If you’re looking for a European city break with tons of culture, lashings of history and more than a hefty helping of cool design, then Stockholm is the place for you.
Naturally, there’s loads of things to do in Stockholm. Take a few days in the city to marvel at the medieval buildings in Gamla Stan, get to grips with Stockholm’s history at its many, many museums, and submerse yourself in the foodie scene at any number of sleek, pioneering restaurants. It’s an awesome city that’s managed to perfectly mix its centuries-old heritage with contemporary urban living.
But away from all the usual sightseeing, there’s so much more to discover, which is why we’ve decided to create this guide to unique things to do in Stockholm. When it comes to cool, off the beaten track, feel-like-a-local stuff to do, we’ve got the very best that this kooky capital has to offer.
Top Things to Do in Stockholm
You might think you can just rock up in the city and spontaneously decide what you want to see. Well yes, in theory, this is always a possibility.
However, if you see the might of this city, visiting Stockholm can be a bit overwhelming. To make it a bit easier for you, I’ve listed some top things to see and do in this fabulous city!
Visit the Royal Palace and Palace Houses
Learn about Sweden’s royal family and their history on a Royal Palace tour
Explore the Blue Hall and Golden Hall of City Hall
Explore the stately rooms and cermonial halls of City Hall, famous for housing the Nobel Prize event each year.
Light up the Color by Numbers Telefonplan Tower
One of the most unique things to do in Stockholm is to change the colours of the Telefonplan tower
Scenic boat cruise
Enjoy a relaxing boat ride around the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren with your other half.
Learn about pre-industrial Stockholm
Skansen is the first open air museum in Stockholm and it’s free to explore the stunning architecture and fascinating history of a city before the industrial era.
No trip to Sweden would be complete without spending time exploring Gamala Stan, the city’s famous old town. Dating back to 1252, the area is awash with charming cobbled streets and wonky architectural wonders from the middle ages. In fact, it’s claimed that this is one of the best-preserved medieval city centres in Europe – and it’s not hard to see why.
Centred around the two main streets of Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan, the area is easily walkable. Start from Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm, take a stroll along Köpmangatan, the city’s oldest street, and see if you can find the Mårten Trotzigs alley – you might need to breathe in though. It’s only 90 centimetres wide!
- Entrance: free
- Hours: NA
- Address: Västerlånggatan, Stockholm
Gamla Stan is a small and charming island nestled between Norrmalm and Sodermalm. It is Stockholm’s Old Town and is one of the best-preserved medieval centres in Europe. It is also where you can see the beautiful Stockholm cathedral.
- Be inspired by the exhibits and displays at the Nobel Prize Museum.
- Delve deep into history at the Museum Tre Kronor.
- Visit the Royal Palace and watch the changing of the guard.
Yes, Sweden might be famous for cool designs and Vikings, but it’s also renowned for being the home of the iconic pop group ABBA. Fans of the band will, of course, want to pay homage and say thank you for the music (sorry) at the ABBA exhibit at the Swedish Music Hall of Fame.
Even those who aren’t totally into the disco-dancing Eurovision Winners will love this place with its array of camp costumes, fun, interactive displays, and performances. It’s part of Sweden’s pop music heritage, after all.
Entrance: free for under 20, SEK 140.00 for 21+
Address: Klarabergsviadukten, 111 64 Stockholm, Sweden
3. Discover Sodermalm
Just a quick skip over the water from downtown Stockholm is Sodermalm. This artsy corner of the city is actually one of Stockholm’s numerous islands and is totally worth your time if you’re into hip hangouts and quirky coffee shops. There are a couple of Stockholm’s best hostels in this area as well.
Take the Sjövägen, a passenger ferry that departs hourly from Nybrokajen, and then spend the day on the island strolling around the relaxed neighbourhood, dipping in and out of trendy shops. Make sure to check out its glut of renovated industrial buildings, like Fotografiska, a cool contemporary photography gallery. In the summer, Tantolunden park is perfect for picnics and chilling on beaches along the water’s edge.
Address: Sodermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
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4. Gaze at the amazing ruins of Vasa Museum
Inside the Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgårde are the remains of an amazing Swedish warship. Vasa set sail on her maiden voyage in 1628 but, despite (or because of) being amazingly well armed with 64 guns, was unable to support her incredible weight and only made less than one nautical mile before a gust of wind tipped her over.
The ship sat in the Swedish bay for an amazing 333 years before it was raised in 1961. Today the incredibly intact relic sits for visitors to see the might of ancient warships (not all of them sunk from being fat, okay?) and learn about this unique piece of history.
The Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in the Swedish capital and is an important part of Swedish history.
Entrance: SEK 150
Hours: 10:00AM – 17:00PM
Address: Galärvarvsvägen 14, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
What better way to get to grips with what a city is all about than getting stuck into their food scene? Food is a massive deal in Stockholm, and I’m not talking about just the smörgåsbord. Take yourself around some of Stockholm’s top foodie spots and enjoy all the delicious dishes on offer.
If the number of food choices just seems too much to comprehend, why not start your foodie feasting by trying to track down some of the city’s classic snacks. I suggest searching out some cinnamon buns, called kanebullar, toast skagen (toast topped with prawns) and some Swedish meatballs, obviously.
Entrance: free, tour prices vary
Hours: 9:30AM – 7:00PM
Address: Östermalmstorg, 114 39 Stockholm, Sweden
6. Sip coffee in one of the oldest cafes in the city
Another part of Sweden’s heritage is coffee. Drinking a lot of strong coffee is essential… If you want to be Swedish, that is. There’s even a word for what basically amounts to a chilled coffee break with friends or colleagues: fika. This comes from 19th-century Swedish backslang for kaffi (coffee).
There’s no better way to experience the Swedes attending their various fika than by going to the oldest surviving cafe in Stockholm. Called Vete-katten, this 1920s place looks the part, both inside and out. Now owned by a famous pastry chef (Johan Sandelin), it’s got some knock-out baked snacks too.
Elevate this activity to MUST status in cold weather. This is a necessary thing to do in Stockholm in winter.
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7. Hit up a hipster flea market
Swedish food, Swedish design, Swedish stuff, in general, is cool. Let’s face it, they’ve got the whole hipster thing down to a T. To see how the local fashionistas are doing things, and maybe to feel like you’re part of it all, take yourself down to the flea market of Hornstull Marknad.
Here, you’ll be able to pick up a little bit of everything, from vintage clothing to retro glass lamps. And when you need some welcome respite from all the browsing and buying, one of the cool food trucks that rock up here will be able to satisfy your hunger.
Hours: 11:00AM – 17:00PM
Address: 6, Hornstulls strand 4, 117 39 Stockholm, Sweden
The world knows that Stockholm is a pretty cool place for design. Ever heard of Ikea? Well, that’s not even the half of it. Those of you keen on contemporary aesthetics who want to find out more about the Swedish capital’s art scene should make a beeline for Fotografiska.
This cool gallery is a great spot to see works from Stockholm’s contemporary modern and art world. Not only are there interesting exhibits from the likes of Annie Leibovitz and Rober Mapplethorpe, but it’s a pretty sweet spot to settle in for some people-watching. One of the most interesting things about the space is that you can take part in a photography course there yourself, and really get to grips with snapping pro shots of your travels.
Entrance: SEK 120
Hours: 10:00AM – 11:00PM
Address: Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45 Stockholm, Sweden
9. Light up the Color by Numbers exhibit at Telefonplan tower
Those of you who are looking for unusual things to do in Stockholm at night might really like this. It’s not every day that you have the power to literally change the color of a building – but my friends, in Stockholm, this dream is possible.
The Light up the Color by Numbers exhibition is an art installation on the side of a huge tower. Head to Stockholm’s Telefonplan Tower, and you’ll be endowed with powers to change the colors of the exhibit. All you need is a mobile phone, which is what is used to take control of the lights, and then you can light the night to your preferred color palette.
Entrance: cost of your phone plan
Address: Telefonvägen 28, 126 26 Hägersten, Sweden
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People who want to party will get on well in Stockholm. The city has got an awesome selection of bars and clubs where you can dance the night away – and Swedes love to party (and drink). Depending on what you’re into, opt for a quiet drink in a local bar, a packed venue with live music, or the city’s biggest club – Sturecompagniet.
If you’re a solo traveler in Stockholm and want to meet some new buddies, or just want to experience the city’s hottest nightspots, you should jump on a bar crawl. This is a good trick to save yourself the stress of wandering around trying to find a cool bar – and worrying about overpriced club entry.
11. Visit the UNESCO world heritage site of Skogskyrkogården
Those of you out there who love nature, art and something a little bit somber, will enjoy the Skogskyrkogarden, a woodland cemetery just on the outside of the city center.
It was chosen as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994 after it was recognised for its uniqueness and early 20th century architecture. The architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz designed this new form of resting place that has since been used by other architects around the world.
If you’re anything like me, then you love pizza. So what sounds better than mixing your first love (pizza) with your second romantic love (your partner) for the most romantic night in the city on a pizza cruise? We kid you not, this is an actual romantic thing to do in Stockholm, and we’re all for it!
Drifting along the quays of the city makes for a pretty special and unique dinner setting – and all for around the same price as a meal out in a restaurant on dry land. It’s a no-brainer for us.
Depart from the Strömkajen ferry terminal and take a romantic cruise past the many glittering sights of Stockholm. The city looks even more beautiful from the water when it’s lit up at night. This sounds like a pretty dreamy date night to us, and a memorable one at that.
Entrance: depends on tour
Hours: 11:00AM or 2:00PM
Address: Strömkajen, Stockholm, Sweden
13. Go for a picnic in some beautiful gardens
For something a little more land-based, but no less romantic, you should head to Rosendals Trädgård. The ever-so-stunning little oasis just outside the city is all lush lawns, blooming roses, and leafy trees, and I think this makes the perfect place for couples. Well, it might not be the best thing to do in winter time – maybe wait until the snow thaws…
Head to the gardens in the early afternoon with a picnic, a blanket, and a bottle of something fizzy, and spend the next few hours unwinding among nature. There’s a cafe here too for those of you who can’t quite manage to whip up a picnic in your hotel or hostel room (I know that can be tricky)!
14. Gawp at the myriad of books at Stockholm Public Library
If you like books, then you’re going to love the sight of a lot of books at once. That’s where the Stockholm Public Library comes in as one of the city’s best free things to do. Once you’re in the library, it’s just a case of marveling at how many books – and how many words – are packed into that space.
And what a space it is. Designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, this striking modernist structure dates back to 1928 and makes for the sort of place that isn’t going to just be a treat for book fans, but for architecture buffs, design-lovers, and Instagram fiends the world over (you know who you are).
Hours: 10:00AM – 20:00PM
Address: Sveavägen 73, 113 80 Stockholm, Sweden
15. Make the most of all of the free museums
If you’re travelling on a tight budget but you’d really like to see some of Stockholm’s museums, don’t you worry. The city is home to nineteen museums that charge no entry fees whatsoever. That’s right: they’re absolutely free!
To start with, The National Museum of Sweden is the ideal space to learn more about the country through art and design, whilst modern art fans will love Moderna Musee, with pieces from the likes of Picasso, Dali and Matisse.
History buffs might enjoy learning about ancient cultures at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities, but the Swedish History Museum and Cosmonova is the place to go to learn about the universe.
The oldest open air museum in Stockholm, Skansen, is also free to enter, and shows visitors what old Sweden looked like before the industrial era. It’s another important museum for learning about Swedish history.
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16. Learn about the Nobel Prize at the Nobel Museum
One of the most iconic events to take place in Stockholm is the Nobel Prize ceremony. Famously taking place in the iconic Blue Hall in City Hall every year in December, this iconic award ceremony recognizes the greatest achievements in science, literature, and humanity.
You can learn all about the event and its former winners at the Nobel Museum in Gamla Stan. There is also a tour that takes place at City Hall where you can see the place of the ceremony, but this can only be entered by tour group only.
Entrance: SEK 120
Hours: 11:00AM – 17:00PM
Address: Stortorget 2, 103 16 Stockholm, Sweden
A trip to Stockholm wouldn’t be complete without learning a little bit about the Vikings, right? These fearsome warriors are up there with pirates, knights, and ninjas as the coolest “groups” that children get obsessed with. Well, they can learn more about ‘em at Stockholm’s Viking Museum.
This place will be a breeze for parents with ten-year-olds who want to run around and look at guys with swords and axes (and learn about them in the process). If it’s raining and you really cannot bear the thought of walking around getting soggy, this museum will be a lifesaver. It even boasts the Ragnfrid’s Saga – a ride that makes all that learning fun!
Entrance: SEK 155
Hours: 11:00AM – 17:00PM
Address: Djurgårdsvägen 48, Djurgårdsstrand 15, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
18. Visit the Royal Palace and Palace Houses
So, the Royal Family’s living quarters aren’t open to the public but there’s still a large chunk of the Royal Palace you can visit and get to know Swedish history better! This incredible building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Stockholm, as it’s one of the biggest palaces in Europe. It consists of 600 rooms set over 11 floors, built in the Baroque style. It’s a Stockholm must-see for those interested in architecture.
There are also 3 museums attached. The first is the treasury – packed with regalia from Swedish Royalty. The other two are the Tre Kronor Museum and the Gustav III Museum of Antiquities. One of the best Stockholm vacation ideas if you visit Stockholm in the summer is to take a detour to the Royal Chapel!
19. Walk around the Royal National City Park in Djurgården
The Royal National City Park in Stockholm is the first national city park in the city, designed to conserve nature and Sweden’s biodiversity. It was established in 1995 by the Riksdag and is around 1 square kilometer of the protected nature park. If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a while, this is the place for you.
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Some Additional Tips for Visiting Stockholm
Here are some extra things to know before visiting Stockholm!
- Invest in good travel insurance! You never know what may happen on the road.
- Book a place with breakfast and a kitchen: If you do go the hostel route, try to find one that has free breakfast. Even if it’s just instant coffee, cereal, and bread, it’ll fill you up for a few hours. Likewise, if your hostel has a communal kitchen you can save a lot by cooking a few meals yourself.
- Do some research beforehand to find out whether Stockholm is safe to visit or not.
- Bring a good water bottle with you and avoid buying single-use plastic ones!
- Find cheap flights. Every once in a while, a killer deal pops up.
- Get a City Pass: Even if you’re only going to be in the city for a few days, it’s worth it to pick up a city pass card for getting around Stockholm. You get discounted fares on transport and museums with these cards and you’ll also save time that you waste buying a bunch of single tickets.
Where to Stay in Stockholm
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Stockholm.
Best Hostel in Stockholm: City Backpackers Hostel
City Backpackers is our pick for the best hostel in Stockholm. Centrally located in Norrmalm, this hostel is close to the transit, popular tourist attractions, restaurants, shops and bars. They offer clean and safe accommodations and free wifi. There’s also bike rentals, sauna, and ice skates to borrow in winter.
Sometimes the best way to experience a destination is from a good dorm room with good people. Book one of these sweet hostels in Stockholm and get ready for the time of your life!
Best Airbnb in Stockholm: Cute little studio
Right in the middle of the Old Town, super bright, clean and completely to yourself. This studio is the perfect home for your first stay in Stockholm. Be central and close to all of the hot spots while having the option to just chill inside and have a relaxed day – there’s no feeling like the perfect Airbnb in Stockholm.
Best Hotel in Stockholm: NOFO Hotel BW Premier Collection
This is our pick for the best hotel in Stockholm. Not only is it located at the heart of the city’s coolest district, but it’s a short walk to the top attractions of Gamla Stan and Norrmalm. Comprised of 48 modern rooms, this hotel has free wifi, private parking, and a myriad of features.
FAQs on Things to Do in Stockholm
Here are some quick answers to common questions about what to do and see in Stockholm.
Concluding the Top Things to Do in Stockholm
Stockholm is a little bit more special than you might have thought. There are some pretty cool things to see and do in the city, that will have your days packed with activities.
It’s not all Swedish design and smörgåsbord; it’s history, culture, amazing architecture, family-friendly excursions, and getting out into nature.
From skating on frozen ponds and getting involved in a building-sized piece of interactive art, to visiting the oldest cafe in the city for a look at the little-known Swedish coffee culture of fika, our epic guide to the best things to do in Stockholm will ensure you have a memorable time in the swish Swedish capital.
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