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Things to Do in Stockholm in Two Days: a walking tour around the highlights of the capital city of Sweden including information about things to do and where to stay in Stockholm.
Stockholm was the port of departure of my amazing cruise around Tallinn, Helsinki and St. Petersburg.
Before we set sail I decided to spend two days in the capital city of Sweden to find out what interesting things you can do in Stockholm.
And probably if you are reading this post you have also decided to spare two days of your precious time to visit Stockholm. Congratulations! That’s an excellent choice!
Stockholm with its 14 islands is a very interesting place to explore. First of all because it’s the city where the Nobel Prize award ceremony takes place. Second of all, in Stockholm you can see the extraordinary Vasa, the legendary warship that sank on its maiden voyage.
So there are many things to do in Stockholm! Are two days enough to visit Stockholm then? The answer is yes!
So scroll down if you want to find out about the amazing things that you can do in Stockholm in two days!
THINGS TO DO IN GAMLA STAN, THE OLD TOWN OF STOCKHOLM.
Let’s start our itinerary of Stockholm with a nice stroll around the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan, one of the best preserved medial towns in Europe.
Gamla Stan means “Old Town” in Swedish and is indeed the place where Stockholm was founded in 1252.
The old town is full of bars, shops, restaurants and many interesting tourist attractions. So let’s take a look at the most popular ones!
KUNGLIGA SLOTTET, THE ROYAL PALACE OF STOCKHOLM.
The Royal Palace of Stockholm is the main tourist attraction in Gamla Stan and one of the largest palaces in the world.
The palace is the official residence of the King of Sweden and includes over 600 rooms.
The Royal Palace was built on the site of Tre Kronor, the original castle that was destroyed in a fire in 1697.
You can visit the Royal Apartments and several museums within the palace.
Also you can watch the ceremony of the changing of the guard that takes place in the courtyard.
Although the Royal Family lives in Drottningholm Palace, Kungliga Slottet is still the official residence where the official ceremonies take place.
Turn the corner now and you will see Storkyrkan, Stockholm Cathedral.
STORKYRKAN, STOCKHOLM CATHEDRAL.
Storkyrkan is one of the major attractions in Gamla Stan and its bell tower can be seen throughout the city.
The cathedral was built in 1279 and dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. It became a Lutheran church in 1527 and it’s popular especially because it contains the wooden sculpture of Saint George and the Dragon made in 1489 by Bernt Notke.
You can also see a bronze replica of the sculpture in Kopmantorget, a small square just a few meters from the cathedral.
Since the church is right next to Kungliga Slottet, the Swedish Royals have used the cathedral throughout history for their coronations, weddings and funerals.
Say bye bye to Storkyrkan now and walk towards Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm.
STORTORGET, THE OLDEST SQUARE IN STOCKHOLM.
Oh I love Stortorget! This gorgeous square with its cute colorful houses that are reproduced on most magnets of the souvenir shops!
Peaceful vibe, lots of colors, outdoor tables and nice melodies played by the street musicians. What a great feeling isn’t it?
Well I’m afraid that you wouldn’t feel the same if you could go back in time. Yes because the square was in 1520 the scene of the terrible “Stockholm Blood Bath“.
During this tragic year, precisely between November 8-10, the Danish hung and beheaded around a hundred of noble and religious men after conquering the city. It was such a violent event that rivers of blood were running through the nearest streets, just like a “blood bath”.
But let’s forget for a moment about this creepy story and enjoy the different vibe that you can feel today in this beautiful place.
Besides the colorful houses, the square is also popular for its Nobel Museum in the former Stock Exchange Building and for hosting the annual Christmas market.
Let’s walk now around Osterlanggatan and Vasterlanggatan, the main streets of Gamla Stan. Those streets surround the area that includes Stortorget, Kopmangatan (the oldest street in Stockholm) and some other small streets nearby.
OSTERLANGGATAN AND VASTERLANGGATAN, THE SHOPPING STREETS OF STOCKHOLM.
If you want to do some shopping you will find many stores and boutiques in Osterlanggatan and Vasterlanggatan, the old town’s main streets that follow the route of the former defensive walls of the city.
While walking around Vasterlanggatan take a good look around you to spot Marten Trotzigs Grand, the narrowest alleyway in Stockholm (only 90 centimeters wide).
It’s not easy to find but I’m sure that you’ll succeed!
Wander around the beautiful streets of Gamla Stan before hopping to another fabulous island: Riddarholmen, the Knights’ Island.
RIDDARHOLMEN, THE KNIGHTS’ ISLAND.
Riddarholmen, the Knights’ Island, is one of my favorite sites in Stockholm.
After walking through the crowded streets of Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen feels like a haven of peace behind a fantasy gate.
Truly a magical atmosphere!
Riddarholmen is also the name of the church of the island where the Swedish Royals are buried.
Enjoy the great vibe of this place for a while and the nice view of the town hall over the sea before our next stop.
THE SWEDISH PARLIAMENT.
To end your excursion in Gamla Stan walk to Helgeandsholmen, the island that separates the Old Town from the new town.
The island is entirely occupied by the Riksdag Building, the Parliament of Sweden.
In summer you can join free guided tours on Saturday and Sunday, while in winter from Monday to Friday.
THINGS TO DO IN SKEPPSHOLMEN, THE SHIP’S ISLAND OF STOCKHOLM.
Let’s go now to another important area of Stockholm: Skeppsholmen which means ship’s island in Swedish because it belonged to the Swedish Navy until the 19th century and it is the place where they used to build the warships of the Swedish fleet.
Skeppsholmen is a small island where today you can visit Moderna Museet, a museum with modern art installations and works by artists like Dalì, Munch, Picasso and Matisse. On the island you can also visit Museet Ostasiatiska, a museum with works from East Asia, and Arkitekturmuseet, a museum of Swedish architecture.
If you don’t have time to visit the museums, you can just relax and enjoy a nice walk through the peaceful green areas of the island.
Skeppsholmen is connected to the islet of Kastellholmen, a tiny little island where you can see Kastellet, a small red bricks fortress on top of a hill.
Let’s now walk back to the mainland but don’t forget to take a picture from the iconic Skeppsholmsbron bridge by the gilded crown.
THINGS TO DO IN DJURGARDEN, THE GREEN ISLAND OF STOCKHOLM.
And now it’s time to discover another wonderful island: Djurgarden, the large green island of Stockholm.
Djurgarden Island is home to the Djurgarden Park, former hunting domain of Swedish royalty, and important museums like Vasa and Skansen.
I truly love the Vasa Museum! The museum contains the huge shipwreck of Vasa, pride and shame of the Swedish crown.
Pride because the ship with its fine decorations is a real masterpiece. King Gustav II Adolf Vasa who ordered its construction couldn’t wait to show the rest of Europe this massive ship and its sculptures to fascinate and scare the enemies.
Shame because the ship sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 for some structural mistakes that caused the ship to lose its balance.
In the ’50s some marine archaeologists discovered the shipwreck that was then brought up to the surface after incredible recovery operations and transferred to the museum.
But what is even more incredible is that the ship has been perfectly preserved despite being under the water for three centuries. In fact what we see today is 98% original!
As soon as I stepped into the museum I was speechless in front of that huge and well preserved shipwreck and I am sure that it will amaze you as well.
Besides the shipwreck, in the museum you can also see artifacts and human remains that have been found inside the ship and interesting videos and descriptions.
The Skansen is the largest open-air museum in the world that features traditional houses from all parts of Sweden and different periods.
It’s a huge area so probably you won’t have time to go if you can only spare two days for the city but you can pin it for your next journey to Stockholm!
OTHER MUSEUMS ON DJURGARDEN ISLAND.
Besides the must-see Vasa, other interesting museums on the green island of Stockholm include the Northern Museum and the ABBA Museum.
The Northern Museum is dedicated to the history of the Swedish cultural life from the medieval period onward. It belongs to the same project that gave birth to the Skansen.
If you feel more like a Dancing Queen (or a Fernando) then you can’t miss the ABBA Museum dedicated to the iconic Swedish pop band.
Finally if you are looking for some adrenaline rush then go have fun in Grona Lund amusement park!
Besides being an amusement park, Grona Lund also hosted a few concerts, including the concert of the legendary Bob Marley.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN STOCKHOLM.
THE TOWN HALL OF STOCKHOLM.
Besides the main islands you can’t leave Stockholm without seeing the Town Hall. The building is one of the main attractions of the city because it is the venue of the famous Nobel Prize banquet.
If you want to go inside you can take part in a guided tour that will take you to the Blue Hall, the banquet hall, and the Golden Hall, a magnificent hall decorated with a mosaics made of 18 million tiles of glass and gold.
There is also a breathtaking view over the archipelago of Stockholm from the top of the tower that you can reach after a climb of 365 steps.
It was worth it, right?
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN STOCKHOLM.
If you still have some more time to spare in Stockholm, other things to do in Stockholm include:
- STOCKHOLM CONCERT HALL. The theater for the prestigious awarding ceremony for the Nobel Prize.
- KLARA CHURCH. Lutheran church in the city center.
- KUNGSTRADGARDEN. Large tree-lined avenue with fountains and statues, including the statue of Charles XIII.
- GUSTAV ADOLFS TORG. Fancy square dedicated to Gustav II Adolf Vasa (his statue is in the middle of the square). Home to the Royal Opera, the building of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense. From the square starts Stromgatan, a beautiful street along the water.
- DROTTNINGGATAN. Main shopping street in the city center.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR TWO DAY ITINERARY IN STOCKHOLM.
Now that you know everything about the main attractions in Stockholm, let’s see how to plan your 2 day itinerary.
I spent one entire day to visit the three main islands (the island of Gamla Stan, Skeppsholmen and Djurgarden) and a half day to visit the Town Hall.
The first day was intense and I walked a lot because I preferred to visit as much as possible since the next afternoon I was busy with the boarding procedures.
But if you have two full days you can take it easy and use the first day for the Town Hall and Gamla Stan and the second day for Skeppsholmen and Djurgarden islands.
Just make sure to plan your itinerary according to the opening hours and days of the museums you are interested in. Especially the Vasa, make sure you won’t miss it!
Websites with information (opening hours and prices) for your visit:
Royal Palace. Stockholm Cathedral. Nobel Prize Museum. Riddarholmen Church. Parliament. Moderna Museet. Museet Ostasiatiska. Arkitekturmuseet. Vasa Museum. Skansen. Northern Museum. ABBA Museum. Grona Lund. Stockholm Town Hall. Stockholm Concert Hall.
Let’s see now how to move around in Stockholm. I could visit all on foot. But I really really love walking.
If you want to save some energy you can surely see Stockholm by public transport. First of all because the system is very efficient. Second of all because most subway stations with their artwork are city attractions themselves!
WHERE TO STAY IN STOCKHOLM.
Sorry for the bad news but the hotels in Stockholm are not cheap. But if you look up I am sure that you can find some good deals.
For example I found a great one at Best Western Hotel Bentleys. My conditions were: cleanliness, private bathroom, breakfast included and central location. Conditions that usually come with expensive solutions.
Well it looks like that the year before my visit guests complained that there was no air conditioning. Usually Scandinavian countries don’t need it but that summer was very hot! So the hotel decided to lower the price for the next summer and provided all rooms with a little fan.
I have to say that although it was really hot outside that little fan did its job! So I am generally satisfied with the hotel, especially with the amazing breakfast!
Anyway I list for you a few other hotels with central location and high ratings:
City Backpackers Hostel. Closest highlights: Drottninggatan. Rooms (shared / private bathroom) and apartments.
At Six. Closest highlights: Stockholm Concert Hall, Gustav Adolfs Torg, Kungstradgarden, Klara Church, Parliament. 5 Star Hotel.
The Sparrow Hotel. Closest highlights: Stockholm Concert Hall. 4 Star Hotel.
And finally you can cross check the map of the hotels with the map of the attractions of Stockholm that I described in this post.
HOW TO GET TO STOCKHOLM FROM ARLANDA AIRPORT.
Finally I think it’s useful to end this post with some information on how to get to Stockholm from Arlanda Airport, since it’s not that close. But don’t worry! It’s super easy!
You can get to Stockholm Central Station by the Flygbussarna bus. Travel time is around 50 minutes and it costs SEK99 (around €9) one way (SEK198 return).
You can buy your ticket online on Flygbussarna website.
And now you really know everything for your journey to Stockholm, but if you still have any questions or doubts drop a line or send me a message by filling the contact form.
Have a wonderful stay in Stockholm!