Stockholm sweden travel guide

Table of Contents

Capital Facts for Stockholm, Sweden: Quick Reference

Stockholm flagStockholm is the capital city of Sweden. Called the “Venice of the North” for its attractive buildings, abundant museums and inviting parks, Stockholm’s subway is sometimes also referred to as the world’s longest art gallery since most of the station stops are decorated with painting, sculptures and mosaics.
Stockholm tied for 10th place with Amsterdam among cities ranked for the strongest economic clout by PwC’s 2016 Cities of Opportunity Index. The Swedish capital scored well on economic clout benchmarks for financial and business services employment as well as productivity.
Stockholm finished second behind another Swedish city (Gothenburg) as the top destination for travelers looking for social experiences, according to the 2016 Social Cities Index commissioned by global hostel-booking platform Hostelworld.
Stockholm’s economic prowess is supported by the fact that 13 of Fortune Global 500 companies have their headquarters located in Sweden’ capital city. Those global firms include network equipment maker LM Ericsson and clothing retailer H & M Hennes & Mauritz.
Sweden was among the world’s 35 top exporters in 2016, shipping US$139.6 billion worth of goods around the globe. Highest-value Swedish exports are processed petroleum oils, automobiles, medicines, phone system devices including smartphones, automotive parts and accessories, sawn or chipped lumber, fish and paper according to the International Trade Centre.

Geography

Capital landmarks: Stockholm City Hall, Drottningholm Palace, Old Town Square (Stortorget), Stockholm Cathedral, Parliament Building (Riksdagshuset) and the Vasa Museum

Famous People

Below, you will find 10 of the most famous people born in Stockholm, Sweden:

Note: Data for our Famous People tab was sourced from Google searches mostly targeting published Wikipedia articles specific to each person’s name.

Population

Financial

GDP: US$49.7 billion as of October 2016 (for Sweden, per WorldsRichestCountries.com)
GDP per person: $49,678
Note: The above country-level GDP metrics are on a Purchasing Power Parity basis and are in U.S. dollars. Credible city GDP statistics for Stockholm were unavailable.
Official currency used in Stockholm: Swedish krona

Research

Research Sources:
Brookings Institution, Global Metro Monitor Report (includes GDP data). Accessed on December 10, 2016
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, Europe: Sweden. Accessed on January 30, 2017
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, Field Listing: Major Urban Areas. Accessed on December 10, 2016
CityMetric, Where are largest cities in the world? 2015 edition. Accessed on December 10, 2016
Demographia, World Urban Area, 12th Annual Edition. Accessed on December 10, 2016
Fortune, 2015 Global 500. Accessed on January 30, 2017
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on January 30, 2017
Official Government Website, Stockholms stad. Accessed on December 10, 2016
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 2016 Cities of Opportunity Report. Accessed on January 30, 2017
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Major Urban Areas – Population, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on December 10, 2016
Wikimedia Commons, City Flags. Accessed on December 10, 2016
Note: Some city flags were unavailable. If so, attribution belongs to Wikimedia Commons for pertinent country flags.
Wikipedia, Stockholm. Accessed on December 10, 2016
Wikipedia, Sweden. Accessed on December 10, 2016

Stockholm city contains an area measuring 73 square miles (189 square kilometers), in which 932,917 people lived during 2015.
Stockholm city proper plus its built-up urban area covers a total 147 square miles (381 square kilometers), with approximately 1.5 million inhabitants.
At the country level, Sweden’s land territory covers 158,431 square miles (410,335 square kilometers). The national population count was 9.9 million inhabitants as of July 2016.
Swedes celebrate National Day as a public holiday each June 6.
Population density is higher within Sweden’s capital city limits, with an average 12,800 Stockholmers per square mile (4,900 per square kilometer).
Adding in Stockholm’s immediately surrounding urban area, density diminishes to an average 10,300 people per square mile (4,000 per square kilometer) for Stockholm’s greater metropolitan area.
For Sweden overall, national population density drops to an average 62 residents per square mile (24 per square kilometer).

Quick facts about Sweden

There are 10 million people in Sweden, of whom about 2 million are under the age of 18. Eighty-five percent of them live in cities. Sweden is a very multicultural country: 15 per cent of Swedes were born in another country, while about one in five children in Sweden has a family with roots in another country.

sweden.se: Quick facts
sweden.se: Sweden: an overview

Stockholm. Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

The capital of Sweden, Stockholm, is also the country’s largest city, with more than 950,000 inhabitants. Other large cities are Gothenburg, in western Sweden (population 570,000), and Malmö (population 340,000) in the south. Uppsala and Lund are well-known university cities.

Less than three per cent of Sweden’s land area is built up and forests cover 69 per cent of the country. Sweden is long – some 1,574 kilometres from top to bottom – and can be divided into three major regions: Götaland in the south, Svealand in the middle and Norrland in the north.

sweden.se: Swedish geography, weather and nature
sweden.se: Nature in Sweden

Language

Swedish is the official language of Sweden. The vast majority of Swedes also speak English, and generally to a very high level. Many Swedish multinational organisations have English as their corporate language, and a large number of university degree programmes and courses are taught in English. Sweden is home to five official national minority languages, and countless other languages are spoken by Sweden’s diverse population. The largest, after Swedish, are Finnish, Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, Kurdish, Spanish, German and Farsi (source, in Swedish).

Nordic Council: Languages

Government

Sweden is a parliamentary democracy. The main political parties are grouped into two blocs: a left-of-centre bloc consisting of the Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Green Party; and the centre-right bloc consisting of the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party.

Sweden’s parliament is called the Riksdag, to which members are elected every four years.

The Swedish head of state since 1973 has been King Carl XVI Gustaf. He has no political power, but represents the country and performs ceremonial duties.

Sweden is a member of the European Union, but has its own currency, the krona, or Swedish crown.

sweden.se: the Swedish system of government

Lifestyle

Swedes study and work hard but they also take their rest and relaxation seriously. So the fika – a coffee break that normally consists of coffee or tea, cookies or sweet buns, but can also include soft drinks, fruit and sandwiches – is a social institution and an important part of the national culture. You can fika (it’s a verb as well as a noun) with your family or on your first date.

Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Lagom is an important and often-used word in Sweden. Meaning good enough, or just right, it sums up Swedish cultural and social ideals of equality and fairness.

Openness and equality are also important concepts. Homosexual relations have been legal since 1944, and same sex couples have been able to adopt since 2003 and get married since 2009. The country was the first in the world with freedom of the press (1766), and is at the top of global press freedom rankings.

sweden.se: 20 things to know before moving to Sweden
sweden.se: Openness shapes Swedish society

Religion

Sweden is a very secular country, but most of the world’s religions are represented here – and all are welcome. The national church, the Church of Sweden, is Lutheran, but Catholicism and other Christian denominations are also widespread. Islam is one of the largest religions in Sweden, and Judaism and Buddhism are also well-established.

The biggest Swedish holidays include Midsummer, Christmas and Easter.

sweden.se: Celebrating the Swedish way
sweden.se: Religion in Sweden

Culture

From Abba to Ingmar Bergman to Avicii, Sweden is a major exporter of culture, and the world’s biggest exporter of pop music in relation to GDP. Another global Swedish hit in recent years has been the so-called Nordic noir literary genre, led by Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. Look backwards in time and you have cultural heavyweights like Bergman – widely regarded as one of the leading directors in the history of film – and August Strindberg, the respected and highly influential dramatist.

There are countless opportunities to get involved in Sweden’s cultural life through the concerts, plays, gigs and exhibitions held the length and breadth of the country, year-round.

sweden.se: 8 reasons why Sweden rocks
sweden.se: Modern Swedish literature

Environment

Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Swedes hold nature in high esteem, which is one reason why environmental issues are so important here. Only one per cent of solid waste goes to landfill in Sweden – with the rest recycled or used to produce heat, electricity or vehicle fuel in the form of biogas. Renewable energy sources account for mote than half (52 per cent) of Swedish energy production. Swedish environmental technology companies export their green knowhow to the rest of the world in technology areas such as biofuels, bioenergy, windpower, solar power and wastewater treatment.

sweden.se: Renewable energy
sweden.se: Recycling
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Innovation

By any measure, Sweden is one of the world’s most innovative nations, and it has been called the most digitally connected economy. Swedes are early adopters of new technology and the country’s non-hierarchical society creates a fertile environment for new ideas. The Swedish government invests a higher proportion of GDP in R&D than most other nations. Generations of innovativeness have led to a long list of world-changing inventions like the three-point seatbelt, the pacemaker, the adjustable wrench and safety matches. More recent Swedish inventions include Spotify and Skype.

sweden.se: 10 innovations you didn’t know were Swedish
sweden.se: 10 world-shaping Swedish companies
sweden.se: Innovation in Sweden

Sweden is one of those countries that we’ve heard so much about, and all wish we could visit. Kingdom of IKEA, cinnamon rolls and tall people, there are plenty of things to discover in the country. Today we will focus on its capital, Stockholm. The city is spread out over 14 islands, and has a population of 2 million inhabitants. I know you are all as impatient as I am to start, so let’s dive in and discover what Stockholm has to offer!

Gamla Stan

I will start with the obvious, Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm. Why do I call it the “obvious”? Well, in most cities, the old town is one of the best parts (at least I think so). Gamla Stan is the paradise of narrow cobbled streets, colorful houses and historic buildings. It is also the most touristy part of Stockholm, involving lots of tourist shops selling viking hats (but the rest is worth it, I promise). A must-see, among other things, is the main square, where you will see the infamous red and yellow houses. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Stockholm Cathedral, built in 1279, it is such a majestic building that you will be amazed! The Royal Palace deserves a spot on the top 3 most beautiful buildings of the city, and while you’re at it, you can witness the changing of the guard which happens every day. You will find Gamla Stan right in the center of Stockholm.

The streets of the old town – Gamla Stan

Södemalm & SoFo

Södemalm is this district that will charm all vintage and second-hand shop enthusiasts, the creative souls, the artists and lovers of originally-decorated cafés. You can find any type of hangout there, from student-friendly relaxed place to chicer spots with fancy cuisine. The district is also known to be one of the most stylish places in the world, making it a Hipster-Heaven. From vintage clothing to furniture, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something.

Now moving on to SoFo, you probably wonder “what kind of weird name is that?”. Some say that it is the “new SoHo”, as trendy and fashionable as the famous New York district… Some say it’s actually better than SoHo… I will stay neutral in the debate. But indeed, SoFo is the part of Södemalm where you will find all the trendy places, the organic shops, the hip coffee spots and the live music bars. Basically everything you need to live the best of your millennial life.

Do you also see the charm of the Södemalm?

Långholmen

From feared prison island to most charming picnic spot, one could say that Långholmen has gone through quite the change. As I just said, it used to be an island on which stood a high security prison, hosting some of the most dangerous criminals of the country. It goes without saying that you would rather keep your distances than visit it. Nowadays, the prison is closed down and was actually transformed into a hotel & hostel. Yes, you can actually live in the prison during your stay in Stockholm. Of course you will understand that the rooms are not exactly super spacious (which kind of make sense, doesn’t it?), but the whole building has been rehabilitated and looks super modern and inviting (who knew I would ever say this in my life?). The island itself is very charming and the perfect spot for picnics, romantic walks, and family days. It is also very nice for all the joggers and cyclists out there who want some green spaces to let off some steam!

This is where I leave you, our visit of Stockholm coming to an end. I hope you enjoyed it! There is way more to be seen, and to discover, but I’ll let you tell us everything about it! You can always email us, or tag us on social media to share your Stockholm experience! We’re quite looking forward to it 😉

Rent a bike in Stockholm!

Candice

made a quick stop by IKEA

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    • Stockholm is one of those cities you’ll immediately fall in love with. It has charm, history, a thriving food and drink scene and the world’s first national city park.

      The city stretches across 14 islands altogether, and just outside of the city area is the stunning Stockholm archipelago, the largest in Sweden and second-largest in the Baltic Sea after Finland.

      But besides its interesting geography, Stockholm is a seriously cool place that’s pretty much winning at a lot of things: its coffee culture, thriving design scene, incredibly good public transport system and endless list of impressive bars and restaurants.

      For those planning a break to the Swedish capital, read on to find out where you should be staying, eating and enjoying yourselves in Stockholm.

      Where to stay in Stockholm

      Look no further than the Radisson Collection Strand Stockholm, which prides itself on an amazing location and impressive design. Its trendy harbour side location is not only ideal for getting around, but its recent dramatic makeover will make you want to spend more time than usual inside a hotel’s walls.

      Radisson

      The star of the show is the speakeasy-style bar, which is perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or post-dinner nightcap, while the stunning atrium restaurant serves Swedish fare underneath the glow of 300 hanging pendant lights.

      Book your stay at the Strand here.

      Where to eat and drink in Stockholm

      Restaurants

      Stockholm is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants, and you’ve come to the right place if you’re after interesting dining experiences and restaurants and chefs with a serious reputation.

      Head to Frantzén, where 23 guests change rooms and floors as they work their way through a menu that includes things such as rose of scallops, truffle toast, and a show-stopping Rubik’s cube style dish. Or Ekstedt that shuns molecular dining and instead cooks all its food over open flame.

      Leisa TylerGetty Images

      I particularly fell in love with Oaxen Krog & Slip, which is split between a casual bistro (Slip – where we went), and Krog which is more fine dining. Housed in a refurbished shed at a boatyard, old wooden boats hang above you while you feast on whole grilled turbot, spiced King crab arm, grilled pea-bread and Norrøna herring under candlelight.

      A name I heard pop up time and time again when asking for recommendations was Meatballs for the People, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. With the classic Swedish meatball as the focus, different varities are on offer from elk, beef and even salmon.

      Barrels is also great for a decent burger and some good beer. Save room for dessert and go for a dessert burger, which is basically a muffin-based “burger bun” with ice cream sandwiched in between. Yum!

      And other restaurants worth checking out are: Pelikan, Tennstopet, Agrikultur and the food hall, Hötorgshallen.

      Fika

      Fika is a huge part of Swedish culture, and in short it means taking time in the day for friends or colleagues, to share a cup of coffee and a little something to eat.

      This means that Stockholm has a thriving coffee and cake scene, and I was spoilt for choice when it came stuffing my face with Kanelbulle (cinnamon buns), Arak balls and all the other pastries, cakes and cookies Sweden has to offer.

      For something truly decadent, head to Mr Cake, which combines Swedish fika with American sweet treats, creating everything from red velvet croissants, to blueberry cheesecake doughnuts and traditional cinnamon rolls.

      Snickarbacken 7, Drop Coffee and Flickorna Helin are all worth a visit, too.

      Bars

      We hate to break it to you, but Sweden isn’t cheap, and high taxes = high drinks prices, too. Nonetheless, Stockholm has a ton of beautiful bars, both perfect in the cold, harsh winters around burners, or spilling out onto the streets the moment the ice melts.

      Mälarpaviljongen is a fantastic bar, with amazing views on a jetty filled with flowers, while Tak boasts beautiful views and cocktails with a Eurasian twist.

      The Stockholm beer scene is big too, and visiting a craft brewery like the Stockholm Brewing Co. is a must. Kvarnen is a great bar for a huge selection, while a “beer cafe” like Katrina Olkafe or Folk and Friends is great for a beer and a quick bite to eat.

      My favourite discovery however was the bar at the Hallwyl museum, recommended to me by a local, hidden away in the courtyard, lit at night by fairy lights. Perfect for a catch up with friends.

      Things to do in Stockholm

      Abba Museum

      Yep, Stockholm has an entire museum dedicated to ABBA, and you can do everything from dancing with holograms of the band, mix your own songs, and see tons of the costumes from the band. It’s a must if you’re a fan of the music.

      Adult tickets are 250 SEK (around £21), find more info here.

      Other museums

      Like most capital cities, Stockholm has a ton of great museums including the aforementioned ABBA museum, alongside the Fotograftiska, Skansen Open-Air Museum, and the Moderna Museet.

      JONATHAN NACKSTRANDGetty Images

      I highly recommend checking out the Vasa Museum, where you can see the only preserved 17th Century ship in the whole world. It’s an incredible sight to see.

      Adult tickets are 130 SEK (around £11), find more info here.

      Gröna Lund

      ullstein bildGetty Images

      Enjoy a day out at Stockholm’s amusement park, which is only open from late spring to September, and is definitely worth a visit.

      Go rooftop hiking

      A great way to see the city is above ground, and what better than a guided tour from the rooftops of a building? No worries, you’re well secured with safety equipment, but it’s a great experience and you get to see some beautiful sights and learn about some history, too.

      Book in with takvandring.com.

      scanrailGetty Images

      Gamla Stan, or the Old Town, is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, thanks to it being a pedestrian-only zone. There’s tons to see along the cobbled streets including gorgeous churches, hidden side streets, and of course the Royal Palace with over 600 rooms.

      What else is there to know about Stockholm before you visit?

      • Holiday in Sweden is a serious business, and it’s not uncommon for Stockholm to be pretty deserted of residents in the summertime as they head off to their island cabins or countryside homes.
      • You’ll seen signs everywhere saying card only, as Stockholm is keen to become a cash-free city. So instead bring your bank card rather than rushing out to get currency.
      • Public transport here is amazing, and on an SL card you can get on pretty much any transportation system – including some of the ferries.
      • Buying alcohol is kind of tricky and you can’t just pop to the local shop and pick up some. Instead you’ll need to head to one of the government run Sytembolagets, with a valid ID during particular hours.
      • Get on board with the Stockholm Pass, which provides free entry to more than 60 big tourist attractions, as well as some transportation.

      Stockholm travel tips: Where to go and what to see in 48 hours

      Travel essentials

      Why go now?

      Many people only think about a trip to the Swedish capital in summer, but now that the nights are drawing in you’ll have fewer visitors to contend with, and more chance to mix with the locals who are back in town from their lakeside cottages.

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      Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

      A more pressing reasons to go now is the fact that the splendid 127-year old Ostermalms Saluhall (1) (“food hall”; ostermalmshallen.se) will shut at the end of this year for refurbishment and won’t reopen until 2018; the merchants will move to a temporary venue.

      Touch down

      Arlanda airport is 37km north of the city and served by British Airways (0870 850 9 850; ba.com) from Heathrow, SAS (0871 226 7 760; flysas.com) from Heathrow, Edinburgh and Manchester, and Norwegian (0330 82 8 0854; norwegian.com) from Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh.

      The quickest way into town is the Arlanda Express train (arlandaexpress.com), which takes 20 minutes to reach Stockholm Central station (2) and departs every 15 minutes for Skr 280 (£22) one way. Slower, cheaper commuter trains go from SkyCity (between Terminals 4 and 5). Buses (flygbussarna.se) are slower still – 45 minutes to reach the central bus station (3) – but cheaper, at Skr 99 (£8) one way.

      Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) flies from Stansted to Skavsta (103km south-west of town) and Vasteras (106km northwest of town). Flygbussarna buses serve both.

      Get your bearings

      Central Stockholm spreads across 14 islands, with Lake Maleren to the west and the Baltic sea to the east. Bus (3) and train (2) both set you down in Norrmalm in the centre, where you’ll find the main tourist information centre (4) at 5 Sergels torg (00 46 8 508 28 508; visitstockholm.com; Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 4pm, Sunday 10am to 4pm).

      The good-value Stockholm Card (visitstockholm.com), covers entry for 75 museums, attractions, tours and public transport for Skr 765 (£61, for 48 hours).

      To the east lies upmarket Ostermalm (shopping) and Djurgarden (green spaces, museums); in the middle Gamla Stan (royals, old town); and to the south Sodermalm (cafés, hipsters). With a fair wind and a stout pair of shoes, it’s all readily walkable.

      Stockholm has a transport access card, covering the whole city, on to which you pre-load money (sl.se). A 24‑hour pass is Skr 115 (£9.20). The next jump up is valid for 72 hours, and costs Skr 230 (£18.40). Tickets are not valid on the Arlanda Express but you can travel to the airport on a standard train for a supplement of Skr 85 (£7) each way.

      Check in

      The HTL Kungsgatan hotel (5) at 53 Kungsgatan (00 46 8 4108 4150; htlhotels.com) adopts a budget airline approach to booking: lead-in rooms come without a window; it’s extra to have one, and more again for breakfast. Basic doesn’t mean drab, though, and it’s in a great location. Advance-purchase deals for a room-only double start at Skr 699 (£56).

      Miss Clara (6) at 48 Sveavagen (00 46 8 440 6700; missclarahotel.com) opened last year inside a former school. It’s very Scandi-chic, with bedrooms that manage to be both minimalist and cosy, and the staff are very friendly. There’s also a restaurant and pizzeria. Room-only doubles from Skr 1,352 (£108.)

      Ett Hem (7), which translates as “a home”, at 2 Skoldungagatan (00 46 8 20 05 90; etthem.se), is a lovely boutique hotel in an early 20th-century townhouse on the edge of Ostermalm. Its vibe is straight from a glossy design magazine spread. Double rooms from Skr 3,800 (£304), with breakfast made from local seasonal produce.

      Click here to see a bigger image of the map

      Day one

      Take a hike

      A good way to get a great view of the city, is by walking from Kungstradgarden Park (8) past the imposing Grand Hotel (9) on the waterfront and along Sodra Blasieholmskajen, down to the waterfront by the National Museum (10) (closed for renovation until 2018; nationalmuseum.se). Cross the bridge (11) to Skeppsholmen. The island is not very big, but a walk around the outer path affords panoramic views over the harbour. En route you’ll pass the Moderna Museet (12) (00 46 8 520 235 00; modernamuseet.se; closed Monday) with its extensive collection of 20th- and 21st-century art; and the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (13) (00 46 8 456 1200; mfea.se; closed on Mondays) .

      Lunch on the run

      Fotografiska (14) (00 46 8 509 00 500; fotografiska.eu) is Stockholm’s waterside photography museum and should be on everyone’s must-visit list. A bonus is that it’s open daily to 11pm. But get there for lunch: it has a terrific top-floor restaurant with harbour views. A large, open sandwich with prawn, egg and dill is Skr 145 (£12).

      Window shopping

      The area south of Folkungagatan on Sodermalm has been rebranded as SoFo. Here, cool mamas and papas push designer prams around the boutiques and meet friends for fika, the Swedish concept of a convivial get-together over a drink. On Nytorgsgatan there’s a strip of stores (15), such as Acne Studios for clothes at No 36, shoe shop Swedish Hasbeens at No 36A and Parlans confectioners at No 38. At the end of the street, where it meets Skanegatan, is the hip secondhand shop, Stockholm Stadsmission (16), while around the corner is Grandpa (17), at 21 Sodermannagatan, with lots of cool vintage and lifestyle accessories that you never knew you needed, but will want.

      An aperitif

      Urban Deli (18) at 4 Nytorget (00 46 8 5990 9180, urbandeli.org) does exactly what it says on the tin of organic herring roe: it’s both a shop and café, and if you can bag an outdoor table for a glass of wine on a warm evening, so much the better.

      Close by, and bordering Nytorget Square, you’ll find Gildas Rum (19) at 79 Skanegatan (00 46 8 714 77 98, gildasrum.se), which also has outdoor seating and a kitschy, warm interior when the weather’s not so good. Along the street at No 81 is Kaferang (20) (00 46 8 844 929), a more minimalist affair in decor, which serves both drinks and food.

      Dining with the locals

      In Sodermalm, Nytorget 6 (21), keeps things simple by having the same name as its address (00 46 8 640 9655; nytorget6.com). It has a buzzy vibe, with pavement tables and a wide-ranging selection of dishes, for example meatballs with lingonberries, mashed potatoes and pickled cucumber for Skr 175 (£13).

      If you’ve been wandering in Gamla Stan, a walk down towards the water’s edge will bring you to Kornhamnstorg No 53 (22) (00 46 8 209 033; no53.se), whose name is also its address. It’s mostly full of locals rather than tourists and it has a menu that includes flatbreads with toppings such as roast pork, onion, honey, rosemary and spinach for Skr 165 (£12).

      Ship-shape: the 17th-century ‘Vasa’

      Day two

      Sunday morning: go to church

      Out to brunch

      In Sodermalm, reserve a table at the Sodra Teatern arts and music centre (26) (00 46 8 5319 9379; sodrateatern.com), which has a jazz brunch on Sunday mornings from 11am, and a great view.

      Take a ride

      Walk down to the water-front and catch the ferry from Slussen (27) to Djurgarden (28).

      A walk in the park

      Djurgarden is a wooded island and the green lung of the city. Here, Skansen (29), a “Sweden in miniature” museum, park and zoo founded in the 1890s, is popular with families (00 46 8 442 8000; skansen.se). Admission is Skr 100/£8; opening hours vary, in September it’s 10am to 6pm daily). Also visit Grona Lund (30) (00 46 10 708 91 00; gronalund.com; entry Skr 389/£31) with plenty of rides, rollercoasters and concerts.

      Cultural afternoon

      Djurgarden also has a cluster of museums. The 64-cannon Vasa was the pride of King Gustavus Adolphus’s fleet when she sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. She lay, preserved by the low salinity of the Baltic, until 1961; now 95 per cent of what’s on show in the Vasa Museum (31) is original (00 46 8 5195 4800; vasamuseet.se; Skr 130/£10.50; open daily 10am to 5pm, Wednesday until 8pm).

      Close by is the Museum of Spirits (32) (00 46 8 1213 1300; spritmuseum.se) which highlights Sweden’s love-hate relationship with booze, including the chance to experience an audio-visual hangover. There’s an excellent restaurant and café. Entry is Skr 100/£8; open 10am to 5pm daily, Tuesday to 8pm.

      Abba The Museum (33), charts the history of Sweden’s most successful export since Volvo. It’s cheesy but fun (00 46 771 757 575; abbathemuseum.com; Skr 195/£16). Open 10am to 6pm daily, Wednesday and Thursday to 8pm).

      Icing on the cake

      The Stockholm archipelago has around 24,000 islands. Bucolic Grinda has a hotel, campsite and cabins, and is reached by boat from Stromkajen (34) in around two hours.

      Finally, stop off at Eytys. It has been open for 5 years and again is another unisex clothing brand. Their main focus is on shoes with a recent expansion into clothing. They are all about setting trends, pushing boundaries and being a little bit controversial. As a result, they have become hugely successful! Go speak with the staff to learn more.

      Vasamuseet Stockholm (Vasa Museum)

      The Vasamuseet is the most visited museum in Stockholm and what you will find inside is quite spectacular.

      Vasa is the name of a grand warship built in 1628 by King Gustavus Adolphus of house Vasa. When King Gustavus Adolphus inherited the throne he also inherited wars. His intention was to end these wars by creating a large fleet of warships with the Vasa being the largest and most ornamental.

      It took 400 people 2.5 years to construct, and cost the equivalent of a modern-day war submarine. However, in an incredibly unfortunate incident, it only took 20 minutes after being launched for the Vasa to sink.

      Here in the Vasa museum you can learn the story of why the warship sank along with how it was salvaged from the ocean many years later. Most amazingly, you can see the entire Vasa warship for yourselves whilst learning how it remained so preserved.

      This is not something we would usually choose to visit, however we were both blown away by our visit to the Vasa Museum, and cannot recommend it highly enough!

      Address: Galärvarvsvägen 14, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden

      Royal Palace of Stockholm

      The Royal Palace in Stockholm is one of the largest palaces in Europe, with over 600 rooms. To date, this is still known as The King and Queens official residence, despite their actual residence being elsewhere out of the city. The Palace is located on Stadsholmen, in the Gamla Stan neighbourhood of Stockholm.

      Even though the Palace dates back to the 18th Century, the interior decoration and so much of the furniture is original, and has been extremely well-preserved.

      Visits to the Palace include a guided tour of “The Royal Apartments”, which are still used today for hosting royal events and receptions, such as State Visits, or for the wedding of the Crown Prince and Princess which took place in 2015.

      The Swedish Crown Jewels are also kept here, in the Royal Treasury, and again these can be visited on a guided tour.

      A highlight of a visit to the Palace is the parade of soldiers, and the daily changing of the guard.

      Entrance to the Royal Palace starts from 130SEK, with the option of a guided tour costing extra.

      Address: The Royal Palace, 107 70 Stockholm, Sweden

      Go on a Stockholm Walking Tour

      You are going to have wrap up in winter for this one but it is completely worth it. No matter what the temperature, the city is too beautiful to not be explored on foot.

      We had a walking tour with StandOut Travel and the tour was excellent. We explored the Gamla Stan area with our tour guide Lars. He was extremely knowledgeable, personable and made history fun.

      The company works all year round but also specifically advertises winter tours and will likely stop in a cosy cafe halfway through to get you warmed back up. They work with businesses and individuals to bring the city to life and are the first LGBT owned travel agency in Sweden. Read more about gay Stockholm in our gay guide to the city here.

      Best Hotels in Stockholm

      Stockholm offers a wide variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets and styles of travel. The city has plenty of budget guesthouses and B&Bs, hostels, and even a wide selection of Airbnbs.

      Prices range from 470SEK – 700SEK for a centrally located guesthouse including breakfast, whereas for the more budget conscious traveller, hostel dorm beds start from as little as 180SEK.

      If you prefer to have your own space and facilities, Airbnb is always a popular choice. Entire apartments range from 590SEK – 820SEK depending on location, whereas if you are happy to have just a private room in a shared place, you can expect to pay a little less, with prices ranging from 410SEK – 700SEK.

      However, if you are only spending 48 hours in Stockholm, you may wish to treat yourself to a luxury hotel. The below are our top choices.

      Hotel Rival

      We stayed at the Hotel Rival and we loved it! Owned by Benny from ABBA, this is a beautiful boutique hotel. The hotel has an on-site café, bistro, several bars, and serves both a delicious buffet and a-la-carte breakfast. We particularly loved the location, in the trendy Södermalm district, walking distance from most of the tourist attractions. The rooms have clever little touches like a music button next to the bath to play ABBA and practical touches like USB ports either side of the bed!

      Price: From 2,095SEK for a standard double per night (depending on season).

      Address: Hotel Rival, Mariatorget 3, 118 91 Stockholm, Sweden

      Our hotel room at the Rival with ABBA proudly displayed on the wall.

      Hotel Pophouse

      Just a few minutes outside of the city centre, Pop House is situated in the beautiful green area of Djurgården. All 49 hotel rooms are individually and stylishly decorated, with a few even ABBA inspired and themed! As you can see in the restaurant section further down, we also thoroughly recommend checking out the onsite bistro!

      Price: From 1,690SEK for a standard room (depending on season)

      Address: Hotel Pophouse, Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden

      Hotel Skeppsholmen

      This hotel is situated away from the busy centre, on the peaceful island of Skeppsholmen. Dating back to 1699, the building has previously been a barracks and a hospital. What we loved learning about this hotel was that there is a particular focus on sustainable tourism, with a lot of renovations been done using recycled material. We highly recommend staying at Hotel Skeppsholmen!

      Fun fact: the studio where ABBA recorded their new music (due for release early next year) is located just outside!

      Price: From 1790SEK for a standard room (depending on season).

      Address: Hotel Skeppsholmen, Gröna gången 1, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden

      Hellstens Glasshus

      Hellstens Glasshus is another luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Södermalm. The unique hotel façade is 7 metres of glass, hence the name “Glasshus”. There is also a beautiful onsite restaurant, serving the owners favourite dishes from all around the world.

      Price: From 1,490SEK for a standard room (depending on season).

      Address: Hellstens Glasshus, Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 13, 118 50 Stockholm, Sweden

      Best Restaurants in Stockholm

      One of the things we certainly didn’t expect to find in Stockholm was such a wide selection of fine dining restaurants, serving some of the most delicious food we have ever eaten.

      Being a capital city, there are countless restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets. If you prefer to grab on the go whilst exploring, that is also easy enough to do. However, being the foodies that we are, these are our top choices for that high end luxury meal to treat yourself to whilst on holiday.

      Riche

      Riche is a very swanky, trendy and stylish restaurant in the heart of the city centre. The restaurant offers an extensive menu, with a heavy focus on meat and fish dishes, including one of the most beautiful steak entrecote dishes we have ever had.

      A particular highlight here was the staff – very knowledgeable and attentive, but also in a very light-hearted and fun way!

      Address: Riche, Birger Jarlsgatan 4, 114 34 Stockholm, Sweden

      Mosebacke Etablissement, Sodra Teatern

      This is a restaurant that we wouldn’t usually choose, being exclusively vegetarian. However, we both agree that this was our favourite meal whilst in Stockholm, hands down.

      The actual venue itself is stunning, with seven stages, bars, terraces and one of the best rooftop views of Stockholm. However the restaurant Mosebacke Establissement was our highlight.

      The concept here is fine dining “vegetarian comfort food” and this was the perfect description. We enjoyed truffle risotto, mac and cheese, mango ceviche on sweet potato and pan-fried broccoli with cashews and coconut cream.

      The restaurant also has an extensive wine and cocktail list too.

      Address: Sodra Teatern, Mosebacke Torg 1, 116 46 Stockholm, Sweden

      Hotel Skeppsholmen Restaurant

      This place has a reputation for offering some of the best Swedish meatballs, and we have to agree! They were absolutely delicious, more so for being served in such a stunning location.

      The Hotel Skeppsholmen is situated on Skeppsholmen itself, a beautiful tranquil island located away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is reached either by bridge and public transport, or you can opt to take the Djurgården ferry, providing some incredible views as you sail alongside the city.

      Address: Hotel Skeppsholmen, Gröna gången 1, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden

      Lykke at the Nordic Light Hotel

      Lykke is a new restaurant that opened this year. Whilst meat dishes are available on the menu, fish and seafood is what this restaurant does best. We enjoyed a beautifully prepared crab dish served in the shell, the best fresh octopus we have ever tried, and a typical Swedish dish, crispy sweet potato served with caviar.

      Address: Nordic Light Hotel, Vasaplan 7, 111 20 Stockholm, Sweden

      TAK, Raw Bar

      Restaurant TAK is a rooftop bar and a “raw” restaurant rolled into one. Located 55 metres high, this is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail whilst admiring the views – although you may want to wait to do this during the summer months! The food is a mix of modern Scandinavian cuisine with heavy Japanese influences. Whilst the menu is predominantly “raw”, the staff are happy to cater for anyone who doesn’t feel quite so adventurous!

      Address: TAK, Brunkebergstorg 2-4, 111 51 Stockholm, Sweden

      Pophouse Hotel

      Pophouse Hotel is right in the city centre, and is adjacent to the ABBA museum.

      We thoroughly enjoyed the bistro style menu here, along with our first sampling of Swedish meatballs, served with mash and traditional lingonberries.

      Address: Hotel Pophouse, Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden

      Nightlife in Stockholm

      Stockholm definitely comes alive at night. There are bars where you can sit and enjoy casual drinks with friends, to clubs where you can dance the night away. Most of the nightlife in the city is located within 2 disctricts, Södermalm and Östermalm.

      Stockholm and Sweden are home to some world famous DJs and singers– Avicii, Aban, Steve Angello, Robyn, Zara Larsson, and of course, ABBA, to name just a few. Many of these DJs still perform at some of the larger clubs in the city.

      Nightlife tends to start early, with friends gathering at one of the trendy bars in Södermalm, before ending up in one of the larger clubs.

      An important point to note is that bouncers in Stockholm are notoriously fussy about who they let in. Despite the legal age for drinking in bars being 18, it’s not unheard of for bouncers to apply their own rules and expect you to be over 20, or even 22 in one place as we saw! Luckily, we had our ID!

      Read more about the gay nightlife in Stockholm in our gay guide here.

      Practical tips for visiting Stockholm

      How to get from Stockholm Airport to City

      As most flights arrive into Arlanda, this is what our information is based on.*

      Train from Arlanda to Stockholm City

      The easiest and quickest way to reach the city from the airport is by train, the Arlanda Express. Trains depart in both directions pretty much every 15 minutes during the day, and take just over 20 minutes to reach the city.

      The cheapest option is to purchase your ticket online at least 7 days in advance, with prices starting one way at 195SEK.

      Coach from Arlanda to Stockholm City

      An alternative option is to take the Flygbussarna airport coach. These depart every 10 – 15 minutes but take between 30 – 45 minutes to reach the city. Whilst the journey takes twice as long, it is half the price of the train with tickets starting one way from 99SEK from the airport to the city bus terminal.

      Taxi from Arlanda to Stockholm City

      And for those who are not so budget conscious, there is always the option of a taxi. However, taxi services in Stockholm are not regulated, which means the price can vary drastically and be very expensive. Our recommendation is to use Taxi Stockholm, whose phone number is 15 00 00. Alternatively, Uber is widely available in Stockholm, and you will know the price upfront.

      *Note: If your flight arrives into any of the other 3 airports, as these are located closer to the city centre, you will most likely be able to take either a Flygbussarna Coach (this is definitely the case from Bromma), a commuter bus, or a taxi.

      How to get around Stockholm

      Walking around Stockholm

      Stockholm is a beautiful city. The architecture of the city is stunning, and being built around islands there is often water everywhere you turn reflecting the sunlight making for some great shots. Therefore, to see all of this and to make the most of photo opportunities, we strongly recommend walking where you can.

      We came across this street art by chance just walking around the city.

      Despite being built on islands, the majority of the sights are well connected, and are situated relatively close together, and so the city is very walkable. However, if you are pushed for time, and want to fit as much in as possible, there are also plenty of public transport options as below.

      Stockholm Travel Card

      If you would prefer to take public transport whilst in Stockholm, the most cost effective and convenient option is to purchase an SL Travelcard upon arrival.

      You have the option of purchasing a card for either 24 hours costing 125SEK, 72 hours costing 250SEK, or 7 days costing 325SEK, plus 20SEK for the card itself.

      The cards can be purchased in advance of travel, and will then provide you with unlimited travel for the chosen duration of the card from the time of first use.

      The SL card is valid on all buses, trains, Metro and trams on the SL network (pretty much anywhere you would need to go whilst in Stockholm!) as well as the Djurgården ferry.

      Stockholm Ferry

      As Stockholm is built on islands, an alternative transport option between a few of these is to take the ferry. This is widely used by local commuters and tourists, and is a fantastic way to explore the city whilst enjoying some stunning views.

      The most popular ferry departures are from Nybroviken and Slussen out to the leafy island of Djurgården, or you can also disembark at the island of Skeppsholmen.

      An SL Card includes the ferries from Slussen and you can also buy single tickets on the quay.

      Stockholm Taxi Services

      Taxi drivers set their owns prices as they are not regulated. The most common company used is Taxi Stockholm who you can recognise by their 15 00 00 phone number.

      However, the easiest option if you really don’t want to take the 24 hour pubic transport is to get an Uber. You know the price when you book, its all tracked and much more straightforward. The above mentioned public transport options will be the cheapest option, however taxis would be recommended on an evening, especially after a night in the bars and clubs!

      Is Stockholm Expensive to Visit? Cash and Currency

      This is a very common question when it comes to Stockholm and Scandinavia in general.

      Yes, it is typically more expensive than most other countries in Europe but that’s not to say you can’t be savvy with your spending. Also, people typically go for the weekend and if you are only spending 48 hours in Stockholm there is only so much you can spend! If you do want some tips on saving money, we enjoyed this article by Nomadic Matt.

      What is very important to know is that Stockholm is predominantly a cashless city. This is the first time we have ever encountered this concept and most places will not take cash. The intention is that eventually the city will become 100% cashless. We recommend getting yourself a travel card set up with Swedish Krona (SEK) before you go to avoid potential poor bank exchange rates.

      There are a few places that will take cash or change money but to keep your trip simple, just use card.

      Do they speak English in Stockholm?

      Sweden as a whole is a very diverse country with many spoken languages. Swedish is of course their first language however English is widely and very well spoken. We had no problems communicating in English at all during our time.

      Make sure you make an effort to learn some Swedish, start with hej (sounds like hey) for hello and tak for thank you. This will go down well with the locals. If you want to be extra friendly you can double up and say hej hej or tak tak (or super tak as we named it!)

      Stockholm took any expectations we had and blew them out the water. It’s one of the most picturesque, welcoming and inclusive cities we have visited, it certainly earns its title as the ‘Open City’. We hope that you are inspired to visit Stockholm and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

      Make sure to visit www.stockholmlgbt.com to find out more about this beautiful place.

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      We were lucky enough to visit Stockholm by partnering with Stockholm LGBT and Visit Stockholm. They hosted us, showed us the city and allowed us to experience everything the city has to offer. As always, our opinions remain our own.

      Some of the links in this post are connected to affiliate programs we have joined. If you make a purchase using one of the links, we get a small commission, at no extra charge to you. All opinions are of course our own!

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      Stay

      To feel like a local, find an Airbnb in the Tantolunden Park area. Its close to the restaurants and cafés of Hornstull, Mariatorget, and SoFo has made the area a popular meeting place for young Stockholmers.

      Or go all out in one of Långholmen’s colourful, traditional Swedish cottages.

      Eat

      You have to try the national dish – meatballs, with mash potato, lingonberry jam and a thick gravy. The best place for this is the simply named Meatballs for the People in the trendy Södermalm district.

      French-style Brasserie La Rouge in the Old Town offers excellent cuisine and wines in elegant surroundings with rich red & gold décor.

      Drink

      Stockholm has a thriving café scene and you’re never far from a coffee shop. You’ll be spoiled for choice in Hornstull, Mariatorget, and SoFo.

      For night-time drinks, Hommage in Södermalm offers friendly service in a cool repurposed fire station while theatre and music venue Södra Teatern has a wonderful outside terrace with amazing views over the city.

      See

      Even though it’s scattered over 14 islands, most parts of Stockholm can easily be explored on foot but you can buy a public transportation card.

      In summer the city comes alive and most Swedes spend much of their time outdoors whether it’s in the pavement cafes or picnicking on one of the leafy islands which make up this fascinating city archipelago.

      Join a guided walking tour in the Old Town to experience the beautiful buildings and learn about the history of Stockholm.

      If you’re into boutique shopping head to trendy Södermalm where you can browse cool vintage, retro and second hand shops.

      A 15-minute bus journey to Hellasgården, will take you to a recreation area inside Nacka nature reserve. Strip off for the sauna’s there before cooling off in Lake Källtorp.

      ABBA fans should not leave without visiting the ABBA museum. Adult entry is around £20.