must-see stockholm

Must-See Stockholm: The Ultimate Travel Guide for 2024

I absolutely love Stockholm. It’s probably the coolest of the Nordic capitals, and while not quite as fun as Helsinki, as laid-back as Copenhagen it is a long way from being as boring as Oslo. The last one there is just an old grudge, the Norwegian capital is getting a bit better. It still has a long way to go to be as great as Trondheim, though.

Indeed, Stockholm entices visitors with its captivating blend of medieval charm, modern style, and scenic waterways. Sweden’s capital has no shortage of attractions to fill your itinerary. Our ultimate guide dives deeper into Stockholm’s history, culture, architecture, cuisine, and seasonal activities to help you get the most out of your visit.

Must-see Stockholm – Our Favourites

Historic Sites Museums Outdoor Spaces Dining & Shopping
Gamla Stan Moderna Museet Djurgården Island Östermalm Boutiques
Royal Palace National Museum Skansen Museum Södermalm Shops
Vasa Museum ABBA Museum Boat Tours Swedish Restaurants

must-see stockholm

Step Back in Time in Stockholm’s Historic Old Town

Gamla Stan, or the Old Town, transports you back to medieval times with its cobbled streets and storybook buildings. This historic island is Stockholm’s beating heart.

Soak Up Gamla Stan’s Captivating Old World Charm

Meandering through Gamla Stan feels like walking through a charming outdoor museum. Stroll the narrow cobblestone lanes and alleyways to discover quaint cafés, unique boutiques filled with Swedish handicrafts and souvenirs, and impressive churches like the 13th-century Storkyrkan Cathedral.

Peek down the alleys to see interior courtyards with frescoes and sculptures. Soak up the lively yet low-key ambience around scenic squares like Järntorget, where locals and tourists mingle for fika and people-watching.

Behold the Stunning Majesty of the Royal Palace

On an island overlooking Gamla Stan sits Northern Europe’s largest royal palace. With over 600 rooms, the Royal Palace of Stockholm has been the official residence of the Swedish royal family since 1754. On a guided tour, you can walk through the Palace’s lavish staterooms to admire the decadent interior and exhibits of royal artefacts.

Don’t miss the parade of soldiers and the changing of the guard outside the palace gates daily. Marvel at the palace’s striking architecture, from the imposing facade to the elegant wing additions.

Discover Sweden’s Maritime Legacy at the Vasa Museum

The remarkably well-preserved warship Vasa capsized just 20 minutes into its maiden voyage in 1628 and sank in Stockholm’s harbor, only to be recovered 333 years later. The restored vessel now takes pride of place as the fascinating centerpiece of the Vasa Museum.

Visitors can observe intricate details of the ornate wood carvings close-up and imagine life aboard the Swedish Royal ship based on the artefacts displayed. Exhibits provide insights into 17th-century Swedish society, how the glorious but unstable warship was built, and the preservation process.

Dive Into Stockholm’s Thriving Arts and Culture Scene

In addition to its wealth of history, Stockholm also impresses culture aficionados with its world-class museums, concert venues, theatre scene, and cultural attractions that celebrate both Sweden’s heritage and cutting-edge creativity.

Marvel at Moderna Museet’s Cutting-Edge Contemporary Collections

On the island of Skeppsholmen, the Moderna Museet, or Museum of Modern Art, holds one of Europe’s foremost collections of modern and contemporary art. Here you can view works by some of the giants of 20th-century painting and sculpture like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, and Robert Rauschenberg.

The museum’s collection represents seminal artistic movements including Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Minimalism. Special exhibitions highlight provocative installations and emerging talent. The building itself designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo integrates with the surrounding nature.

Discover Swedish Masterpieces at the National Museum

Founded in 1792, Sweden’s National Museum houses the nation’s most comprehensive collection of fine art showcasing the development of Swedish art from the Middle Ages to today.

Spanning paintings, sculptures, drawings, and handicrafts, the museum’s holdings include treasured works by iconic Swedish painters Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn along with internationally renowned masterpieces by Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, and Goya. Prepare to spend hours admiring both familiar names and introducing yourself to prominent Scandinavian artists.

Enjoy an Interactive Musical Experience at ABBA The Museum

Located on Djurgården island, ABBA The Museum offers an entertaining, immersive experience into the costumes, lyrics, music videos, concert footage, and history of Sweden’s most famous pop supergroup, ABBA. Superfans can pose onstage and become the fifth member of ABBA, singing along to classics like “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” in a simulated concert.

Memorabilia on display includes the band’s glitzy 1970s stage outfits and their 1974 Eurovision-winning performance outfits. Exhibits also showcase the songwriting process and success stories behind some of ABBA’s timeless chart-topping hits that continue to endear new generations of fans.

Relax in Stockholm’s Scenic Outdoor Spaces

Stockholm skillfully balances cosmopolitan energy and easy access to nature. Visitors will delight in the city’s abundant parks, lush green spaces, scenic waterways, and tranquil islands perfect for escaping urban life.

Escape to Djurgården’s Idyllic Natural Setting

Just minutes from downtown, the island oasis of Djurgården provides a remarkable natural escape right in central Stockholm. Djurgården has a rich history, once used as 16th-century royal hunting grounds before opening to the public in the 19th century.

Today locals and visitors enjoy the island’s abundant walking trails, photogenic waterfront promenades, secluded beaches, and green spaces dotted with sculptures and historic buildings. Outdoor cafés like Rosendals Trädgård offer an ideal spot to refuel while admiring Djurgården’s enchanting scenery.

The island is also home to some of Stockholm’s top museums and attractions like the Vasa Museum, Skansen open-air museum, Gröna Lund amusement park, and more.

Step Back in Time at Skansen Open-Air Museum

Founded in 1891, Skansen pioneered the concept of the open-air museum to provide visitors with an immersive experience of Swedish history and culture.

Spread across 75 acres on Djurgården island, this sprawling museum features a recreation of a 19th-century Swedish town with craftspeople doing traditional trades, as well as farms, dwellings, shops, and schools representing different eras and regions of Sweden from medieval times onward.

Folk dance and fiddle performances add to the fun. The Skansen area also incorporates Nordic wildlife exhibits like moose, reindeer, lynx, wolverines, brown bears, and more.

View Stockholm from the Water on a Boat Tour

With Stockholm situated across 14 islands, getting out on the city’s waterways provides an idyllic perspective. Boat tours pass by historic sites like the medieval Riddarholmen district and City Hall, glide through scenic canals and harbours, and reveal how expansively Stockholm stretches across the surrounding Baltic Sea archipelago.

Don’t miss spotting Djurgården’s lush parks, the amusement park atop Gröna Lund island, and the charming summer houses dotting the outer islands. Open-air boats make sightseeing even more memorable.

Marvel at Stockholm’s Architecture from Medieval to Contemporary

must-see stockholm

Stockholm’s streets serve as an open-air architectural museum, with charming medieval churches neighbouring impressive palaces, stately buildings showcasing Swedish grandeur, and contemporary designs that embody minimalistic refinement.

Gaze at Storkyrkan Cathedral’s Elaborate Gothic Facade

With origins dating back to the 13th century, Storkyrkan Cathedral located in Gamla Stan impresses visitors inside and out. The cathedral’s imposing copper spire dominates Stockholm’s skyline. Step inside to admire the mix of medieval triptychs, Renaissance furnishings, and Baroque fittings, as well as royal heritage like the intricate sculpture Vasa Gravkor by Willem Boy.

Don’t miss St. George and the Dragon, Sweden’s oldest sculpture, dating from the 14th century. Tours allow access to the crypts and spiral staircase in the cathedral’s spire.

Behold the Exquisite Brickwork of Stockholm City Hall

The grand Stockholm City Hall displays some of the finest examples of Swedish national romanticism and art nouveau architectural styles. Its imposing silhouette and intricate brickwork make a strong impression along the city’s waterfront.

The Blue Hall with its elaborate hand-painted ceilings and gallery of Nobel Prize winners hosts the annual Nobel Banquet.

Guided tours explain City Hall’s construction, ornate interiors, and ceremonies like royal weddings and the annual Nobel Prize festivities.

See the Stockholm Public Library’s Innovative Contemporary Design

Stockholm’s new main public library impressively incorporates Scandinavian design aesthetics focused on minimalism, functionality, and nature. The open layout allows natural light to flood in through expansive glazed walls.

Eco-friendly features include vertical gardens, green roofs, and aquifers cooling the building. Visitors can admire the architecture while enjoying a coffee at the in-house café. The iconic contemporary building represents Sweden at the forefront of innovative design and sustainability.

Experience Stockholm’s Dining and Shopping Scene

In Sweden’s sophisticated capital, visitors can indulge in abundant upscale shopping and culinary experiences spanning trendy cafés, food halls, craft beer pubs, and Michelin-starred restaurants.

Boutique Hop Along Östermalm’s Upscale Streets

In upscale Östermalm, chic fashion boutiques and accessory houses line the posh main drag of Biblioteksgatan and picturesque Stureplan Square. Here you can source famous Swedish and Scandinavian fashion labels like Acne Studios, Whyred, and Filippa K as well as international luxury brands.

Don’t miss checking the side streets for beautiful interior stores and jewellery shops. Stop for a break at the retro-chic Sturehof bakery and café on Stureplan.

Find Funky Treasures in Stockholm’s Hip Södermalm District

For unique Swedish designs and vintage bargains, independent concept stores and second-hand shops scattered throughout the trendy district of Södermalm offer authentic local flavour.

Boutiques to check out include Grandpa for retro furnishings, Lisa Larsson for upcycled fashion, and Judits for handcrafted jewellery. Follow up antique hunting with a fika coffee break amid Södermalm’s cosy cafés. Don’t miss sampling baked treats at Vete-Katten or grabbing a craft beer at brewpub Brus.

Savour Iconic Nordic Cuisine in Stockholm

The Swedish capital provides the ideal backdrop for indulging in traditional Nordic fare and new-age Scandinavian cuisine. For an authentic experience, try classics like gravlax salmon, meatballs with lingonberry jam, herring, and cardamom-infused pastries in cosy neighbourhood restaurants.

Or opt for a Michelin-starred destination restaurant like Oaxen Krog run by acclaimed local chef Magnus Ek. Swedish menus incorporate fresh local ingredients like fish, game, mushrooms, berries, and cheese. Complete the experience by pairing your meal with Swedish beer, cider, or snaps flavoured aquavit.

Experience Stockholm After Dark

When the sun goes down in Stockholm, the city lights up with cultural performances, buzzing nightclubs, intimate live music venues, craft beer bars, and more to keep visitors entertained into the night.

Dance at an Infamous Stockholm Nightclub

At Berns Salonger, a 19th-century entertainment palace in Norrmalm, both locals and visitors now flock to party the night away in ornate historic rooms. For a hip underground vibe, Under Bron in Gamla Stan features regular DJs and lively crowds. Live it up like a local by barhopping between the Hell’s Kitchen complex of clubs.

Catch Live Local Music at an Intimate Venue

Stockholm has a thriving local music scene beyond the pop icons of ABBA. Check out rising Swedish indie talent at underground stage Debaser Strand in Södermalm. For jazz, head to Fasching in Kungsholmen, host to regular jam sessions. Converted rail station Stockholm Waterfront offers a cool industrial setting for shows.

Take in a Blockbuster Musical or Emerging Theatre

For spectacular musicals, ballets, operas and theatre, look no further than the premier Royal Swedish Opera and the national stage of Dramaten. For experimental theatre, independent productions, and fringe performances, check out venues in Södermalm and Vasastan.

Enjoy Stockholm Throughout the Year

Whatever season you visit, Stockholm hosts delightful events and plenty of cool and cozy activities both indoors and outdoors.

Make the Most of Summer’s Long Sunny Days

Stockholm comes alive in summer when long days mean the city stays lively late into the evenings. Locals flock to outdoor concerts, amusement parks, flea markets, food festivals and craft fairs.

Visitors should experience Sweden’s famed midsummer traditions. Don’t miss Stockholm Pride, Scandinavia’s largest LGBTQ festival. Or escape to the majestic Stockholm archipelago easily reached by public boats.

Bundle Up for Quintessential Winter Experiences

From late November through February, snow transforms Stockholm into a winter wonderland. Ice skate with locals under twinkling holiday lights in Kungsträdgården park.

Experience a traditional Swedish Christmas at Skansen’s open-air museum. Shop for unique gifts at Christmas markets and exhibitions. Cozy up by the fire in a café or restaurant after a day exploring the snowy streets. You can even try winter swimming and saunas if you’re adventurous!

With captivating history, culture, cuisine, and scenery – Stockholm offers something for every interest regardless of the season. Use this expanded guide to start crafting your own personalized Stockholm bucket list. What excites you most about visiting Stockholm? Let me know in the comments!

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1249

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.