Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, is underrated, something I didn't appreciate until after my first visit 20 years ago. It's visually appealing with both a unique architectural past and a very modernist aesthetic. The city is built on 14 islands, which form part of an archipelago of over 24,000 islands, sometimes called the “Venice of the North”. Each of the islands adds its own charm to the city's persona. You'll get a taste of Stockholm attractions by just walking its compact centre: the medieval streets of Gamla Stan, trendy boutiques of SoFo, or the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Drottningholm Palace.
This sense of duality (respecting tradition while embracing the new) permeates Stockholm's cultural scene too. If you love art, history and architecture, you're well served with museums, historic sites and interesting buildings (see What to Do in Stockholm below). However, it's also known for contemporary design, fascinating cuisine and innovative music and fashion. Things to add to your Stockholm sightseeing list include the Vasa Museum, ABBA The Museum, the Moderna Museet, and of course, the Nobel Prize Museum. But there's more, too…
Stockholm's charm is amplified by the Swedish ethos of ‘Lagom,' the idea of ‘just enough' or ‘perfect-simple balance'. This ethos has a practical expression in Stockholm’s clean and green spaces, cycling culture, innovative recycling programs, and the concept of ‘fika', the much-revered coffee and cake break which is way too easy to get used to! To get under the skin of this city don't just tick boxes from my Stockholm travel guide, but allow yourself to slip into a unique way of life.
To sum it up, Stockholm has an inviting blend of history, culture and modernity that appeals to all the circles in my personal travel Venn diagram: solo travel, digital nomad, LGBTQ travel. And I think it could work for you too. This place is committed to inclusivity and diversity, making it a welcoming (even exciting) destination for the majority of people. Now, it's worth keeping an eye out for the best time to go, as weather can be a *thing*, so make sure to read on to get your Stockholm travel tips.
Click any blue map marker to open a city guide or view the Sweden Travel Guide
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN STOCKHOLM
1. Vasa Museum: Visit the Vasa Museum to witness the world's best-preserved 17th-century ship in all its impressive glory. The 69-meter-long warship Vasa sank in 1628, and its salvage is a marvel of marine archaeology.
Admission is 190SEK and free for 18 and under.
2. Gamla Stan (Old Town): Wander the narrow, cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town, known for colourful buildings and historical charm. This is a great place to shop and enjoy a slow coffee (fika). Check out the Royal Palace and Stockholm Cathedral for moody photos.
3. Skansen Open-Air Museum: Experience Swedish culture throughout the ages at Skansen, the world's oldest open-air museum. Here, you'll find a fascinating collection of historic buildings, as well as a zoo showcasing Nordic animals.
Admission is 245 SEK (discounts for pensioners, students and children).
4. Modern Art Museum (Moderna Museet): for me, the perfect morning activity when I feel most ‘absorbent' to modern and contemporary art! Permanent collection includes works by Dalí, Matisse, Picasso, plus regular (world-class) exhibitions. Also has a space in Malmö.
Admission: 150 SEK (adults), 120 SEK (seniors/students)
5. Djurgården Island: Stock up on snacks at the supermarket and spend an afternoon on Djurgården Island, a tranquil spot that houses many top Stockholm attractions like Vasa, the ABBA Museum and Gröna Lund amusement park.
6. Nobel Museum: Get to know the Nobel laureates, their creative journeys, and the history of the Nobel Prize itself at the Nobel Museum located in Gamla Stan.
Admission: 140 SEK for adults, free for children.
7. Fotografiska: If you've not been to one of their worldwide museums yet, a visit to Fotografiska Stockholm is a must. The exhibitions of photography and visual art span both stars and new image creators.
Admission: from 175 SEK for adults (discounts for seniors/students)
8. The Royal National City Park: Take a break from the everyday busyness of Stockholm and explore the Royal National City Park, a massive park where you can hike, bike, or simply relax with a picnic (weather permitting).
9. Archipelago Boat Tour: Join a boat tour to explore Stockholm's stunning archipelago, which comprises around 24,000 islands. It's a perfect afternoon trip to enjoy the city's unique maritime landscape.
10. Fika in SoFo: I've mentioned ‘fika' as a must-do in every Swedish travel guide I've written, and there's good reason: who doesn't love the Swedish tradition of coffee break. The trendy SoFo district in Södermalm is packed with hip cafes, perfect for sipping coffee and enjoying a sweet treat. People love the cinnamon buns, but it's blueberry coffee cake that works for me.
For further details on cities to visit in Sweden, check out my city travel guides:
GETTING HERE & GETTING AROUND
Start out by reading my guide to reaching Sweden by air. Most international visitors to Sweden arrive in Stockholm Arlanda, the largest of 3 Stockholm airports. I use Skyscanner to scout for direct flights at times that suit me. If you're transferring from, say Gothenburg or Malmö, take a fast train via SJ.com which starts at around 3 hours duration.
For people coming from another European location, you can connect by train in Copenhagen/Malmö for onward trips to Stockholm. There's many coach services too like FlixBus. You can of course drive yourself via Denmark and the exciting Öresund Bridge. I cover all of your options in the table below.
Stockholm is pretty easy to navigate, with a well-connected network of metros, buses, trams, and ferries, which feel less like a boring commute and more like a fun part of your trip. The city's primary public transport operator, SL, will be your travelling best friend. I'd recommend downloading their app. Wherever you need to go, here's my advice how you can make the most of your time:
Stockholm is served by three main airports: Stockholm Arlanda, Bromma Stockholm, and Stockholm Skavsta. Arlanda, the largest, is a major international gateway with connections worldwide. Bromma is closer to the city centre and caters to more domestic and some international flights. Skavsta serves mainly low-cost airlines. Use Skyscanner to explore the options, as flexibility can get you the best price. The Arlanda Express offers a fast, comfortable service from the city centre to Arlanda Airport.
Stockholm Central Station is a major hub for Swedish Rail (SJ), with connections to cities across Sweden and beyond. For local travel, the Tunnelbana (Stockholm Metro) provides comprehensive coverage across the city.
Renting a car in Stockholm is ONLY useful if you need to get to some remote locations, but otherwise, use Stockholm's public transport. All the major rental companies at the airports and city centre. I use Expedia to compare the main agencies. Remember, Stockholm operates a congestion charge.
Renting a camper van is a good way to explore Sweden overall, so a stop-off in Stockholm can work. I drove in from Copenhagen and stayed at Långholmen in Stockholm which was okay. I loved cycling from there into the city, though.
Sweden has a really good long-distance bus network. Companies like FlixBus and Swebus are good options. As this is Europe, the bus network will connect you not just to Sweden, but also to elsewhere in Scandinavia and right across the continent.
Taxis are plentiful in Stockholm, but expensive. Always check the price before getting in, as taxi fares are not regulated in Sweden. Uber operates in Stockholm too.
I found Stockholm to be super bike-friendly city in terms of cycle paths, although there was a lack of bike parking options near popular tourist sites. There are bike rental services available, but check out the bike-sharing system called Stockholm City Bikes. They run from April-October via this app.
Stockholm's city centre is compact and walkable, with plenty of pedestrianised streets and beautiful waterfront promenades. Walking allows you to take in the city's stunning architecture at your own pace.
There's a wide array of guided tours in Stockholm – from historical walking tours and food experiences to boat tours of the archipelago. My advice to you is to explore the options on Get Your Guide and/or Viator. Both sites have options at a range of budgets and durations. Please use my links as that helps keep Planet Patrick on the road at no extra cost to you!
STOCKHOLM DAILY EXPENSES & SMART BUDGETING
Smart Budget = 2000 SEK
I plan my solo travel finances around the idea of daily “smart budgeting” including accommodation, food and excursions. A smart budget is flexible, leaving some cash to splash on memorable luxuries like a night in a fancier hotel, or lunch at a famous restaurant.
Mid-range Smart Budget: 2000 SEK – mid-range hotel (1500-2000 SEK), lunch from a local deli or market (150-250), proper evening meal (150-250), plus a typical excursion (150+).
Backpacker Smart Budget: 630 SEK – a dorm bed in a hostel (250-300 SEK), self-catered meals (200), using public transport (130 SEK).
Luxury Smart Budget: >2500 SEK – Stockholm has a wide range of glamorous options, from 5* hotels to glorious restaurants and bars. Allow for 2500 SEK per day (and way up).
- Local currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)
- Exchange Rates: $1 USD = 10.45 SEK | £1 GBP = 13.48 SEK | €1 = 11.56 SEK
- SIM Cards: it may be more economical to purchase a local SIM card for data usage. Key suppliers in Sweden include Telia, Telenor, and Tele2.
- Emergency Services: 112
- Power voltage: 230 V 50 Hz. Power sockets are Type F.
STOCKHOLM ACCOMMODATION & FOOD
Prices can differ substantially across various regions in Sweden, with Stockholm generally being more expensive due to its status as the nation's capital and largest city.
$ Basic Hotel: expect to pay around 800-1400 SEK;
$$ Mid-range 3*: can range from 1400-2200 SEK
$$$ Luxury/Historic: mostly cost 2200 SEK and up.
$-$$$ Airbnb: a basic ‘entire place' starts at 800 SEK per night (including wifi) in Stockholm.
Note: add up the “total cost” of a room (room + amenities + breakfast) to ensure you compare like with like. Swedish hotels include free Wi-Fi, often breakfast and sometimes a sauna or gym. If breakfast is extra, it'll run 100-200 SEK per person. Here are my top picks for a stay in Stockholm, at every budget:
FOOD IN STOCKHOLM
Stockholm's food scene is as diverse and cosmopolitan as the city itself, paying attention to its rich history, Swedish sustainability and local produce. You'll find seafood, game and seasonal vegetables, plus a growing vegan scene. Seafood delicacies to try include Baltic herring, salmon, and crayfish. Östermalms Saluhall is the iconic food hall where you can find top-quality fish and seafood. Try Vete-Katten for Swedish pastries and you'll find kanelbullar in lots of cafes (cinnamon buns).
When it comes to fine dining, Stockholm has 7 Michelin-starred restaurants such as three-starred Frantzén, Nour, and Ekstedt. But there's much more here; enjoy the vibrant street food scene in Södermalm and the food trucks around Hornstull Marknad for some lip-smacking delights. Stockholm is also a craft beer paradise with breweries like Omnipollos Hatt and Nya Carnegiebryggeriet.
If you prefer a guided culinary experience, try out this half-day food tour of Stockholm, introducing you to some tasty Swedish bites.
On the budget front, expect to pay from around 150 SEK for a main course at an average restaurant, with prices increasing for more upmarket dining experiences. Supermarket shopping is slightly more expensive compared to other parts of Europe, but the quality is consistently high. Coop, Hemköp, and ICA are commonly found grocery stores, with locations spread across the city, even in the bustling city center.
BEST TIME TO GO TO STOCKHOLM
Both summer and winter are great times to visit Stockholm (but I like both sunshine and snow!). Here's what you need to know:
Summer, from June to August, is lovely, but also busy with visitors. Stockholm is alive with outdoor events and things run far into the evening with the midnight sun. Temperatures run around 20-25°C and rain showers are common. Expect the city to be busiest (and hotels more expensive) around big music festivals like Lollapalooza and Summerburst. It's also the best time to visit the outdoor museum, Skansen.
Autumn in Stockholm is a photographer's dream. From September to November, the city's parks and gardens explode with hues of orange and yellow. The weather remains relatively mild, with some rainfall, but it's typically not too disruptive (if you bring a raincoat).
Winter, between December and February, turns Stockholm into a postcard-perfect snowy landscape. Yes, it'll be cold and the light limited, but Stockholmers make the most of it with ice skating at Kungsträdgården, and visitors fly in for the traditional Christmas markets like the one at Stortorget in Gamla Stan. Festivals continue too, with the Stockholm International Film Festival held every November.
Spring, from March to May, is an ideal time to visit, as the city warms up, new growth fills the parks and tourist numbers remain low (meaning cheaper hotels). I'm told that it's also a great time to visit the archipelago, as the islands defrost and there's not many people around.
SOLO TRAVEL TO STOCKHOLM
I have visited Stockholm with friends (it's a great city for mischief), and on my own too. It's a good place for solo travel simply because the city is relatively compact for walking and great for public transport. Stockholm gets flak for not being London or Paris, but it doesn't need to be: there's a good balance here between vibrance and its chill side. For my next solo adventure, I'd start with a mid-range hotel in late Spring/early Summer and set out to explore the museums, palace, Gamla Stan and café culture in Södermalm. Stockholm is a dream if you speak English as most everyone is fluent in English and happy to use it.
Start in the city but do branch out; the archipelago is gorgeous, car-free and can be done as part of a tour or on your own. Plus, there's events: Stockholm Pride in August, the Stockholm Culture Festival in summer, or the Stockholm International Film Festival in November.
DIGITAL NOMADS IN STOCKHOLM
Stockholm has become increasingly popular for digital nomads. There's several great cafés with super fast internet, the quality of life is amazing plus there's lots to do. If you want to be able to just work when you need to, but be laid-back the rest of the time, you'll find a warm welcome in most public spaces plus there's quite a few coworking spaces that have sprung up.
The fact Stockholm has a bustling tech hub has brought in a lot of globally mobile people who have a broader perspective than head-down productivity. Sure, work hard, but get some life going too. Isn't that why you became a digital nomad? Enjoying this kind of lifestyle in Stockholm comes at a cost: factor in accommodation, the expense of food/coffee and excursions to keep you sane. Mostly, I think this will balance out but if you're starting out as a nomad, there's cheaper locations.
Sweden Digital Nomad Visa
While Sweden offers a great environment for digital nomads, as of now, it does not provide a specific digital nomad visa. So if you turn up to work in Sweden under a tourist visa or during a visa-free stay, you're technically outside the law.
Non-EU citizens: to work remotely in Sweden, you should be employed by a Swedish company or have Swedish clients, and apply for a work permit accordingly.
EEA, EU, Schengen area citizens: there's more flexibility. You don't need a visa or residence permit to work remotely in Sweden, but, if you'll stay >3 months, you must register at the local tax registration office (Skatteverket) to make sure you're compliant.
LGBTQ+ TRAVEL TO STOCKHOLM
Sweden ranks highly on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index, and Stockholm has the lovely reputation of being very LGBTQ+ friendly! If Pride is your thing, then Stockholm Pride takes place in August and is one of the biggest celebrations of diversity in Scandinavia. The scene is concentrated in Gamla Stan and Södermalm, with both bar and coffee scene venues. Even outside the city, you should feel general acceptance and respect for your identity (there's exceptions and ***h*les in every country).
HOW SAFE IS STOCKHOLM?
If you're concerned about safety, Stockholm, like most of Sweden, is regarded as quite safe, with crime rates that compare favorably to those in other global metropolitan areas. Visitors, including solo travelers and LGBTQ+ people can generally feel safe and secure, even when out and about in the evening. However, as with any large city, maintaining a level of vigilance and practicing common sense is always recommended. Tune in to local news, even if only via social media. I'd keep my laptop bag close by and be mindful, but that's my default setting. If you're going in the winter, be prepared for the cold. You'll need a proper winter jacket, no negotiating! If you have health conditions, be prepared for living with those during very cold temperatures.
Stockholm, like much of Sweden, operates predominantly on a cashless basis, so having a credit or debit card with readily accessible funds is essential.
STOCKHOLM TRAVEL GUIDE: BOOKING RESOURCES
These are the companies that I use to make bookings when I travel.
- Expedia – this is the website I use most for looking at hotels. They've really worked on their ‘Filters' and I can set everything to look for options within my Smart Budget.
- Skyscanner – this is where I start every search for flights. Skyscanner searches the main airlines and a bunch of alternatives so you can find the best deal for your trip.
- Get Your Guide – this website is all about tours and excursions. I've used them a lot; GYG has multiple options for each place I'm visiting so I can usually find a short or longer excursion depending on my budget and wants.
- Viator – Viator is a big central marketplace for tours and outings. Using Viator gives you access to everything from tours to food tastings, group walking tours, history and culture.
- VRBO – I've used VRBO in the US and Mexico to book ‘whole properties' (no risk of accidentally booking a room in someone's house!). The pricing is very sensible and it's clear what you will get in terms of amenities.
- G Adventures – this travel group organises small group travel for solo travelers to some amazing places. Check out their regular discounts.
- Peak Design – I use Peak Design products for camera accessories and bags. Everything I've used is strongly constructed and hard-wearing.