When people think of beautiful European cities, they often think of Florence, Paris, Vienna. But I think that Stockholm definitely deserves a place in the top 10 prettiest cities in Europe. From the old architecture of the Old Town to the hipster cafés, Stockholm manages to perfectly connect the old and the new. The city is both historic and modern, as well as painfully trendy.
Seriously, if you want to feel like you’ve died and gone to hipster heaven, Stockholm is the place to go. Between the tall, blond, gorgeous people and the beauty of the nature surrounding the city, there’s enough to feast your eyes on.
Unfortunately, all this comes with the typical hefty Scandinavian price tag. Because Stockholm is very, very expensive. A single fare metro ticket costs as much as 4 euros! And a beer easily 8 euro. I knew it wouldn’t be a cheap destination, but come on! Luckily, it’s not impossible to visit Stockholm on a budget. I Couchsurfed with a lovely local, cooked most of my own meals and only indulged in some street food, kept the drinking to a minimum and walked as much as possible. It’s merely a case of picking and choosing what to spend your money on. And sightseeing is free.
If you’re going to Europe and want to see different sides of the continent, I think Stockholm is a must-visit. It’s probably my favorite of the Nordic capitals. And when you do, here are the best things to do in Stockholm:
Stroll through Gamla Stan
Stockholm has a unique layout, divided over multiple islands. The oldest island and historic city center in Gamla Stan (Old Town). This small island houses the oldest and most impressive architecture. History buffs like me will love strolling around here!
The houses are super colorful and there are plenty of IG-worthy views to be had, especially Stortorget Square. But the best view is from the opposite bank at the stunning City Hall building. Make sure you pass by the Royal Palace, where the Swedish Royal House still resides, the Royal Cathedral and the Parliament building. If you’re into World History, the Nobel Museum is obviously a must.
Get cultural at the Museum Island
Stockholm boasts a lot of amazing museums. You can find several great ones all around the city, but most of them are concentrated in one place: Museum Island (Alberget). This island alone offers enough to entertain you for several days.
Here you find the Vasa museum, where you can see an old Viking ship, the Abba museum, all about one of the best popgroups of all time, and my personal favorite, the Nordic Museum. The Nordic Museum houses several interactive and engaging exhibitions on Nordic life and culture, great for both kids and adults. And there are several other fun, niche museums on the island.
Aside from museums, there’s also lots of beautiful nature. Skansen is the oldest open-air museum in the world and it lies in the middle of a stunning nature park. A great place to hike on sunny days. During the summer, you can also visit Gröna Lund, an old amusement park with tons of different rides.
Visit a beautiful library
I love visiting old libraries when I travel. For me, as a history buff and book lover, they’re on par with churches and palaces. There’s just something so magical about them. And there are lots of gorgeous old libraries all around Europe, including in Stockholm.
Kinglinga, the Royal Library, is definitely worth a visit. Note that you’ll have to put your bag in one of the free lockers as they’re super strict about preserving the antique books. The City Library is a bit more modern, but also very cool, especially the circular main room. Both libraries are completely free to visit and a great place to get some work done if you’re a digital nomad like me.
Check out the Östermalm disctrict
I would say that aside from Gamla Stan, Östermalm is the prettiest district in Stockholm. Most of Östermalm is graced by opulent Art Nouveau buildings, my favorite architectural style. This is definitely a place I would never be able to afford to live, but a girl can dream 😉
I recommend just strolling through the neighborhood as you go from Gamla Stan to the Museum Island. This is also where the Royal Library is located. Walk through the beautiful streets, do some window shopping in the high end designer boutiques and take lots and lots of pictures.
Have a fika
With all that walking around will surely have worked up an appetite. Luckily, the Swedish have invented the perfect past-time: fika. Fika basically means coffee break, but is an integral part of Swedish culture. It’s a moment to sit back, relax and chat with your coworkers or friends.
The Swedish love coffee and you can get a great cup anywhere in the city. You can go for a trendy hipster bar or a fancy boutique, there are no wrong choices here. And a fika would not be complete without a Kanelbuller, a Swedish cinnamon bun. Honestly, I could eat these every single day, they are so good! Perfectly flaky yet sticky with cinnamon and sometimes cardamom. Absolutely delicious!
So, there you go, my top 5 things to do in Stockholm. Everything you need for a great weekend trip to this beautiful city. Obviously, the city has a lot more to offer, so add your own recommendations in the comments!
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