Stockholm is a perfect destination for a city trip in summer. The days are long, people are relaxed and there are plenty of things to do. If you don’t have much time – like us on a recent business trip – read my overview of top activities and what to eat.
Stockholm consists of many islands in the Baltic sea that make up the archipelago. This means you can take ferries to get around, but there are also other modes of transport to explore the city. The historic center is quite compact and is easily walkable. If you are feeling brave, you could hire a bicycle, and alternatively take the metro (tunnelbanan). You can buy a three- or seven-day travel pass which gives you unlimited use of buses, metro, commuter trains and ferries. Check out https://sl.se/en/ for more information on public transport.
If you fly into Arlanda airport, you can take the Arlanda Express train to Central Station. This train is not included in the travel pass. At the moment they have a summer discount offer if traveling with multiple persons.
The old town is called Gamla Stan. We stayed in Södermalm, a hip neighborhood south of Gamla Stan, and also within walking distance of many attractions.
What to do in Stockholm on a city trip
Walk around Gamla Stan, the old town
This historic neighborhood boasts pretty colorful buildings, picturesque little cobblestone streets and beautiful churches. You could visit the Royal Palace, the Svenska Akademien (Swedish Academy) which houses the Nobel Prize museum and look at the modern city hall (Stadshuset), which is just across the water on another island.
Take a ferry ride to museum island Djurgården
From the Slussen ferry terminal boats depart to islands nearby. A boat departs for Djurgården every ten minutes or so during the day and evenings. On Djurgården you’ll find an amusent park (Gröna Lund, photo at the top of this post) and quite a few museums, including the ABBA Museum, the Vasa maritime museum, the Biological Museum and Skansen open air museum.
If you have time for only one, it would have to be the ABBA Museum. I love ABBA! I’ve been there on a previous trip, and I especially remember the stories about the dynamics of the band and their romances. I may have even shed a little tear. Admittedly, I still do when I hear One of Us.
What to eat
The Swedes have this thing called fika, which I take to be something like a moment to appreciate coffee and something sweet in good company. An excellent tradition, if you ask me.
Coffee bars are in abundance all over town and you will find cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) and cardamom rolls and muffins to go with your coffee. Definitely a must-try!
Since the city is surrounded by the sea, fish is very commonly found on restaurant menus. Especially gravad lax (cured salmon), herring and crayfish (in season locally in August).
Obviously. Look out for home-made ones by checking out the shapes of the balls on other guests’ plates. If they are perfectly round, they are likely not home-made and probably less tasty. The best ones are not all perfectly spherical!
We went to Långa Raden restaurant on Skeppsholmen with the three of us and tried the crayfish sandwich, herring and meatballs. It was all excellent. I read about this restaurant in SAS magazine on the flight to Stockholm. Thanks for the tip!
Licorice is my guilty pleasure! It is clear to me as a Dutch person that licorice tastes like heaven, though it seems to be an acquired taste for some/many other people. If you want to give it a go, I recommend Lakritsroten. It’s a shop with multiple locations in Stockholm and it sells hundreds of flavors. I went to the one on Hornsgatan and had to restrain myself not to buy an insane amount of lakrits.
Where to drink
Since we did not have that much time to explore Stockholm’s nightlife, I can only give a few recommendations.
Part of the Södra Teatern, Mosebacke terrace offers a nice view over the old town and you can sit there in a super laid-back atmosphere. Concerts are held at this venue too.
Strewn along the quays you will find bars on boats and terraces along the water. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view!
Also of interest: other European city trip destinations.