The vibrant Swedish capital of Stockholm is a popular port destination. Locals call their city ‘beauty on water’ – an apt description for a modern, evolving Scandinavian coastal city which will delight you with its beauty. No longer a cold and overlooked Nordic city, Stockholm offers visitors a dizzying choice of things to do; from museums and music through to gastronomic adventures, history, and architecture. Here’s how to spend one whirlwind day in this captivating city.
Coffee and pastries
Kickstart your day with fika; the Swedish version of ‘coffee break’ which is as much about the coffee as it is about the socialising and taking a break. The Swedes value their time to slow down for a short while and actually take a proper break, whether by yourself or with a group of friends. And when in Sweden, it makes sense to embrace it! So instead of rushing off immediately, linger for half an hour over a freshly brewed coffee and a sweet pastry to satisfy any hunger pangs. With your mind and body rested and caffeine running through your veins, you’ll be ready for a full day of exploring Stockholm! Try Vete-Katten or Café String for a fika which is popular with the locals.
Take in some history at Vasa Museum
One of the most unique museums you’ll ever visit, the Vasa was a ship built in the 1620s. It was destined to be the crowning glory of the Swedish naval fleet. It sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was discovered again only fairly recently; in 1961. Remarkably, the cold waters kept it well-preserved. Thanks to some further restoration work, when you visit the museum you can take in the intricate carving details, the huge size of the ship and the attention to detail that went into building the Vasa.
Stroll through Gamla Stan
Like many European cities, Stockholm has a gorgeous old town. The narrow streets of Gamla Stan are only open to pedestrians as the roads are too narrow for cars. They’re brightly coloured, winding and stereotypically Swedish – and they make for beautiful photos. There are also many famous tourist attractions to keep you busy, such as the National Assembly Building, Royal Palace, Opera Theatre and the cathedral.
Gamla Stan is split across three islands and as such is one of the largest medieval centres in Europe and because it’s so pedestrian friendly, you can dip in and out of boutique stores, restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops to your heart’s content.
Lunch in the Old Town
There are plenty of buzzing lunch spots in and around Gamla Stan, perfect for indulging for an hour or so, while you rest your tired feet. You can avoid the typical tourist traps, as many restaurants offer a lunch special which can help to feed the family in what is known to be a very expensive city. There’s a fabulous Vietnamese restaurant named Pho and Bun – offering a steaming bowl of noodle soup - perfect for a cold day. Ebenist is a modern and stylish Swedish restaurant where you can expect upscale food with a bit of a fine dining twist – think smoked beetroot or traditional meatballs. Or, be brave and try really traditional dishes like reindeer and elk at Fem Sma Hus, only metres away from the Royal Palace.
There are so many sights to see in Stockholm that you’ll need to narrow it down to the one or two that you really want to visit during your short time in the city. Many choose to visit the Town Hall, which is one of Stockholm’s most well-recognised landmarks and world-renowned as the site of the annual Nobel Banquets. The Town Hall also holds a staggering amount of wedding ceremonies – as many as 70 per day!
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the King of Sweden and as you might expect, the Palace is lavish and ornately decorated. You can visit the Palace and take a tour of the various rooms, as well as watch the changing of the guard.