Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, is a city of islands and bridges. Fourteen islands, connected by 50 bridges and countless ferries, create a picturesque and unique destination that brings in travelers from all over the world. Stockholm is full of sights and activities. Yet some of the most popular things to do in Stockholm encompass simply walking through the city itself.

Breakfast

Hit up Urban Deli for delicious breakfast dishes under $10. This hip breakfast spot opens at 8 a.m. and stays open until 11 a.m. Order a breakfast sandwich with any delicious toppings the restaurant offers. It also offers great juice and yogurt options. A buffet is there for those who want to try a little of everything, and the deli counter is perfect for introverts who would rather not sit in a restaurant. Find this eatery at Nytorget 4.

Go to cafe Louie Louie for delicious pastries, good coffee, and a cool ambience. This coffee shop is a little bit American diner, a little bit bohemian hangout. The sandwiches are delicious, and you’re likely to see young locals hanging out chatting or working on laptops and in notebooks while you’re there. Go to Bondegatan 13 at 8 a.m. for first dibs on the pastries.

Djurgården
Djurgården in Stockholm.

Late Morning: Experience Stockholm’s Outdoors

Stockholm has beautiful outdoor areas that are worth an entire morning of exploration. Big parks, small parks, and walking paths in the city show you views of both the wilderness and urban scenery. Stockholm is uniquely stunning for its blend of city life and nature, and these walks will give you a wonderful taste of this gorgeous city.

Djurgården is an island that sits in the city center and is very easy to get to. Visiting is free, and it’s one of the best places to experience Stockholm’s outdoors. On the island, you’ll find lots of museums and attractions, some of which you’ll want to return to later in the day. For now, focus on walking the footpaths or enjoying the scenery. Travelers love Djurgården for simple walking, and it provides a truly astounding and picturesque idea of what Sweden’s wilderness is like.

For a shorter, more pointed walking opportunity, traverse Monteliusvagen. This 500-meter path offers spectacular views of City Hall and Lake Mälaren. You can get a big chunk of the picturesque Stockholm skyline in your camera lens. Once you walk Monteliusvagen, head to the adjacent neighborhood, which is a boutique shopping and restaurant mecca.

Lunch

You’re in Sweden, which means you have to get meatballs. Those Ikea options, no matter how much you might love them, do not count. Head to Meatballs for the People for lunch. This themed restaurant opens at 11 a.m. and stays open through dinner, meaning its doors are open whenever midday hunger strikes you. Meatballs for the People has 14 varieties of meatball, some of which are made of unusual ingredients like elk and salmon. It’s also a retail shop, so expect to find some fun souvenirs. Find it at Nytorgsgatan 30.

Another great place to get lunch in Stockholm is Prinsen. This restaurant is known for traditional Swedish food. The interior is full of wood paneling and pretty chandeliers. It’s casual with great decor and a fantastic menu. Get things like beef carpaccio or scallops with white asparagus as appetizers. Be sure to order your entrée off the “Classics” portion of the menu to get Swedish comfort food. Prinsen is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is located at Mäster Samuelsgatan 4, 111 44 Stockholm.

Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm.

Early Afternoon: Soak Up Museum Culture

You may think of museums as grand marble halls filled with paintings and sculptures. In Stockholm, get ready for some spectacular departures from that museum format.

Skansen has been around since 1891, making it both the first and the oldest open-air museum in the world. This museum takes you through 500 years of history via homesteads and preserved buildings like churches. You’ll feel like you’re walking back in time as you explore Skansen. Save several hours for a trip through this museum because you can spend quite a bit of time exploring the details of a single house. Visit the Skansen zoo, which has 75 Scandinavian species. This is a family-friendly activity, and visitors of all ages will be enchanted with Skansen.

The Vasa Museum is a salvaged 17th century ship and is a unique tourist opportunity, as this is the only salvaged ship from the era that’s nearly all intact. Vasa was a 64-gun ship that sank the first time it sailed. It sat underwater for 333 years. Guided tours in English occur every half hour from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Learn about the ship’s history, the salvaging efforts, and some of the most stunning aspects of the ship. From September to May, Vasa is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From June to August, the hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan in Stockholm.

Late Afternoon: Walk Cultural Hubs

You can’t visit Stockholm without taking a walk through Gamla Stan, also called Old Town. This is original Stockholm circa 1252. Gamla Stan is like a museum itself, with a distinctive medieval ambience that has endured through the centuries. Cobblestone streets, twisty alleyways, and old architecture styles are delightful to walk through. While you’ll see cafes and restaurants decorating the streets, the prices here are higher than in other parts of Stockholm. The best way to enjoy Gamla Stan is to simply walk through it, taking photos and enjoying the scenery.

Mosebacke is a prominent square in Stockholm that recently became Stockholm’s newest design district. The Mosebacke Design District is a hub for Swedish creatives. Here, you’ll discover art galleries, musicians, and other creatives adding vibrancy to the fabric of Stockholm. You’ll find theatres, design studios, and galleries along the square. Most of your Stockholm visit will be characterized by the past, so be sure to stop here and learn about both the present and the future.

Skansen
Skansen in Stockholm.

Dinner

If you’re willing to seriously splurge on dinner in Stockholm, make Esperanto your choice. The name might be silly, but the restaurant is anything but. This fine dining establishment has a tasting menu where Swedish fare meets Japanese influence. An extensive wine and tea list ensures you’ll have the perfect beverage. Many of the ingredients are seasonal, so expect the menu to change. Do six courses or hit the 10-course menu. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Saturday from 6:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. The address is Kungstensgatan 2, 114 25 Stockholm.

Babette is a low-key pizza place in central Stockholm where you’ll always find a new, delightful dish to try. The meals are simple and immaculately crafted. Get a pizza or try some of the smaller dishes and craft a table full of delightful tastes that your family can share. You can make a reservation here, but they always save space for walk-in diners, too. Babette is only open for dinner, so hit it up between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. at Roslagsgatan 6, 113 55 Stockholm.

When you want some classic Swedish cuisine in a fine casual atmosphere, head to Rolfs Kök. The ambience here is casual, with an interior ambience that merges rustic and urban industrial design. Here you can get dishes like pig’s head and calf brains, or you can stay in safe territory and go for salmon or chicken. Truly, though, if you’re going to branch out and try unfamiliar Swedish cuisine, you can’t choose a better restaurant. The dessert menu is lengthy and contains delicious dishes like Danish donuts with raspberry and vanilla. Rolfs Kök is open from lunchtime until 1 a.m., and it is located at Tegnérgatan 41, 111 61 Stockholm.

Gamla Stan
Old Town (Gamla Stan) in Stockholm.

Where to Stay

Though you can find luxury hotels in Stockholm, many hotels are affordably priced and centrally located. For a bit of extra luxury, try Hotel Skeppsholmen or the Lydmar Hotel. For moderate spending, the Comfort Hotel Stockholm is a great choice. To save big, try the Alexandra Hotel.

Stockholm is full of hostels, perfect for travelers who want to save a little money and meet other great people in the city. Hostels are available all over the city; some of the most popular are within a mile or two of the city center. Try City Hostel – Central Station or City Backpacker’s Hostel to be within walking distance of the city center. You’ll be able to get either dorm rooms or private rooms at inexpensive prices.

Your Guide to Stockholm Airports

When flying into Stockholm, you’ll probably land at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN). It sits about 23 miles north of Stockholm, making it the most convenient way to get to the city by air. The Stockholm Arlanda Airport is Sweden’s largest airport and is one of the largest Nordic airports. The other airport near Stockholm is Stockholm Bromma, but only four airlines serve this airport currently, and they fly to a limited number of destinations. Unless you’re flying to or from Helsinki, Brussels, Aarhus, or a couple other Scandinavian cities, ARN will be the airport you land in.

Airlines Serving Stockholm Arlanda

Scores of international airlines fly into and out of ARN, like Aegean Airlines, Air India, Delta, Icelandair, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Scandinavian Airlines, United Airlines, and WOW Air. These airlines serve a number of international destinations, from Beijing to Newark, though some of the destinations are seasonal.

Terminals at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport

Stockholm Arlanda has four terminals, though they are numbered two through five. Terminal 2 and Terminal 5 are the busiest terminals serving the most airlines, and they are the two terminals at which international flights arrive and take off. Terminals 3 and 4 are for domestic flights only. At Terminal 2, you’ll find familiar airlines like Delta, Air France, and British Airways. At Terminal 5, you’ll discover names like Air China and United Airlines.

Getting Around the Stockholm Arlanda Airport

Depending on how fast you walk, you can traverse the walkways between Terminals 2 and 5 in 20 minutes. The terminals are long corridors jutting off the main walkway, which makes your travels through ARN easier. You can traverse the Terminal 2, 3, and 4 areas in about six minutes. Terminal 5 itself is the largest, which means it takes about 10 minutes to walk the whole thing.

Between Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 sits SkyCity. This spot in the airport is like a little mall, full of restaurants, shops, and services like hair dressers and dry cleaners. You’ll find a pharmacist, a luggage shop, clothing stores, and a bunch of restaurants. SkyCity is part of what makes traversing the terminals so quick. Most of the retail options are focused here so the rest of the airport can be devoted to gates.

Transportation to and From the Stockholm Arlanda Airport

You have several options for getting to Stockholm from the airport. You can take the Arlanda Express to and from Stockholm Central Station. This high-speed train will get you to and from the airport in 20 minutes. If your hotel is within walking distance of Stockholm Central Station, choose this transportation route as the simplest way to get into the city.

A few bus lines, like Swebus, run coaches between the airport and various locations in Stockholm, including Central Station. You might also prefer a taxi, which is more expensive but more private and direct. Thankfully, the companies offer fixed prices from the airport to many Stockholm locations, so you don’t need to worry about being ripped off, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the language. Keep in mind that between companies, fares are not fixed.

Finally, you can rent a car and take the E4 between the airport and Stockholm. Rent from these six rental companies: Budget, Avis, Sixt, National, Hertz, and Europcar.

Bring your walking shoes because most of your Stockholm visit will require walking. You wouldn’t want to miss the most spectacular sights because you packed the wrong set of footwear. This splendid city deserves to be experienced to its fullest. Whether you’re exploring the oldest open-air museum or marveling at the medieval architecture in Old Town, you’ll carry a piece of Stockholm’s beauty with you forever after you leave.