24 Hours in Stockholm: A Small City With Big History

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and is the most populated city in all of the Nordic countries. The city consists of 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, encompassing modern Scandinavian designs and cobblestone streets that look like they came straight out of a fairytale.

We spoke with Stefani, a Stockholm local, to put together a 24-hour itinerary to best experience what Stockholm has to offer.

Stockholm 24 hrs 1

Be Hip in Södermalm

Ranked as the “coolest” neighbourhood in Europe by Vogue Magazine, Södermalm island, also known as the hipster island, has been made famous by its relaxed, creative vibe, artsy shops, hip cafes, trendy vintage clothing boutiques, and independent galleries.

Being an island, Södermalm has incredible views of both nature and parts of the city. In the summer, the small beaches in Tantolunden parkare popular for swimming and picnics.

One of Södermalm’s main attractions is the stylish Fotografiska, a contemporary photo gallery in a former industrial building that is a must for photography lovers. The exhibitions are presented in both Swedish and English and the museum offers guided tours of the exhibitions. In addition to photography, the building offers a gift shop full of photography books and prints, a bistro on the top floor that overlooks the waterfront and offers weekend brunch, wine tasting events, and concerts.

Stockholm sunset

Museum Hop on Djurgården Island

Beloved by both locals and travelers, Djurgården is a tranquil oasis in the middle of Stockholm. Like no other place in Stockholm, it collects many of the city’s most famous museums and cultural attractions such as the Vasa MuseumGröna Lund, the Abba Museum and Skansen Open-Air Museum. Djurgården can be reached by bus, tram or ferry from central Stockholm.

Stockholm garden

View a 400-Year-Old Ship at the Vasa Museum

The Vasa Museum is located on Djurgården island and is famous for housing a nearly 400-year-old ship that still remains preserved in miraculously good condition.

The Vasa is the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world and a unique treasure. More than 95 percent of the ship is original.

The 69-meter-long warship sank on its initial voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later in 1961. For nearly half a century the ship has been slowly and painstakingly restored to its original glory. Today, the Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, with over one million visitors a year.

Stockholm vasa museum

Visit the World’s Oldest Open-Air Museum

Also located on Djurgården island and founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, a Swedish scholar and folklorist, Skansen was the first open-air museum in Sweden, intended to display pre-industrial Swedish heritage through historic structures. Many of the traditional buildings and homes at Skansen were moved from other parts of the country, with a few detailed replicas in the mix.

The buildings in the open-air museum represent various trades and areas of the country. Most of the structures are inhabited by staff in costume, often creating handicrafts, playing music or churning butter while happily answering questions about the people whose lives they’re reenacting.

Skansen is a favorite both among locals and travelers and it’s a perfect outing for the whole family.

Stockholm skansen

Time For Fika

Functioning as both a verb and a noun, fika is the concept of taking a break, often with a cup of coffee and a baked good. You can do it alone or with friends, but the essential thing is that that you make time to take a break.

Coffee represents a moment to sit and contemplate on your own, or to gather with friends and is something to look forward to. Fika is a moment where everything else stops and you have time to just savour the moment.

Try taking a break and savouring the moment at Vete-Katten, an iconic local fika spot bursting with a delicious selection of traditional Swedish cakes and pastries.

Stockholm coffee

Take the Subway

Traveling on a city’s subway system is never expected to be an exciting experience, as it typically only functions as a convenient way of getting from point A to point B. This couldn’t be any farther from the truth in Stockholm, where artists have transformed the city’s underground metro into a gigantic art exhibition.

Around 90 of the city’s 100 subway stations have been given a mesmerizing makeover by over 150 artists and the results are captivating, transforming the transport system into a world of colour, rather than a dirty, dull area to wait amongst the rats for your train to come.

The makeover has helped to make the subway system, which is widely regarded as the most beautiful in Europe, into the world’s longest art exhibition, measuring 110 kilometers.

Stockholm subway

Stroll along the Harbourfront in Strandvägen

With high-end fashion boutiques, stunning eighteenth-century buildings, fancy restaurants and a harbour packed with luxury boats, Strandvägen is part of the most exclusive district in Stockholm and is not a place to be missed.

Strandvägen is a charming 1200-meter-long waterfront esplanade that was created in the second half of the nineteenth century in Stockholm’s Östermalm district. The Esplanade is lined with luxurious buildings that were designed by some of the top architects of the day.

Stockholm strandvagen

Meet up in the Birthplace of Stockholm

Gamla Stan, also known as the Old Town, is where Stockholm was founded in 1252 and is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe, and one of the main attractions in Stockholm.

The Old Town dates back to the 13th century but the majority of the buildings are from the 1700s and 1800s. It is a captivating labyrinth of charming cobblestone streets, unique alleyways, faded mustard and rust colored townhouses and historic meeting squares.

There are several beautiful churches and museums in Gamla Stan, including Sweden’s national cathedral Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. The largest of the attractions in the district is the Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in the world with over 600 rooms.

Stockholm canal

Dine like a Viking at Aifur

Located in Gamla Stan and named after the Viking ship Aifur, this restaurant is the only restaurant in Sweden that specializes in serving Viking heritage. Extensively researched, with over 15 years of accumulated knowledge about life, food, and culture from the years 700-1100, everything is reminiscent of the Viking era. From the flavourful food, seasoned with spices from the era, to the carefully thought out cutlery. The recipes have been reinvented for the modern day but they still retain the Viking essence.

Be sure to try the mead, which is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water.

Stockholm restaurant

Stockholm is a small city that packs a big punch. With so much to see and do there is little time to get bored, but always remember to slow down for a fika.