Sweden: home of Ikea, H&M and Absolut–and gorgeous blonde people. Stockholm, the country’s capital, boasts much more than just DIY furniture, low-cost clothing and popular vodka–although it stays true to form with plenty of attractive blondes. While you can expect to dish out the big kronas on food, drink and public transport (perk: the subway runs all night!), you’ll be rewarded with a rich culture, gorgeous landscapes and delicious and perfect-for-winter food. Here’s what you can’t miss on your next trip to Stockholm:
Gamla stan: Dating back to the 13th century, this is the heart of Stockholm. The medieval architecture, cobbled roads and winding alleyways is a drastic change of scenery from the modern buildings and wide roads that dominate the rest of Stockholm. Snuggle under a blanket and sip a hot chocolate at Chokladkoppen, and watch the crowds go by in the popular square of Stortorget. Finished your last book on the plane? Don’t miss The English Bookstore. Watch the extravagant changing of the guard at the Royal Palace and take a moment to soak up the striking Stockholm Cathedral.
Djurgården: This was, without a doubt, my favorite part of Stockholm. Home to the Vasa Museum, Skansen and an amusement park, this island-slash-park is full of shady trees, winding paths and open grassy spaces. Rent a bike and explore the further side of the island: you can’t find a spot more peaceful in the city. Be prepared to encounter extremely expensive real estate right beside horse and cow pastures.
Vasa Museum: Doubt that a museum about a sunk ship can be interesting? Think again. The Vasa was built in the early 1600s, ordered by the Swedish king for the Polish-Swedish War. However, the ship sank on its maiden voyage after sailing barely 1300 meters. It sunk to the bottom of the sea, and after its expensive cannons were recovered, it was mostly forgotten about—until 1956, when work began to raise and rebuild the ship. Since the shipworm doesn’t exist in this part of the Baltic Sea, the Vasa was in extremely good shape. You can see the fully-rebuilt ship in the museum—but don’t miss the informational video and guided tour to learn a ton of interesting tidbits about the ship. There’s also some great exhibits on life in Sweden during the 1600s.
Skansen: The largest open-air museum in the world, Skansen is a compelling way to learn more about Swedish heritage and natural history. It features original historical buildings from Sweden’s countryside, as well as authentic clothing, household items and tools. The buildings are staffed by people in full period costume who can answer any questions about what life was like at that time. Don’t miss the Nordic animals—wolves, wolverines and bears, oh my!
Moderna Museet: The modern art museum has a large collection of Swedish contemporary art, as well as works by many of the big European names. Located on the island of Skeppsholme, it’s surrounded by tall trees and beautiful views of the water. Well worth a wander.
Archipelago: The Stockholm archipelago is made up of approximately 24,000 islands and islets. In the summer, it’s easy to visit many of the islands for the day—however, most of the boats stop going out in late September. Even a two-hour tour around the archipelago is worth it for the stunning views of rugged landscape—however, it gets quite chilly on the water! Make sure to layer up.
What are your favorite activities in Stockholm?