A year-round destination, Stockholm is a big, cosmopolitan city comprising numerous diverse districts. Among Stockholm’s must-sees is Gamla Stan, the city’s well-preserved medieval center with its royal palaces, old beautiful churches, picturesque canals, bridges and cobblestone streets lined with shops and cafes.
Vasa Museet is another tourist favorite. Built around a warship that spent 333 years in the mud of Stockholm Harbor, Vasa Museet is the highlight of any trip to Stockholm. At this museum visitors can admire the world’s only preserved 17th century ship, the Vasa.
No large city has more green spaces than Stockholm. And what’s more: the air and the water are clean and fresh and you’re never far away from nature. The lush green island of Djurgarden is home to some of Stockholm’s most popular tourist attractions including Skansen, Europe’s first open-air museum which gives visitors a chance to travel through Swedish history.
Skargarden is Stockholm’s Archipelago, a cluster of jewel-like islands with long, light-filled days that make summer the ideal time for a visit. The archipelago with its 30,000 islands plays a major role in Stockholm’s appeal. The sea breeze and soothing vistas are the perfect counterweight to the metropolitan feel of the city, while its sparkling blue water is what defines Stockholm and gives it its unique character.
Creative and trendy, art, architecture and design play an integrated part of Stockholm city life. At the Moderna Museet, you can dip your toes into one of Europe’s foremost art collections dating from the 20th century to the present day. Here you will enjoy works by Picasso, Matisse and Dali, among other exhibits of pop art, modern classics and contemporary art.
Stadshuset, Stockholm’s City Hall is one of the most beautiful in the world. Nestled at the water’s edge, Stadshuset is one of Stockholm’s most iconic buildings which stars in countless postcards and images of the city. Admire the interiors of The Blue Hall and then move on to The Golden Hall, which has walls with over 18 million mosaics. Finally, climb its famous tower for great views of the city.
A cosmopolitan and forward looking city, Stockholm remains one of the European centers of art and design. Fotografiska is a feast for the eyes and a must on any Stockholm itinerary. Home to one of the most celebrated photographic displays in the world; this museum is a must-see for every photography enthusiast.
When the Swedish Vikings hung up their war helmets, they set about building a stunning capital city. And they succeeded. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Stockholm is built where lake meets sea, with eight centuries of history and culture to choose from. If that’s not enough to whet your travelers’ appetite, I don’t know what is.
1. Vasa Museet
It was in the year 1628 that the highly decorated Vasa warship sailed from Stockholm on her anticipated maiden voyage, but sank immediately due to major flaws in her construction. The sunken Vasa was discovered over 300 years later and is today the world’s only preserved ship dating from the 17th century.
Construction of the Vasa was commissioned by King Gustav Adolph. But the imagination of the king outran that of his engineers who kept warning him that the additions to the already vast ship would make it unfit for the sea. Upon setting sail, the ship sank into the Baltic Sea not far from the Stockholm harbor.
In 1961, the sunken Vasa was salvaged and in 1990 the Vasa Museet was opened to house the restored ship, as well as all the objects that were found on it. For over fifty years inside the Vasa museum, the ship has slowly, painstakingly been restored to a state approaching its original glory.
The Vasa is today regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of Sweden. A unique art treasure, more than 95% of the 69 meter long ship is original and decorated with more than 700 carved sculptures. At the Vasa museum, visitors can view the Vasa from 6 levels and three masts on the roof outside the museum demonstrate the height of the original Vasa masts.
The most visited museum in Scandinavia, Vasa Museet holds 10 different exhibitions around the ship that inform about life aboard the Vasa. The ship and its objects offer a unique insight into everyday life at sea and on land, as well as the shipbuilding techniques and nautical warfare in the early 1600s.
The Vasa collection is regarded as a closed find in which all parts are of equal importance to understanding the whole. The collection features over 40,000 objects that were found in and around the Vasa. These include decorative elements and equipment from the ship, along with the personal belongings of the crew, various types of weapons, coins and tools.
The Vasa ship is not the only attraction in the museum. There are exhibitions, historic artifacts, film screenings, a nice restaurant and shop in the museum. Vasa Museet is located on the beautiful island of Djurgarden, the former royal hunting grounds. It is best to go dressed in layers as the museum houses the ship and its collection in a humid environment.
Founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen is Europe’s oldest open-air museum. Situated on the island of Djurgarden within the Stockholm city limits, Skansen was founded with the aim of bringing traditional Swedish rural culture to life.
This was achieved through exhibits of farmsteads, furnished houses and cultivated gardens and plots, as well as wild and domesticated animals. When it was started, the focus of Skansen was on Sami culture and farming.
Today, the Skansen open-air museum enables visitors to stroll through five centuries of Swedish history, spanning the north of the country to the south, with a true sense of the past present in the historical dwellings and buildings, and peopled by characters in period dress.
At Skansen, visitors get to explore a miniature historical Sweden, which is reflected both in the buildings and their surroundings, from the Sami camp in the north, to the Skane farmstead in the south.
Skansen houses 150 historic buildings from across Scandinavia which depict traditional Swedish life before the industrial age. The different houses and buildings were collected from all around Sweden and reassembled here. The buildings now form distinct town districts that include manor houses, a pottery, a bakery and the beautiful timber church.
The venues are designed to illustrate the various social conditions in which the Swedish people lived, between the 16th century and the first half of the 20th century. Although the majority of the farmsteads and houses date from the 18th to the 20th centuries, the oldest structures were constructed in the 14th century.
Not only will visitors be treated to an authentic taste of Sweden as it once was, the museum also hosts traditional celebrations to mark occasions such as Midsummer, Walpurgis Night and Christmas.
Visitors can enjoy a sumptuous meal in one of the Skansen restaurants that offer breathtaking views over Stockholm. At the Solliden Restaurant, visitors can sample the traditional Swedish Smorgasbord. You can also visit the Museum shop which sells traditional handicrafts and Swedish design products.
3. Gamla Stan
For most travelers, Gamla Stan is the first stop on their journey of discovering Stockholm. Gamla Stan is the Old town of Stockholm, and one of the best preserved and largest medieval city centers of Europe. The site on which modern day Stockholm was founded in 1252, Gamla Stan is the historic centre of Stockholm which houses numerous interesting old buildings.
Nestled right next to downtown Stockholm, Gamla Stan is an easily accessible part of the city. The entire Gamla Stan resembles a living, breathing pedestrian-friendly museum bustling with must-see attractions, sights, museums, bars, cafés, restaurants and boutique shops. Gamla Stan is beautiful by day and vibrant at night as its cafes remain open to offer warming beverages.
The narrow winding cobblestone streets with buildings in numerous shades of gold are what give Gamla Stan its unique character. Ancient frescoes and mysterious cellar vaults from the Middle Ages can be admired from behind the picturesque facades.
On a snowy winter day, strolling through the district will feel like walking inside a fairytale town. Meander through the bewildering labyrinth of tiny winding streets in Stockholm’s old town and be transported back to medieval times.
Visitors can wander around the narrow cobblestone car-free streets or relax in one of the many restaurants and cafés. There are also several beautiful squares for visitors to sit in, where you can admire the surrounding buildings.
Particularly popular with lovers of handicrafts, souvenirs and curios, if you’re looking for souvenirs from Stockholm then this is just the place to find something special. Plenty of gift items and mementos are available for sale in Gamla Stan.
While the never-ending summer nights are magical, a nighttime Christmas market in Gamla Stan, powdered in white, is not to be missed either. If visiting in winter, be sure to take in the marvelous Julmarknad or Christmas Market, which offers an experience akin to a fairy tale.
The district’s cobbled streets take on an even greater charm at Christmas and New Year. In fact, all four distinct seasons in Stockholm’s old town have their unique charms.
Situated in the very heart of Gamla Stan is the Royal Palace, which is the biggest attraction in this medieval Stockholm district. Built in the Baroque style, the palace was formed as a Roman castle with more than 600 rooms, which makes it one of the largest of its kind in the world. However, none of the rooms house the royals anymore as they moved to Drottningholm palace in 1981.
The Royal Palace houses the offices of the King and Queen, in addition to different departments that comprise the Royal Court. The palace is the setting for most of the Swedish monarchy’s official receptions. Its combination of royal workplace and culture-historical monument that is open the year round to the public is what makes Stockholm’s Royal Palace unique among European royal residences.
With its 600 rooms divided between 7 floors, the state apartment facing the city and the smaller living rooms facing the inner courtyard, there’s lots to admire in the Royal Palace. Visitors can take a peek at the fine furnishings, Gobelin tapestries in the State Apartments; and the crown jewels in the Treasury.
The Royal Apartments are the collective name for the magnificent state rooms used at the King and Queen’s receptions. The well-preserved interiors of these rooms offer historical insight from the 18th century to the present day.
The history of the Royal Palace goes back many centuries with extensive excavations in the surrounding area revealing traces of ancient timber structures dating from the end of the 10th century, as well as a fortress built during the mid-13th century.
The Castle of the Three Crowns became the principal residence of the monarchy in the 16th century, and the medieval fortress was transformed into a magnificent Renaissance Palace during the reign of the Vasa monarchs.
In addition to the Royal Apartments, visitors to the palace can explore interesting museums full of regal history. These include the Treasury with the Royal Regalia; the Tre Kronor Museum which portrays the medieval history of the palace; Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities; and the Royal Armory that houses royal armor and costumes.
The Royal Armory museum is one of the oldest in Sweden. It was founded in 1628 by King Gustav II Adolf following his campaign in Poland, with the aim of preserving the uniforms and other regalia he used during the campaign. Today, the collection includes items from royal weddings, coronations, magnificent weapons and the personal armory of the Swedish royalty and military leaders.
History buffs can admire highlights such as the horse from the 1623 Battle of Lutzen and Gustav III’s bloodstained costume from the fateful masquerade at the 1792 Royal Opera. Be sure to also see the magnificent royal coaches found in the basement. If visiting the Royal Palace be sure to also catch the interesting Changing of the Royal Guard spectacle.
There are a number of beautiful churches found in Gamla Stan. High up on any old town sightseeing itinerary should be Storkyrkan or the “Great Church”, which is Stockholm’s famous national cathedral. Visitors to Storkyrkan can enjoy a peek at the wonderful architecture; listen to a concert or find a little peace in the middle of a busy day of exploration.
The cathedral is situated between the Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum, and is the mother church of the Church of Sweden, Diocese of Stockholm. The Lutheran church was built in 1306 on the site of a small chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Today it serves as the residence of the bishop of Stockholm, and is also the venue for Royal coronations, weddings and burials.
Storkyrkan’s magnificent Gothic interior dates from the 15th century, while the Baroque exterior was built to complement the surrounding buildings. The cathedral’s clock tower rises 66 meters tall, and is a prominent feature of the Stockholm city skyline.
The highlight of the magnificent cathedral interiors is the statue of St. George and the Dragon, which is 3.5 meters tall. Made of gold leaf, iron and wood, the sculpture with the dragon scales made from elk horn was designed to commemorate the defeat of the Danes by the Swedish army in 1471.
Also check out the Vadersolstalan or Sun Dog Painting which depicts an unusual occurrence when 6 mock suns were seen in 1535 in the sky above Stockholm. Also of interest is the silver altar that dates from 1650, the pulpit and two royal chairs, a 3.7 meter tall candlestick and two large paintings titled The Last Judgment and The Crucifixion.
Also within Gamla Stan is Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm. This is the central point from which Kopmangatan, the oldest street in Stockholm runs. Kopmangatan was mentioned as early as the 14th century. Marten Trotzigs Grand is the narrowest alley in Gamla Stan, whose narrowest point measures only 90 centimeters wide.
Stortorget is bordered by beautiful buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Check out the Schantzka Huset on the western side of the square with its ornate façade decorated with figures of Roman soldiers, dating back to 1650.
The Church of Saint Gertrude is another Gamla Stan attraction. Also known as the German Church, it boasts certain outstanding features such as a Pulpit made of marble and alabaster, the Royal Gallery used by the Royals, a stunning altarpiece made of wood, oil painting displays of the Baptism and the Last Supper, as well as some gilded statues.
If you have time for lunch in Gamla Stan, stop by Den Glydene Freden, which is believed to be the oldest restaurant in Sweden. Built in 1722, the restaurant serves traditional Swedish dishes, has an old-style atmosphere and is popular with artists and writers.
The Post Museum in Gamla Stan has an exhibition that displays the history of stamps and postcards and includes unique rarities to stamps that depict Sweden’s Royal Family. There are also old mail carriages and a train that you can climb aboard.
Also situated in Gamla Stan is Riddarholskyrkan, the second oldest building in Stockholm which dates back to 1270 when it was established as a Franciscan monastery. Its black lattice-work spire makes for a distinctive sight and its altarpiece is magnificent. It has been the burial place for Swedish royalty for centuries, and is today used for royal ceremonies.
Gamla Stan’s House of Nobility is also worth a visit. It was built between 1641 and 1672 and features some impressive paintings including a magnificent ceiling painting in the Great Hall.
At the Medeltidsmuseum in Gamla Stan, visitors can learn about the history of Stockholm from the mid-13th century. Most of the exhibits focus on the life of the ordinary people of the city, in addition to displays of the city’s rulers and battles. The exhibition enables you to walk through the medieval streets of Stockholm and meet the inhabitants of the time.
4. Drottningholm Slott
Drottningholm Palace is the most well-preserved 17th century royal castle in Sweden, and serves as a stunning example of European royal architecture from this period. The Palace is Their Majesties the King and Queen’s permanent residence, and the southern wing room’s are reserved for this purpose. The rest of the palace and grounds are open to the public the year round.
The name Drottningholm means “Queen’s Island” and originated during the late 16th century when King Johan III built the first palace on the site for his Queen, Katarina Jagellonika. Drottningholm remained the residence of the royal ladies and in 1744 was given as a wedding present to Princess Lovisa Ulrika of Prussia upon her marriage to Swedish heir apparent, Adolf Frederik.
The palace experienced its golden age of the arts during the time of Lovisa Ulrika, with some of the interiors, such as the Green Antechamber being redecorated in a French-inspired Rococo style.
Lovisa Ulrika library also stands out as a brilliant memento of the period, which also saw the creation of the Drottningholm Court Theatre which is still functional. Many of the leading scientists of the age also gathered at Drottningholm.
Influenced by French prototype, various royal personages have since left their mark on the palace interiors. The combination of the exotic Chinese Pavilion pleasure palace, the magnificent palace gardens and palace theatre make any visit to Drottningholm a very unique experience.
Visitors can admire the interior décor of the reception halls, the state bedchamber and the Chinese Salon. Be sure to check out the palace interiors which rank among the foremost in Sweden from the early Baroque period. These include the staircase, the Ehrenstrahl Drawing Room, the Hedvig Eleonora State Bedchamber and the Karl XI Gallery.
The palace has an exclusive French Baroque park, large parts of which have been well preserved. Of interest in the park are the bronze sculptures by Adrian de Vries, one of the most eminent sculptors of the Northern European Renaissance. The great romantic English Park that surrounds the Baroque Palace dates back to the 1700s and is also worth a peek.
5. Moderna Museet
Moderna Museet is home to one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary art in Europe. The museum holds major works by artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Warhol. Situated on the picturesque Skeppsholmen Island, the museum offers a world-class program of temporary exhibitions, a library, shop and restaurant with beautiful views of Djurgarden.
Moderna’s collection features paintings, sculptures, drawings, film, video, installations and prints by both Swedish and international artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. There is also photography that dates from the 1840s to the present day. The museum has a legendary pop art collection whose backbone is formed by numerous iconic works including Salvador Dali’s The Enigma of Wilhelm Tell.
While the western art tradition dominates Moderna’s collection, its presentation also highlights alternative stories that are increasing in significance. A stroll through the exhibition begins in the early 1900s and ends in the present day, while exploring certain artists and themes in great depth.
The first section features art from the first half of the 20th century with mixed media such as still-lifes and collages by Picasso, as well as early film and photography in the experimental style of the era. Paintings by Russian masters are juxtaposed with posters from the Russian Revolution period. The next section features art from the mid-20th century.
No ordinary museum, Fotografiska is an international meeting spot where everything revolves around the art of photography. Fotografiska is Stockholm’s museum of contemporary photography which hosts an eclectic mix of exhibitions the year round.
Situated in the heart of Stockholm, the Fotografiska museum consists of an exhibition space of 2,500 square meters that hosts 4 major exhibitions every year, as well as roughly 15-20 minor exhibitions.
In addition to visiting the exhibitions, visitors can listen to concerts, eat, drink or take a photography course, attend workshops and lectures, all of which are offered within a creative environment.
The museum exhibits world-renowned photographers, as well as those who are not yet established. Since its grand opening in 2010, the Fotografiska has shown an array of photography legends, including Annie Leibovitz.
The exhibitions held here are mysterious, glamorous and controversial, but all designed to ensure you leave with a slightly different perspective than you had going in.
The concept of a photographic museum in Sweden was first pitched in 1940 by court photographer Sundgren. However, while interest was expressed by photographers and museum directors, nothing happened until 70 years later when Fotografiska was founded by brothers Jan and Per Broman.
Situated in Stadsgardskajen, the museum is housed in a former industrial Art Nouveau style building that dates from 1906. The building is listed as one of cultural interest and has its original brick façade still intact, while the interior has been renovated to house the modern museum.
Inside the modern museum, there is a café and restaurant, a souvenir and book store and gallery with photographs for sale. The bistro at the top floor is regarded as one of the coolest restaurants in the city which offers a weekend brunch that is particularly popular with locals. The gallery also hosts cutting-edge club and live music throughout the year.
Visitors can also head over to the top floor, from where you can enjoy one of the most enviable views of the city. You can also visit the bar which is a perfect spot to enjoy a drink after a long day of sightseeing.
There’s something for everyone at Fotografiska and the possibilities are endless. In recent years, the museum has been acknowledged as one of the world’s premier photography venues.
Stockholm is built on the water. Wherever you look in the Swedish capital, there’s water. And since it’s so clean, you can fish in it or even swim in it, right in the middle of town. Delightfully situated on an archipelago of interconnected islands, the setting of the beautiful Scandinavian metropolis of Stockholm has earned it the nickname “the Venice of the North”.
One of the most pleasant ways to enjoy Stockholm is by boat. Experiencing Stockholm from the water will enable you to see the city from a different view point as you travel under some of its many bridges. Visitors can also head down to the Port, catch a ferry and travel between the islands of Skargarden, Stockholm’s archipelago.
Traveling by ferry from island to island is one of the most exciting ways to experience the Stockholm archipelago. During your boat ride, you get to enjoy spectacular views of the islands where many Stockholmers have summer houses.
While it would take a lifetime to explore the whole archipelago, Fjaderholmarna Island makes for a perfect first stop. Sunny rock ledges, lapping waves and unparalleled scenery await visitors to the Swedish landmark.
A summer playground for many Swedes, Skargarden offers a broad diversity of experiences. With over 30,000 islands and coasts very different from each other, the array of activities available is varied and wide. Here you will find the peace and calm of nature, as well as some wild, challenging adventure.
Lean back on a boat sailing around the islands, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the surrounding nature. You could also go on a seal safari to see animal and plant life. The more adventurous travelers can sail catamarans, go kayak paddling or kite surfing. Visitors can also hike or bike along the nature trail or have a picnic on one of the numerous cliffs.
Stockholm’s best known landmark is arguably the Stadshuset, which is Stockholm’s City Hall. Stadshuset casts an imposing shadow over Riddarfjarden, a body of water that flows past the Parliament, various government departments and ministries that form the political center of Stockholm and the administrative heart of Sweden.
Built between 1911 and 1923 using eight million red bricks, the beautiful historical building is in the National Romantic style, but offers a blend of architectural styles. Its design was inspired by the palaces of the Renaissance and built around two piazzas. Behind its stark yet powerful façade, the building holds an array of meeting rooms, banqueting halls and the offices of its Municipal Council.
Situated at the southeastern tip of Kungsholmen Island and hard to miss, City Hall is famous for its grand ceremonial halls and unique art pieces. Highlights of Stockholm’s City Hall include a guided tour of the various halls, salons and rooms of the magnificent building that actually looks more like a palace than town hall.
Stadshuset can only be visited as part of a guided tour. During the tour, the guide will inform you of the many aspects of Stockholm’s City Hall, including its interesting architecture, historical background, political role, and the many events held there, such as the Nobel Banquet.
Touring Stockholm’s City Hall is a great way to learn about the history of Sweden as you explore a functional building with an impressive tale to tell. From the outside, Stadshuset looks rather grand with its tower and crowns adorning the exterior, but is equally spectacular inside with its grand halls.
A tour of Stockholm’s City Hall takes visitors through the two most important halls: the Blue Hall and the Golden Hall. The Blue Hall is the venue for the Nobel Prize Banquet. Here, you can admire one of Northern Europe’s largest organs, which has more than 138 stops and 10,000 pipes. The Golden Hall features over 18million mosaic pieces made of real gold and glass and a magnificent banqueting hall.
One of the most impressive rooms in Stadshuset is the Council Chamber whose ceiling has a virtual opening built in the style of a traditional Viking longhouse. The room itself is decorated with old unique furniture textiles. Be sure to also visit the Oval Room which houses the Tureholm tapestries that date from the 17th century.
In the Gallery of the Prince you can take a peek at the Shores of Stockholm, an al fresco painting by Prince Eugen. Also of interest in this room are the attractive bay windows.
The Stadshuset is dominated by its tower. Rising 106 meters into the sky, the City Hall Tower offers breathtaking views of Stockholm. Topped by a resplendent three golden crowns symbol of Sweden, the red-brick Tower is a Stockholm landmark that can be viewed from a distance.
The walk up the narrow passages and staircases of the tower is exciting and well worth the effort, although there is an elevator that can take you up half the way. You can also visit the Tower Museum situated in the middle of the Tower.
Also visit the Stadshuset Shop, which offers a wide array of specially designed gift and souvenir items that relate to Stockholm and its City Hall. Many of the items are made from materials represented in the interior of the building. There are also plenty of cafés and restaurants around Stadshuset which are worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.
9. Rosendal Slott
A tranquil oasis in the heart of the Stockholm, Djurgarden draws locals and tourists alike, particularly during the summer months with their long lazy days and short nights. Scattered about Djurgarden are pleasant cafés, snack-bars, restaurants and hotels. Djurgarden makes for the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or a stroll, in addition to being home to several of Stockholm’s top museums and attractions.
Rosendal Slott is a palace located at the Djurgarden hunting park. Built in the 1820s for King Karl XIV Johan, the palace was originally a summertime pleasure retreat. In fact, Rosendal has never been a royal residence in the modern sense of the word, but was merely intended as an escape from the formalities of court life at the Royal Palace.
Produced in the form of a prefabricated house, Rosendal Slott offers a unique documentation of European Empire style in Sweden, also referred to as the Karl Johan style. This style is characterized by mahogany furniture, wall-to-wall carpeting and magnificent arrangements of curtains in strong colors.
The Blue Salon, Green Salon, Red Salon and Yellow Salon bear witness to the importance of color for the interiors of that particular period.
The palace is open to visitors during the summer months. Notable sections of the palace to visit include the Library which contains the book collection of Karl XIV Johan in mint condition, as well as his Bedchamber.
10. Nordiska Museet
Nordiska Museet is the largest museum of cultural history in Sweden. A place where memories and innovation exist side by side, Nordiska Museet is home to more than 1.5 million exhibits which include everyday objects and exclusive items, all with their own unique history. The collections reflect life in Sweden from the 16th century to the present day, in a presentation that is very well done.
The museum image collections comprise about 7 million photographs, with the library holding over 250,000 books and journals, along with maps, brochures and product catalogues. The museum archives contain documents from companies, societies and private individuals, in addition to diaries, letters, memoirs and other anecdotes and accounts.
The museum specializes in the following main fields: customs and practices, home and living, clothing and fashion and the cultivation of natural resources. Visitors can take a closer look at the collections in the peaceful and beautiful surroundings of the museum library. Founded by Artur Hazelius, the same man who founded the Skansen Open Air Museum, Nordiska Museet is a must see for history buffs.