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A waterside street in Stockholm city centre
Photograph: Shutterstock

How to do Stockholm in 48 hours

Tight for time in Stockholm? These are the restaurants, bars and attractions you shouldn’t miss on your 48-hour sojourn

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver
&
Annika Hipple
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Stockholm in 48 hours? A difficult task, but not an impossible one. The Swedish capital is packed with stunning sights and restaurants that are changing the expectations of traditional recipes. Packing it all into two days can be a little intense. This place doesn’t really do intense, so follow our guide to the perfect 48 hours in Stockholm and focus on pleasure.

When to visit? That depends on your weather preference, but there are no bad options. Some say that Stockholm is at its most glorious in late spring and summer, but even the dark (and cold, so cold) winter has plenty to offer the intrepid explorer. Whatever the weather, Stockholm is built for enjoyment.

How to do Stockholm in 48 hours

  • Museums
  • Specialist interest
  • price 2 of 4

Located in a former royal customs house with stunning waterfront views, Fotografiska is widely considered one of Europe’s top museums. Dedicated to contemporary photography, it features both world-famous and emerging international artists in its regularly changing exhibitions. Open until 1am on weekends, Fotografiska also has an award-winning in-house restaurant, bar and café, making it easy to spend an entire evening here.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • price 1 of 4

If you love beer, Akkurat is the perfect spot to wind down after a busy day of sightseeing. Open until 1am, this unpretentious wood-panelled pub near Slussen has Stockholm’s best beer menu, with more than two-dozen craft brews on tap and a huge selection of bottles. There’s also an extensive range of whiskies from Scotland.

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Saturday morning
Photograph: Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons

Saturday morning

A warren of narrow cobbled streets, Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan, dates back to the 13th century. Here you’ll find the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral and lots of excellent museums. The main shopping streets, especially Västerlånggatan, are touristy and often crowded, but off the main drag, you’ll find peace, charm and quirky treasures such as Stockholm’s tiniest statue, the 5.9-inch Iron Boy (behind the Finnish Church).

Saturday midday

Saturday midday

If the weather is decent, there’s no better way to get a feel for Stockholm than on foot. When you’ve had your fill of Gamla Stan, follow the waterfront north to Nybroviken and stroll along Strandvägen, a 19th-century esplanade lined with elegant converted mansions. At the bridge, cross over to leafy Djurgården island, once a royal hunting park.

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  • Museums
  • Specialist interest
  • price 1 of 4

In August 1628, the royal flagship Vasa sank in Stockholm harbour, just minutes into her maiden voyage. Salvaged more than 330 years later and amazingly well preserved, the ship is the centrepiece of the Vasa Museum, a must-see for any first-time visitor to Stockholm. Don’t miss the excellent film about the disaster and the dramatic recovery of the ship.

  • Restaurants
  • Bistros
  • price 3 of 4

Further along Djurgården lies a stalwart of Stockholm’s restaurant scene, Oaxen Slip, a casual bistro housed in a converted boathouse adjacent to its upscale sister, Michelin-starred Oaxen Krog. It’s the perfect place to enjoy waterfront views while dining on a menu of outstanding Nordic cuisine made with seasonal Swedish ingredients.

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  • Theatre
  • Performing arts space
  • price 2 of 4

On the heights of Södermalm, above Slussen, lies Södra Teatern, one of Stockholm’s oldest theatres, constructed in 1859. These days it houses several bars, various stages for live music, and a restaurant, Mosebacke Etablissement, that turns into a club after 10pm on weekends. On long summer evenings, the outdoor Mosebacke Terrace is a popular place for drinks and food with glorious views and regular concerts.

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

Kick-off your final day with a visit to Stockholm’s distinctive City Hall. Its splendid interiors include the Blue Hall, the venue for the annual Nobel Prize banquet (though not actually blue), in addition to the astonishing Golden Hall, covered in mosaics depicting Swedish history. Access is by guided tour only, offered in English throughout the day.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • price 2 of 4

An essential part of Swedish culture, fika means an afternoon tea-like coffee break, typically with a pastry, and added congenial company and cosiness. Stockholm is filled with cafés where you can have great fika, but few feel as rooted in tradition as Vete-Katten, which has been serving up mouthwatering baked goods and light lunches since 1928.

Sunday afternoon
Photograph: Courtesy Stromma

Sunday afternoon

No visit to Stockholm is complete without seeing the city from the water, and the best way to do so is on a boat excursion operated by Strömma. Hop on the classic Under the Bridges of Stockholm tour to explore the waterways of the inner city or venture further afield on an archipelago cruise. In the off-season, try the 90-minute Stockholm Winter Tour.

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