I’ll be completely honest…I didn’t know a thing about Stockholm when I booked my flight to visit. I was roaming around the WOW airlines website and noticed that it’d be cheap to fly to Stockholm over Labor Day weekend. I quickly went to Google and searched images of the city. After seeing the beautiful buildings lined up against the water, I told myself, “alright, I’m booking it.” I took a screenshot of the images and sent them over to my sister. Gave her all the details and convinced her to join me on this adventure. Within minutes, I was entering our information onto the WOW airlines website. Confirmed. We were going to Sweden! (Note: this was booked 10 months in advance)
I began the thorough research of Stockholm about two months prior to my departure. After searching for things to do, how to get around, costs, and cuisine, I felt like I knew everything I needed to know for my three night trip. Here are some key details I gathered from my research and my time there.
Stockholm is made up of some unique neighborhoods. Each one offers something a little different and it’s important to visit each one. This is also good to know so you can get an idea of where you’d want to book your accommodation. I actually stayed in Enskede, which isn’t one of the major neighborhoods. It’s more remote and residential, but my Airbnb was a short walk to the metro station and allowed me to be all over Stockholm within minutes. Here are the areas and a short description of what to expect from each.
- Sodermalm: My favorite due to the artistic, urban, and hipster feel to it. You’ll find bars, coffee shops, and stores all over. There’s plenty to see and do here yet it’s not bombarded by tourists.
- Gamla Stan: The Old Town of Stockholm. Here you’ll find an abundance of pubs and restaurants. I visited this area on a Sunday in which many of the shops closed down early. So be sure to plan accordingly. The brick buildings and cobblestone floors made this area another one of my favorites. Perfect for photos. You also had incredible harbor views. Grab a beer from a pub and sit outside and enjoy the beauties of this unique area.
- Ostermalm: This gorgeous area actually makes up a big part of Stockholm. There were large crowds roaming around along the pier and in and out of the many shops lined up. This is said to be the elegant part of town with exclusive and high end stores. We were told by a local that the area called Stureplan in Ostermalm is known as the “Times Square” of Stockholm. It really was just one large building with changing lights on it. The streets were bustling during the day and night.
- Djurgarden: This green island is filled with parks and gardens. It is great for picnics with your family. Here you will find the Vasa Museum and Grona Lund (the amusement park). During my visit there was a marathon going on here, so I’m sure there are plenty of trails to run on.
- Vasastaden: Also known as The Stone City. This area consists of massive stone buildings and parks.
- Norrmalm: This active area is where Central Station is located. It’s more of a city feel with retail shops, restaurants, and large department stores.
The transportation in Stockholm is amazing. There’s absolutely no need to rent a car if you plan on staying in the city. Uber is readily available for you to use. Walking around the city is always an option as well. Street signs are easy to read as they are posted on the corner side of the buildings.
The metro system is advanced and easy to navigate. Below is the subway map. As you can see, it is broken down into three color coordinated lines. There are plenty of stops available all over Stockholm. While it was definitely extremely crowded during peak hours, it was still bearable and everyone stayed within their personal bubble. I purchased the 72 hour metro pass, which cost me 230 SEK (around 27 USD)
Things to Know
- AIRPORT TRANSFERS: We landed at the Vasteras Airport. I booked a shuttle through Flygbussarna which took us to Cityterminalen located in the heart of Stockholm. Vasteras is a small airport located about 80 minutes away from Stockholm. The Arlanda Airport is the main airport of Stockholm. From there you can take the Arlanda Express located in the airport, which will take you to T-Centralen in 15 minutes. (Note: Cityterminalen is the bus station and T-Centralen is the subway station located right next to each other)
- CURRENCY: The Swedish Krona is used in Sweden. There are ATMs available, so find an in-network ATM and pull money out to avoid large conversion fees at the airport/bus station. Cards are WIDELY accepted, so you honestly won’t need much cash. Some establishments actually don’t take cash at all and prefer card at all times.
- COSTS: Stockholm is expensive. Purchases on food and drinks will quickly add up. A dish, such as Swedish meatballs, can easily set you back about 20 USD.
- TIPPING: Tipping is not necessary, but is appreciated. I tipped many of my bartenders and servers during my trip that provided exceptional service.
- SAFETY: I always felt safe in Stockholm even when I was walking around by myself. Of course you should always be aware of your surroundings, but overall I never felt threatened. There was one incident where my friends and I thought we were getting hackled by a man by the metro station. He kept yelling things out that seemed directed towards us, but we tried to not pay any attention to him. But even during that situation, I didn’t feel we were going to be harmed in any way. Some locals are definitely more reserved and not as welcoming to visitors (depending on the environment). For instance, we made a few attempts to converse with Swedes on the metro, but many did not engage in conversation. The friends we did make there told us that that situation is pretty common and many just don’t want others in their personal bubble. Understandable.
- LANGUAGE: There was hardly ever a language barrier. Majority of workers (and people in general) spoke English in Stockholm.
Things to Do
- Fotografiska: This art gallery is amazing. For 120 SEK you have access to multiple floors of breathtaking artwork. The top floor is a restaurant and bar. I visited this gallery around 10PM, which I really enjoyed due to the emptiness of the venue. The bar upstairs was open and there was live music playing. Definitely a great experience! Check out the website for more details and hours.
- Vasa Museum: Unfortunately I was not able to make it to this museum during my visit, but I did get a little lesson on it from a local. The Vasa Museum displays a ship that had previously sunk after just sailing for a few minutes. I was told that the ship was suppose to be the strongest warship at the time, but was built in a hurry and without proper calculations. The Vasa was dug up around 300 years after the incident and is now on display for the public to see.
- Stockholm Archipelagos: Another activity that I was not able to take part in, but did plenty of research on. Stockholm is made up of roughly 30,000 “islands” – okay, some of those islands are just large rocks in the water, but still. The archipelagos are explored by boat and there are various islands that you can stay at. Whether it’s a day trip or overnight, there are boats that will take you out there and then back to the city center. The main and closest archipelago is Vaxholm. Some say it’s not truly a part of the islands because it is connected by a bridge, but you’ll still get the experience while sailing along the water. The furthest is Sandhamm. You can find more information on the archipelagos here.
- Rent a Go Boat: These self-motorized boats are available to rent to explore Stockholm by water. Equipped with a picnic table in the middle and seating for 8 people, it really is such a fun experience. They are solar powered and made from recycled plastic. For 599 SEK (about 72 USD) you are given an hour to go on your own adventure. No boating license needed! It’s easy to maneuver and the employees are very helpful when you depart and dock. Book your time slot here, grab some food and wine, and enjoy this relaxing boat ride!
- Grab a View: There are a few spots that you can get an beautiful view of the city’s skyline. While I was roaming around Sodermalm on a solo adventure, I noticed a bridge called Gondolen. There was a restaurant on top, but it was closed the Sunday I was there. So, I was able to walk the entire bridge and get the gorgeous shot that’s posted above. Another area is called Monteliusvagen where you’ll be near the gorgeous calm waters with the skyline on the opposite end.
- Explore: Wander the beautiful streets of Stockholm. Explore the different neighborhoods. By the end of your trip you’ll be able to know exactly which neighborhood is which due to their uniqueness. Also check out their subway station art. Around 90% of the subway stations display a piece of art. Some are more intense than others, such as T-centralen, Kungstradgarden, Hotorget, Bagarmossen, Stadion, etc. You really need to see for yourself because it’s simply amazing.
- Fika: The Swedes love their coffee. You’ll find shops at nearly every corner. They call the dedicated time to have coffee, fika. So, partake in this and enjoy their amazing coffee with some of the best pastries.
- Eat Swedish Cuisine: One of my favorite things to do on trips is eat! It’s always good to try out that country’s delicacies. Find out what their known for and where the perfect place is to try it out. I went to Meatballs – for the People to try out the Swedish meatballs. They offer different types every day, so I got a nice surprise when I visited. They were offering deer, rooster, moose, or sheep meatballs that day. Although I always turned down deer before, I decided why not? Man, I was not disappointed! The meatballs were prepared perfectly and went great with the potatoes and lingon berries. Luckily, Yelp is present in Stockholm. It’s not as popular as it is in the US, but you’ll be able to find various restaurants to check out.
- Grab drinks at Vita Kaninens Drinksallskap: This is an amazing speakeasy bar located at Langholmsgatan 19. This establishment is a juicery by day and unique cocktail bar by night. You must sign up for their newsletter in order to reserve a spot. I actually e-mailed them in Swedish to ensure that I’d get a booking here (yay for Google translate!). My experience at this bar was amazing. Everything from the drinks to the service blew my mind. We made some great friends that we plan to keep in touch with. A must stop if you appreciate a well made cocktail!