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The 10 attractions in Stockholm you have to see

Whether museum hopping or sightseeing, you'll see plenty of top attractions in Stockholm, Sweden's picturesque capital
Photograph: Tony Webster/Flickr
By Maddy Savage |
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With 14 island coastlines, dozens of things to do and a third of the city covered in parks and gardens, attractions are crammed in like sardines in Sweden’s camera-ready compact capital. Many of the most legendary outdoor landmarks can be taken in for free, from the rainbow of coloured townhouses in the Old Town’s main square, Stortorget, to the 27 square kilometres of sprawling green space that constitutes the Royal National City Park on Djurgården island.

Public museums stopped charging entry fees in 2016, but the city’s most innovative cultural attractions still come at a price. Art and photography galleries Artipelag and Fotografiska earn their spots on our list with carefully-curated accessible exhibitions and fantastic food offerings. Opened in 2013, the cringe stakes were high for Abba The Museum, but the tech-savvy Swedes behind it have created an unmissable interactive experience that shines a new spotlight on the nation’s biggest music export. Whether you’re here for 48 hours or 10 long (especially in the summer!) days, there's plenty to do in Stockholm. If you're after pop music immersion or are just looking for expansive city parks to relax in before dinner at one of the city's top restaurants, these top attractions in Stockholm are sure to fit your bill.

Best attractions in Stockholm

1
Stortorget
Photograph: Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons
Attractions, Sightseeing

Stortorget

Butter, chilli and mint-coloured townhouses dating back to the Middle Ages, an eighteenth-century fountain surrounded by cobblestones, and an imposing palatial building that once hosted Sweden’s stock exchange all make up the ingredients that bake together Stockholm’s most photogenic square. The focal point of the city’s Old Town (Gamla Stan) for 800 years, Stortorget hosts hordes of daily tourists. 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. 

2
Fotografiska
Photograph: Bernat Majó/Flickr
Museums, Specialist interest

Fotografiska

This spacious airy gallery houses painstakingly-curated and frequently-changing exhibitions, inside an imposing red-brick former customs building. Recent collections by the likes of celebrity snapper Martin Schoeller, jungle animal lover Nick Brandt and rock-star-turned photographer Bryan Adams have served to impress local shutterbugs. When you’ve had enough culture, head upstairs to the achingly stylish bar and café area, which serves overpriced but very tasty snacks, fantastic coffee and a strong selection of quality wines. 

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3
Stadshuset
Photograph: Arild Vågen/Wikimedia Commons
Attractions, Parliament and civic buildings

Stadshuset (Stockholm City Hall)

Dominating the Swedish capital’s skyline, the dusk-red bricks and green and gold spires of Stadshuset make it one of the city’s most 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 get to dine each winter surrounded by 18 million gold mosaic tiles (you can only access the room via a guided tour). 

4
Abba The Museum
Photograph: Randreu/Wikimedia Commons
Museums, Music

Abba The Museum

This tribute to the glitziest band in Swedish history is chock-a-block with all the gold discs, chunky platforms and quirky memorabilia you’d imagine. Plus, there are some seriously clever interactive exhibits that give visitors the chance to perform on stage alongside Abba and dress up in virtual versions of some of the group’s famous sparkly outfits. You don’t need to be a die-hard fan to enjoy it, and although entry is pricier than many of Stockholm’s other top attractions, you can easily while away half a day here. Be warned, you’ll probably be humming “Dancing Queen” for hours afterwards. 

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5
Photograph: Tony Webster/Flickr
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Djurgården Royal National City Park

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, serving instead as a leafy oasis of waterfront paths and woodland trails. Just a stone’s throw 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. 

6
Artipelag
Photograph: Bynyalcin/Wikimedia Commons
Museums, Art and design

Artipelag

Combining two very Swedish passions, design and nature, Artipelag is an ambitious angular art venue buried within a pine forest on the island of Värmdo. It’s home to rotating international art and photography exhibitions, with recent collections from the likes of US pop art legend Andy Warhol and Swedish fashion designer Lars Wallin. Foodies with cash to splash will want to make a pit stop at the restaurant, which offers a luxury smörgåsbord lunch on weekdays and brunch at weekend. There’s also a Scandi-chic café and patisserie with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the surrounding woodland. 

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7
The Vasa Museum
Photograph: Clark & Kim Kays/Flickr
Museums, Specialist interest

The Vasa Museum

The most visited attraction in Stockholm is a rescued 17th century warship most people have never heard of. But it’s with good reason that The Vasa Museum captures the attention of so many tourists lacking any previous hint of enthusiasm for maritime memorabilia. The 69 metre-long wooden vessel, covered in decorative carvings, sank on its maiden voyage, only to be discovered 333 years later. While the giant ship alone is fascinating to look at, the museum wins points for its informative exhibitions about the lives of its passengers, the ship’s rescue operation and how it’s been so well preserved. 

8
Photograph: Christopher Macsurak/Wikimedia Commons
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

The Royal Palace

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 1700s, it packs in more than 600 rooms, although only a small selection is open to the public. If you’re a history buff, take one of the 45-minute guided tours to get the most out of eighteenth and nineteenth century splendour on offer.

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9
Skansen Museum
Photograph: Natalia Semenova/Wikimedia Commons
Museums, Specialist interest

Skansen Museum

Sweden’s largest open-air museum gives visitors the chance to peek inside historic wooden homes, meet in-character weavers and bakers and gawp at the enclosures of Nordic animals. If you don’t know any locals, this is hands-down the best place in the city 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 hot wine (glögg) and ginger snaps at the venue’s well-stocked Christmas market and belt out folk songs on Walpurgis Eve, a bonfire-based festival that marks the start of spring. 

10
Stadsbibliotek
Photograph: Chibicode/Flickr
Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

Stadsbibliotek (Stockholm Public Library)

This landmark 1920s orange building is a paradise for bibliophile and architecture addicts alike. It contains upwards of 400,000 novels, textbooks, plays, poems and reference materials in multiple languages, many of them 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 seek out help from librarians. You might feel a bit sheepish taking photos in here, but the regular bookworms and students that frequent the place are used to passing tourists. 

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Things to do

The best things to do in Stockholm

A breathtaking coastal capital spread across 14 islands, Stockholm instantly impresses with its charming medieval streets, immaculate blooming parks and vibrant waterfront promenades packed with things to do. 

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