Stockholm is a city with a long and interesting history, and although it is the largest city in Scandinavia, it retains a peaceful atmosphere with wonderful Swedish architecture and the natural beauty of the surrounding sea. Stockholm is truly an incredibly pretty city. It is made up of fourteen islands and has countless things to see and do between the museums, parks, and historic streets & buildings. This Stockholm travel guide is filled with travel tips to help you get the most from your trip!
What to Expect in Stockholm
Language: The most widely spoken language is Swedish, but around nine out of ten people do speak English.
Currency: Sweden rejected the Euro and continues to use the Swedish krona as the national currency.
Credit Cards and Banks: In the last few years, many places in Stockholm, including hotels, hostels, restaurants, and cafés have switched over to CARD ONLY, meaning they don’t accept cash. This is because the Swedish banks don’t charge them fees, so there’s no “minimum purchase” amount. Come prepared with a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees, and don’t count on paying for anything with cash (unless you’re tipping a tour guide perhaps). In addition, most shops will ask to see your ID when paying with a card, so carry an ID card around with you.
Peak Season: Most of the archipelago tours in Stockholm aren’t open year-round. They usually only operate from April or May through September.
Climate: Stockholm is quite a mild city in the summer, with the sunshine providing warm but not unpleasant temperatures. Night temperatures in the winter can drop below freezing. The best temperatures are experienced between June and August, with average daily highs of over twenty degrees Celsius.
Typically, there can be significant weather differences in parts of Stockholm because of the city’s seaside location. Even on a sunny day, things can get chilly! Your best bet is to always carry a jacket, no matter what season.
Getting Around Stockholm
Stockholm is separated into many different districts and communities; each offering a unique flavor of the city! The most popular Stockholm neighborhoods worth visiting are:
Norrmalm: This is the commercial heart of Stockholm with many of the main business centers, the city’s main railway station, the Royal Opera House, and a wide range of shopping areas.
Djugården: This attractive island is home to several parks and the Rosendal Palace, while also being home to the Grona Lund amusement park and several museums, including one dedicated to Sweden’s most famous export, ABBA.
Östermalm: This area is a posh residential neighborhood and is one of the most populous districts in Stockholm. This is the major shopping hub of Stockholm with many bars, pubs, and even clubs.
Gamla Stan: A historic island where there are many cobbled streets and quaint old buildings showing the city’s heritage, including the Royal Palace and the Swedish Parliament, meaning it is a busy working area as well as being wonderfully scenic.
Södermalm: Reflecting the modern architecture alongside historic buildings, this pleasant area is home to the bohemian SoFo district with bars, restaurants, and some wonderful designer shopping. Read my guide for tips for exploring Södermalm!
Read More: Guide to Stockholm’s Subway Art
Where to Stay in Stockholm
The most popular neighborhoods for tourists to stay in Stockholm are Gamla Stan, Norrmalm, and Södermalm. Gamla Stan is the historic “old town” island, having been inhabited since before 1252, and has some serious charm—however, you’ll pay more to stay in this area. Norrmalm and Södermalm are great for convenience, being within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and bars.
I’ve outlined the top places to stay in Stockholm below! And regardless of where you stay, Stockholm’s great public transportation makes it easy to get around between different parts of the city.
The Grand Hôtel is a truly luxurious hotel that combines the best of excellent service and traditional luxury with a beautiful location, including views over Gamla Stan and a wonderful Nordic Spa and Fitness Club for guests.
VRBO has a ton of beautiful properties across Stockholm—from studios to apartments, B&Bs, and private homes, you can find the perfect hotel alternative!
A stylish and historic hotel that has a central location but just away from the busy city center, the Berns Hotel offers a wonderful combination of beautifully decorated rooms, great food. It’s also home to a hot nightclub and stunning ballroom—lots of photo ops here! Read my full review of the Berns Hotel here.
Located in a charming area overlooking the water in the Royal Haga Park, the Stallmästaregården Hotel is a 17th-century hotel, that has been recently refurbished and offers lovely rooms and a wonderful restaurant serving authentic Swedish food.
Located in an early 17th-century building in the heart of Stockholm’s Old Town (Gamla Stan), Hotel Sven Vintappare offers traditional rooms and great food! The location is perfect for exploring the city.
Castanea Hostel is located in the middle of Old Town. It’s an affordable option for budget travelers, and you’ll be within walking distance of a myriad of shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and galleries. The city’s public transportation system and some of Stockholm’s top sights are only a short walk away
The Rygerfjord Hotel & Hostel consists of three ships, anchored at Söder Mälarstrand in central Stockholm. With 90 cabins in various sizes and categories, this is a true one-of-a-kind hotel.
Where to Eat in Stockholm
Stockholm is home to ten Michelin-starred restaurants, so you definitely have the opportunity for amazing dining experiences during your visit. The city has such a focus on sustainability, and tradition along with innovation, and those aspects carry over into their cuisine. Below, I’ve compiled my favorite Stockholm cafes and restaurants, for all budgets!
Some traditional Swedish dishes and ingredients that you’ll want to try include: köttbullar (meatballs with cream sauce), pickled or fried herring, raggmunk with lingonberries (fried potato pancake), kroppkako (potato dumplings with pork), gravlax (dill-cured salmon), crayfish, and kanelbullar (cardamom and cinnamon buns).
Fika BreakLocal Culture
Sweden is home to this delightful practice of taking one or two “fika” breaks throughout the day, usually with a coffee and a pastry. It translates to “a coffee and cake break” but it’s a deeper concept, ingrained in Swedish culture. Fika is more of a daily ritual, allowing people to be social, take pause, and it really becomes a state of mind.
So be sure to stop for fika breaks during your days! Enjoy a coffee and a kanelbullar (Swedish cardamom and cinnamon buns) at one of the many cafes—I highly recommend Fabrique Stenugnsbageri, Valhallabageriet AB, Coffee Stop, and Fern & Fika.
Stockholms Gastabud is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, serving absolutely delicious, authentic Swedish dishes in a cozy space. When I say that everything here is good, I mean it—you can tell that they take so much pride in their cooking and service. Plus, it is super affordable. It’s a must-eat restaurant in Stockholm!
Hermans offers a really amazing selection of vegan dishes, salads, and hot meals, along with eco-friendly beers and soft drinks, all buffet-style! The restaurant has stunning waterfront views and a garden. Be warned, it does get very busy during meal times, so be prepared to wait for a table (they are first-come, first-serve).
With a focus on authentic Swedish “home cooking”, DalaNisse offers classic dishes with a fresh twist. You’ll find great food, drinks, and affordable prices in the cozy Vasastan gem. And the service is so warm and friendly, I couldn’t recommend this place more.
Barrels, Burgers and BeerFast Food
Barrels, Burgers, and Beer have multiple locations around Stockholm. It’s a fast casual spot to grab a burger, and also has a delicious veggie burger. You’ve got to try the halloumi fries!
Hornstulls Marknad is a street market that’s open every Saturday and Sunday from April to September. You’ll find tons of food trucks and all types of yummy food and vegetarian options!
For more than thirty years, Rosendals’ Garden has cultivated and spread biodynamic farming practices. At their on-site café, you can expect delicious and seasonal farm-to-fork food made from vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit grown in their gardens, as well as artisanal bread baked in their wood fire oven.
What to Do in Stockholm
Stockholm has an old-world Scandanavian charm, and with 14 islands making up the Stockholm archipelago, there are no shortages of sights to explore around every corner. My favorite thing to do in Stockholm is to get out on the water—whether in the ferry boats or on a sailboat (as most Swedes do, all summer long), so I highly recommend seeing the city by boat at some point. Stockholm is also home to stunning museums, architecture, and nature parks. Enjoy these top things to do in Stockholm!
Exploring this historic island is a great way to spend a day or two, with several historic churches, museums, and the Royal Palace, which is open to the public for most of the year (except when official ceremonies are being held). Consider a walking tour of the old town or a nighttime Ghost Walk and Historical Tour in Gamla Stan!
This grand and impressive museum is located on the island of Djurgarden, and is one of the most impressive in Stockholm. With a wonderful collection of items that show the cultural and ethnographic history of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.
This is an ideal destination for those with a passion for images and artistic photography, as this gallery has a rotating schedule of exhibitions and displays by some local and international photographers, with English tours available if booked in advance.
There are a series of islands that help to make up the territory of Stockholm, and this three-hour tour takes visitors around the different areas and offers great perspectives of some of the most attractive and important buildings in the city.
Sweden is a country that is built on its maritime tradition, and this museum is where the best example of a seventeenth-century warship is housed, along with a range of other historic ships from the country’s great tradition.
Consider getting the Stockholm Pass if you plan to visit lots of tourist attractions, the archipelago, and museums — if you’re visiting for a few days, it may pay off!
For those looking for an adrenaline thrill or a more relaxed ride, this city center amusement park has a range of roller coasters and other rides, and is also known for hosting rock and pop concerts on a regular basis during the summer months.
If you want to learn more about Stockholm from a local, book a guided tour. There are plenty to choose from that will teach you about the city’s history, the royal family and delicious coffee culture.
Stockholm’s Subway Art is one of the city’s top attractions. It has more than 90 decorated stations, making it easy to spend an entire week exploring the city’s urban gallery.
If you’re short on time, you can read about my favorite stations in my Stockholm Subway Art Guide.
For those wanting to spend some time outdoors, exploring Djugården is a great way to enjoy a nice day in the city, with several parks to stroll through. Rosendal Gardens are very attractive and the open air museum and zoo at Skansen offer an interesting look at Swedish traditions and culture.
During the summer months, a bike rental service is available in the city, and getting on two wheels and exploring the city.