Thinking about making Stockholm your next city break?
If you like to know a mixture of good photography spots, good food spots, some great history spots and maybe a few off-the-beaten-path recommendations then read on!
Okay so full disclosure, my most recent trip to Stockholm was actually only 36 hours BUT I went to Stockholm for a week a couple of years back and that was when I fell in love with the city. So this itinerary is a combination of those two trips and how I think the best way is to get the most out of this beautiful city in 48 hours.
GETTING THERE - what you need to know
If you’re flying into Stockholm then you probably know there are two airports. I have used both Stockholm Arlanda and Stockholm Skavsta airports before. If you’re flying Ryanair then you will be flying into Skavsta, you will need to take a bus into Stockholm which takes approximately 90 minutes, I would recommend booking your tickets for the bus in advance just for ease so you can board the first bus that arrives - here is the bus company you’ll use. - the cost is approx £25. If you’re flying into Arlanda, it’s much closer and you have several options to get to the city, I took the Arlanda Express.
Sweden is expensive but the transport links are very good, so I would not recommend using a taxi unless it is 100% necessary.
7am - I will always get up for sunrise when I’m on a trip, obviously in places like Sweden that can be very early in the summer (3.30am) or late in the winter (8.45am). But if you like to explore and photograph a city before it gets busy this is the time to do it.
Gamla Stan is the old town and also the most touristy area so head here first. These are my favourite streets to explore and photograph:
Storkyrkobrinken - start from the bottom of the hill at the entrance to old town
Trångsund - walk towards Stortorget square and turn around to see the church framed by the street
Stortorget - the famous red and yellow houses in the main old town square
Tyska brinken - walk down the hill towards the water, the street frames the buildings on Sodermalm island opposite Gamla Stan
Prästgatan - the main shopping street is full of beautiful buidlings you can observe without the crowds.
This route will take you on a full circle of Gamla Stan to give you an quick overview of the island and old town, as well as some beautiful photo ops (separate post on these coming soon!)
8.30am - Breakfast time! Now most places will be open (unless it’s a Sunday) make sure to grab yourself a hearty breakfast and some fresh coffee. There are plenty of places around and although Gamla Stan is pricier, it’s also convenient and there’s so many local places to try. My favourites are: Chokladkoppen, Under Kastanjen, Kaffekoppen.
10am - I like to get a local perspective on a new place so I always look for a free walking tour in a new city. I used this Stockholm free walking tour - they do one for the old town and one for Stockholm city, so you could do either or both if you have time another day! It’s 1.5-2 hours long and gives you a great overview of the city’s history, culture and development usually from a local’s perspective. The tours are based on donations so you can give as much as you want.
12pm - time for FIKA! You remember Hygge? Well Fika is Sweden’s answer. It literally means “coffee & cake” but it’s more of a cultural experience of having coffee and pastry/cake with friends and getting that warm, fuzzy feeling of enjoying that moment of contentment. Especially great if you’re visiting in winter months. There are so many wonderful cafes I could recommend but my favourite in Gamla Stan was Chokladkoppen. If you’re in the city, I’d head for Cafe Saturnus or Snickarbacken 7.
1pm - Head over to the island of Djurgården. You can get here very easily by bus, tram or water taxi. I bought the 24hour Travelcard which is valid on all bus, tram, metro and ferry links in the city. It’s a brilliant way to get around in a short space of time. There are also 72hour and 7 day travel cards if you’re in the city for longer. You can find this information here. You cannot buy tickets on board the transport, you must have a valid ticket before boarding.
If you’re in Stockholm in the warmer months, Djurgården is full of lush, beautiful gardens and parks which are perfect to cycle around, explore or take a picnic and walk around the waterfront path.
If you’d like some more culture, or if you’re in the winter months and need some respite from the cold, Djurgården is the place to be for museums. I definitely recommend the Vasa Museum - home of the beautifully preserved 17th-century Vasa warship which sank on her maiden voyage in 1628 and was subsequently raised from the seabed and preserved here. Entry is approximately 12 euro and all the info is here.
If Swedish pop culture is more your thing then Djurgården is the place to be for the ABBA Museum!
There are several other museums you could explore on the island and also the Swedish History Museum just over the bridge if you’re looking for a broader Swedish education.
LATE AFTERNOON/ SUNSET
4pm - If you want to do a water tour of Stockholm’s islands and the cityscapes from the water, I have done one and while it was informative, I’m not sure it was worth the extortionate price I paid on my first visit.
If you are looking to save time (and money) but would like a similar experience, this is where your Travelcard comes in handy! You can use it for unlimited rides on the water taxis! You can take one from Allmänna Grand by the ABBA museum back to Stockholm city waterfront. But my favourite route is the Riddarholmen (by Gamla Stan) - Södermalm - Kungsholm route. This takes you between Gamla Stan, Sodermalm, the Town Hall and Kungsholmen in a sort of triangle shape across the largest body of water in the centre of Stockholm.
I went back and forth on the whole route three times at sunset and it was breathtaking - just look at the photos! I would recommend doing this at any time of day but the evening is lovely, especially as sunset was a 4pm when i visited recently.
4.30pm - If the sun hasn’t set yet when you’re visiting, or you enjoy some city lights views, get off the ferry at Södermalm, cross the main waterfront road and go up the stone steps almost directly opposite. From here you can access the Monteliusvägen and Mariaberget scenic viewpoints. From here you can look over the whole of Stockholm city and Gamla Stan.
5pm - While most attractions are now closed but if you want to squeeze in something else before dinner, why not explore the metro stations? Yes, really.
Stockholm metro stations each have a unique piece of art work in them, and with 100 stations that means the longest art exhibition in the world. So, make use of your Travelcard again and check some out! Three of my favourites and their locations are below.
There are so many places to eat and of course it may depend where you’re staying. I’ve eaten at various places on both trips and found the best places to be ones who have a seasonal menu (for the meat and veg). So those will be in a separate post.
After dinner I really recommend Stampen, just inside Gamla Stan on Stora Gråmunkegränd. This is a live music venue with jazz and blues acts almost every night of the week. It’s small, quirky and popular with locals and tourists, but you will have to pay an entry fee after 7 or 8pm (5 euros approx).
You’ve covered a lot of the main Old Town city area but I think it’s fun to go and explore other neighbourhoods too.
This is the large island opposite the Kungsholmen and Norrmalm which has the viewpoints I mentioned yesterday. This area could be considered the younger, upcoming area with lots of hipster cafes and shops. It’s also home of one of the friendliest breweries I’ve visited - Omnipollos. They do amazing pizza, plenty of samples before you decide on a beer and know so much about the brews their serving. There’s also a cool homeware store called Herr Judit Brandstationen
If you have long enough in Stockholm, the views from the Observatory Park in Vasatan are amazing and if the weather is warm, take a picnic. Vasastan is also where you can find Snickarbacken 7 for a coffee break, or Bar Central if you’re looking for something stronger! In Vasastan you will also find the beautifuk Stockholm Public Library which is free to enter and see this amazing room.
Langholmen and Hornstull
Okay this might be two places, but Langholmen is a very small island which I stayed on during my first visit. It has a beautiful man-made beach area which didn’t get too busy and was the perfect spot to watch the main island and waterways from. The whole island also has a lot of nature walks if you’re looking to take it slow. I suggest getting here by going to Hornstull (on Södermalm) and crossing the Långholmsbron Bridge, this is a small waterway for personal boats and it’s like stepping into Amsterdam. I highly recommend walking along here.
I hope this post has helped you plan at least a small part of your trip or helped you pack in some ideas for a whirlwind trip like I did! Please drop me a comment below if you’d found it helpful, I’d love to know and chat to you about Stockholm!