Stockholm is a huge, spread out city. Here’s what we did and how we did it in four days, including Gamla Stan, Vasa Museum, Gröna Lund and more!
When we found out Ed Sheeran was touring Europe, Ben was determined to get us tickets to a show somewhere. They sold out lightning fast, and the only location that he was able to score a couple seats ended up being Stockholm, Sweden. We figured, why not make a trip out of it? We hadn’t been to Stockholm before, but after some research we decided it was definitely somewhere we wanted to spend a few days. What an awesome city with so many things to do!
Something to note before diving into the fun stuff — Stockholm is probably the most expensive place we’ve traveled to so far (we haven’t been to Iceland or Norway yet, though). The prices were similar to those in Zurich or Zermatt, Switzerland. You can try to do it on a budget (good luck!) but we just decided to overcome the mental shock that dinners were going to cost $150, lunches were going to cost $90, etc., and we enjoyed ourselves and had a blast.
Transportation & accommodations
We flew Lufthansa from Frankfurt Main to Stockholm Arlanda and rode the Arlanda Express into the city. Book your tickets for the Arlanda Express online in advance to potentially score a discount. When we traveled in July, they were doing a summer offer for two persons and it was considerably cheaper than the regular fare.
From Stockholm’s main station, T-Centralen, you can get pretty much anywhere you want to go. For convenience, we stayed right by the main station — the front door of our hotel was about four steps from the entrance to the metro.
Hotel Terminus was a decent hotel, but when we visited it was terribly hot in Stockholm (above 90° F everyday) and our top floor room had no air conditioning. We were miserable, but in cooler temperatures it would have been fine! The front desk did give us a small table fan, thankfully.
We rode the metro all over Stockholm. It was quick and convenient. You can purchase passes for 24 hours, 72 hours or seven days — these passes were also good for the ferries. You can also buy single-use tickets if you don’t think you’ll be using the metro that often.
Things to do
Stockholm is a huge city. This list doesn’t even begin to cover all of the awesome activities it has to offer, but here’s what we did and how we did it!
Gamla Stan is the postcard photo of Stockholm that pops up instantly in an online search for the city. The brightly-colored, old buildings that surround the town square make for the cutest setting! I will admit, it was a little less impressive in person than online, but it was still worth walking through.
As we were walking around the area of Gamla Stan, we stumbled upon the Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, which includes a military marching band and parade. Check their website for days and times if you want to catch the ceremony during your visit — during summer it takes place everyday!
From Gamla Stan we walked down to the water and took a ferry to the island of Djurgården, where several museums and the Gröna Lund amusement park are located.
We walked over to the Vasa Museum, home of the Vasa ship, the only preserved 17th century ship in the world. I admit, I didn’t do a lot of research on this museum before going. I thought, old Viking ship — I bet it sank in an epic battle, can’t wait to learn more! It actually sank on its maiden voyage… less than one mile into its journey.
So, its backstory isn’t amazing, but it’s still cool to see. Its size really takes you by surprise — the ship is enormous! Also, they have some skeletal remains of the passengers who died when the Vasa sank on display, which is pretty neat.
After the Vasa Museum we walked around Djurgården a bit and had a drink at one of the waterfront restaurant/bars called Sjöcafeet, or The Lake Cafe. This was a cute area to hang out with plenty of outdoor seating options along the water.
You could hit some of the other museums on Djurgården, such as the Skansen or the ABBA Museum. Honestly, we’re just not big museum-goers. After spending an hour or two at the Vasa museum, we wanted to relax outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather.
Flea market & food trucks
The Hornstulls Marknad is a flea market and food truck combo that is the perfect spot to start the day! It’s a small flea market (we walked through the entire thing in about ten minutes), but the food trucks were really what we came for.
We ate some amazing food, then walked onward to Tantolunden, a giant park along the water with areas for swimming in the cool water. Since we weren’t in bathing suits, we decided to come back the next day for swimming. It’s about as close as you can get to a beach in Stockholm, and the hot temperatures made a swim very tempting.
Subway art tour
Did you know Stockholm’s subway system is basically one gigantic art exhibit? We did a self-guided tour through some of the recommended stops and it was so fun. Beats a museum any day. We went to about ten stations, but over 90 have art!
You can easily spend an entire day doing this, and it’s one of the cheapest things you can do in Stockholm (all you need is a metro ticket). We used this helpful blog for our tour of the stations.
After spending several hours riding the metro around, it was time for us to head over to Friends Arena for the Ed Sheeran concert, which took up the remainder of our evening.
It was another very hot day in Stockholm, so we decided to return to Tantolunden! We enjoyed another food truck lunch, then laid out on a towel in the shade and relaxed a bit. I tried to get in the water, but it was too cold and I chickened out. Ben succeeded.
Stockholm dinner cruise
This was really fun. We booked a dinner cruise that included dinner and a three-hour ride along the Stockholm archipelago to Vaxholm and back. There was a bar onboard, so after dinner we were able to enjoy a few drinks on the top of the boat.
The end of the cruise lined up perfectly with the sunset, which was an unforgettable experience.
Gröna Lund amusement park
Ben is huge on amusement parks. As soon as he saw Gröna Lund on the first day of our trip, I knew it was going to be on his mind for the rest of our time there. I agreed to spend our last day in Stockholm there — after all, it was only fair after he followed my lead for the last few days.
It was fun! There are a variety of rides to choose from and lovely areas to sit down for a bite to eat or a drink by the water. We spent about ten hours here which was more than enough time for us to ride everything we wanted to ride and repeat several of our favorites.
Aifur Krog & Bar
This one is listed under “Things to do” because it is so much more than a restaurant — it’s a fun experience!
This Viking-themed bar was a blast. We enjoyed a grand entrance upon arrival (the host introduces all new guests by blowing a horn and yelling their names out to the crowd, followed by a warm welcome applause).
From there, we were seated at a group table with several other people and enjoyed great food and delicious selection of mead! We loved the atmosphere — candlelit, live medieval music, costumes. It’s certainly a tourist attraction but it’s one worth going to.
Eat & drink
This place is awesome! The narrow restaurant sticks out of the side of a building ten floors high and is lined from wall to wall with windows to provide a panoramic view.
Directly above the restaurant is an open-air bar. The food was great, the staff were friendly, and we really could not get enough of the sunset views.
My recommendation would be to reserve a table by the window (most tables are along the windows, but there is a row of tables along the middle as well) and make sure that you are up at the bar during sunset, whether that is before or after your dinner.
This open-air bar is a short walk from Eriks Gondolen and it’s a great time! It’s a massive area with plenty of seats, multiple bars and live music (at least when we were there). It’s perched on top of a hill so it provides some gorgeous views over the city as well.
We enjoyed hanging out here for a while, and especially loved the fact that it was light out until nearly midnight — love those long, summer nights in Stockholm!
Food trucks are a cheap way to eat in Stockholm, though you can still expect to spend at least $10 on any item you order. We sampled several dishes from the food trucks at Hornstulls and also from one we ran into on Djurgården. It was all incredible food!
Aifur Krog & Bar (described above)
All in all, we loved Stockholm! It was a very fun four days.
We really enjoyed being able to use a card and/or contactless payment everywhere we went — even food trucks and 50-cent purchases at the market. Other areas in the world are probably operating at the same standard, but Germany is still very much a cash society so not having to touch cash once all weekend was quite different for us.
I also loved how clean it was everywhere! We found free water at most restaurants and bars (another rarity in Germany) and free public restrooms. In a way, it almost made up for the high prices on everything else 😉
I hope we cross paths again, Stockholm!