45 minutes – no individual tours). The Golden Hall, site of the annual Nobel Prize banquet, is the most interesting room.

The 160-metre-high tower offers a panoramic view of the Swedish capital (May to September approx. €6 – partial elevator access).

What to do in 3 days: our itinerary

Our programme for discovering Stockholm was as follows, and as you can imagine, we were not bored:

Day 1: Discovering the city center and historic town center

As soon as you arrive, remember to buy a transport card or a multi-stop bus and/or boat ticket that will take you directly to the sights in Stockholm.

We began by exploring the Norrmalm district, the city center, with its wide tree-lined avenues surrounded by multi-storey buildings with elaborate facades. This is the area for shopping. We were pleasantly surprised by the large number of second-hand stores. Inside, Arkivet‘s boutiques are well presented and arranged by color.

We then headed north to the residential district of Vasastan, to the Observatorielunden observatory for a superb 360° view of the city. For lunch, we had noted a great pizzeria that was closed. Instead, we found a very good bakery next door with great salads and sandwiches, which we enjoyed in a lovely playground. This makes it possible to have a 2-in-1 meal + playtime!

To digest and during our daughter’s nap – for those of you who have been following us for a while, of course – we took an organized tourof Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s historic center. This district is home to the Royal Palace and the Changing of the Guard, the famous Stortorget square with its colorful facades, and Stockholm’s smallest street.

At the end of the tour, we recommend a visit to the Nobel Museum. This quick tour will enable you to learn more about the history of the Nobel Prize and its various winners.

We ended our busy day at the Royal Library Park, with its fruit trees and children’s playground Humlegårdens parklek. This garden is a haven of peace and nature in the heart of the city. We also took time out to observe the magnificent Royal Opera House and enter the Östermalm Food Market. We walked almost 12 km.

If you prefer, you can also complete this itinerary on a guided bike tour with commentary.

D2 Discover two small havens of peace, on the islands of Djurgården and Södermalm

For our second day in the Swedish capital, we headed for the island of Djurgården: Stockholm’s museum island. We recommend you opt for the Go City Stockholm Pass, which pays for itself after your third museum visit.

We started with the Vasa shipwreck museum, not to be missed during your stay. Then we went to Stockholm’s open-air museum, Skansen. It’s a little concentrate of Sweden. If it’s raining or too cold, you can head for the Swedish disco group ABBA’ s museum or the Viking museum, located right next door, to delve into Swedish history.

Then for lunch, we headed to the Södermalm district to try the Swedish dumplings. This is one of our favorite Stockholm neighborhoods, full of trees and flowers.

To digest, we loved to stroll around and get a good view of the Swedish capital. Admire Stockholm ‘s magnificent red-brick City Hall. We were delighted to discover the places mentioned in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium saga.

In this district, you can also visit the magnificent Museum of Photography, and at the end of the day, you’ll have a beautiful view of the city from the terrace.

Another idea in this area, if the weather is warm, is to enjoy the sandy beach of Tanto (tantastrandbad), one of the closest beaches to downtown Stockholm.

To round off our busy day, we took the boat (included with your transport tickets) or your multi-stop bus and/or boat ticket. Then we opted for a takeaway burger for dinner.

D3 Set sail in the Stockholm archipelago and discover its subway stations

For this last day, we wanted to take a cruise. We spent around 2h30 exploring theStockholm archipelago. We glimpsed the city from the water, and then moved into its verdant archipelago.

Back on dry land, we had lunch by the water, then set off to explore the metro stations. The Stockholm metro is a veritable art gallery, with 90 stations decorated by some 100 artists.

Then to round off this (yet another) beautiful day, we had a drink, Kungsholmen. It’s a trendy residential area, and we met up with a friend (of my sister’s) who’s been living in Stockholm for several years to have a drink in a quirky bar on the water. We loved walking along the waterfront toStockholm’ s red-brickCity Hall and then into the historic center. A great moment of our stay.

Stockholm Go city pass

The Stockholm Go city pass is very simple to use: your ticket gives you free access to many of Stockholm’s museums, as well as to certain transport and activities, including cruises. Simply present your pass at the entrance to museums, buses and boats.

Note that since the beginning of 2023, most free museums have become paying museums, so the pass will help you save money during your stay. We were pleasantly surprised, as most of the museums we wanted to visit were included in the pass.

Where to eat? our list of restaurants

GOOD PLACE TO STA Y AHEAD: we advise you to opt for the buffet options available at lunchtime in most restaurants, or to eat at Max, the Swedish burger chain, which offers some twenty vegetarian options. We’re not big fans of fast food, but we still found the veggie burgers not too bad. The prices below do not include drinks.

  • Meatballs for the people is the place to go for local food without breaking the bank. The restaurant offers homemade meatballs (reindeer, venison, beef, vegetarian…) served with mashed potatoes. (approx. €20 per person) – Sødermalmdistrict
  • Kalf et Hansen : for a change from Swedish gastronomy, an organic and local brunch offering well-cooked salads and wraps. We enjoyed it! (approx. €12 per person) – Sødermalmdistrict
  • Aryam: an award-winning ice cream parlour that’s certainly the best in Stockholm. With only a dozen flavours available, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. The 3 of us tried strawberry, pistachio (with the real pistachio color) and roasted almond (a delight) – Sødermalmdistrict
  • Bap Burgers: decent burgers to eat on the go without breaking the bank! (approx. €14 per person) – Ostermalm district
  • Magari Pizza: we’d spotted this highly rated pizzeria on Google and the photos made us really want to go there, but it was closed during our stay, so don’t hesitate to write to us if you go! – Vasastan district

Stockholm cafés

Of course, there are plenty of cafés in Stockholm where you can take your famous Fika break.

  • Svedjan Bageri: a café with pastries, kanelbullars (cinnamon rolls) and bread, all excellent. The interior is really cosy, perfect for a Fika break. (Sødermalmdistrict)
  • Bergstrands Bageri: a great bakery, with a variety of sandwiches and salads – and tables to eat or have a coffee on the spot. Vasastan district

Where to get a drink on a rooftop?

  • Malarpaviljongen: the place to go for a drink, where we met up with a friend of my sister’s who has been living in Stockholm for several years. The setting is beautifully planted with trees and flowers, and some areas are directly on the water. We’d just recommend a drink, as the prices of the dishes are a little high. (40cl draught beer €8)
  • Tak and Urban Déli, two rooftop drinking and eating spots, also recommended by a local, in the heart of Stockholm, with beautiful views over the capital.

Where to sleep in Stockholm?

To get the most out of your stay, we recommend the Norrmalm and Östermalm districts. For smaller budgets, the Södermalm district may be a good alternative.

We left our camper van for a few nights on the outskirts of Stockholm to sleep in the city center.

Our best addresses

– Favorite ♥: Hotel Birger Jarl, Noormalm district (the best neighborhood to sleep in, in our opinion): the hotel’s location is perfect for visiting central Stockholm on foot. In a beautiful, completely renovated building, our accommodation was spacious with a mini fridge and carefully decorated, excellent value for money where you’ll feel right at home. We would definitely go back.

Cheap € : City Backpackers Hostel, a nicely decorated youth hostel, certainly the best value for money in Stockholm, €75 for a double room in the trendy Sodermalm district (one of our favorites). I stayed there on my first visit to Stockholm (Floriane).

Getting around Stockholm

We advise you to use public transport, as Stockholm is a large city and points of interest are not always close by.

  • Unlimited metro card for 24h, 48h or 72h, this is an interesting option if you use public transport more than 2 times a day. Because the cost of a trip is €3.5, valid for 90 minutes. For 3 days, we paid €57 for 2 72h passes.
  • You can opt for the multi-stop buses and/or boats that will take you directly to the sights in Stockholm. You can get on and off the bus/boat as you please.
  • The Go City Pass Stockholm includes museums as well as free multi-stop buses and/or boats. This is the most comprehensive offer.

How to get to Stockholm

By plane

The city is surrounded by 3 airports: Arlanda to the north of Stockholm, the largest, Skavta (which handles low-cost flights) to the south-west, and the small Bromma airport, the closest to the capital (7km away).

By car

You have two options for getting to southern Sweden, either by crossing the bridge from Copenhagen (in Denmark) or by taking a boat from the port of Travemünde , north of Germany, to Trelleborg or Malmo (approx. 8h crossing).

By train

For travelers who have the time or are looking for an alternative to planes and cars, here’s some information on how to get to Stockholm by train. Of course, if you choose this option, we advise you to stop off at the various towns you’ll be passing through.

From Paris Gare de Lyon, you can reach Basel (in Switzerland) by direct TGV (approx. 3h journey time). Then Basel to Hamburg (northern Germany), by direct train, allow 6h30 for the journey.

Then, you can connect Hamburg Copenhagen by train about 3 times a day, including 1 night train (about a 14h journey, which is a bit long). Then Copenhagen – Stockholm, around 6 trains a day (approx. 5h journey time).

Our good addresses on our map

We’ve listed all the places and addresses mentioned above on a map to help you find your way around.

A few Swedish peculiarities

  • Sweden is a member of theEuropean Union, but has not adopted the euro as its currency. Prices are quoted in Swedish Kronor.
  • Don ‘t withdraw any cash, as all payments will be made by credit card. Even public toilets are equipped with card payment terminals.
  • The cost of living is around 30% higher than in France. If you’re on a tight budget, we’d advise you to limit your outings to restaurants.
  • It’s a country where we felt totally safe during our 5-week tour – what a pleasure!
  • We were surprised at the start of our trip, as stores and museums close between 4 and 5 p.m.
  • Last but not least, you’ll quickly realize that Swedish culture is very different from our own. More organized, more respectful, the love of beauty is omnipresent, children are considered as beings in their own right and second-hand stores are everywhere in Stockholm.

The Swedes have adopted an art of living focused on well-being and happiness in all its simplicity. There are many nature parks around Stockholm. This clearly made us want to move to Sweden.

If you’d like to give the gift of a book to introduce people to Swedish culture, we recommend the Lagom book by author Anne-Thoumieux.

Sweden offers a multitude of scenic routes and things to do. To help you out, we’ve put together an article with around 20 must-see and must-do places in Sweden, some of which are completely unusual. Our map will help you find your way around.

We wish you an excellent trip! Don’t hesitate to leave us a quick note or 5 stars below, to tell us if you’re planning this trip, to ask any questions you may have, here or on Instagram, we’ll get back to you with great pleasure.

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Picture of Floriane
My name is Floriane, and I've been an adventurer and travel enthusiast since I was very young. More than anything, I love sharing our travel stories and tips with you. We love short getaways as well as long trips. This blog was born after our backpacking trip around the world. We also went on a family tour of Europe.
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