What to See, Do and Taste in the Swedish Capital
STOCKHOLM IS A PERFECT PLACE FOR A WEEKEND CITY BREAK IN SCANDINAVIA
Sweet, sweet Scandi sister Sweden sits squarely east across the clear Baltic Sea from Denmark. Climb aboard the SJ train from Copenhagen Central Station as we speed to the Swedish capital Stockholm for a long weekend city break. This town royally rocks. Home of Sweden’s Royal Family, Stockholm sits like a crown jewel at the center of an archipelago of islands that string almost all the way to Finland. And while spending time island hopping between those little pretty plops of land is a dreamy summer wish trip for me, this weekend we focused on the city. Which is all kinds of cool. Come with me. You’ll see.
GET THERE SUSTAINABLY | TAKE THE TRAIN
ALL ABOARD THE SJ EXPRESS TRAIN FROM COPENHAGEN TO STOCKHOLM
We pick up our Swedish SJ train to Stockholm from the Copenhagen airport, but it starts at the central train station in town if you prefer to climb aboard there. We reserved seats online and secured a table near the bistro cart. Southern Sweden swishes by the window of our train car with rolling fields and farmhouses. Fields that will soon sport a brilliant yellow as the rapeseed starts blooming. As we move north and east away from Denmark, evergreen trees start to crowd the landscape and stand tall and dark around silvery blue lakes. Look carefully and you might spy a moose. MOOSE! Five hours later and the express train lands us at Stockholm’s Central Station. Pick up multi-day public transit passes here which are good on all Stockholm busses, T-trains, trams and harbor ferries.
Copenhagen – Stockholm | 5 hours
Oslo – Stockholm | 5 hours
Check website for ticket prices. Discounts available when purchased in advance and for seniors or youth tickets. For reference, we spent 485 SEK for 1 adult, 1 senior and 1 child age 7-15 on the non-refundable tickets from Copenhagen. At the time of this post, that equates to about $56 USD.
SET UP BASE IN SÖDERMALM
Having been briefly to Stockholm before and fallen in love with the unique vibe and quirky shops of the Södermalm neighborhood, I sought out an apartment here as our base for our three generation girl’s weekend. Not exactly central, Södermalm is a little more effort to get to from Central Station, but worth it for the delightful cafes and restaurants nearby. I love the neighborhood feel and we had a plethora of delicious places to start and end our day. Even if you don’t choose to stay here, Södermalm is definitely worth a wander for one of kind shopping ops and beautiful views of the city.
What to See, Do and Taste in Stockholm | A 3 Day Itinerary
DAY 1 | STROLL THROUGH HISTORIC STOCKHOLM
WANDER THE COLORFUL COBBLESTONED STREETS OF GAMLA STAN
The historic center of Stockholm is the old town or Gamla Stan, and it is a perfect place to start your exploration of the city. Take the T to the Gamla Stan stop and walk towards the Stortorget, a beautiful old plaza with cafes and home to the Nobel Museum. Here are the classic cobblestone streets and tall colorful buildings of old Stockholm. Meander through the medieval paths and pick up your souvenir in the many tourist shops. Don’t worry, it’s not all tchotchkes and trolls in Gamla Stan. Step off the main tourist thoroughfares and you’ll find plenty of little pretty spaces to please in Gamla Stan.
SEE THE HISTORICAL SEAT OF STOCKHOLM’S ROYAL FAMILY
Like Denmark and the other Scandi sibling Norway, Sweden still has a Royal Family. The Royal Palace sits on the edge of Gamla Stan and offers tours of the Royal Apartments and the Treasury. Tickets also include entrance to King Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities and the Tre Kroner Museum which highlights the palaces Medieval history. I will admit we did not venture inside but did say hello to Kong Gustav on the waterfront. Being married to a Gustafson, I like to imagine we’re related. Wink, wink.
THE ROYAL PALACE | KUNGLIGA SLOTTET
Adults SEK 160
Children 7–17 years old and students SEK 80
Free entrance for children under 7 years of age in the company of a guardian.
SEE THE KING’S GARDEN | KUNGSTRÄDGÅRDEN
Follow the waterfront and cross the Strombrön bridge towards the King’s Garden. The Kungsträdgården is Sweden’s central park and gathering place for locals and visitors alike. When we visited the end of April, the pretty pink cherry trees were just starting to pop, drawing lots of peeps to swoon at their blooms. Feeling peckish? There are plenty of cafés that line the park with tables outside to soak up the sun if its out.
TAKE THE TRAM TO DJURGÅRDEN
At the top of the King’s Garden, you can jump on the streetcar (Tram #7) and travel to Stockholm’s garden island, known as Djurgården. Here you’ll find a concentration of the city’s best museums and experiences. There is something for all interests and tastes. Want to know what life was like in Sweden before modern times, check out Skansen, an open-air museum with interactive exhibits. Into maritime history? Even if don’t think you are, everyone who visits loves the super popular Vasa Museum.
Or. What about this? If you are on a three-generation girl’s weekend for your tween daughter’s birthday and you have watched Mamma Mia with her (between 4-5 times) you might want to visit ABBA The Museum. Yes. There is a whole museum dedicated to Swedish pop stars of the 70’s. And it is awesome. Seriously so much fun. On the day we visited, the group announced it’s first release in 35 years, due out in December. And with the new Mamma Mia movie out this summer, it seems we’ll be Swedish disco’ing long after our museum experience.
EVERYONE IS A DANCING QUEEN AT ABBA THE MUSEUM
Don your disco boots and remember that you can dance, you can jive and you just might have the time of your life singing and boogying your way through the exhibits at the ABBA Museum. Sweden is very proud of their musical legacy to the world. And even if you haven’t watched the movie Mamma Mia a half dozen times, you will know more music here than you might think! Interactive stations let you try out for a spot in the band singing in a recording booth with karaoke screens. Or take a quiz to see how deep your love for ABBA runs. OR. Our favorite. Get on the big stage and sing and dance along with the group. It was my virtual Waterloo. Ha!
We definitely took the museum’s motto “Walk in, Dance out,” to heart and were probably the most basic tourists about town for the next two days, whistling, singing, humming every tune we could remember. The Museum is a little on the pricier side, as far as museums go, so if you aren’t a fan and not familiar with Agnetha, Benny, Bjørn and Anni-Frid (Frida’s) music, I might suggest a pass for you.
ABBA The Museum
115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
COST: 250 SEK Adults
95 SEK Children 7-15 years
595 SEK Family ticket (includes entrance for 2 adults and up to 4 children between 7-15 years)
OPEN: Almost every day of the year, 10 – 18 with additional hours depending on day and season. Check website for current opening times.
In Stockholm on a budget – check out free museums in the city.
DAY 2 | RIDE THE FERRIES AND ROLLERCOASTERS
SEE STOCKHOLM FROM THE WATER
So much of the Swedish capital is surrounded by water and what better way to experience the city than to see it from the side of a boat. There are many options to get on the water from guided tours to simple commuter ferries that are included with your multi-day transit passes. If you opt for the Stockholm Pass, you get access to the Hop On Hop Off boat tours as well as the classic double-decker buses. And if you are really wanting to see every museum, this is a great way to go. The Stockholm Pass does not include the ABBA Museum which we were keen on including, so we opted not to take them and do the simple 72-hour public transit passes instead.
With the public transit pass, you can jump aboard the Djursgården Ferries that operate regular routes between Gamla Stan and Djursgården Island (where all the museums are) and Skeppsholmen Island. You may not get a guided tour, but there is plenty of space to stand outside and snap away at the stunning skyline along the water.
RIDE THE ROLLER COASTERS AT GRÖNA LUND TIVOLI AMUSEMENT PARK
When your wee lass’ birthday weekend coincides with the season opener of Gröna Lund Tivoli Amusement Park in Stockholm, you must ride the rides. A pretty and compact peach of a park right on the water’s edge of Djursgården, Gröna Lund is a very fun afternoon with your kids and has a ride for all tastes and preferences. I may have gotten on something called Insane. The ride. Is called Insane. And afterward, I can confirm that indeed it was the most insane roller coaster I have ever been convinced to try. See that purple and white number on the left side of the following pic. That. Is. Insane. Try it. I dare you.
Entrance to Park: 120 SEK from 7-64 years old, all others free
With Unlimited Ride bracelet: 399 SEK
April 28th – September 28th (not every day)
Check website for specific days and hours.
DAY 3 | SAVOR AND SHOP AROUND SÖDERMALM
WHEN IN SWEDEN TRY THE PANCAKES, MEATBALLS
Probably my favorite part of Stockholm is strolling around the neighborhood of Södermalm. It’s where all the cool kids are. So many fun unique little shops to peruse and delicious food to devour. And if you want to try the Swedish pancakes and meatballs, I’ve got you covered.
Nytorget 4, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden
Start your day with brunch Stockholm style. Look to Urban Deli on Nytorget for simple breakfast fare during the week and more extensive menu on the weekends. With tables on the street looking across to the park at Nytorget plus the pretty church, it is the place to see and be seen. Urban Deli is an upscale food store, bar, coffee shop and restaurant all in one. I can highly recommend the fisksoppa, or fish soup if near here near dinner. Just maybe not for breakfast!
Missed Urban Deli in SOFO? You can still visit the Lilla UD at the Stockholm Central Train station, which has a really nice food court downstairs.
Nytorgsgatan 38, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden
Got Swedish pancakes on your Stockholm wishlist? They are more difficult to find than you might assume but found them we did at quirky Café String who’s breakfast buffet on the weekend is the best deal in town. All the Swedish pancakes you can eat plus other Swedish breakfast classics like yogurt with muesli, deli meats or liverpaste on bread, and soft boiled eggs with caviar paste. Don’t knock it until you try it. Yum. I love the Kalles. Or you can keep it simple and order just Swedish pancakes. Pick one of the funky mismatched chairs and tables and enjoy.
MEATBALLS FOR THE PEOPLE
Nytorgsgatan 30, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden
Looking for a delicious lunch or dinner option – try the meatballs. Meatballs for the People is a popular place, reservations recommended. Here they make meatballs of every ilk and preference. You can have your meatballs made of traditional beef, pork and lamb or go for more Scandinavian meats like reindeer, wild boar or even moose? Don’t worry if you don’t eat meat, Meatballs for the People has something to please everyone. Try the fish or vegetarian balls! With a focus on organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, you can feel good while enjoying your meal. This was definitely our favorite meal of the trip.
For us, it’s very important to minimize our environmental footprint. Therefore we try to use only organic ingredients and all our meat comes from responsible purveyors.”
– Mathias Pilbad, Meatballs for the People
FIND SOME SWEDISH FIKA
You can’t come to Sweden without experiencing fika. Time to take a break from your exploring and shopping around Södermalm? Share a cup of coffee, Swedes like their coffee and a delicious baked treat from one of the best bakeries in Stockholm. We found Fabrique’s fabulous kardemummabullar on Götgatan in Södermalm. You can enjoy your cozy fika time with your family or friends right upstairs in the petite café. Don’t know what a kardemummabullar is? You must find out. A beautifully tangled ball of pastry lightly sweetened and seasoned with cracked cardamom. So much yum in this bun. Especially at cute little Fabrique.
Götgatan 90, 118 62 Stockholm, Sweden
WHERE TO SHOP IN SÖDERMALM
All fueled up, it’s time to pop in some shops. Start at the Slussen T-Station and make your way to the high street along Götagatan. Lots of little cafés, restaurants, clothing design shops to peruse up here. Looking for a more unique vibe, head to the area around Nytorget Park, also known as SoFo. South of Folkungagatan. You could spend a whole day wandering Södermalm, shopping and soaking up the scene. These were some of my favorites shops.
Götgatan 31, 116 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Like all the Scandis, Swedish design is clean, modern and done well. Designtorget has lots of brilliant, fairly affordable, home fashions to fawn over.
THE ENGLISH BOOKSHOP
Södermannagatan 22, 116 23 Stockholm, Sweden
Recently awarded International Bookstore of the Year 2018, The English Bookshop is a perfect place to peruse new and classic titles in SoFo.
Nytorgsgatan 36A, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden
When in Sweden, one must try on the clogs. And Swedish Hasbeens are the clogs to buy. I will admit I was looking to add a new pair to my collection and happily stumbled into a sample sale in Gamla Stan where they had some beauties in my size. But if you want the season’s latest colors and styles, step into the Nytorgsgatan shop in Södermalm. This is the flagship shop. Was seriously coveting those striped T-strap wedges, but am beyond happy with the nude number I scored on sale and will be sporting all season.
Skånegatan 73, 116 37 Stockholm, Sweden
For lovers of vintage, head into Pop Stockholm for colorful bright patterns and styles from eras gone by. Motivated from your ABBA Museum visit? There is a good chance they have numerous numbers to conjure up disco in here. Retro 90’s more your bag? Clearly, they’ve got you covered for that too. But, I’ll save the mock neck tops and choker necklaces for you to rock.
Bondegatan 34, 116 33 Stockholm, Sweden
A cacophony of color awaits you inside Coctail, a homewares and accessories store on a side street of Södermalm. You can’t help but be charmed by the unique and brightly colored items for sale in this shop. Lovers of flowers, flamingos and Frida Kahlo unite. Follow the floral and beeline for Coctail.
Renstiernas gata 12, 116 28 Stockholm, Sweden
Step inside and smell the chocolate. Several locations to serve you organic, hand-crafted chocolates. We found Chokladfabriken in Gamla Stan and I loved the beautiful packaging as well as the delicious chocolate.
So much to love about Stockholm. What a beautiful and unique Scandinavian city. To get a better perspective of where things are situated in the city, add these places to your Google Map for use offline when exploring Sweden’s stunning capital on your own.