Stockholm squeezed unexpectedly into my “To See List” thanks to my favorite traveler, who knows that the best lostness in the world is when you are lost with someone in a place where people can’t pronounce your names. So there we were, lost in Stockholm for 3 days, no itinerary planned, no wake-up alarm in the morning, no knowledge whatsoever about the city or the Swedish culture.
That was pretty new for me, the super-organized-overthinking-#playitsafe-traveler.
However, as I work a lot on accepting uncertainty in my life, this turned out to be a perfect city-break. Stockholm might be the perfect destination for you too if:
- you are passionate about architecture, constructions and interior design
- you like underground art and Grafitti (all their metro stations have really impressive paintings)
- you love boats, harbors, and fish (you need to try their herring)
- you don’t drink a lot in your trips (their beers have 2.1% alcohol)
- you have money to spend (it is an expensive destination, one sandwich = 50 SEK/5 euros/25 RON)
- you don’t mind having picnics in the greenest city in Europe (you figured already why)
- you don’t mind walking (the city has 14 islands and 40 bridges)
- you can “hold your wee for a Wii” (all their public toilets need to be paid)
Let’s get into more details.
I recommend you to start your trip with this free Stockholm walking tour, as it is a great way to learn facts about the city. We bumped into it by mistake. (oh well thank you, dear Traveling Uncertainty) At 10:00 am near Sergels torg square, on Saturday, The General Tour done by Ben, was one of the funniest tours we’ve ever had! This guy told us about the origins of “The Stockholm Syndrome”, the gender-equality principles in Sweeden, who is actually the Prince of Stockholm, which Nobel Prize is really fake and of course IKEA facts.
Did you know that Princess of Stockholm married her gym trainer? When the guy asked her hand, the King said NO, because as you can imagine, he had no royal blood or roots. However, the King designed a “How To Get My Daughter’s Hand + Become the Prince of Stockholm” course just for him. It was a 3 years royal education course, like our Bachelor here, with the difference that he was the only graduate. Imagine his graduation day :))
The biggest surprise was to find out that the discipline that I have studied for 3 years at FSEGA, Economics, is actually a “fake” Nobel Prize. Alfred Nobel wanted that the fortune he made for inventing the dynamite, to be donated each year for Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and Peace. Economics was introduced afterwards by The Central Bank of Sweeden. It is said that Nobel didn’t want Economics on the list because his girlfriend left him for an economist. :))
Well, I don’t think I am supposed to share with you all these funny stories, so I don’t ruin your tour, so let’s come back to our unplanned itinerary. I’ve included the Google maps location, so you can pin the places and go with the Google flow :)
1st Day – Walk Around Stockholm’s Old City, Gamla Stan
After touring the main streets Drottninggatan and Kungsgatan, The Banking District, Haymarket, The Concert Hall and The King’s Garden, you can head to The Royal Palace in Gamla Stan and catch the changing of the guard. Because I did not think and do my planning, we missed this one. Gamla Stan is the romantic old town, with hilly streets, lots of vintage stores, cafes, and antiques. You can stop by the narrowest street in Stockholm and then reach the colorful square Stortorget.
Then head to Gondolen, a restaurant with the coolest view of the city and from there you are close to seeing the most photographed house in Stockholm. It is a red-yellow cobblestone house which can be seen from a terrace. You will find yourself in the area called Monteliusvägen, which is the perfect spot for a picnic in the sunset light. This area has the most beautiful view over Stockholm. There is a walking path with a magnificent view of Lake Mälaren, City Hall, and Riddarholmen, so try to plan your day to catch this view either at sunrise or sunset.
2nd Day – Explore Djugarden Island and its museums
You can reach this island either on foot or take the boat from Stockholm Slussen kajen. This trip is included in the 72h travel card pass. (if you make one) Here you can admire the parks, the beautiful harbor, Nordiska Museum and visit Vasa Musem and Skansen Museum. Especially if you like boats, history, and construction, you shouldn’t miss The Vasa Museum which showcases the only preserved ship from XVIIth century. This boat was restored after being 333 years underwater.
If you want to taste a bit from the Swedish old history and people’s culture, you should visit Skansen, the world’s oldest open air museum. You’ll see old farms, schools, churches, and even the Nordic animals (yess I saw Santa’s reindeers) and the museum staff will be part of the whole scene in a role play: they will cook for you, they will answer your questions, read books and make your whole experience authentic. At lunch, you can eat in a cozy cafe inside a greenhouse called Rosendals Trädgård. And if you are in the area and you want another cool view from above, you can head to Kaknästornet.
3rd Day – Explore the Architecture Details
We left the last day for random things (haha more uncertainty) such as interesting architecture buildings, interior design details, interesting constructions etc. We bumped into this cool Dome of Visions co-working space/conference hall which is a totally 100% sustainable building.
Did you know that the crazy Swedish want the have the whole Solar System for themselves? The Sweden Solar System is the world’s largest permanent scale model of the Solar System. In Stockholm and its suburbs, you can find The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter. You know that song “I’m gonna tell my momma/That I am a traveler/ I am gonna follow the Sun”. We followed the Sun which is represented by the Ericsson Globe, the largest hemispherical building in the world.
The third day was also a day of reflections. I noticed more the people, how they act, how they walk to work. It was Monday, and everybody was wearing a suit and tie, riding a bicycle. Stockholm is indeed a posh city, with a royal aura, hence it is not for everybody. :) Classy. Clean. Organized.
How to get around?
Stockholm can be easily explored on foot or by bicycle. We made a 72h travel card pass which was valid for any metro, bus or boat trip. We did it because we stayed outside the city center and we wanted to move around different metro stations to photograph the famous art work. The most beautiful stations are: on the blue line – T-Centralen, Kungsträdgården & Rådhuset; red line –Tekniska högskolan, Stadion & Solna centrum.
Where to eat?
There’s a place, to the right of Stockholm. 1h away by plane.
It’s Talin. Estonia.
There’s where you can eat normally. In Stockholm, the food is very expensive. 160 SEK a lunch, 200 SEK a dinner. Like 80-100 RON :)
How much did we spend?
We spent no more than 250 euros in 3 days (two museums, one tower, 72h travel pass, return ticket from the airport, accommodation, all the meals) But that’s because we are careful travelers. We did not eat in fancy restaurants (you can try though some cool spots from TripAdvisor – Nytorget 6, Urban Deli or Pom & Flora ), we had an Erasmus friend who saved us with the accommodation (thank you again Anna), we did not drink haha. Just to get you an idea, on our way back on the bus, I heard two friends talking they spent around 550 euros in three days.
It can become an expensive destination, but it is once in a lifetime (at least for me) and it is worth the effort. Hopefully, you found this article useful and it will help you plan your visit to Stockholm easier. I’d say that we learned a lot for an un-researched trip :)