So you’ve stepped off the plane in Arlanda and made your way to your hotel in the center of Stockholm. Where to next? Here are the first 5 stops you should make as a tourist in Stockholm:
1. Gamla Stan
You thought I was going to say the ABBA Museum, didn’t you? The truth is, Benny and the gang can wait—you’ll want to make a beeline straight to Old Town to marvel at the handsome townhouses and cobblestone alleyways. This is a great island to orient you, as it’s in the center of Stockholm, with easy passage to hip Södermalm and trendy Norrmalm. Packed with cafes and galleries, here’s where you’ll find the Royal Palace, Nobel Museum and medieval Storkyrkan church. For the best touristy shops, breeze down Västerlånggatan before catching a late breakfast at cozy Café Schweizer.
Djurgården, a large island of forests, fun museums, and Sweden’s oldest amusement park, draws a close second. There are a few different ways to get there but the most iconic is via a ferry from Berzelii park. The boat takes you right up to Gröna Lund, with its tunnel of love, seven rollercoasters, and the Little Paris Wheel. Down the road you’ll find the ABBA Museum (finally!), Junibacken kids’ playground, the Nordic Museum and the Vasa ship museum. But the star of Djurgården is hands-down Skansen, Stockholm’s beautiful open-air park and zoo. In 1891, Skansen opened 75-acres’ worth of rolling hills, exotic animals, historic buildings, and craft stalls. A popular destination for families, but take my word for it, you definitely don’t need to be a kid to enjoy it.
Once you’ve soaked in the historic and cultural highlights, take the metro over to Södermalm, where hipsters sip their coffee well into the Saturday afternoon. Start in Slussen for some boutique shopping, and then walk down Hornsgatan for vintage shops and tasty Asian lunches. Follow the road southward and you’ll stumble on the English bookshop, popular brunch hotspot the Greasy Spoon and cool Café Rival (incidentally, owned by Benny Andersson of ABBA). Best to come in the evening – this is where you’ll find the best creative bars, fun music venues and craft beers.
Officially the business district, Norrmalm is nevertheless where you’ll find awesome food markets, lively cinemas and the shopping streets. You can hang out at the Nomad Food Bar behind City Backpackers or go shopping on Drottninggatan or NK (Nordiska kompaniet). You won’t go hungry at Hötorgshallen Saluhall, a partially underground food market with Finnish treats, Latin American meats, fish soup and fresh fruits and vegetables. This is the center of Stockholm, evidenced by the T-Centralen railway station at its heart.
Once you’ve seen the highlights, it’s time to branch out a bit. Your fifth stop in Stockholm should be Vasastan. Just north of Norrmalm and reachable by bus or metro, head to Vasastan if you want to know what Stockholm was largely like before it turned so cosmopolitan. This neighborhood is home to a cupcake shop, tasty Asian restaurants, fresh bakeries, and the massive park of Vanadislunden. Oh, and don’t forget to stop at the Stockholm Public Library to see the largest medieval manuscript in the world with its striking painting of the Devil.
So, there you have them – the first 5 stops you should make as a tourist in Stockholm. Have a great time!