Stockholm surprised me in every way. Probably because I tried to keep my expectations low, or non existent. And it served me well. I didn’t think Stockholm was so clean, civilized and has so many fun things to do to fill up an entire week. From museums, parks, art galleries, to great restaurants and unusual city tours, there is plenty to see and do in Sweden’s capital.
- 10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN STOCKHOLM IN A WEEK
- #1. Explore Gamla Stan, the Historic Part of Stockholm
- #3. Join the ‘Nobelity‘ at the City Hall (Stadshuset)
- #4. Visit Skansen, World’s First Open-Air Museum
- #5. Take a Boat Sightseeing Tour
- #6. Get a Lesson in Swedish History at the Vasa Museum
- #7. Sip an Unusual Cocktail at Pharmarium
- #8. Stroll Through the Royal Palace
10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN STOCKHOLM IN A WEEK
Volumes have been written about Sweden’s capital, but one important thing to know before visiting Stockholm is that you can’t run out of things to do here.
#1. Explore Gamla Stan, the Historic Part of Stockholm
Gamla Stan (which means ‘Old Town’) has been a settlement since 1252, so in a way it is Stockholm’s birthplace. Officially, Gamla Stan includes three islands: Helgeandsholmen, Riddarholmen and Stadsholmen. But it’s Stadsholmen – the largest island – that people usually think of when they talk about Gamla Stan.
This Old Town is a maze of winding cobblestone alleyways and small squares filled with beautiful sights, restaurants, cafés, bars and places to shop.
Gamla Stan is also home to some of the oldest churches in Sweden as well as the Royal Palace. For the most part this area is pedestrian zone which makes walking around the Old Town a pleasure.
#2. Visit Stockholm’s Cathedral (Storkyrkan)
Stockholm’s Cathedral, also known as the ‘Great Church’, is located at the highest point of Gamla Stan near the Royal Palace. The brick structure that you see today replaced the original church from the 13th century. The interior of the church remained largely unaltered from the 1480s when it reached its present size.
One of the main attractions in the church is the wooden statue of St George slaying the dragon. The statue commemorates the battle of Brunkeberg when Sweden (St George) defeated the invading Danes (the dragon).
Throughout its history this Lutheran church has seen many royal coronations, weddings and funerals, but you don’t have to be in the king’s entourage to visit it. The church is open for visitors every day between 9am and 4pm. Admission is 40 SEK, free for children under 19 as well as when attending a service or prayer.
#3. Join the ‘Nobelity‘ at the City Hall (Stadshuset)
Stadshuset (City Hall) is Stockholm’s most prominent landmark. There are many remarkable city halls in the world, but what makes Stadshuset unique is that it plays host to the Nobel Prize banquet which is held each year in the Blue Hall.
After the dinner, a dance is held in the Golden Hall and the event is broadcast live on radio and television. For those not invited, the cellar restaurant offers the previous year’s menu.
#4. Visit Skansen, World’s First Open-Air Museum
Skansen was probably my favorite place in Stockholm. This enormous park is an open-air museum that provides an insight into how Swedes once lived. The museum was founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius and consists of a large collection of traditional wooden houses representing various areas of the country.
The buildings have been moved from their original locations and re-built here. Most houses are inhabited by staff in period costumes who can answer your questions about the people whose lives they are recreating.
There is also a bakery in the park where you can have a Fika, coffee, or lunch. You could easily spend a day in Skansen and not see it all. The entrance fee and hours of operation vary by season.
#5. Take a Boat Sightseeing Tour
Seeing Stockholm by boat is definitely a matter of preference. I personally love seeing any city from the water as well, if that’s a possibility. Taking a boat sightseeing tour is one of the most fun things to do in Stockholm in a week. Besides, it seems just logical in a city that is spread over 14 islands!
There are many boat tour options in Stockholm. From the hop-on-hop-off to narrated tours through the islands of the archipelago, you can book pretty much anything you want.
The best tours in my opinion are the Drottningholm Palace on Lake Mälaren and the Royal Canal tour that goes around the island of Djurgården.
#6. Get a Lesson in Swedish History at the Vasa Museum
One of the most interesting things to do in Stockholm in a week is visit the iconic Vasa Museum. This is most likely one of Stockholm’s biggest attractions where visitors get a chance to see the wreckage of the Vasa.
The Vasa was a warship that sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged in the 1960s. The museum is a fascinating place where you can learn about ship life and shipbuilding. But what is even more interesting is learning about the cutting edge technology used in preserving this vessel.
(For a more personal approach about visiting the Vasa Museum, you can check out this post.)
#7. Sip an Unusual Cocktail at Pharmarium
Stockholm is not short of fancy bars and restaurants, but if you want an out of the ordinary experience you should try the quirky Pharmarium. This bar/restaurant is located in Gamla Stan on the site of Stockholm’s first pharmacy that opened in 1575.
What makes Pharmarium absolutely unique is that it specializes in pairing cocktails with food. The choice of cocktails determines the choice of food. The cocktails contain ingredients used in natural medicines, like herbs and spices that complement the liquor, creating bold flavors with a fun twist.
#8. Stroll Through the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace in Stockholm was largely built during the 18th century in the Italian Baroque style, on the spot where the “Tre Kronor” castle burned down in 1697.
Although similar to other European palaces, the Royal Palace in Stockholm is well worth a visit. The visit includes three museums, the Treasury, the lavish Royal Apartments, the Armory, and the Royal Stables.
The Changing of the Guards Ceremony takes place every day at 12:15 p.m. in the palace outer courtyard and lasts about 40 minutes. Hundreds of curious tourists witness the ceremony every day.
#9. Sing Karaoke at the ABBA Museum
How would you like to sing with ABBA? If you ever dreamed about being part of the famous pop group that took the world by storm, here is your chance.
The band formed right in this city, so one of the most popular things to do in Stockholm in a week is visit the ABBA Museum. Due to the wonder of digital avatars, you can now become the fifth member of the band, singing karaoke alongside Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Fridt. You can also dance in an ABBA music video or test your skills in a voice booth.
The ABBA Museum is a behind the scene look into the lives of the artists, the history and successes of this world renowned group. Although ABBA is not Stockholm’s greatest museum, visiting it was a heartwarming experience. A flash-back into our youth years when we danced our shoes off till dawn.
#10. Take a Boat Trip through the Royal Canals
Spread across a whole chain of islands, Stockholm lies virtually on the water, with the sea running through this city itself.
One of the best ways to explore the city is via a canal boat tour that takes you around the main sights in the city. The boat departs from Strömkajen, in the center of Stockholm, passing by several historical buildings, museums and green areas and continues through Djurgården canal.
On the way back you’ll get a fabulous view of the Stockholm skyline which you can only see from the water. This is a guided sightseeing tour and is available in 11 languages.
A Final Note
A week will give you enough time to see most attractions in Stockholm. However if you only have one day in Stockholm, you can still cover a lot of territory. However, if you can spend more than a week in this part of Sweden, there are many interesting things to do not very far from the city. Like exploring Gripsholm Castle, and the many elegant mansions in the region of Sörmland.