After spending just over a month in Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, and many even say, the capital of all the Scandinavian countries, I have compiled a short list of the must-see places I have seen so far with my host family and friends or simply stumbled upon when trying to navigate the city of over 2 million people. Enjoy!
1. Gamla Stan (The Old City)
It makes sense that this was one of the first places my Homestay hosts decided to take me to shortly after my arrival in Sweden. Here you will find everything from historic churches and the Stockholm Royal Palace (no. 2 on the list) to cafés and restaurants on nearly every corner to some of the narrowest streets you will ever walk down.
Tip: Find Mårten Trotzigs gränd (if you can). This street is only 90 centimeters wide!
2. The Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet)
Although the actual residence of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia is situated about 30 minutes outside of Stockholm at Drottningholm Palace (another must-see!), this baroque masterpiece encompassing many Swedish dynasties currently houses the offices for most of the Royal Family including the King and the Royal Court of Sweden. A guided tour is essential to truly get the most out your time here!
Tip: Allow for time to watch the changing of the guard around noontime and don’t get in the way of the horses (or what they leave behind).
3. Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet)
One cannot leave Stockholm without first seeing Sweden’s proudest, yet most disappointing feats – the infamous Vasa (ship). On its maiden voyage, it sailed approximately 1,300 meters before capsizing and sinking to the bottom of the Stockholm Harbor. The massive scale of the ship and the feeling it evokes can truly only be experienced in person.
Tip: Be prepared to walk up many flights of stairs – the Vasa is over 50 meters (half a football field) high!
Sweden’s first zoo and open-air museum is a fan favorite and another place my host family took me early on during my first month abroad. With views of Stockholm from Djurgården (nearby island that Skansen sits on), frequent concerts, historic re-creations displaying traditional Swedish heritage, and a variety of Scandinavian animals such as reindeer and brown bear, how could you not take advantage of such an experience?
Tip: DO NOT try the brown cheese, but DO make time to take a fika while enjoying the view!
5. Riddarholm Church
A major part of Stockholm’s skyline, Riddarholm Church has served as the final burial place for many of Sweden’s royalty and nobility, many of whom walked the halls of no. 2 on the list!
Tip: Reading up on the different Swedish dynasties ahead of time may help one to realize this church’s significance, even on the world stage.
6. Nobel Museum (Nobelmuseet)
Thanks to Alfred Nobel, the Swedish Chemist and inventor of dynamite, the brightest minds from across the globe convene in Stockholm every year to be awarded the coveted Nobel Prize (or Norway in the case of the Peace Prize). Who knows, maybe your innovation will make its way into the Nobel Museum one day!
Tip: Look under your chairs in the museum café! You might just find autographs from Barack Obama and other prominent Nobel Laureates.
7. Stockholm Olympic Stadium (Stockholms Stadion)
Home to the 1912 Summer Olympic Games, along with performances by AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, KISS, and The Rolling Stones, Stadion is truly a hidden gem in downtown Stockholm.
Tip: Located right across the street from DIS, what better spot for a post-class workout?
8. Ericsson Globe
“The Globe” is not only the largest hemispherical building on Earth, but it has also been visited by Pope John Paul II during Sweden’s first papal mass, along with notable appearances by Nelson Mandela and Dalai Lama. While my host brother, Simon, and I went to a Nickelback concert here several weeks back, The Globe has hosted performances by Drake, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Cher, and others!
Tip: Don’t forget to check Stockholm’s concert/ice hockey schedule before coming – your favorite band or team might just be playing here!
9. Stockholm Public Library
One of Stockholm’s most notable structures and largest public libraries – just don’t get lost in the stacks!
Tip: The library cards are free!
10. Stockholm Metro (Stockholms Tunnelbana) Art
This 110 kilometer-long gallery that has been part of my daily commute to and from DIS has made travelling around the city anything but dull. Here are just a few stops that I’ve been able to see that make up only a fraction of such exquisite displays! Learn more about the world’s longest art gallery here.
– Solna Centrum
– T Centralen
Tip: Try the free guided art walk tours of the Metro during the summer!
A huge thanks to my host family for taking me to all these neat places around Stockholm!