We flew direct from Stuttgart to Arlanda – Stockholm’s main airport. There are multiple ways to get into the city center direct from the airport: express train ($35 per person each way in 20 minutes), bus (about $15 per person each each way, 50 minutes), or there is a super shuttle type service too. There are ticket machines before you exit the airport. The Swedish Krona right now is USD .12 to 1 Krona, so 100 Krona is about $12.
We took the Flygbussarna bus. It’s cheaper if you download the app first and book through there online. The bus make a couple stops on the way so it’s easy no matter where you stay. Public transit in the city is also easy. Go to the information booth at any station and buy a 24 or 72 hour bus/train pass to use the local transit systems, or walk. Everything we wanted to do was in about a 20 minute walk so we only used public transit a few times because the weather was cold and raining.
We stayed near the main central station in the Norrmalm section in the Scandic Continental because the hotel included free breakfast for a similar price to other 4-5 star places. Free breakfast is really important when a regular no-frills meal in Stockholm can easily cost 80 bucks for two people. The hotel also had restaurants and a roof bar which had a great view. It was always crowded though so it was hard to enjoy it.
Stockholm is a cashless city for the most part which for us is perfect. However, get some cash for things like food trucks or to tip the guide on the free walking tour.
Bring umbrellas and scarves – it will rain.
Free Walking Tour – The tour meets daily at the Gamla Stan metro station stop. It’s the shortest walking tour we have ever been on in any city at about 90 minutes. It provides a good bit of history for the main things like the palace, parliament, churches, and statues around town.
Changing of the Royal Guard – The walking tour ends about 20 minutes before the changing of the guard parade and before the free Medieval Museum under the palace opens. While we were waiting for the museum to open, we heard music. The guards come right across the bridge over the museum to the palace marching to music in a parade. No crowds of people, it was easy to get a front row view as they passed by – and totally by chance as we had no idea where/when the change took place.
- Medieval Museum – We went here because it was free and we were already in the area after the walking tour. It was worth the stop, it is huge and good for all ages. We were there for well over an hour though I know some of us could have stayed longer with all the reading. There is a cobblestone town set up underground where original tunnels to the city were found during an excavation ment to build a parking lot. When they found the walls, they changed the build plan to make the space into a museum.
The Vasa Museum – This one took 2+ hours easily with 5 floors of artifacts and ship discovery information. The Vasa is a ship that sunk and was resurrected 300 years later. The part that makes it cool is that it is still 95% original even after all that time under sea. The skeletons of many bodies from the ship were also recovered and on display. The detail and the size of the ship is amazing. They are working on it still today. The cost is $16 per person, and the guided tours are free and happen throughout the day.
Stromma Steamboat through the archipelago – The Stockholm archipelago is a cluster of tons of islands outside of Stockholm city, popular in summer months for vacay and for sailing. There was one huge Viking Cruise ship we did see several times along the way too that goes to FInland in 12 hours. The tour was good, but it was really so cold, rainy and windy it would have been better in the summer. Still worth it to get out and see more of the area. We brought our own drinks and sandwiches and it was much better and cheaper than what was served on the boat from what we saw. Start outside then come in for the best seats as the crowd goes to lunch. The trip is 2 hours.
Old town Gamla Stan – This is where it is most crowded with people shopping through the narrow streets. The walking tour said there is better shopping on the opposite side of the palace too. We didn’t shop much since it’s so expensive and it was cold and raining. We did wait for postcards and grabbed them on the way from Gamla Stan over the next bridge to the Södermalm area. We also liked this area to walk through too. Everything was easy to find, or take public transit to. There is also free WiFi in most places to save from using our data.
Subway Art – While most underground metro stations are famous for their art displays, we didn’t see any of the ones that are most photographed or instagrammed. Will have to hunt for those places next time. The art we did see in the stops we went to were not any more amazing than what you would find in major cities like Berlin, Prague, or NYC.
The Market – We ate in the hotel the first night for dinner and also grabbed a late night snack from the lobby later too because we were starving – both times. The restaurant is amazing – they have an a la carte menu or a prefix with 3+ courses. Everything was fresh and delicious.
The Hairy Pig Deli – Tapas menu with pulled pork and homemade sausage. For the best deal/most food, get the meal with the pork or sausage together with the tapas. Everything was delicious, the table next to us complained about the tapas size for the price but we were stuffed. There are only about 8 tables so it was good we went early.
Swedish Cinnamon Rolls or Kanelbullar
Stenugnsbageriet Le Violon Dingue – Get your game face on – the pressure is on at this one because it is really tiny, and the lady behind the counter doesn’t wait. Because of this, we ordered the wrong thing, still amazing and delicious but be prepared with the words for what you want vs. pointing in this place. This place is located just off of the Old Haymarket farmers market square.
When we came home, this was the first thing we needed to learn how to make. Cardamom is key. This is how they turned out. Not bad, but will be working on perfecting this through fall until it’s right. Co-workers/friends: expect lots of trial buns over the next month.
This video is helpful.
Late night is a lie in Stockholm – Restaurants and bars claiming to have late-night menus close by 10-11 p.m. even if they say they are open until 1 a.m. Plan meals accordingly or have some cash to find a late night hotdog stand. The McDonald’s and 7-11 are the only options past 11 p.m. and they are packed. Our hotel lobby had some wraps and salads so we ended up eating that the first night at around midnight. We talked to a bartender later in the weekend who named two places he knew of that were open late for real, but they were a bit further out from us. Next time, we will save extra sandwiches from breakfast in the room for later.
Omnipollo Hat – Go for the beer – stay for the pizza. While they have great stuff on tap including the unique slushy beer where they put mango slushy on top of a mango beer (it was actually good but light, perfect if it was hot) the brick oven pizza is what made us go back twice.
Akkurat – Restaurant and craft beer bar with a huge menu and a vintage reserve menu if you are into spending 50 bucks or more per bottle. The food was good, we had a burger and mussels.
Swedish Brewing Company – Strange disco theme bar that is too small for a disco. Good small area with outdoor seating under heat lamps to have a beer. Not our vibe. A few things on tap. Signs for some small Hawaiian style food options (again strange) during the day but we didn’t try it or see anyone with it. A good stop on the way to Mikkeller which is more our speed.
Mikkeller Bar Stockholm – Newer, downstairs location, same vibe as Berlin’s bar with food options, great egg benedict special on Sunday’s served all day and massive meat and cheese plate options with lots on tap. There was a War Pigs (from Copenhagen) tap takeover that weekend. Beers are of course expensive as is all alcohol in Sweden due to the tax rates there at about 10 bucks a glass.
Sjätte Tunnan – This place has some craft beer, cocktails and an ok vibe. It is a restaurant too with good reviews on food. It’s in Gamla Stan so we stopped in to get out of the rain before heading on to explore the old town. The bartender was cool and gave us some good recommendations on local places to go.