So, you’re debating your weekend trip up to the Nordics and you decide to visit Stockholm, Sweden. What do you do? Where you do go?
Oldie but a Goodie: Gamla Stan
The Old Town (Gamla Stan) is the perfect place to start exploring. About 3,000 people live in the Old Town and it is packed with cafés, restaurants, tourist shops, studios, galleries and museums, including the Nobel Museum, the Post Museum, and The Royal Coin Cabinet in the National Museums of Economy.
Start in the hustle and bustle of the main streets such as Västerlånggatan and Stora Nygatan. Then begin to explore Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, the narrowest alley in Stockholm.
The best time to explore is around dusk so you can experience the golden light of the lanterns that line the squares and cobbled laneways. Whichever way you turn, you can’t go wrong.
This island has many attractions, restaurants, cafés, bars, and places to shop. It is also very popular with people who love handcrafted items, and souvenirs. The narrow winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings in so many different shades of gold, give Gamla Stan its unique character.
Stortorget is the main square in the old town. When you stand by the fountain, looking up at the colorful buildings, you´ll easily see why these houses are the most photographed buildings in Stockholm.
It’s also important to note, that all the big attractions in Gamla Stan lead off it, including the baroque style Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet) and The Royal Chapel (Storkyrkan) around the corner.
Gamla Stan has outstanding buildings, such as the Royal Palace, the German Church, and the Storkyrkan, where Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling got married on June 19, 2010.
The Royal Palace is the official residence of His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden, with over 600 rooms.
The Palace is open to the public and offers no less than five museums, which you can purchase your tickets to here. It was mainly built during the eighteenth century in the Italian Baroque style, on the spot where the “Tre Kronor” castle burned down in 1697. Visit the reception rooms with splendid interiors from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Rikssalen (the Hall of State) with Queen Kristina’s silver throne, and Ordenssalarna (Halls of the Orders of Chivalry). You can also see Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, the Tre Kronor Museum, and the Treasury.
At 12:15 pm every day (except at 1:15 pm on Sundays) in the royal courtyard, members of Sweden’s military conduct this impressive Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Neighborhoods of Stockholm
Östermalm is wealthy, Norrmalm is the business district, and if you love fashion and shopping, then visit Södermalm, which has a fashionable and bohemian reputation.
The area around Hornstull is one of the most up-and-coming areas in all of Stockholm. It’s home to some of the best eateries, clubs, and cafés you can find. Right next to the water, you’ll find Hornstull Marknad, a massive outdoor market selling new and vintage goods that range from old 8mm projectors to handmade bags and dresses. With copious amounts of food trucks, you’ll definitely be able to try Stockholm’s best eats from all around the city.
Just across the bridge from Gamla Stan, Slussen is one of Stockholm’s major transportation hubs. If you love pictures and photography, head to Fotografiska, Sweden’s world-renowned photography museum. There are at least three exhibitions going on at any given time. While there, take time to enjoy the café on the top floor.
Now let’s talk about Södermalm. Shopping in this neighborhood can get dangerous if you’re not careful. And I mean, dangerous for your wallet. You’re bound to find something you “need” with all the shops in this area. Just stroll down the streets and walk into every store you see and find the most modern Nordic styles around and jump into Swedish minimalist heaven.
Take a trip to the islands
The city is cosmopolitan, beautiful and surprisingly rich history. The Stockholm archipelago is a cluster of some 30,000 islands, skerries and rocks and begins just a few minutes away from the city of Stockholm. And every summer, it seems like half of Stockholm’s population disappears into the archipelago to escape from the bustle of city life.
There are many boats/ferries that do tours of these islands. The best and most affordable ferry company serving the Stockholm Archipelago is called Waxholmsbolaget; their English-language website is the best place to check for times, prices and other journey information. Or just as easily use the Google Maps app on your phone to route the trip (it’s usually quite accurate). This is the ferry company that locals and islanders tend to use.
If you plan on doing this, make sure to plan your trip ahead of time. It’s important to keep the ferry schedules in mind. It’s no fun to wait at the dock for the next trip (it can be hours between departures).
If you’re on a tight budget, pack a lunch and bring it with you. Prices on the islands tend to get expensive, because, they are small communities catered towards summer tourists.
And remember… Nervous about how cold it may be? As the Swedes argue: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”