The Ultimate Stockholm Sweden Bucket List
February 10, 2017
Stockholm, Sweden: A Bucket List
Admittedly, I knew very little about the capital city of Sweden before I came here. All I knew about the country in general, was that they had really good meatballs, it was home to the pop group Abba, and Ikea originated here. But once you visit this proud, Nordic nation, you see that there is a richness and pride in culture that is not found in most places of the world. There is also a warmth and kindness that makes a solo traveler feel welcome and at home.
Now Stockholm itself is a vibrant, island city that is connected by the vast water ways of the Baltic Sea. As a result, fishing, boating, and various other water based activities, like kayaking, are in intricate part of
the Swedish culture. To add to the majesty of these sea-faring capital, the coast of these waterways is dotted with historic, pastel colored houses that are not grand in scale, but rich in history; similar to the Old Town of the city, which is lined with cobbled stoned streets that tourists meander through, while looking for their favorite souvenir.
But this city is vast in scale, so it can be difficult to decide what to see and do when your time to explore this city is limited. Well, that’s where I come in. Here is the ultimate bucket list of MUST DO activities when you visit Stockholm. So whether you inhabit this capital city for 14 days or 14 hours, this list will provide you with an assortment of activities that will keep you entertained as long as you’re here (Ideally, I would stay in Stockholm for two or three days.).
The Ultimate Stockholm Sweden Bucket List
Kungliga Slottet– Need I say more? Just kidding!! I bet you have no idea what that is, because I didn’t before I came to Sweden. And I still have no idea how to pronounce it, but this is the name of the Swedish, Royal Palace. And this palace is amazing!! With 608 rooms, this is the world’s largest castle
that is still used for its original purpose. That means that the palace is not actually a museum, but a working, government building that houses an assortment of historical relics like baroque and rococo furnishings, ceremonial medals of honor, and an assortment of palace chambers that are reminiscent of the past with ornate wall paneling, intricate ceiling paintings, and grand furniture styled with mahogany and gold leaf. To say this palace is a grand site would be the understatement of the century. Truly a must see for Skr 160. The museum is open between 10:00 am and 5:00pm through most of the year (Pro-tip: Most museums in Stockholm are CLOSED on Mondays so adjust accordingly. Also, time your visit so that you can see the changing of the guard at 12:15 pm. SOOO worth it). Admission to this museum includes the Museum Tre Kronor, the Royal Treasury, and Gustav III’s Antikmuseum (the museum of antiquities).
2. Skansen – The world’s first open air museum is a folk village
where employees dress up and recreate the shops, farms, and stores that existed throughout historic Stockholm. The village also has an assortment of exhibits that showcase native Sami culture and a multitude of animals that are found within this region of the world. There are also a multitude of restaurants and bakeries that do an amazing job of recreating delicious, traditional Swedish foods like Safron Cake, smoked fish, bread, Goulash, and various other food items. For information , check out my visit to Skansen here.
3. Book a room at the Jumbo Stay Hostel – It is close to the airport and is a great place to stay on your first or last night in town. This hostel is also probably the only time you will EVER get to spend the night in a Boeing 747 and sleep in an actual bed. To learn more about this hotel, check out my previous post here and make sure you get a list of all your hostel, packing essentials here.
4. Vasamuseet – This is the most visited museum in all of Sweden and is home to the warship Vasa. This ship was the pride of the Swedish, naval fleet in 1628. However, within minutes of it’s maiden voyage, the ship sank and killed a multitude of passengers aboard, due to faulty construction. It was later salvaged after the boat’s rediscovery in the 1950s. The most interesting part of this ship though, is that it remains completely intact since the waters of the Baltic Sea are brackish and do not contain the marine worms that typically destroy most of
the historic ship wrecks around the world. Thus, this museum is a must see, fascinating look into the complex naval history of Scandinavia. In addition to the ship itself, there are four other levels of exhibits covering artefacts salvaged from the Vasa, life on board, naval warfare, and 17th-century sailing and navigation. As an added bonus, the bottom-floor houses a particularly interesting showcase of how modern forensic science was used to recreate the faces and life stories of several of the ill-fated passengers. Kind of like CSI if you ask me. The museum costs Skr 130 for adults and is open between 10 am and 5 pm, with extended hours in the summer.
5. Nordiska Museet – I know, I know, ANOTHER museum. But they are all just so cool that you can’t just pick one! This Renaissance- style castle is Sweden’s largest cultural- history museum, with a never-ending collection of anything that could be considered Swedish; from sacred Sami objects to fashion, shoes, home interiors and even table settings. All in all, there are over 1.5 million items in this museum that date all the way from 1520, to the present day. There is also an insightful audio guide (free with the Skr 100 admission) that offers several hours of English commentary.
6. Take a boat ride along the Baltic Sea – Explore the series of islands that give this city a unique style and culture. And since this city has a strong boat culture, there are no shortage of boat tours available to you. Choose from night and day cruises that include anything from a basic tour, to dinner and dancing. Just walk along the sea edge and pick the docked boat that most appeals to you, no reservations needed. These boats are even equipped to run throughout the winter, so there is always a boat tour that will work for you.
7. Old Town – Stroll through the Old Town and take in the historic, Swedish architecture of eras gone by.
8. Moderna Museet – The best part about this modern art museum is that it’s free!!! Okay, the best part is the art for sure, and maybe the awesome croissants at the expresso bar, but the fact that this museum is free doesn’t hurt (you only have to pay for special exhibits which are totally worth it). The permanent collection is quite innovative and houses an assortment of pieces that range from paintings and sculptures, to photography and video art installations. Museum highlights include works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol. They even have a really cool gingerbread house exhibit which displays architectural and culinary delights that were submitted to the museum by citizens all over Sweden. And if all these fantastical gingerbread houses make you hungry, the museum houses a fabulous restaurant (lunch Skr120, 11am to 2pm) with a great view over the water. This museum open between 10:00 am and 5:00pm on the weekend, with extended hours during the week.
9. Jamie’s Italian Stockholm – Okay, I’ll admit it, traditional Swedish food is not my cuisine du jour, so I had to improvise, and this restaurant hit the spot. The pasta is home made and the service is exceptional, even if the price tag is a little pricey. When you’re here, do yourself a favor and get the home-made gnocchi covered in truffle butter. This dish may just become the highlight of your whole trip.
10. Go ice skating in Kungsträdgårde – Don’t ask questions, just
do it!! The park has rental ice skates that you can borrow and once you have set foot on the ice, you fell like you have stepped into a Scandinavian fairy tale of delight. Add to the charm of the experience by getting a glass of grogg, from a local vendor, to warm you up.
11. Abba Museum – Okay, i’ll admit it. This museum was not the greatest and most impressive museum in the world. But what it lacks in historical artifacts and substance, it makes up for in a lot of fun. That and it helps you understand why this musical group is the pride of Sweden. Go just to sing and dance and be totally goofy while listening to an assortment of Abba tunes blaring from the radio. And don’t forget your pink, feather boa. This is the only place in Stockholm that you’ll actually need it. To learn more about my Abba Museum experience, click here.
13. Stockholm Ghost Walk – Sadly, I did not get to participate in this one because the English tour times didn’t work for me, but it looked like a unique and fun way to explore the city at night. The tour starts at Järntorget 84 (The Iron Square), costs 200 SEK for adults, and lasts about 90 minutes.
From here, a guide will walk you around the historic streets of Old Town Stockholm and recount tales of murder, death, and mayhem. These stories are sure to chill you to the bone and leave you gazing at Stockholm in a whole new light. But, the scariest thing of all would be if you brought a credit card because the ghost walk accepts cash only, so be prepared! And since this attraction is quite popular, I would book your ahead of time, here.