Let us introduce Stockholm, which has long been the “front page of Sweden”. As early as 1436 it was granted city rights and in 1634 it was officially designated the capital. As a result, Stockholm has become an obvious destination for visitors from near and far. Its location, with plenty of water around and in the city, has earned it the nickname “Venice of the North”, and because it’s on Lake Mälaren, it is also known as the “Queen of Lake Mälaren”. One thing is certain, all visitors are touched by its beauty.
While there is public transportation in Stockholm, if you want to explore without dealing with the unpredictable or cold weather, a rental car is the way to go. Our fleet in Stockholm includes a range of electric vehicles that are perfect for city driving. If you’re planning to drive elsewhere in Sweden, book a luxury SUV that can handle any weather conditions.
Sweden has long been a monarchy, for over 1000 years in fact, and since the 13th century Stockholm Castle, or the Royal Palace as it is officially known, has graced its site on Stadsholmen. Nowadays, the royal family doesn’t live here, but they carry out their duties from the offices and stunning parade rooms.
The palace has several exhibitions and representation rooms to visit. Among other things, you can look at priceless treasures in the Treasury. Exciting royal artefacts can be found in the adjacent Livrust Chamber. And you can experience the changing of the high guard several times a day in the courtyard.
Old Town (Gamla stan)
This is where it all began. The Old Town is Stockholm’s well-preserved medieval city centre, in fact one of the best preserved in Europe. Most of the buildings here are of high cultural and historical value. Just walking around and looking at them is a pleasure. Visit Mårten Trotzig alley, the narrowest street of all, which is only 90 cm wide.
In addition to the Royal Palace, you will find the Great Church and Stortorget. Neither is very big anymore, but equally impressive. Another well-known church is the German church, Sant Gertrud. Alfred Nobel is a well-known Swede and here in the Old Town you will find the Nobel Prize Museum.
The Vasa Museum is one of the most exciting things in Stockholm, at least for history buffs. The ship ran aground immediately upon its launch in 1628, which was of course a great loss to the people of the time. For today’s generations, the event has proved to be an important link to the past.
Unfortunately, you can’t go on board the ship, but you can see it from the outside. There are also several live exhibitions where you can meet the women of Vasa and the ship’s crew face to face, for example. You can also learn about life on board and the salvage of the wreck.
Skansen is an open-air museum and cultural area with a fine collection of old buildings. Here you can see how people used to live in the past. Skansen also has its own zoo which mainly shows animals normally found in our latitudes. In the Skansen aquarium you can see more exotic animals, such as reptiles of various kinds. At the Baltic Sea Science Center you can learn more about life in the Baltic Sea. The tanks contain fish, mussels, jellyfish and other local aquatic animals.
Most famous at Skansen is probably the famous Solliden stage from which Allsång på Skansen and the New Year’s celebrations are broadcast on SVT. Come and join the live broadcast!
Södermalm, or Söder for short, has gone from being the poorest working-class neighbourhood to being the cream of the crop. (Anyone who knows his Karl-Bertil Jonsson can guess what it was like in the past.) Today, many big and famous cultural figures, politicians and intellectuals live in the expensive council flats.
Söder is not just a residential area. There are nice and trendy shops, cafés, nightspots and restaurants – especially in the area nicknamed SoFo. You can also visit Kvarnen, a tavern dating back to 1908 and reminiscent of Södermalm’s working-class background, and enjoy some tasty home cooking.
Nationalmuseum is a national museum of art and design. Here you can see famous masterpieces such as Carl Larsson’s powerful painting Midwinterblot, which greets you right in the entrance hall. Established in 1792, it is one of the oldest museums in Europe. The collections include works from the 16th century onwards. The exhibitions are both temporary and more permanent, and can also be found in other locations, such as Gustavberg’s Porcelain Museum.
If you are visiting the National Museum, we recommend that you set aside at least half a day. At least if you want to see “everything” and have the energy to do so. The building is filled with statues, paintings, porcelain figurines, ceramics, prints and other objects, and it takes time to go through all the exhibits. Download the museum guide.
Fotografiska is a modern and vibrant photo gallery displaying photos and other visual art. The founders, brothers Jan and Per Broman, opened Fotografiska in May 2010. The gallery, housed in the Stora tullhuset on Söder, in Stockholm’s Stadsgårdshamn, was a resounding success. Today they also offer workshops and lectures, as well as good food! Star chefs make a visit to the bright and open restaurant a must.
Over the years it has shown photo and video art by artists such as Anton Corbijn, Jacob Felländer and Sally Mann. An exhibition by Annie Leibovitz was shown at the opening. Fotografiska also has locations in New York and Tallinn, and in 2023 it will open a new gallery in Berlin.
Gröna Lund Amusement Park
Gröna Lund needs no further introduction. The amusement park has been around for a long time, opening its gates for the first time in 1883, but there have been entertainment facilities on the site since the 18th century. Something even Bellman testified to in his texts.
The Gröna Lund of today offers a variety of more or less amusing rides. For those afraid of heights, Fritt Fall and Katapulten are really scary. There are tombola stands and competitions where you can win great prizes. Several bars and restaurants provide food, which is often of the street food variety, and Swedish and foreign artists perform on the various stages. A summer without a visit to Gröna Lund is not complete.
On the island of Långholmen is the old prison of the same name, now converted into a hotel, hostel and conference facilities. If you have not booked other accommodation, you can combine business with pleasure. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Långholmen prison was known as the spinning house. It housed female prisoners, whose only crime was often poverty. From 1850 to 1975, the prison had mostly male inmates and many famous names appear on the list of inmates, such as Jan Guillou.
When the prison was closed for good, some buildings were demolished. After the rebuilding of the remaining buildings, a prison museum was created which you can visit. You can see what a cell looked like when the prison was in use. In addition to the museum, the island is a small cultural centre with a theatre and art galleries. There is also a lido.
ABBA the museum
ABBA are probably the greatest artists we have had in Sweden. They made a serious breakthrough with the song Waterloo in the 1974 Melodifestivalen, and were hugely popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Many people have grown up with the music and have a personal relationship with it and its members: Agneta, Anni-Frid, Björn and Benny.
ABBA The Museum is fun for children because it is interactive. Not only can you see exhibits of the band’s stage costumes, you can even sing yourself! Thanks to new technology, you can pretend to be the fifth member. Virtually, you can try on the clothes, take photos, and stand on stage with the ABBA holograms.
Where to Eat & Drink in Stockholm
Swedish food is more than just meatballs. In Stockholm you’ll find traditional Swedish cuisine, but also restaurants serving dishes from around the world, washed down with a craft beer or cocktail.
TAK: This higher-end restaurant offers set menus that fuse Scandinavian cuisine with Japanese elements. Enjoy seafood paired with produce, and desserts like chocolate mousse.
Restaurant Pelikan: Often featured on TV shows, this more than 300-year-old restaurant is south of the Old Town section of Stockholm. You can try traditional Swedish dishes like a pork knuckle, herring and meaty dishes like reindeer.
Meatballs for the People: Get your fix of Swedish meatballs at this spot that offers more than 10 kinds of meat and vegan options including bear and boar. Pair your meatballs with a drink from their vast menu of beer, wine and cocktails.
Pharmarium: Head to this pharmacy-themed bar near the Nobel Prize Museum for a craft cocktail. They offer a small selection of cocktails often infused with herbs. If you’re hungry while you drink, they also have a menu of tapas-style dishes.