The tranquil, historic and sophisticated capital of Sweden strides across an archipelago of 14 islands. Stockholm's history goes back to the medieval era, and much of the oldest buildings date from this time. Massive expansion from the 16th to 18th century however saw it transform into the cultural powerhouse it remains to be today. From the historical old town of Gamla Stan to the Royal Palace home of the popular Swedish Royal Family, the beautiful green Djurgården Island and the incredible Vasa Museum, there is so much to do in this diverse city. As a globally recognised fashion capital, it's a win with shoppers, whilst its emerging face on the fine dining scene makes it a foodie haven too. A packed-out calendar of annual events such as We Are Sthlm present plenty of world, alternative and youth music, as well as celebrations of food and global culture. Timelessly stylish, friendly, welcoming and laidback, this elegant city is a popular destination for everyone including couples, families and groups.
Things to Do
There are countless things to do in Stockholm, so if you're only visiting for one weekend you'll need to make sure you have included the best of the best. This means a trip to Gamla Stan, the Royal Palace, Skansa Open Air Museum, Vasa Museum and, if you still have time, a bit of outdoor activity such kayaking, swimming or cycling.
Gamla Stan is the city's medieval Old Town, a place that is so fantastically preserved you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd entered a film set. Within Gamla Stan is the Baroque 18th-century Royal Palace and the official monarch's residency. A second royal residency, Drottingham Palace, is found on the island of Lovön. This 17th-century palace is even more splendid and breath-taking than the main residence. Other historical buildings and structures of note include The Tower of Birger Jarl and the Riddarholmen Church: the oldest building in the city which dates to the 1200's.
Stockholm for families
To say that the city is family friendly is an understatement. As with all of Scandinavia, this city celebrates children and childhood in a way that few places on earth do. This means that there are plenty of excellent attractions that are great for families. This includes the Vasa Museum, the world's only preserved 17th-century ship and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Scandinavia as it is home to a huge number of exhibits and free for children. Located on the Djurgården Island is Skansan, it was the world's first ever open-air museum and pays tribute to per-industrial life across Sweden. After all that learning, kids will love a day at Gröna Lund Amusement Park, home to numerous rides, restaurants and shows.
Shopping in Sweden's Capital
The city is a shopper's paradise, home to everything from boutique shops, designer shops, markets and high-street retailers. Those with refined tastes should head to well-heeled Östermalm, where the most exclusive fashion houses are found. Those who prefer to find edgy, alternative, hip and vintage finds would be better of heading to Södermalm. Shoppers looking for souvenirs and gifts for the family back home should wander around the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan where handicrafts, ornaments and interior accessories can be found in independent shops.
Dining out in the city
Stockholm's residents are passionate about good food, made from local fresh and seasonal ingredients. The sheer number of high-quality eateries and many the city's Michelin stars are testament to this trend. Gastrologik, a Michelin-starred restaurant, is a fine example of New Nordic cooking using fresh, organic, simple ingredients to develop new twists on old classics. Ekstedt is another Michelin-starred eatery, but a world away from stuffy Parisian or London counterparts; this is a welcoming, laid-back restaurant where seasonal food is cooked over an open flame. The city is also home to countless quality cafés where you can get a reasonably priced lunch. Be sure to try local delicacies such as rollmops and cinnamon buns.
Activities in Stockholm
Swedes are notoriously healthy and outdoor activities are one of the ways they maintain their famously good lifestyles. Open-water swimming is a popular pastime in the city, and good spots for it include Lake Mälaren. The relatively new activity of stand-up paddleboarding as well a traditional kayaking and canoeing are hugely popular in the city too thanks to a plethora of waterways. Cycling is popular in this green city that supports bicycles by proving plenty of rental bikes and bike lanes. Thanks to the numerous bridges connecting the islands, it's easy to get around by bike, but be sure to head out to the green pastures of Djurgården.
Calendar of Events
As one of the world's most modern and diverse cities, Stockholm plays host to a number of excellent annual events each year. From the traditional to the starkly modern, there's something on the calendar for every visitor.
Stockholm Pride. Few cities do Pride like this one does. In late July or early August, the main festival area at Pride Park plays host to numerous concerts, shows and mini events all culminating in one of the world's friendliest and most welcoming pride marches.
We are Sthlm. Occurring in mid-August, this festival is squarely aimed at youngsters and is the biggest festival in Europe for young people. Sport, music and culture can all be enjoyed at the friendly festival in the city centre.
Stockholm Culture Festival. Also in mid to late August, this unique family festival celebrates the diverse cultures of the world and within the city itself. With a changing focus each year, past events have had national themes of India, Great Britain and Denmark.
Sthlm Street Food. One of the newest faces on the Stockholm event calendar, this Street Food Festival is testament to the city's uber-cool vibes. In early September, DJs, live music and street food from around the world can be enjoyed at this tasty event.
Sthlm World Music Day. Coinciding with the Street Food Festival is the annual World Music Day -- a fantastic chance to experience urban music from around the world.