Tourist in Stockholm - your complete guide
Updated 24 Jan 2019
Stockholm provides the best of both worlds. Global influences make their presence felt in the city's restaurants, hotels and cultural life, while its Nordic heritage is preserved in everything from Skansen to the traditional 'fika' coffee break and minimalist design. Getting around Stockholm is easy. Some choose to experience the city centre on foot, others prefer to explore its streets standing on a segway. Whichever you prefer, there's masses to see and do in Stockholm, so it's worth finding out the must-sees. To make it easier, we've hand-picked the cherries from the Stockholm cake and put together a complete guide for anyone wanting to visit the Swedish capital as a tourist. You'll find the city's best restaurants, cafés, bars and hotels, but also shopping spots, attractions and walking paths in different parts of the city - from Södermalm's hip streets to Östermalm's exclusive avenues and the green spaces of Djurgården. We also provide links to our specific guides where you can read more about each category and find all the gems Stockholm has to offer.
One of the most important factors when travelling is where to stay, and Stockholm really delivers on the accommodation front in all categories. One place that has recently emerged as a favourite is the Nobis group's beautiful boutique hotel Miss Clara which is centrally located in a former girls' school on Sveavägen. A short walk away towards Hötorget you'll find Hotel With - a super-modern underground hotel. The popular Urban Deli restaurant is in the same building, as is a fantastic rooftop bar with views over the city. If you're into design and are looking for a unique, home-from-home base from which to visit Stockholm, check in to Ett Hem - a former private home from 1910 where luxury is the watchword in everything from the decor (by Ilse Crawford) to the personal service. You'll also find elegance at the Lydmar hotel on Blasieholmen. With views of the castle and the archipelago ferries in the harbour, the location is hard to beat. It's also worth checking availability at the larger hotel chains, both Scandic and Clarion have signature hotels that stand out. Haymarket by Scandic in the distinguished former PUB department store building in the middle of the city offers glamorous art-deco vibes as well as a restaurant, café and bar, and the Clarion Hotel Stockholm at Skanstull on Södermalm is a real gem with its restaurants, bars and relaxing spa.
A welcome hostel trend has swept over several of the world's cities. Youth hostels need no longer be dull and basic, these days they can even provide a design experience. The much-lauded Generator hostel group can be found in several European cities, and in 2016 they opened in Stockholm. Choose between a private room, shared dorm or a luxurious suite - the rooms are decorated in a nordic, urban style and the prices are reasonable. In the same area you'll also find City Backpackers Hostel, which has been welcoming visiting travellers since the middle of the Nineties. There are some slightly more quirky budget options too. Why not check into the hostel ship Af Chapman? This full-rigged ship has been at anchor alongside Skeppsholmen since 1937 and has front-row seats looking out over the Old Town and an unbeatable walking distance to most things in town. Another option is to stay at Långholmen's youth hostel. Stay in old (but renovated) prison cells with a wonderful swimming beach right outside. Don't miss having a morning dip in Lake Mälaren before you head out into town!
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History, photographic art, geological exhibitions and contemporary art - in Stockholm there's something for all tastes. Fotografiska on Stadsgårdskajen is a firm favourite, despite only having been around since 2010. The posters sold in their shop have been framed and hung on the walls of thousands of Swedes over the years and their exhibtions are generally well-regarded and visited. Moderna Museet on Skeppsholmen is one of the world's leading museums for modern and contemporary art and another must for art-lovers visiting the city. If you're interested in the history of Stockholm, Stockholms Stadsmuseum is an excellent place to hear exciting stories about how life in the capital has changed over time. They also organise excellent city walking tours. Another slightly hidden gem is the Medelhavsmuseet (the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities) on Gustav Adolfs torg. The interior is impressive and the exhibitions relate to areas of the world that are more topical than ever. Don't miss the Bagdad café on the top floor. In one of the most impressive buildings in Stockholm you'll find the Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (Museum of Natural History), a biological and geological museum founded in 1819. Find out more about dinosaurs, the human body, space or watch a film in Cosmonova, Sweden's only dome-shaped IMAX cinema.
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Is a massage, facial or relaxation on your to-do list when in Stockholm? If so, here are some tips for really lovely oases to visit. First up is an architectural gem with a history going back to the 19th century - Sturebadet. Work out, have a treatment or swim in the pool. Another spa with a long heritage is Centralbadet, which was designed in the Art Nouveau style more than a hundred years ago. The bathhouse has gone through several renovations since then, but these days they provide modern treatments in a beautifully restored setting. A short distance from Drottninggatan you'll find the Selma CitySpa at the top of the Clarion Hotel Sign by Norra Bantorget. The rooftop pool, one of very few in Stockholm, has an unbeatable view. The Grand Hôtel's Nordic Spa & Fitness is just as luxurious as the hotel, and the strong emphasis on both the nordic and nature is reflected in everything from the choice of materials to the treatments. If you want to get out of the city centre and get closer to nature, the Skepparholmen Nacka Spa is outside town in Nacka and has a view over the water towards the entrance to Stockholm harbour. If you just want a quick treatment in town in between other appointments, we recommend popping in to DaySpa near Östermalmstorg.
Swedish food culture is so much more than just smörgåsbords and meatballs. Stockholm has everything from small Michelin-starred restaurants with long waiting lists to larger establishments with food that's almost as good. It's well worth checking out the little sister restaurants attached to several of the fine-dining restaurants, which are often a bit more relaxed and easier to get a table at. The famed restaurant Oaxen on Djurgården is worth a visit if you book early and want a little more luxury, but otherwise the adjoining Oaxen Slip bistro is a buzzy lunch and dinner option. If you're after a touch of French decadence Le Rouge in the Old Town on the other side of the water is a brasserie with seductive interiors in an historic building. Visiting meat-lovers shouldn't miss Restaurang AG in an old silversmith's workshop on Kungsholmen. On the same "industrial theme", Farang in Vasastan is also a good choice. Southeast Asian flavours and an impressive locale which used to be home to the Stockholm Electricity Board. You'll also find Asian flavours and the sharing-food concept at the fusion restaurant Miss Voon by Humlegården park, near Stureplan. And if you want to go back home feeling like you've had a truly out-of-the-ordinary restaurant exprience - then Punk Royale on Södermalm is the place to go to have all your senses, not just your tastebuds, stimulated. It's impossible to leave this restaurant feeling indifferent.
Restaurant experiences and long dinners with endless courses are all well and good - but sometimes you just want to get something tasty and filling in your belly. So it's good to know that Stockholm's fast food culture has really taken off in recent years. If you're not lucky enough to come across one of the city's food trucks by accident it's good to have a few addresses for permanent holes-in-the-wall and larger establishments where you know you can get decent food - fast. Falafelbaren by Mariatorget has been feeding hungry Stockholmers with freshly-fried falafels, homemade börek, dips, fool and salads since 2012. If you like hamburgers, a visit to the popular Flippin' Burgers in Vasastan is a must. Near Stureplan you'll find both Humlan Taqueria and El Taco Truck on Nybrogatan - two watering-holes for fans of an improved version of Friday night tacos in which chopped cucumbers and tinned sweetcorn have been exchanged for more authentic accompaniments such as pickled red onion and coriander. Two larger places which encompass several smaller restaurants are K25 on Kungsgatan, where you'll find food from all over the world, and Teatern near Skanstull, where some of the best chefs in the country are behind the fast food concept.
Swedes are huge fans of "fika" coffee breaks and there are masses of places in Stockholm where you can stop and partake of a little something. It's well worth dragging yourself out of bed for breakfast, "the most important meal of the day", too - a nice way to get the feel of the city waking up. Here are a few surefire café tips. First up, two places which ooze classic, old-school charm and tempt shoppers of all ages to stop and take a break. Both Vete-katten on Kungsgatan and Wiener Caféet on Biblioteksgatan are excellent for cakes, pastries and crisp biscuits. You'll find a more modern menu at Pom & Flora, which serves inspiring breakfasts, lunch and tea, with ingredients which even the swottiest of diners may need to google. Their avocado sandwich and colourful bowls must be some of the most Instagrammed breakfasts in Stockholm. Another spot everyone's talking about (and worth a detour) is Café Pascal near Odenplan. Try their coffee or huge sandwiches and you'll understand why. Kaffeverket near St Eriksplan is another favourite with a varied selection of cakes and pastries and stylish decor. A few brisk steps away, on the lively Rörstrandsgatan, you'll find Mellqvist, which has become a popular spot among Birkastan regulars. Coffee connoisseurs should definitely make their way over to the café mecca of Södermalm and drink their way through the menu at the much-lauded Drop Coffee on Mariatorget. If you happen to be in the city, you're not far from Under Kastanjen, a café hidden away among the cobblestones of the Old Town with its own gluten-free bakery.
Exciting cocktails, craft-brewed ale or a glass of wine - whatever you're thirsty for after a day in town Stockholm has plenty of places which take the bar epithet extremely seriously. Dodge the worst crowds on Västerlånggatan in the Old Town and aim for Tweed down on Lilla Nygatan. In the summer you can find a spot in their inner courtyard or terrace - otherwise you can take a seat in one of the leather armchairs inside. Beer connoisseurs can walk up to Södermalm and stop at the popular Häktet, which, among other things, boasts an unusual cocktail menu and a cosy inner courtyard. If you follow Hornsgatan all the way down to Hornstull you'll find the equally popular Södermalm concept Tjoget, with a prize-winning cocktail bar, continental restaurant, wine bar and barber shop all under the same roof. Don't miss the city's hotel bars, many of which are extremely impressive and well worth a visit, for example Americain in the Haymarket by Scandic on Hötorget. Elegant and innovative cocktails are mixed among velvet furniture and art deco decor in the iconic building which previously housed a historic department store (where Greta Garbo once worked).
If you want to make the most of your visit to Stockholm you can't let the day end after dinner. You've got to get out into the nightlife and experience the city well into the small hours. Café Opera on Kungsträdgården is a legendary spot which has been around since 1980. A stone's throw from there, on Berzelli Park, you'll find Berns, which draws huge club crowds to the historic 19th century building. Here you'll find dance floors and DJs playing hiphop and techno, among other genres. Another tip in the '"historic" catergory is Södra Teatern and its adjoining Södra Bar with views over the entire city from Mosebacke above Slussen. With several club nights in different genres "Södran" has something for most tastes. If you want to hang with the hip club kids in the city, don't miss Kåken, slightly hidden within the restaurant Niklas on Regeringsgatan. Not far from there you'll find perhaps the most well-known party square in Sweden - Stureplan. Within a small radius you can walk between famous nighclubs such as Sturecompagniet, Spy Bar and Hell's Kitchen, to name just a few.
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On the fashion front you'll find everything from large department stores to small showrooms and multi-brand boutiques in Stockholm. If you want to get a good overview of the different brands there are several boutiques worth checking out, depending on what you're after. The well-known boutique Nathalie Schuterman on Birger Jarlsgatan, a stone's throw from Nybroviken, has provided Stockholm with a cherry-picked selection of the best designers in the world for more than two decades. Jupiter stores can be found at several Stockholm locations and have made a name for themselves as a gentlemen's outfitters with a focus on quality and fit. Progressive Scandinavian fashion is embraced at Aplace, which sells women's, men's and children's clothes. If you head up to Södermalm, don't miss Nitty Gritty, an independent boutique which has been offering a personal mix of brands and lifestyle products since the early Nineties. If you want to find Swedish brands such as Sandqvist and Dagmar under the same roof, aim for one of the Grandpa stores. Don't miss the big department stores and shopping centres in the city either: NK, MOOD, Åhléns City, Sturegallerian or Bruno on Götgatsbacken.
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Scandinavia is world-renowned for its design and in Stockholm you'll find several boutiques that bring together the very best under one roof. Svenskt Tenn is something of a byword for classic, Swedish design with fabric and furniture designed by icons such as Josef Frank. In the shop on Strandvägen there's now a tea salon on the second floor, as well as the usual dependable range. Contemporary, Nordic design can be found at Asplund on Sibyllegatan, while down on Birger Jarlsgatan Norrgavel is another store worth a visit for its everyday objects made from natural materials and own-designed furniture. A thoughtful selection with a focus on sustainability. There are DesignTorget stores around the country, six of which are in Stockholm. This is the place to go to find clever board games, fun books, design classics or natty design objects you didn't know you needed. Don't miss a visit to the much-hyped Dusty Deco, which as well as the original boutique on Hornstulls strand can also now be found on Östermalm – it may be a bit tricky carrying home vintage furniture, but inspiration doesn't take up any room in your luggage.
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For some visitors the typical tourist things, like eating, shopping and exploring, just aren't enough. Luckily there are plenty of ways to keep busy with more unusual activities. For an impressive, birds-eye view of the city, join a rooftop tour on Riddarholmen. Included (apart from a thrilling experience up among the ridgepoles) is a guided tour of the area which is rich is cultural history. If you're interested in pitting your knowledge of the city against your friends, sign up for 100 Point Challenge - there are three different levels so even first-time visitors can take part in the 2hr challenge. Another activity most would enjoy is the pentathlon at Gröna Lund. Get a gang together and challenge each other in events such as dart throwing, slingshot or water pistol. Even more action and somewhat sweatier events are on offer at O'Learys Event Center Tolv at Tele2Arena a short underground journey from the city. If you want to combine exercise, sightseeing and perhaps the odd dip in the water, Surfbussen opposite Karlberg Palace is the starting point for you. From there you can try out the trendy sport SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) and paddleboard your way through the canal all the way to Stadshuset.
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Lilla Allmänna Gränd 9, Djurgården
Some people love sightseeing tours - others prefer to discover a new place on their own. Although Stockholm is a relatively small capital city and easy to get around it can be a good idea to tick off the most important "must-see" places on a well-packaged sightseeing tour. Choose whether you want to see the town from the water, bus, segway or bike saddle. If you're visiting Stockholm for the first time you'll be struck by how the water snakes between the islands that make up the city. The historic Strömma company offers, among other things, circular boat tours in the archipelago, Lake Mälaren and hop-on, hop-off boats which run in central Stockholm. If you prefer to combine sightseeing with a little light exercise you can roll through the city's streets and bridges on two wheels. Bike Sweden arranges guided tours and also hires out bikes for those who prefer to cycle around on their own. If you like the idea of two wheels, but would rather avoid the exercise aspect then perhaps a segway tour is the way to go? They leave from Munkbrotorget at the entrance to the Old Town underground station and run tours with names such as "The heights and beaches of Södermalm" and "Stockholm's highlights". Another exciting mode of transport is Ocean Bus. As you might expect, it's a bus which also goes in the water. The tour begins and ends at Gustav Adolfs Torg and passes some of Stockholm's classic sights. If you're a big fan of sightseeing and want to squeeze the most out of your time in Stockholm, the all-in-one card My Stockholm Pass could be a good option for you. Included are hop-on, hop-off tours by both boat and bus and entry to several attractions.
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Don't get too fixated on Stockholm's city centre - just outside the city limits there are green spaces and islands that make hectic city life feel like a distant memory. One stop away on the Roslagsbanan train from Östra station on Valhallavägen lies Bergianska trädgården, a botanical garden where you can stroll around among leafy trees or take a walk along the Brunnsviken waterfront. When hunger or sugar cravings kick in, it's not far to Gamla Orangeriet which serves organic food and homemade cakes and pastries. If you would rather experience the world-renowned Stockholm archipelago, take the ferry or bus to Artipelag on Värmdö island. A huge art gallery among the pines and rocky outcrops housing interesting exhibitions and two restaurants with wonderful sea views. You can also go for forest walks in the Nackaresarvatet nature reserve. Start at Hellasgården and stop for lunch at Storstugan, where you can eat well-cooked meals and warm yourself in front of the open fire. At Vinterviken, south of the city, you can follow in Alfred Nobel's footsteps and walk along the waterfront nearby the old brick building which housed his dynamite factory around the turn of the last century. These days, chef Markus Aujalay runs a café there – perfect for coffee breaks both outdoors and in. Just across the bridge, Millesgården sculpture park attracts visitors from all over the world. Stop here and have something to eat at Lanthandeln just after you arrive on the island or on the way home. Don't miss taking the bus out to the island's green areas where you'll find ancient oaks, meadows and walking paths along the waterfront.
The green and pleasant island of Djurgården attracts both Stockholmers and tourists with its beautiful oaks, walks, museums and restaurants. You can get to the island easily in various ways, but the heritage tram line from Norrmalmstorg is our favourite. Once you're at Djurgårdsbron you can hire a bike (or perhaps a kayak, canoe or pedalo) at the Sjöcaféet to get around the island. There's always a good reason to visit Rosendals Trädgård garden café, whatever the season. In late summer, the trees are heavy with apples and, inside the café, the garden's vegetable harvest makes up the menu. In the winter you can enjoy coffee and a cake in one of the greenhouses and in the spring the meadows are filled with flowers which you can use to make up your own hand-picked bouquets later in the season. Skansen, too, with its mixture of cultural history and zoo, is always a lovely place to visit. A little further out on Blockhusudden you'll find Thielska galleriet, where you can admire art by famous names such as Edvard Munch, Carl Larsson, August Strindberg och Anders Zorn as well as have a coffee or a light bite. On the way back you can check out the always popular Liljevalchs konsthall or 'fika' in the adjoining café Blå Porten's idyllic garden. Round off your visit with a drink and snack at Spritmuseet before you bike back to Djurgårdsbron or hop on the ferry over to Slussen.
Walks and attractions
If you want to make the most of Stockholm's best vantage points and nicest neighbourhoods, all you have to do is put on your comfiest shoes and head out. Not surprisingly, the loveliest walks are to be found on the waterfront in this city, often called the Venice of the North. For unbeatable views, steer yourself over to Södermalm. Start from Kungsträdgården and walk along Skeppsbron. You'll get a perfect view of the castle and Skeppsholmen before you continue up above Slussen. Once you're up on Fjällgatan, you'll find the old wooden workers' cottages typical of Södermalm, a kaffestuga open in the summer and the most beautiful view in the city. Keep walking down towards Nytorget to find restaurants and bars for all tastes.
Another lovely walk that also passes Slussen but in the other direction. Start the day at Mariatorget, where there are lots of charming cafés, restaurants, galleries and boutiques. Take your time wandering around the cobbled streets on the other side of Hornsgatan and peek down over Riddarfjärden bay from Monteliusvägen. From there you'll see both Stadshuset, Riddarholmen, Norrmälarstrand and the whole way over to Västerbron bridge which joins Kungsholmen and Södermalm. When you've had enough of this view, walk down towards the Old Town and explore attractions such as Stortorget and the nearby Storkyrkan church. Stop for a drink at Pharmarium (if there's room!) before finishing up with a meal at one of the many restaurants around Lilla Nygatan.
The area around Sergels Torg may not look too promising, but bear with us. Sergels Torg is an iconic spot in Stockholm with its graphic patterns and eye-catching glass obelisk. Avoid the crowds on Drottninggatan and instead walk down Sveavägen until you pass Urban Deli and Miss Clara before you duck onto Drottninggatan by Gustav Adolfs church. From there, the walk up towards Tegnérlunden park is more peaceful and packed with cafés and shops left and right as well as quotes from the famous Swedish author August Strindberg along the street. From Tegnérlunden it's a short walk to the vintage boutiques around Odenplan and Vasaparken where you'll find the "gold house", Sven-Harrys konstmuseum.
Many tourists don't get any further than Nybroplan, Strandvägen or Stureplan, but Östermalm has much more to offer. Wander round the streets around Östermalmstorg and the historic saluhallen food market, before you take the "back way" out towards Djurgården via leafy Karlavägen or peaceful Linnégatan until you reach Narvavägen and turn right down towards Djurgårdsbron bridge. Once you're there you can choose whether to hop on a bus or tram out towards Djurgården (and its Gröna Lund, Skansen and Waldermarsudde attractions) or take a left before the bridge and stroll along the picturesque Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen waterway.
Did you know that the Stockholm underground is the world's longest art exhibition? SL arranges special art tours where you get a guided tour of the city's tunnels and learn more about the art which decorates its platforms.
Things to do with kids
Stockholm is fun and welcoming for even the youngest visitors. Several museums have impressive sections for children - here are just a few of them: Tekniska museet on Gärdet has a 2 000 square metre science centre where big and small can explore and experiment their way to smart new ideas. In contrast to the latest technology, Nordiska museet's children's area "the playhouse" is a totally different experience - here you are transported back in time to play in the same way as children did in the Swedish countryside in the 19th century. The river raft and old-fashioned country store are always very popular, even with tech-age children. On the same sort of historical theme is Junibacken, right behind Nordiska museet. Here you can take a fairy tale ride through Astrid Lindgren's well-loved stories, watch children's theatre performances or browse through countless children's books - Junibacken's aim is to kickstart children's imagination and encourage them to read. More centrally located in the city centre is Kulturhuset, where the fourth floor is specially for children. There's a large library here and an art workshop where you can paint and build things in various media. Another tip is to head out to Fjärilshuset in Hagaparken where you'll find a tropical rainforest in the middle of Stockholm, full of beautiful butterflies and colourful fish.
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Whether you're interested in art, theatre, film, live music or dance, Stockholm has masses to offer culture-wise. As an alternative to cinema multiplexes, Bio Rio in Hornstull is one of Stockholm's few remaining single screens from the 1940s. The cinema shows excellent, often prize-winning, films from all over the world. Dansens Hus by Norra Bantorget is Sweden's oldest stage for guest performances of contemporary dance from Sweden and all over the world, and has performances several evenings a week. If you continue along Torsgatan towards Sankt Eriksplan you'll see Bonniers Konsthall come into view. Both Swedish and international artists are shown here and entry to the exhibitions in the art gallery is free. If you start from Norra Bantorget but head south instead on Vasagatan it won't be long before you'll cross Kungsgatan. There you'll find Fasching – a jazz club which has grown and grown since it opened in 1977 and is now the largest jazz promoter in Scandinavia. Next door is one of Stockholm's many private theatres, Oscarsteatern. If you'd rather visit Stadsteatern you'll find it inside Kulturhuset on Sergels Torg. Dramaten, too, is well worth a visit, as much for its beautiful interiors as its theatrical performances.
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