Stockholm is a city of islands (14 to be exact!). It’s a city where traditional gabled buildings line cobble-stoned streets. It’s a city of stunning green landscapes, incredible architecture, gastronomy, cultural landmarks and of course, the ABBA museum.
Stockholm prides itself as being known as the ‘Open City’. No matter who you are, your religion, gender, race, sexuality, whether you are looking for adventure, history or luxury, Stockholm is for you.
Stockholm was not on our original travel plan, and we didn’t know what to expect. All we really knew was that it was the capital of Sweden, and being located in Northern Europe we would be due some very cold weather – especially as we were visiting Stockholm in winter! However, after spending a very busy 48 hours in Stockholm exploring this Scandinavian capital, we were completely sold and already planning a return trip in Summer!
We have pieced together a travel guide below which you can use to fill your time in Stockholm. We have also provided practical tips such as how to get around, how to get there, where to eat and whether or not you should bring cash.
How to get to Stockholm
Stockholm has 4 airports receiving international flights, however the main airport used by most of the major airline carriers is Stockholm Arlanda Airport. It’s more than likely that this is where you will both arrive and depart from.
Bromma Airport is a little closer to the centre, but is not served anywhere near as frequently by international flights. Whilst some international flights do arrive into Skavsta Airport and Västerås Airport, these are few and far between, and most flights arriving or departing from here are domestic.
See our practical tips on how to get to and from Stockholm airports to the city centre at the end of this article.
Top things to do in Stockholm in Winter
When we travelled to Stockholm in winter we enjoyed beautiful clear blue skies, stunning scenery and some chilly temperatures – make sure you wrap up warm! Everything that we list below should also be on your list for summer visits, but we found these activities the best way of experiencing Stockholm in winter and remaining warm! See how many of these you can fit in to your 48 hours in Stockholm.
Try the Best Fika in Stockholm
Have you ever heard of fika? Fika is essentially a coffee break with friends or family and is part of everyday life in Stockholm. However, unlike places like Italy where you might grab a very quick espresso, the culture of going for fika involves slowing down, taking your time, enjoying a sweet treat and spending quality time with friends.
Traditionally, the concept was to have 7 different types of sweet cakes or buns. This originated from a time when it was considered that preparing 7 options was the sign of a good housewife. Preparing any less, the housewife would be considered lazy! This is a very old-fashioned concept but Swedes visiting their grandparents might still be treated to this tradition.
When it comes to cakes and buns, make sure you try the cinnamon bun and the ‘princess’ cake. The ‘princess’ cake is a very traditional sweet treat. This is a very light sponge cake with jam, cream and then topped with marzipan (usually green or pink).
During our time in Stockholm we went to the following two places which we highly recommend:
Wiener Cafeet – open since 1904 this is a very stylish and up market place to go for fika. Here the staff are dressed in suits, the décor is plush and the selection of cakes incredible. Here we did treat ourselves to a selection of 7 different buns – see the above picture!
Kaffekoppen & Chokladkoppen – these are two cafes next door to each other under the same ownership. These are both very cosy, warm and cute. While fika traditionally involves coffee (or maybe tea) these places are known for the best hot chocolate in Stockholm! They serve both milk and white hot chocolate. Naturally, we had to try both! We also loved learning that this was the first cafe in Stockholm to fly the pride rainbow flag!
Gronalund – Stockholm Amusement Park
Stockholm amusement park was a lot of fun! When we went it had been turned into a Halloween themed park with the staff in scary fancy dress and the park dressed up with spooky decorations.
The park has a mix of 31 rides and attractions. There are rides for adrenaline junkies, fun houses (haunted houses when we went!) and everything in between. We highly recommend going on one of the tall rides that takes you straight up in the air as you will be rewarded for your bravery with the best views of Stockholm!
The park can be found at Lilla Allmanna Grand 9, 115 21 next to the ABBA museum and is open from 11am-10pm. The admission charge is 120SEK for ages 6-64; outside these ages it is free to enter. After this you decide whether you want to buy individual coupons for a few rides or an all inclusive pass.
It is one of Stockholm’s most popular attractions! Make sure you check whether it is open by visiting the website before you go as the park opens on a seasonal and event basis.
The ABBA Museum
Whether you are an avid fan or a complete newbie you are guaranteed to have fun here! The ABBA museum is one of the most interactive museums we have ever visited and another must do in Stockholm.
The tag line for the museum is walk in and dance out. That is definitely what we did.
Here you can learn the full story of ABBA, see their original costumes, see their lifelike waxworks but most excitingly of all, you can get involved! Inside the museum you can find karaoke booths where you can belt out your favourite song and you can even get on stage and perform with life size holograms of ABBA! It was a lot of fun!
Make sure you look out for a red phone and if you are lucky it will ring. Each member of ABBA has the phone number and occasionally calls the museum. If you hear the phone, grab it quick so you can talk to a member of the band for real!
The museum is open from 10am-6pm. Entry costs 250SEK for adults, 95SEK for children up to the age of 15 and 175SEk for students with a valid student ID.
Address: ABBA the Museum, Djurgårdsvägen 68 115 21, Stockholm
Explore the Bibliotekstan District
The Bibliotekstan district is just 10 years old and is the heart of Swedish and international fashion. It is also a place where many events and parties are held throughout the summer.
Now fashion may not be one of our usual interests, but we found our time here fascinating. Each shop that we went into was extremely welcoming and the staff were happy to tell us all about what they do and why. Speaking to people so passionate about their trade meant that we learnt a lot and gained a new appreciation for these types of fashion stores.
What we found very refreshing compared to usual high-street stores, was that most of the shops here don’t sell gender specific clothing. This is something fairly innate in Swedish culture and it was encouraging to see, especially with all of the backward steps being taken in other countries.
For example, we recommend you visit Hope. Hope displays both men’s and women’s sizes on all of their clothing. Everything is for everyone and if you want to wear it, then wear it! The style they aim for is very clean cut and utilitarian. Hope also partners with LGBT organisations to design specific ranges and donate the proceeds to charity.
If clothes are not your thing, check out Byredo. Byredo is a Swedish brand with stores in Sweden, London, Paris and New York. They specialise in candles, fragrances and more recently leather goods. All scents are unisex and only use naturally sourced and very few ingredients. Each scent reacts differently on different people. We loved one called the ‘Eleventh Hour’.
Finally, stop off at Eytys. It has been open for 5 years and again is another unisex clothing brand. Their main focus is on shoes with a recent expansion into clothing. They are all about setting trends, pushing boundaries and being a little bit controversial. As a result, they have become hugely successful! Go speak with the staff to learn more.
Vasamuseet Stockholm (Vasa Museum)
The Vasamuseet is the most visited museum in Stockholm and what you will find inside is quite spectacular.
Vasa is the name of a grand warship built in 1628 by King Gustavus Adolphus of house Vasa. When King Gustavus Adolphus inherited the throne he also inherited wars. His intention was to end these wars by creating a large fleet of warships with the Vasa being the largest and most ornamental.
It took 400 people 2.5 years to construct, and cost the equivalent of a modern-day war submarine. However, in an incredibly unfortunate incident, it only took 20 minutes after being launched for the Vasa to sink.
Here in the Vasa museum you can learn the story of why the warship sank along with how it was salvaged from the ocean many years later. Most amazingly, you can see the entire Vasa warship for yourselves whilst learning how it remained so preserved.
This is not something we would usually choose to visit, however we were both blown away by our visit to the Vasa Museum, and cannot recommend it highly enough!
Address: Galärvarvsvägen 14, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Palace of Stockholm
The Royal Palace in Stockholm is one of the largest palaces in Europe, with over 600 rooms. To date, this is still known as The King and Queens official residence, despite their actual residence being elsewhere out of the city. The Palace is located on Stadsholmen, in the Gamla Stan neighbourhood of Stockholm.
Even though the Palace dates back to the 18th Century, the interior decoration and so much of the furniture is original, and has been extremely well-preserved.
Visits to the Palace include a guided tour of “The Royal Apartments”, which are still used today for hosting royal events and receptions, such as State Visits, or for the wedding of the Crown Prince and Princess which took place in 2015.
The Swedish Crown Jewels are also kept here, in the Royal Treasury, and again these can be visited on a guided tour.
A highlight of a visit to the Palace is the parade of soldiers, and the daily changing of the guard.
Entrance to the Royal Palace starts from 130SEK, with the option of a guided tour costing extra.
Address: The Royal Palace, 107 70 Stockholm, Sweden
Go on a Stockholm Walking Tour
You are going to have wrap up in winter for this one but it is completely worth it. No matter what the temperature, the city is too beautiful to not be explored on foot.
We had a walking tour with StandOut Travel and the tour was excellent. We explored the Gamla Stan area with our tour guide Lars. He was extremely knowledgeable, personable and made history fun.
The company works all year round but also specifically advertises winter tours and will likely stop in a cosy cafe halfway through to get you warmed back up. They work with businesses and individuals to bring the city to life and are the first LGBT owned travel agency in Sweden. Read more about gay Stockholm in our gay guide to the city here.
Best Hotels in Stockholm
Stockholm offers a wide variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets and styles of travel. The city has plenty of budget guesthouses and B&Bs, hostels, and even a wide selection of Airbnbs.
Prices range from 470SEK – 700SEK for a centrally located guesthouse including breakfast, whereas for the more budget conscious traveller, hostel dorm beds start from as little as 180SEK.
If you prefer to have your own space and facilities, Airbnb is always a popular choice. Entire apartments range from 590SEK – 820SEK depending on location, whereas if you are happy to have just a private room in a shared place, you can expect to pay a little less, with prices ranging from 410SEK – 700SEK.
However, if you are only spending 48 hours in Stockholm, you may wish to treat yourself to a luxury hotel. The below are our top choices.
We stayed at the Hotel Rival and we loved it! Owned by Benny from ABBA, this is a beautiful boutique hotel. The hotel has an on-site café, bistro, several bars, and serves both a delicious buffet and a-la-carte breakfast. We particularly loved the location, in the trendy Södermalm district, walking distance from most of the tourist attractions. The rooms have clever little touches like a music button next to the bath to play ABBA and practical touches like USB ports either side of the bed!
Price: From 2,095SEK for a standard double per night (depending on season).
Address: Hotel Rival, Mariatorget 3, 118 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Just a few minutes outside of the city centre, Pop House is situated in the beautiful green area of Djurgården. All 49 hotel rooms are individually and stylishly decorated, with a few even ABBA inspired and themed! As you can see in the restaurant section further down, we also thoroughly recommend checking out the onsite bistro!
Price: From 1,690SEK for a standard room (depending on season)
Address: Hotel Pophouse, Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
This hotel is situated away from the busy centre, on the peaceful island of Skeppsholmen. Dating back to 1699, the building has previously been a barracks and a hospital. What we loved learning about this hotel was that there is a particular focus on sustainable tourism, with a lot of renovations been done using recycled material. We highly recommend staying at Hotel Skeppsholmen!
Fun fact: the studio where ABBA recorded their new music (due for release early next year) is located just outside!
Price: From 1790SEK for a standard room (depending on season).
Address: Hotel Skeppsholmen, Gröna gången 1, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden
Hellstens Glasshus is another luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Södermalm. The unique hotel façade is 7 metres of glass, hence the name “Glasshus”. There is also a beautiful onsite restaurant, serving the owners favourite dishes from all around the world.
Price: From 1,490SEK for a standard room (depending on season).
Address: Hellstens Glasshus, Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 13, 118 50 Stockholm, Sweden
Best Restaurants in Stockholm
One of the things we certainly didn’t expect to find in Stockholm was such a wide selection of fine dining restaurants, serving some of the most delicious food we have ever eaten.
Being a capital city, there are countless restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets. If you prefer to grab on the go whilst exploring, that is also easy enough to do. However, being the foodies that we are, these are our top choices for that high end luxury meal to treat yourself to whilst on holiday.
Riche is a very swanky, trendy and stylish restaurant in the heart of the city centre. The restaurant offers an extensive menu, with a heavy focus on meat and fish dishes, including one of the most beautiful steak entrecote dishes we have ever had.
A particular highlight here was the staff – very knowledgeable and attentive, but also in a very light-hearted and fun way!
Address: Riche, Birger Jarlsgatan 4, 114 34 Stockholm, Sweden
Mosebacke Etablissement, Sodra Teatern
This is a restaurant that we wouldn’t usually choose, being exclusively vegetarian. However, we both agree that this was our favourite meal whilst in Stockholm, hands down.
The actual venue itself is stunning, with seven stages, bars, terraces and one of the best rooftop views of Stockholm. However the restaurant Mosebacke Establissement was our highlight.
The concept here is fine dining “vegetarian comfort food” and this was the perfect description. We enjoyed truffle risotto, mac and cheese, mango ceviche on sweet potato and pan-fried broccoli with cashews and coconut cream.
The restaurant also has an extensive wine and cocktail list too.
Address: Sodra Teatern, Mosebacke Torg 1, 116 46 Stockholm, Sweden
Hotel Skeppsholmen Restaurant
This place has a reputation for offering some of the best Swedish meatballs, and we have to agree! They were absolutely delicious, more so for being served in such a stunning location.
The Hotel Skeppsholmen is situated on Skeppsholmen itself, a beautiful tranquil island located away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is reached either by bridge and public transport, or you can opt to take the Djurgården ferry, providing some incredible views as you sail alongside the city.
Address: Hotel Skeppsholmen, Gröna gången 1, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden
Lykke at the Nordic Light Hotel
Lykke is a new restaurant that opened this year. Whilst meat dishes are available on the menu, fish and seafood is what this restaurant does best. We enjoyed a beautifully prepared crab dish served in the shell, the best fresh octopus we have ever tried, and a typical Swedish dish, crispy sweet potato served with caviar.
Address: Nordic Light Hotel, Vasaplan 7, 111 20 Stockholm, Sweden
TAK, Raw Bar
Restaurant TAK is a rooftop bar and a “raw” restaurant rolled into one. Located 55 metres high, this is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail whilst admiring the views – although you may want to wait to do this during the summer months! The food is a mix of modern Scandinavian cuisine with heavy Japanese influences. Whilst the menu is predominantly “raw”, the staff are happy to cater for anyone who doesn’t feel quite so adventurous!
Address: TAK, Brunkebergstorg 2-4, 111 51 Stockholm, Sweden
Pophouse Hotel is right in the city centre, and is adjacent to the ABBA museum.
We thoroughly enjoyed the bistro style menu here, along with our first sampling of Swedish meatballs, served with mash and traditional lingonberries.
Address: Hotel Pophouse, Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Nightlife in Stockholm
Stockholm definitely comes alive at night. There are bars where you can sit and enjoy casual drinks with friends, to clubs where you can dance the night away. Most of the nightlife in the city is located within 2 disctricts, Södermalm and Östermalm.
Stockholm and Sweden are home to some world famous DJs and singers– Avicii, Aban, Steve Angello, Robyn, Zara Larsson, and of course, ABBA, to name just a few. Many of these DJs still perform at some of the larger clubs in the city.
Nightlife tends to start early, with friends gathering at one of the trendy bars in Södermalm, before ending up in one of the larger clubs.
An important point to note is that bouncers in Stockholm are notoriously fussy about who they let in. Despite the legal age for drinking in bars being 18, it’s not unheard of for bouncers to apply their own rules and expect you to be over 20, or even 22 in one place as we saw! Luckily, we had our ID!
Read more about the gay bars in Stockholm in our mini guide ‘Best Gay Bars in Stockholm‘.
Practical tips for visiting Stockholm
How to get from Stockholm Airport to City
As most flights arrive into Arlanda, this is what our information is based on.*
Train from Arlanda to Stockholm City
The easiest and quickest way to reach the city from the airport is by train, the Arlanda Express. Trains depart in both directions pretty much every 15 minutes during the day, and take just over 20 minutes to reach the city.
The cheapest option is to purchase your ticket online at least 7 days in advance, with prices starting one way at 195SEK.
Coach from Arlanda to Stockholm City
An alternative option is to take the Flygbussarna airport coach. These depart every 10 – 15 minutes but take between 30 – 45 minutes to reach the city. Whilst the journey takes twice as long, it is half the price of the train with tickets starting one way from 99SEK from the airport to the city bus terminal.
Taxi from Arlanda to Stockholm City
And for those who are not so budget conscious, there is always the option of a taxi. However, taxi services in Stockholm are not regulated, which means the price can vary drastically and be very expensive. Our recommendation is to use Taxi Stockholm, whose phone number is 15 00 00. Alternatively, Uber is widely available in Stockholm, and you will know the price upfront.
*Note: If your flight arrives into any of the other 3 airports, as these are located closer to the city centre, you will most likely be able to take either a Flygbussarna Coach (this is definitely the case from Bromma), a commuter bus, or a taxi.
How to get around Stockholm
Walking around Stockholm
Stockholm is a beautiful city. The architecture of the city is stunning, and being built around islands there is often water everywhere you turn reflecting the sunlight making for some great images. Therefore, to see all of this and to make the most of photo opportunities, we strongly recommend walking where you can.
Despite being built on islands, the majority of the sights are well connected, and are situated relatively close together, and so the city is very walkable. However, if you are pushed for time, and want to fit as much in as possible, there are also plenty of public transport options as below.
Stockholm Travel Card
If you would prefer to take public transport whilst in Stockholm, the most cost effective and convenient option is to purchase an SL Travelcard upon arrival.
You have the option of purchasing a card for either 24 hours costing 125SEK, 72 hours costing 250SEK, or 7 days costing 325SEK, plus 20SEK for the card itself.
The cards can be purchased in advance of travel, and will then provide you with unlimited travel for the chosen duration of the card from the time of first use.
The SL card is valid on all buses, trains, Metro and trams on the SL network (pretty much anywhere you would need to go whilst in Stockholm!) as well as the Djurgården ferry.
As Stockholm is built on islands, an alternative transport option between a few of these is to take the ferry. This is widely used by local commuters and tourists, and is a fantastic way to explore the city whilst enjoying some stunning views.
The most popular ferry departures are from Nybroviken and Slussen out to the leafy island of Djurgården, or you can also disembark at the island of Skeppsholmen.
An SL Card includes the ferries from Slussen and you can also buy single tickets on the quay.
Stockholm Taxi Services
Taxi drivers set their owns prices as they are not regulated. The most common company used is Taxi Stockholm who you can recognise by their 15 00 00 phone number.
However, the easiest option if you really don’t want to take the 24 hour pubic transport is to get an Uber. You know the price when you book, its all tracked and much more straightforward. The above mentioned public transport options will be the cheapest option, however taxis would be recommended on an evening, especially after a night in the bars and clubs!
Is Stockholm Expensive to Visit? Cash and Currency
This is a very common question when it comes to Stockholm and Scandinavia in general.
Yes, it is typically more expensive than most other countries in Europe but that’s not to say you can’t be savvy with your spending. Also, people typically go for the weekend and if you are only spending 48 hours in Stockholm there is only so much you can spend! If you do want some tips on saving money, we enjoyed this article by Nomadic Matt.
What is very important to know is that Stockholm is predominantly a cashless city. This is the first time we have ever encountered this concept and most places will not take cash. The intention is that eventually the city will become 100% cashless. We recommend getting yourself a travel card set up with Swedish Krona (SEK) before you go to avoid potential poor bank exchange rates.
There are a few places that will take cash or change money but to keep your trip simple, just use card.
Do they speak English in Stockholm?
Sweden as a whole is a very diverse country with many spoken languages. Swedish is of course their first language however English is widely and very well spoken. We had no problems communicating in English at all during our time.
Make sure you make an effort to learn some Swedish, start with hej (sounds like hey) for hello and tak for thank you. This will go down well with the locals. If you want to be extra friendly you can double up and say hej hej or tak tak (or super tak as we named it!)
Stockholm took any expectations we had and blew them out the water. It’s one of the most picturesque, welcoming and inclusive cities we have visited, it certainly earns its title as the ‘Open City’. We hope that you are inspired to visit Stockholm and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Make sure to visit www.stockholmlgbt.com to find out more about this beautiful place.
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We were lucky enough to visit Stockholm by partnering with Stockholm LGBT and Visit Stockholm. They hosted us, showed us the city and allowed us to experience everything the city has to offer. As always, our opinions remain our own.
Some of the links in this post are connected to affiliate programs we have joined. If you make a purchase using one of the links, we get a small commission, at no extra charge to you. All opinions are of course our own!