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The Stockholm skyline
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The 21 best things to do in Stockholm

Want to know what’s cool in Östermalm or Södermalm? Check out our guide to the very best things to do in Stockholm

Written by
Maddy Savage
,
Madeleine Hyde
&
Phoebe Egoroff
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Ready for some Scandinavian chic? Stockholm has it all, from picturesque cobbled streets dotted with independent shops to seriously impressive architecture and art nouveau design. Sure, it’s most popular for its ABBA and open air museums, but it has a lot more to say for itself than that. Stockholm is also bursting with a load of unmissable attractions and idyllic restaurants and bars, from traditional Swedish food to lunch on an allotment.

So whether you’re here for endless shopping, people-watching or to hit the clubs for a big night out, Stockholm has something for you. And no, you don’t have to be a dedicated ABBA fan to love the city, if that’s what you’re thinking (but it helps). Whether you’ve got two days or two weeks, we’ve devised a list of the 21 best things to do in the city. And to make your life that bit easier, we’ve ranked them for you too. Enjoy!

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What to do in Stockholm in 2023

  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
  • price 2 of 4

Stockholmers are obsessed with nature, and nowhere is better than Djurgården’s tranquil waterside and woodland trails. If you’re into your art and history, this island also boasts several of the capital’s most significant museums. At the open-air Skansen, stroll through five centuries of Swedish houses and farmsteads and observe wild Nordic animals. The Vasa Museum is home to a giant 17th-century salvaged ship, while ABBA: The Museum combines nostalgic memorabilia with quirky interactive exhibits. And choruses, obviously.

Time Out tip: Food options in Djurgården are pricey, so pack a picnic and tuck in on the waterfront behind the Vasa Museum, or find a spot off one of the grassy trails.

  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
  • price 3 of 4

Stockholm’s city centre consists of 14 islands, but that’s nothing compared with the tens of thousands that make up its sprawling archipelago. The three-hour ferry ride to the last island before Finland, Sandhamn, makes the Swedish capital feel endless. Forest-covered and dotted with brightly coloured cottages, the islands on your way range from the remote and unexplored to pristine tourist spots boasting boutique hotels, galleries and long stretches of sandy beaches.

Time Out tip: During the winter season (from September up until the end of April), some of the longer ferry rides are free. Check the Waxholmsbolaget and SL company websites for details and timetables.

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  • Museums
  • Specialist interest
  • price 2 of 4

In an old waterfront red-brick building that once belonged to the customs department, you’ll find a photography gallery with wall upon wall of striking images. Fotografiska has late-opening hours all week and broad rotating exhibitions on everything from feminism to global politics. You’ll also find one of the sleekest bars and best cafés in the city, with panoramic waterside views across Stockholm’s central islands.

Time Out tip: If you’re in Stockholm visiting a friend, ask if they have a Fotografiska membership to bag yourself a reduced entry fee.

Among the very best of Stockholm’s state-owned museums is the Swedish History Museum. From a candid exhibit exploring Sweden’s heinous treatment of its indigenous minorities to another exploring the links between the Vikings and Nazism, this place challenges the very notion of a history museum – and history itself. 

Time Out tip: Take Tram 7 from Central Station to the museum along opulent Strandvägen. Your ride is included on the metro card, and on national holidays they run vintage carriages with a tearoom on board.

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Afternoon tea in SoFo
Photograph: Pom and Flora

5. Afternoon tea in SoFo

In Sweden, ‘fika’ (afternoon tea) is a daily ritual. Stockholmers usually seek out coffee, but a few of the capital’s best establishments also have a decent tea menu (see Il Caffè, Pom & FloraCafé Pascal and Socker Sucker). For the flat white-inclined, SoFo, the area ‘south of Folkungatan’ on Södermalm island, has become a hotbed of trendy coffee shops. The baked goods of choice here include cinnamon and cardamom buns (plus saffron in winter), and if you fancy something savoury, there’ll often be rye open sandwiches or small rolls filled with cheese, egg or avocado.

Time Out tip: For locals, fika time is strictly post-3pm, when the café-bakeries start to fill up. As a tourist, you can bag a quieter coffee break much earlier.

An apocalyptic underground art tour
Photograph: Julian Herzog / Wikimedia Commons

6. An apocalyptic underground art tour

Stockholm’s metro network is often dubbed the world’s longest art gallery for a good reason; most stations have art in some form or other. Carved out of rocks, many retain the feel of a newly discovered cave, vividly brought to life through rainbow colours, words (the university stop has the Swedish human rights declaration tiled like a crossword) and futuristic patterns. The blue line hosts some of the most daring designs, including its starting point, Kungsträdgården, which feels like some post-apocalyptic archaeological discovery. 

Time Out tip: The SL metro card covers a vast public transport network in the Stockholm region, stretching as far as the airport (if you take a bus from Märsta). For the best value for money, buy a 72-hour or 7-day ticket.

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Watch the sun set at Monteliusvägen cliff path
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Be sure to round off your sightseeing by watching the sun go down over the shimmering surface of Lake Mälaren. The best spot to do this would be Norr Mälarstrand, a leafy trail that provides views of the Old Town and its characterful spires. If you are lucky, you might glimpse the Northern Lights.

Time Out tip: Don’t forget to pack an evening picnic to help you stay warm while sunset-watching. Nearby Slussen boasts many independent coffee shops.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • price 2 of 4

Off the beaten tourist trail, this industrial wasteland-turned-urban eco-district is worth a trip to check out its impressive energy-saving modern architecture (designed to reduce heat consumption) or bike along its pristine waterfront cycle lanes. To quench your thirst, drop by craft beer bar Nya Carnegiebryggeriet. Run by a team trained at the legendary Brooklyn Brewery in New York, it specialises in seasonal releases and limited-edition experiments. 

Time Out tip: Turn up on a Wednesday, just as they put their latest brew on tap, and try it in 1/3 pint samples.

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  • Health and beauty
  • Saunas and baths
  • price 1 of 4

A bonding ritual and coping mechanism in the long winters, the sauna is an integral part of the Nordic culture – a must-do activity while you’re here. Sweat out your stress at Hellasgården, a recreation area inside Nacka nature reserve, a short bus ride from Stockholm’s Slussen station. Expect to strip off completely in their gender-separated saunas and find locals braving a dip in the icy lake, even when the temperatures are well into the minuses. 

Time Out tip: It’s worth combining a trip to Hellasgården’s sauna with one of the hiking trails around the lake. Check the giant map at the main entrance for inspiration. There are also plenty of barbecue spots for public use.

Stockholm galleries can be pricey, but the Moderna Museet offers free entry to its major exhibitions that cover modern and contemporary art and rotate seasonally. It’s also home to a bookshop and café with a terrace overlooking the water across towards Östermalm’s lavish façades. You can reach the museum by footbridge from Kungsträdgården or by commuter ferry with your metro card. 

Time Out tip: As one of the smallest central islands, Skeppsholmen makes for a beautiful brisk evening walk (with panoramic city-centre views).

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  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • price 1 of 4

One of the best ways to tackle a weekend hangover in Stockholm is to nestle into the soft red velvet seats at the iconic 1940s cinema Indio (formerly Bio Rio) in Hornstull. On Sundays at 10.30 am, it hosts breakfast screenings, where you can catch a retro or newly-released indie film while snacking on a simple smörgåsbord of yoghurt, muesli, fruit and an open Swedish sandwich, knocking back as much coffee as you like. 

Time Out tip: Many of the films shown are in English or have English subtitles, but check in advance to make sure you don’t end up trying to make sense of an obscure Japanese arthouse offering via a Swedish translation.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens

More than 100 allotments and brightly painted wooden cottages tucked away on Tantolunden’s hillside make this one of the city’s most colourful parks, and one of the city’s most Instagram-friendly places. Think perfectly manicured flower beds and terracotta miniature homes you can cook or nap in. Elsewhere in the park, there’s mini-golf, two outdoor gyms and plenty of benches from which to watch passing boats during summer. In winter, it’s a well-trodden spot for a Sunday stroll or even a toboggan ride when the snow is falling.

Time Out tip: Hike up the mound in the centre of the park to get some fantastic panoramic photos over the water towards Liljeholmen.

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  • Attractions
  • Beaches

Just a 15-minute stroll from urban Hornstull’s bustling coffee shops and bars is Långholmen island, home to a former prison that is now a hotel, restaurant and museum. The island is surrounded by coastal paths and greenery, making this an oasis within the city centre. With its modest sandy front, Långholmen beach is surrounded by flat rocks and a grassy bank where locals flock for picnics. As soon as summer hits, this is one of the Swedish capital’s most frequented swimming spots.

Time Out tip: Långholmen’s bathing spots offer good-quality cold outdoor showers if you need to freshen up before heading back into the city. 

Light up Telefonplan tower
Photograph: Per-Olof Forsberg

14. Light up Telefonplan tower

The tower of the building that houses Konstfack, Sweden’s most significant design school, doubles up as a permanent interactive art installation. Simply step out at Telefonplan metro station after sunset and stand opposite the brutalist structure. On your way there, download the Colour by Numbers app, which lets you control the colour of the lights in the windows.

Time Out tip: If you’re on the other side of the city, you can still watch the kaleidoscopic display on a live stream through the app. 

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Sunbathe at Hornstulls Strand
Photograph: Holger Ellgaard / Wikimedia Commons

15. Sunbathe at Hornstulls Strand

This small stretch of sand on the edge of one of Södermalm’s most popular neighbourhoods becomes the ultimate gathering place when summer hits. There’s a jetty to swim from, mini-golf, ice cream and hot dog stands, plus panoramic views across the water towards the shiny Liljeholmen development. At night, crowds come out to drink, catch some evening sun and compete for blasting the loudest stereo. Floating oasis bar Loopen serves drinks until the midnight sun takes its short break.

Time Out tip: This is a prime swimming spot, but taking a dip here is only for the (extremely!) brave – until June at least. Some warmer water can be found at Brunnsviken, the lake by Stockholm University. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • price 2 of 4

In the heart of Stockholm’s Brooklyn-inspired SoFo district, Ugglan is where locals seek out fun and games on gloomy winter evenings. An after-work social hotspot, Ugglan is the place to indulge in table football, darts, boules, shuffleboard and air hockey, play with arcade machines, or join in a game of round-the-table ping pong. There’s locally brewed beer on tap and decent street food to soak it all up.

Time Out tip: If you’re in a big group and keen to stay the whole evening, the food and activity package deals are well worth it, giving you fixed time slots for up to three games and access to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • price 1 of 4

Every weekend from Easter until the end of summer, Hornstull’s waterfront is home to a flea market of vintage clothing, knick-knacks and local handicrafts. You’ll also find a selection of food trucks serving things like crêpes, Vietnamese sandwiches, vibrant veggie curries and punchy burritos. Tuck into your food on the wooden seating platforms overlooking the water. Mid-afternoon (if the sun is out), you might find local bands setting up for a gig.

Time Out tip: To avoid the throngs by the food trucks, take your pickings for a picnic in neighbouring Tantolunden park.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • price 2 of 4

No trip to Stockholm between May and September is complete without a visit to the city’s outdoor party spaces. Rooftop bars Slakthuset, in a former slaughterhouse, and Tak, on a revamped square in brutalist Norrmalm, are the most talked-about locations. But the epicentre of summer nightlife on Södermalm is Trädgården, a massive courtyard dance area with burger shacks, table tennis and a jigsaw of bars bedecked with fairy lights. 

Time Out tip: Entry is often free before 8 pm; check Trädgården’s social media for the latest information. The vibe here is very casual, but be aware that temperatures can drop quickly (should you turn up in your favourite summer shorts).

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19. Get a drink in one of the world’s best bars

If you’re in a cocktail mood, look no further than Lucy’s Flower Shop, which opened its doors in 2019 and has already made the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars. Once you pay a visit you’ll understand why. Tucked away behind a secret door in an abandoned flower shop, what awaits is a colourful oasis with a Scandi-cool edge, boasting a short yet creative menu of exceptionally good cocktails. Lucy’s Flower Shop is open from 5pm – 1am and closed on Mondays. 

Time Out tip: Due to its popularity and small capacity, Lucy’s Flower Shop can often be fully booked weeks in advance; book well ahead to avoid disappointment.

Shop at Södermalm’s second hand stores
Photograph: Per Wilhelmsson / Shutterstock.com

20. Shop at Södermalm’s second hand stores

If you’re going to hang out in Stockholm’s trendy Södermalm neighbourhood, you may as well embrace the local style and shop for new garms at one of the neighbourhood’s many second-hand stores. All within walking distance from each other, you can spend an afternoon or even a whole day browsing POP Stockholm, Beyond Retro, and HUMANA. It’s not uncommon for certain stores to be closed on a Monday, so make sure you check their opening hours before heading out.

Time Out tip: Head to HUMANA’s Instagram page to get a first look at the new vintage arrivals in-store; they add around 200-500 pieces to their collection every day.

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