Stockholm still clings to its clearly defined seasons, and your experience of the city will vary wildly depending on the timing of your visit. Head here in February and you may catch a cross-country ski race around the Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), but come back in summer and it’s all about park theatre, the open-air Skansen complex and wild swimming. But throughout the year, one thing remains constant: you’ll never be left wanting for things to do in Stockholm.
As a relatively compact city formed of 14 islands, the city’s offerings are neatly geographically defined. The large eastern island of Djurgården, for instance, is the place to go for greenery and high-profile museums, such as the Vasamuseet. Meanwhile Södermalm, in the south, is known for its hipster boutiques and contemporary cultural institutions, including photography museum Fotografiska. More historic attractions can be found in the old town, Gamla Stan – including the medieval Storkyrkan church and the iconic Stortoget plaza – while the largely residential island of Kungsholmen is home to the landmark, red-brick Stadshuset (City Hall). The mainland section of the city offers a host of smart restaurants and upscale shops.
And to escape from it all, there’s the Stockholm Archipelago – a must-visit, especially in summer. Only a few hundred of the 30,000 islands are inhabited, but that still gives visitors a good selection of picture-perfect spots to choose from.
Sights and attractions in Stockholm
Stockholm’s island-based geography not only makes it easy to get your bearings – it also creates an undeniably beautiful setting. Watery views are all around; top spots from which to take them in include the cliffside boardwalk of Monteliusvägen (on the island of Södermalm), and the Västerbron bridge connecting Södermalm and Kungsholmen. But you can also immerse yourself in the landscape (in summer at least) by heading to one of the city’s many bucolic spots, or to its seaside for a dip. Rosendals Trädgård biodynamic garden on Djurgården is one of the best bets for the former, while the winding pathways on the island of Långholmen (which once housed a prison) lead to one of the city’s most popular beaches.
If you favour history over horticulture, then Gamla Stan (Old Town), in the heart of Stockholm, is the place to for you – though be ready to share it with hordes of tourists. The compact island is home to the official residence of the Royal Family, the Kungliga Slottet, and its quaintly narrow streets and colourful medieval buildings are irresistibly seductive to camera-wielding visitors. The area’s unmissable history museums include Stockholms Stadsmuseum (closed for renovation until autumn 2017), Nordiska museet and the Vasamuseet, which houses an extraordinary 17th-century warship.
But Stockholm isn’t just about the past. For something more modern and lightweight, head south to Djurgården for one of Stockholm’s newest attractions: the interactive ABBA The Museum, whose name says it all. The museum sits opposite the waterside Gröna Lund amusement park, built in 1883. A stone’s throw from here is the dock for the Djurgårdsfärjan, the ferry that transports visitors and locals to the Slussen locks, via the lovely little island of Skeppsholmen. A highlight of the latter is the Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art).
Sights and attractions details
Kungliga Slottet Bordered by Slottsbacken, Skeppsbron, Lejonbacken & Högvaktsterassen, +46 8 402 61 30.
Skansen Djurgårdsslätten 49-51, +46 8 442 80 00.
Vasamuseet Galärvarvsvägen 14, +46 8 51 95 48 00.
Fotografiska Stadsgårdshamnen 22, +46 8 50 900 500.
Storkyrkan Storkyrkobrinken, Trångsund 1, +46 8 723 30 00.
Stadshuset Hantverkargatan 1, +46 8 50 82 90 58.
Rosendals Trädgård Rosendalsterrassen 12, +46 8 54 58 12 70.
Stockholms Stadsmuseum (closed for renovation until autumn 2017) Ryssgården, +46 8 50 83 16 20.
Nordiska museet Djurgårdsvägen 6-16, +46 8 51 95 46 00.
ABBA The Museum Djurdgårdsvägen 68, +46 8 121 328 60.
Gröna Lund Lilla Allmänna Gränd 9, +46 1 07 08 91 00.
Moderna Museet Slupskjulsvägen 7, +48 8 51 95 52 00.