Stockholm is a city full of outstanding architecture, vibrancy, and impressive vistas. It helps that it is built on an archipelago with many waterfront areas. But step a few blocks away from the water and you will still find things to admire, whether it is nice pedestrian narrow streets in the center or walkable routes in other districts.

Royal Palace and Storkyrkan

You will invariably focus a lot of your exploration on Gamla Stan ♥♥♥ (Old Town), where the most important churches and the Royal Palace are concentrated among the maze of narrow streets. The main historic square, Stortorget ♥♥♥, is very colorful and not exactly as big in size as its name would suggest (which is literally “Big Square in Swedish).

To the north-east of the main island lies Östermalm ♥♥, with the magnificent Strandvägen ♥♥ waterfront boulevard as its highlight. There are several waterside cafés along its length. The promenade is always busy and gets especially so in the evening. Don’t forget to wander the streets behind Strandvägen – they are full of wonderful architecture.

North-west in the city proper, you may want to explore the area of Vasastan ♥, an increasingly popular residential neighborhood with a bohemian vibe and many good eateries.

To the south of Gamla Stan is Södermalm ♥ whose main attraction point is Monteliusvägen ♥♥, a small pedestrian path on the high bank overlooking the whole of the city. The sunset from here is simply breathtaking.

There is also Djurgården, an island that is home to several of the city museums. Vasa Museum ♥♥ is a top choice, dedicated to the ill-fated royal ship that sank on its maiden voyage in the 17th century and was recovered 300 years later. The ship itself is obviously the most prominent feature of the museum and there is detailed information on everything pertaining to it, plus side expositions that discuss a number of cursory topics. A unique museum that can take a day to explore for those willing. Other museums worth considering in Djurgården or elsewhere in the city: the ABBA Museum; Museum of National Antiquities (Historic Museum); National Museum; Nordic Museum; or Junibacken for younger visitors.

The Skansen open-air museum requires several hours of exploration all by itself, which makes it unsuitable for shorter itineraries in town. The park is open until later than most other attractions, but individual points of interest within it close at “normal” times around 5 pm.

The Royal Palace ♥ consists of several expositions accessible on a single ticket. Royal Apartments ♥ offer a number of impressive spaces, with good information about each. There is also an interesting exhibition of Swedish Royal Orders taking up some of the rooms. The Treasury ♥ is relatively small but interesting, displaying full coronation sets through the years. A mobile app guide is available if you want to know more than the basic displays in every room.

There are two guard change ceremonies around the palace and the main square. At 12 noon, a big one starts with almost a parade-like march complete with an orchestra through the streets of the city toward the Royal Palace, culminating in the actual change that may be too crowded to see. Later, at 8 pm, a smaller ceremony takes place at the main square by the palace, with few onlookers, very easy to see.

Of various places of worship in Stockholm, a few stand out. Storkyrkan ♥♥, the Stockholm Cathedral, offers impressive golden decorations, especially the pulpit and two royal boxes. There are also nice vaulted ceilings and some stained glass windows. Tyska Kyrkan ♥♥ (German Church) looks very updated and clean, with bright stained glass and fantastic decorations inside. Riddarholm Church ♥ is the place where royals and nobility have been buried for ages; the coats of arms throughout the church provide an interesting highlight; there is a lot of information in English on the history of the impressive church.

The City Hall is both solemn and eye-catching, including its courtyard and the waterfront gardens. Access to the tower is limited to a dozen timed entries a day, each for a couple of dozen people; the tickets sell out quickly. There are also only guided tours for the main interior feature, the Blue Hall, which is worth considering for a future visit.

Drottningholm Palace ♥♥ is a UNESCO-recognized royal residence some distance from the city center (easily reached by public transport in about 40 minutes). It is a fantastic complex, with a gorgeous park, many luxurious rooms in the main palace, an interesting Chinese Pavilion, and the Court Theater (the latter can only be visited with a guided tour once every half-hour, with language alternating between Norwegian and English). You can easily spend a full day on the estate. The “World Heritage combination” ticket (the most expensive option) entitles you to a guided tour of the palace, which is not exactly needed, but you need to buy that option if you want to visit the theater.

Skogskyrkogården is a vast and beautifully architected cemetery that is also a UNESCO site. I am not in general a fan of cemeteries, but for those who are, the trip there could be rewarding. The site is about 25 minutes away from the city center via the metro.

Yet another UNESCO site in the general vicinity of Stockholm, Birka is a preserved Viking settlement that requires a day trip to visit.

A food tour called The Nordic Experience ♥♥ (link) takes you to a variety of market food stalls, full-service restaurants, and specialty shops, first in Hötorget and then in Vasastan. Nice selections – from cold cuts to small-portion dishes to sweets and ice cream – all with roots in the Nordic culture, and many interesting experiences that are highlighted by lively commentary.

There are plenty of different cruises around the Stockholm archipelago. We opted for the Under the Bridges ♥ boat tour which lasts under two hours. Very good narration and the cruise covers a significant area, twice going through the locks that connect the Baltic Sea with Lake Mälaren. The route does go under nearly twenty bridges, although the majority of them are tall automobile crossings, each a feat of engineering, no doubt, but not exactly what you might envision when hearing the name of the tour. The boat is glass-roofed; you need to get a seat by the open window for better views and photographic opportunities. There are two pick-up locations, it is better to join at the first one in order to get your preferred seating.


The bus, tram, and metro network in Stockholm is extensive and efficient. While you hardly need it if you stay in and around Gamla Stan, you will certainly need it to go to places like Drottningholm or to neighborhoods like Vasastan. The unlimited-ride 24-hr card is easily a good deal if you plan to travel a lot, breaking even after only 3 rides.


Accommodation-wise, any geographically central location will put you within easy reach of most of the sites, aided by the excellent tram network.


As far as eating out is concerned, whether you reserve a table in advance based on online ratings or just pick a restaurant at random, it is hard to have a truly disappointing meal in Stockholm. I personally prefer local vibes in less touristy areas, but sometimes sitting down in an eatery on a crowded square can have its rewards.

One place worthy of a specific recommendation is Under Kastjanen (“Under the Chestnut Trees” – on a quiet triangle of Brända Tomten square in Old Town), with minimal outside seating, but well worth the effort to get; the traditional – yet modernized – menu is limited but delicious, and it adds a lighthearted narration or backstory to every item.

The food tour that was mentioned above substituted for both lunch and dinner on one of our days in Stockholm. As part of that tour, we went by several vendors in Hötorgethallen, a food hall that appears to be a fantastic place to have lunch independently of a tour.

For drinks in the afternoon, probably nothing beats jetty-housed Strandbistron on the Strandvägen waterfront: watch the passing boats in the harbor, and the passing people on the promenade, while sipping a rosé or a beer.