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Djurgarden park
Photograph: Tony Webster/Flickr

The 10 Stockholm attractions you shouldn’t miss

Got your camera ready? The absolute best attractions and sights in Stockholm will have you snapping away in no time

Written by
Huw Oliver
,
Maddy Savage
&
Georgia Evans
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When it comes to camera-ready sights, you could hardly do better than photogenic Stockholm. With its 14 island coastlines, the majestic parks and gardens that cover a third of the city, and excellent cultural things to do every which way you turn, this compact metropolis crams in top attractions like Swedish Surströmming (herring). Best of all, many of the most awe-inspiring outdoor landmarks can be taken in for absolutely nada – from Old Town square Stortorget’s rainbow-hued townhouses to the 27-square-kilometre Royal National City Park on Djurgården island.

Public museums stopped charging entry fees in 2016, but unfortunately the city’s most cutting-edge cultural attractions still come at a price. Art and photography galleries Artipelag and Fotografiska earn their spots on our list with accessible, carefully-curated exhibitions and fantastic food offerings. And the cringe stakes were high for Abba The Museum, which opened in 2013, but the tech-savvy Swedes behind it have created an unmissable interactive experience that shines a spotlight on the nation’s biggest musical export. Not to mention all manner of pioneering bars and restaurants that have become tourist magnets in themselves (you could spend your whole trip pretty much just hopping from meal to meal). Foodie or not, and whether you’re here just for the weekend or much longer, these top attractions in Stockholm are sure to fit your bill. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Stockholm

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Best Stockholm attractions

  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing

Butter, chilli and mint-coloured townhouses dating back to the Middle Ages, an 18th-century fountain surrounded by cobblestones and an imposing palatial building that once hosted Sweden’s stock exchange are the star attractions on Stockholm’s photogenic main square. The focal point of the city’s Old Town (Gamla Stan) for 800 years, Stortorget draws hordes of tourists daily. Don’t miss the Christmas market if you’re visiting in December – it’s best experienced after dark when the square’s lit by a twinkling fir tree and the golden glow of oil candles dotted outside its bars and restaurants. 

  • Museums
  • Specialist interest
  • price 2 of 4

This imposing red-brick former customs building is home to an airy, spacious gallery that hosts meticulously-curated and frequently-changing exhibitions. Recent collections such as Andy Warhol's 'Photo Factory' and rock-star-turned photographer Bryan Adams have impressed local shutterbugs. After you've soaked up all the culture, have a respite at the stylish bar and café, which serves moreish (if overpriced) snacks, great coffee and a strong choice of quality wines.

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  • Attractions
  • Parliament and civic buildings
  • price 1 of 4

Dominating Stockholm’s skyline, the dusk-red bricks and green and gold spires of Stadshuset make it one of the city’s most imposing (and impressive) landmarks. Around 200 politicians and officials work here, but the building is more famous globally for its decadent Golden Hall, where acclaimed Nobel Prize Award ceremony guests dine each winter surrounded by 18 million gold mosaic tiles. It's not like any old person can wander in though, your only way of accessing the room is via a guided tour.

  • Museums
  • Music
  • price 2 of 4

Filled with gold discs, chunky platforms and all the quirky memorabilia you would expect, Abba The Museum is one dazzling tribute to the glitziest band in Swedish history. Alongside all the kitsch, you'll find clever, interactive exhibits that give you the chance to perform alongside the group, complete with digital versions of their stage outfits. You don't need to be a die-hard fan to go, and while it may be more expensive than some of the city's other attractions, you can easily spend a half-day here. Warning: you will be humming 'Daning Queen' for hours afterwards. 

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens

A former royal hunting ground (owned by the Swedish crown since the 15th century), Djurgården literally translates as ‘the animal garden’. But these days it’s no longer packed with reindeer and elk. Instead, it serves as a leafy oasis of waterfront paths and woodland trails. Not all that far from the city centre, it’s a popular weekend haunt for local families, while tourists love its proximity to some of capital’s most-visited museums. 

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • price 2 of 4

Buried within a pine forest on the island of Värmdö, Artipelag is a striking art gallery combining two very Swedish passions, design and nature. It’s here that you’ll find a rotating collection of international art and photography exhibitions, with previous retrospectives on the likes of Andy Warhol and Swedish fashion designer Lars Wallin. If you’re feeling peckish, the restaurant offers a luxury smörgåsbord lunch on weekdays and brunch at the weekend. There’s also a Scandi-chic café and pâtisserie with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the surrounding woodland.

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  • Museums
  • Specialist interest
  • price 1 of 4

Displaying a rescued 17th-century warship most people have never heard of, the Vasa Museum is one of the most-visited attractions in Stockholm. It’s not just tourists with enthusiasm for maritime memorabilia that flock here though. Soak up the impressive 69-metre-long wooden vessel, covered in decorative carvings (which sank on its maiden voyage, only to be discovered 333 years later), before learning all about the lives of passengers, the ship’s rescue operation and how it’s been so well preserved.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • price 1 of 4

Jewel-encrusted swords, low-hanging crystal chandeliers and gold-embellished coronation carriages are just a few of the treasures found inside Stockholm’s Royal Palace. The official residence of the Swedish sovereign since the 18th century, it packs in more than 600 rooms, although only a limited selection are open to the public. If you’re a history buff, make sure to take one of the 45-minute guided tours.

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  • Museums
  • Specialist interest
  • price 1 of 4

Peek into historic homes, meet in-character weavers and bakers, and gawp at the enclosures of Nordic animals at Sweden’s largest open-air museum. Haven’t met any locals yet? This is the place to embrace some Swedish seasonal fun. Skansen’s staff don flower crowns and dance around a massive maypole to mark Midsummer’s Eve, dish out glögg (mulled wine) and ginger snap biscuits at the venue’s well-stocked Christmas market, and belt out folk songs on Walpurgis Night, a bonfire-based festival that marks the start of spring.

  • Attractions
  • Libraries, archives and foundations

This orange 1920s building is a haven for bibliophiles and architecture addicts alike. It contains upwards of 400,000 novels, plays, poems and reference materials in multiple languages, many stacked from floor to ceiling around its iconic cylindrical reading tower. The room’s three-level design comes courtesy of Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, whose goal was to allow visitors to browse the shelves without having to ask for help from librarians. You might feel a bit sheepish taking photos in here, but the bookworm and student regulars are used to passing tourists. 

There’s more where that came from...

  • Things to do

Sprawled out across a cluster of islands where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic sea, the Swedish capital is effortlessly photogenic from pretty much every angle. So it’s no surprise many of the best things to do in the Stockholm are outdoors, whether traversing forest paths, dipping in the lake after a sauna or sunbathing on an inner-city island.

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