Looking for things to do as a tourist in Stockholm? Whether you’re a culture seeker, nature lover, foodie, or traveling with the kids, you’ll find that this beautiful capital city has a broad selection of sightseeing options and attractions for your Nordic adventure.
Stockholm is located on Sweden’s southeast coast, built on an archipelago of fourteen islands where freshwater Lake Mälaren meets with the Baltic sea. Let’s explore some of Stockholm’s islands and districts to discover activities to fill your vacation itinerary.
We’ll start with the most iconic district in Stockholm…
Gamla Stan, (‘Old Town Stockholm’) is located on the island of Stadsholmen (and officially Riddarholmen, Helgeandsholmen, and Strömsborg) in central Stockholm.
Feed Your Senses at Stortorget
At Stortorget, (‘Grand Square’) and throughout the entire island, your eyes will enjoy exploring the architecture of the iconic colorful old buildings while your taste buds savor a bite from one of the many cafés. If you’re looking for souvenirs, you’ll find some quality shops here too.
Colorful houses at Stortorget in Stockholm’s Old Town
The largest building at Stortorget is the former Stock Exchange Building, which currently houses the Nobel Prize Museum and the Nobel Library. Also located here is The Swedish Academy, an institution of eighteen members who work to promote the Swedish language and literature through publications, scholarships, and awards including the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Stortorget, Old Town
Go Dragon Hunting at the Great Church
Originally constructed in 1306, nearby Storkyrkan (‘Great Church’) has gone through several expansions and transformations resulting in a Baroque-style exterior and five-aisled Gothic interior. Housed within the church are several famous works of art, notably the eleven-foot-tall sculpture of St. George and the Dragon.
Trångsund 1, Old Town
Museum Hop at The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace in Stockholm
Officially the residence of the Swedish Royal Family, The Royal Palace is currently the setting for the offices of the Royal Court and their official functions. Several museums are on site including Skattkammaren (‘Royal Treasury’) where the national regalia are displayed. Visit the Museum Tre Kronor to explore the early medieval castle’s history or Livrustkammaren (‘Royal Armory’) to witness the oldest artifacts of Swedish royalty including arms and armor, ceremonial clothing, and state coaches.
During summer visits at the Royal Palace, explore king Gustav III’s 18th century stone sculpture collection at Gustav III Antique Museum and immerse yourself in the art and architecture of Castle Church, the Royal Palace’s church. Also, be sure to check the daily summer schedules to witness the changing of the Royal Guards in the outer courtyard.
Slottsbacken 1, Old Town
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Järnpojke
While stretching your legs and exploring the sights along the historic cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan, be sure to look closely for Järnpojke (‘Iron Boy’), the tiniest public monument of Stockholm. Here’s a hint: He’s not too far from the Royal Palace.
Trädgårdsgatan 2, Old Town
The island of Södermalm is a low-key part of Stockholm. Shop and dine in Stockholm like a local in this shopper’s paradise with many cafés, restaurants, and bars to keep their partners occupied!
Watch the Sun Set at Monteliusvägen
Monteliusvägen in Södermalm offers one of Stockholm’s best views
Catch a beautiful sunset or early sunrise along with an equally stunning view of the Stockholm skyline and landmarks (including the iconic structure, Stockholm City Hall) along the quarter-mile path named Monteliusvägen in the northern part of Södermalm. You won’t be alone if the weather is right, which makes it a fun social event as well.
Fotografiska: No Ordinary Museum
No culture seeker’s visit to Stockholm would be complete without a visit to Fotografiska in the Södermalm district. Self-proclaimed as “no ordinary museum”, their rotating photography exhibits are curated with an underlying focus on inspiring social consciousness.
Regardless of the current exhibit schedule, you’ll enjoy a collection of works by an accomplished photographer in this upscale museum. Afterward, head to the café (or on the veranda in summer) where delicious pastries and coffee are served with a spectacular view of Gamla Stan over the water.
Stadsgårdshamnen 22, Södermalm
Skeppsholmen, a small island to the east of Stadsholmen, offers some cultural attractions and an opportunity to stretch your legs on the picturesque walkway around the island.
Immerse Yourself in Modern Art, Architecture and Design
Contemporary art lovers are encouraged to visit these two adjoined modern art and design museums. The works of modern artists are on display in the Moderna Museet. The Modern Museum and the national center for architecture and design, ArkDes, are located in the same complex.
Exercisplan 4, Skeppsholmen
East of Skeppsholmen, Djurgården is known for a variety of museums and recreational areas with beautiful nature.
Skansen: Living Scandinavian History
Skansen is the world’s first open-air museum – Photo: © yegorovnick/Shutterstock.com
Established before the turn of the century, Skansen is Stockholm’s quintessential experience for tourists who want to get a glimpse into the Swedish rural way of life before the industrial era.
The open-air, working museum and nature park is a collection of nearly 150 restored and reconstructed historic buildings, with live demonstrations by farmers and skilled laborer craftsmen traditional of the period.
Historic farmsteads house live farm animals typical of the era with more Scandinavian animals and fish at the zoo, children’s zoo, and aquarium on site.
To round out your day, there are plenty of options for shoppers and foodies. Plan to spend the majority of the day here, but if you’re pressed for time, Skansen suggests some highlights on their 1- or 2-hour self-tour guides.
Djurgårdsslätten 49-51, Djurgården
ABBA The Museum: Pop Back to the 70’s
Thank ABBA for the music at their museum – Photo credit: © Lasse Ansaharju/Shutterstock.com
Djurgårdsvägen 68, Djurgården
Vasa Museum: Maritime Time Machine
Don’t miss the Vasa Museum – named as one of the top museums in the world
In 1628, the massive Swedish warship Vasa set sail on her maiden and only voyage from its Stockholm shipyard, ending at the bottom of the harbor within minutes. Over 330 years later, she was pulled intact from the water, and restoration began.
Djurgården is the home of the maritime Vasamuseet (‘Vasa Museum’) that centerpieces this beautifully restored 17th-century warship, Vasa. Here you’ll discover the process of its recovery and the science of its restoration in addition to learning about the history of shipbuilding techniques of the early 1600s.
Not surprisingly, the Vasa Museum has been recognized as one of the top museums in the world. You won’t be disappointed.
History buffs will also enjoy the Viking Museum and the Nordic Museum, both close by.
Galärvarvsvägen 14, Djurgården
It’s Child’s Play at Junibacken
For families traveling with young children, dedicate a few hours of your itinerary for a trip to Junibacken. One of many things to do in Stockholm with kids, this is a terrific place for young children to explore the world of imagination through Swedish children’s literature. There’s a focus on the works of Astrid Lindgren (featuring Pippi Longstocking), and other notable Swedish authors.
The story train ride, mini theatre, and open play areas at Junibacken are the ingredients for a special day for your kids. While you’re there, peruse the largest children’s book store in Sweden!
Galärvarvsvägen 8, Djurgården
Have a Farm-to-Table Lunch at Rosendals Garden
Rosendals Garden – Photo © Holger Ellgaard/Wikimedia Commons
For a relaxing afternoon in the outdoors and a break from touring the city, explore the orchards, gardens, and greenhouses of Rosendals Trädgård (‘Rosendals Garden’). Gardeners will be interested in the biodynamic and organic gardening practices here while their foodie partners will relish baked goods or a delicious farm-to-table lunch at the cafe.
Rosendalsvägen 38, Djurgården
Get a Shot of Adrenaline at Gröna Lund
Thrillseekers and vacationing families with teens will love the energy of Stockholm’s popular amusement park, Gröna Lund. The park offers a variety of attractions including rollercoasters (with great views) and plenty of food and drink options to keep you fueled all day. Check the calendar for upcoming live concert performances!
Lilla Allmänna Gränd 9, Djurgården
North of Skeppsholmen and Djurgården, posh Östermalm is home to exclusive residences, five-star restaurants, high-end shops, and beautiful parks.
Stroll Along Strandvägen
Strandvägen – Photo: © juninatt/Shutterstock.com
This waterfront boulevard is a charming setting for a stroll through the most prestigious areas in the city. Debuted at the World’s Fair in 1897, Strandvägen is home to plenty of shops and restaurants in architecturally magnificent buildings. Public transportation is accessible here, especially Hop On Hop Off ferries and tourist boats at water’s edge.
Pause for a classic afternoon fika (‘afternoon tea‘) with your travel companions and a gorgeous view at The Hotel Diplomat at the west end of the boulevard. (Reservations are recommended.)
At the east end of Strandvägen, extend your walk through Nobelparken, where specimens of most of the native Swedish trees can be found.
Brunch While Cruising the Archipelago
The City of Stockholm consists of a collection of fourteen islands on the archipelago where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. If you’re visiting in the summertime, you’ll treasure exploring this unique geography from the vantage point of a guided tour boat.
Strömma offers several boat excursion options, one of which is their weekend-only Brunch Cruise. Relax and enjoy selections from the elegant brunch buffet while cruising through the beautiful archipelago vistas during this three-hour cruise to Vaxholm and back.
Scenic canal tours by double-decker bus or boat are other sightseeing opportunities to explore Stockholm’s waterways and learn about the Swedish culture.
Bergius Botanic Garden
The Japanese pond in Bergius Botanic Garden – Photo: © Lennart Kjellman / Wikimedia Commons
During the summer months, Bergius Botanic Garden’s view of the Baltic Sea and the diverse collection of surrounding plants can provide some calm to your itinerary. Admission to the outside garden is free, with a small fee for the conservatory and historic Victoria House. Both the café and restaurant on-site are open year-round.
Gustafsborgsvägen 4, Norra Djurgården
Norrmalm / City
The southern part of the Norrmalm district is a shopping and cultural hub where you’ll find iconic Stockholm city squares Hötorget and nearby Sergels Torg. Ice skating at Kungsträdgården is very popular in the winter months.
When traveling under Stockholm, you’re bound to discover the variety of “underground art” in Stockholm’s metro stations. To the delight of modern design lovers, the Hötorget Metro Station (near the intersection of Kungsgatan and Sveavägen) is an exception and has preserved its blue-tiled vintage 1950s decor.
The Royal Swedish Opera House
Operagoer or opera neophyte, a live evening or lunch matinee performance is in order at the spectacular Royal Swedish Opera House. Just be sure to check the calendar of events and book your seats well in advance of your scheduled visit to Stockholm.
Not your thing? Well, this national opera house is so rich with history and luxurious architecture and interior decor, we still recommend a guided tour on a Saturday afternoon or plan a fine dining experience in Sweden’s most opulent restaurant, Operakällaren.
Gustav Adolfs torg 2, Norrmalm/City
Get Classy at the Stockholm Concert Hall
For the classical music lover, attend a performance of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra at the Stockholm Concert Hall at Hötorget. Although it’s primarily a venue for classical music, children’s concert experiences or other music genres such as pop, rock, and jazz are apt to be on the calendar. Be sure to book tickets in advance of your travel.
An architectural masterpiece, this has been the home of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra since its opening in 1926. It’s also the dedicated venue for the Nobel Prize Ceremony held every December.
If you can’t fit a concert into your visit, catch a guided tour of the Hall or stop to admire Swedish sculptor Carl Milles’ 1936 bronze statue, “Orpheus Group” at the main entrance to the Hall.
Kungsholmen is one of Stockholm’s largest islands, formerly an industrial district but now is primarily a residential area with a few tourist attractions. Immerse yourself into the Swedish culture in the parks, shops, restaurants, and historical museums here.
Swim at Råmlambshov Park
Rålambshovsparken (‘Råmlambshov Park’) is a beautiful inner-city park with views of the Stockholm City Hall and Gamla Stan across the water. It’s a popular outdoor spot for locals and tourists who want to play outside and get some fresh air, swim in Lake Mälaren, have fun at the playground, or picnic with their families. More fun playgrounds for your kids can be found in our guide on the best playgrounds in Stockholm.
Smedsuddsvägen 6, Kungsholmen
Hunt for Sculptures at Stockholm City Hall
The City Hall – an architectural landmark in Stockholm
Just across the bridge from Gamla Stan, on the shore of Lake Mälaren, stands the Stadshuset (‘Stockholm City Hall’). This architectural landmark was built in the early 1900s as a testament and reference to Stockholm’s own history and primarily made of Swedish-sourced materials.
The City Hall is the location for several political and private events from Stockholm City Council meetings to the Nobel Banquet, celebrating the accomplishments of the Nobel Laureates.
The impressive interior of the Hall is only accessible to the public through an hour-long guided tour. The top of the hall tower offers a view of Stockholm’s harbor and surrounding islands. Kids and adults can hunt for sculptures and other artistic tributes to Stockholm and their country.
Hantverkargatan 1, Kungsholmen
The island of Lovön on Lake Mälaren is in a suburb about 10 km west of Stockholm. A wonderful day trip and top place to visit near Stockholm, tourists can reach the ‘Queen’s Island’ by boat, train, or bus.
Ramble Around Royalty at Drottningholm Castle
The Royal Palace of Drottningholm in Lovön
The private permanent residence of the Swedish royal family, The Royal Palace of Drottningholm was built in the 17th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site and often referred to as the Versailles Palace of Sweden. Most of this well-maintained prodigious royal castle and gardens are open to the public.
This setting provides a unique opportunity to enjoy the quiet of the outskirts of Stockholm while touring the opulent palace and the 18th-century Chinese Pavilion on the massive grounds. Check posted times for guided tours.
Take time to ramble through the massive gardens and footpaths on the grounds or find a bench to sit and enjoy your surroundings. When you get hungry, grab a bite at the café near the Chinese Pavilion.
Build Your Stockholm Itinerary
Stockholm’s rich culture and history, in tandem with its diverse selection of outdoor activities, provide plenty of options for those visiting this city. Once you’ve built your personal itinerary of the best things to do in Stockholm, check out additional Stockholm Tourist Information for tips on how to get around the city, recommended restaurants, and other travel particulars.
Enjoy your Stockholm vacation!
Find the districts in Stockholm on the map