The Best Things To Do While Visiting Stockholm
When we first arrived in Stockholm we had no idea what to expect. All I really knew about Sweden was that it is the Ikea headquarters of the world, but not much else. Upon our visit to this destination, all I can say is that Stockholm is absolutely a city worth visiting. With cobble stone streets in old city, beautiful architecture, amazing food, and the actual city being comprised of fourteen islands with 50 bridges. It is no wonder Stockholm is referred to as the nordic Venice.
Having only seen the other nordic capitals of Helsinki in Finland and Oslo in Norway, Stockholm surprised us how much larger it is than these other cities and how much more there seemed to do here. Stockholm does have the largest urban population out of all of the Nordic countries with a population of 965,232. With such a large population and not everyone owning cars Sweden has an excellent public transportation system that is very well connected by trains and buses. You can easily explore this entire city by just taking the public transport available. If visiting from a few days to a day, it may be worth it to buy a day/multi-day pass as you can save money depending on all the places you plan to visit. Make sure to check where you will be going beforehand to do a cost analysis. I know if we would have done a day pass it would have ended up costing us more. A lot people traveling tend to skip Stockholm because it is sooo expensive compared to the rest of Europe but if you find yourself up in Nordic country, definitely make a stop in this beautiful city. If you find yourself in Stockholm I recommend spending two whole days here. Below I have included my favorite things to do in Stockholm and what shouldn’t be missed!
Back Of The Vasa Warship With Amazingly Preserved Carvings Of The Royal Crest
No matter what you end up doing in Stockholm at least make sure you go to the Vasa Museum! It is home to a 17th century warship that is almost perfectly preserved. With 4 floors in the museum you can take in this ship at every which way and height level. Even the most intricate of carvings are preserved on this ship from centuries ago. This was one of our favorite things we have seen while traveling, especially our favorite in Stockholm simply because it is so unique and rare to see something so old and preserved so well. Our favorite part is the back which has the royal crest, the carvings are so detailed and incredible to see the craftsmanship. A guided tour is included with your ticket so I recommend waiting for one, you will learn a lot more of the symbolism of the carvings on the ship and the history of this colossal failure.
The reason the Vasa is preserved so well is because it sunk within two nautical miles of leaving on its maiden voyage, never even leaving the harbor! Even if this ship would have been in commission for a few years we would have never been able to see it, at least not in its full glory. The Vasa sunk due to the king of Swedens terrible specifications he required the ship to be built to. It specified the ship to be too narrow and too tall resulting in a gust of wind being enough to sink it. The saddest part is that those in charge of this ship knew wayyy before it sailed that it would sink. The captain overseeing construction of the Vasa had invited the Vice Admiral to watch 30 men run across the deck which caused the ship to start to sway violently. However, back then to tell the king his specifications were wrong could result in prison or even death, meaning everyone just let this ship spectacularly fail with the result being at least 50 sailors drowning and over 5% of Swedens GNP sinking to the bottom of the harbor never to be seen until the 1950’s when the exact location of the ship was located and it was salvaged in the 1960’s.
Located directly in front of the Vasa Museum is The Nordiska Museet or Nordic Museum. This museum in of itself is awe inspiring with a stunning exterior stone construction and beautiful interior to match. The reason why we recommend to visit here is because it is Sweden’s largest museum of cultural history. If you are interested in learning more about Swedish culture and curious how the Swede’s lived from the past centuries until now, plan a visit and learn some really interesting facts about Swedish life in medieval times. This Museum was founded by Artur Hazelius in the 19th century, he was also responsible for founding the Stockholm open air museum another museum to visit if your schedule permits. If you happen to visit the Nordic Museum around lunch time check out their restaurant, we had a really delicious meal here and some delicious sweets!
Statue of King Gustav Vasa An Amazing Ship Builder Inside The Nordic Museum
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the king of Sweden. With over 600 rooms this palace is MASSIVE. Keep an eye on the flag and if it is at full mast that means the king is currently there. The royal palace isn’t the original and official residence because it replaced the old castle that burned down in 1697.
When visiting the royal palace you can get a glimpse of royalty as you view the crown jewels, royal artifacts, and the royal apartments. Everyday a changing of guard takes place that you can also watch. If anything, go check out the royal palace since it is within walking distance of so many other historic sites.
Within 3 minutes of walking distance from The Royal Palace, Gamla Stan is truly a treasure that has been preserved in Stockholm for centuries, in fact it is one of Europes oldest medieval city centers! With narrow cobblestone streets and variously brightly colored buildings it is quite a sight to see. Gamla Stan is home to many different delicious places to eat, museums, churches, and cool shops. It’s a cute little place with a lot to do if you’d like to see a quaint part of Stockholm.
Gröna Lund is a theme park located in Djurgården, one of the prettiest parts of Stockholm on the water. Now this theme park isn’t Disneyland and it is relatively small compared to other amusement parks, but it isn’t everyday you can visit a 19th century amusement park! With over 30 rides and being a popular venue in the summer for concerts, locals and tourists alike gather. You can see the full list of rides at gronalund.com
Art abounds in the metro stations of Stockholm with intricate paintings, sculptures, and mosaics. Riding the metro here is described as “riding the worlds longest art gallery”. Starting in the 1950’s, artists have played a major role in new stations opening. Travel photographer Conor MacNeil captured some of the best pictures I have seen of the different art found in the stations. You can view the whole gallery here.
Being from America we had never tried or seen kebab pizza, so when we saw it literally offered everywhere in the nordic countries we knew we had to try it! I mean, why wouldn’t we? A kebab pizza is a Swedish invention and is basically just a cheese pizza covered in kebab meat and smothered in kebab sauce which is a yogurt sauce. It’s freaking heavenly and was brought by Turkish immigrants who mostly run the pizza places in Sweden. Just take our word for it and try this pizza because it is BOMB.
Stockholm has so much more to offer than what meets the eye. If you find yourself in this beautiful city and have any questions, leave a comment below!
A special shoutout to Zach’s incredibly amazing mom and aunt who came and visited us while in Norway and Sweden making this destination even more memorable.