We’ve lived in Stockholm for about 5 years and during these years I’ve seen a lot of the city. And of course, I’ve got a bunch of favorite places that I really love. I can totally understand why Stockholm is said to be the most beautiful capital on earth. It’s built on water, so wherever you go, there will be water. Another thing I absolutely love about Stockholm is that there are so many old buildings left. Gamla Stan (the old town) for example, strolling these streets is like traveling two hundred years back in time. I just love that.
During this year - yes, I’ve been working on this post for almost a year - I’ve revisited all my favorite places, just to take photos for this guide. I’ve also visited some of the tourist attractions, which are not necessarily my favorite places, but I think they are really worth a visit so I wanted to include them too. Since you probably don’t love the exact same things as I do, I want to share as many places as possible so that you can choose what you want to see and what not. I hope you’ll like that.
When I travel, I usually visit one area of the city at a time - I guess most people do - so the way I’ve put together this guide is based on that. That means that all the recommendations I have in one area are listed together, just to make it easy for you. We’ll start in the city center and work our way out of the city. Let’s start exploring!
Drottninggatan - the main street with all the stores, like H&M, Zara, Åhléns, and whatnot. When you follow Drottninggatan in the southern direction, you’ll eventually come to the royal palace and Gamla Stan.
Centralbadet- located on Drottninggatan 88, is an affordable SPA located right on the busy street Drottninggatan. If you visit Monday-Thursday and want to borrow towels, flip-flops and a bathrobe it's like 380 SEK. You'll have access to the jacuzzis, swimming pool, and the many saunas. To find the entrance to the spa, walk through a small, lush park and then you'll find it almost hidden under some huge trees. If you’re looking for more SPA visits I can recommend Sturebadet, which is a bit more expensive but totally amazing.
NK - short for Nordiska Kompaniet, is located on Hamngatan 18. This is one of the oldest department stores in Stockholm and even though there are mostly super expensive brands here, it’s worth a visit. Especially if you visit during Christmas. NK is super famous for their Christmas display.
Hötorget - buy fresh flowers or fruits here.
Riksdagen - which is the Swedish parliament. You can participate in a guided tour or just pass by it and see it from the outside. See photo below.
The Royal Palace - after you’ve passed the parliament you’ll see the palace on your left-hand side. Just before you enter Gamla Stan. The Royal Palace is not the permanent home to His Majesty the King, but rather a combination of royal residence and workplace. If you want to visit you can click here to read more about it (in English). If you want to visit the permanent home of Their Majesties the King and Queen, you should visit Drottningholm Palace (read more about it further down).
When you’ve passed Riksdagen, you’ll find the street Västerlånggatan just ahead of you. When you’re on that street, you’re in Gamla Stan. Now it’s time to explore this area. Here are some things to see and do:
Stortorget - picture below. The houses on the photo are quite famous so if you want to see them, Stortorget is where you should be going.
Mårten Trotzigs gränd - this is the narrowest alley in Gamla Stan, only 90 cm wide. Just enter the name (Mårten Trotzigs Gränd) in Google maps and you'll be able to find it.
Brända tomten (the burnt lot) - is a place in Gamla Stan, located in the corner of Kindstugatan and Själagårdsgatan. A building burnt down in this place in 1728 and it was never rebuilt, therefore the open space here. Today there's a huge chestnut tree taking up a lot of the space, creating a lush and super cozy place. You'll also find a cafe here, called Under Kastanjen (meaning Under the chestnut tree). See photo below.
Get lost - allow yourself to aimlessly walk the streets of Gamla Stan. You’ll see so many beautiful buildings and find so many pretty cafes. You know the Swedish word ”fika” right? It’s basically when you sit down to have coffee and something sweet (a cinnamon bun for example). You should indeed have a fika at one of the many cafes in Gamla Stan. Here are a few photos of pretty places you'll find when you walk around in this area:
Where to eat / fika / drink
Fem Små Hus - located on Nygränd 10. Read more and book a table here.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cafe - located on Västerlånggatan 59.
Fabrique Stenugnsbageri - located on Lilla Nygatan 12. Pictures below. My favorite cafe in Stockholm because I’m in love with the interior here. And they have great fika.
When you’ve walked all the way through Gamla Stan, you’ll reach the water. Walk over the bridge and you’ll be in the area called Södermalm.
Fotografiska Museet - one of the best photography museums in the entire world. Read more about their exhibitions and their restaurant on their website.
Monteliusvägen - from this street you’ll have the most stunning view of Stockholm. See picture below. The easiest way to find this street is to use Google maps.
The area around Nytorget - a lot of pretty houses and buildings.
Grandpa Store - located on Södermannagatan 21. Here you'll find clothes and a selection of design pieces. This shop is such a typical Södermalm store, with the hipster style that is often associated with this area. See left photo below.
Brandstationen - located on Hornsgatan 64. "Brandstation" is the Swedish word for "fire station" and this vintage store is located in an old fire station, hence the name. You'll find a lot of vintage treasures and they also have plants. See right photo above.
Where to eat / fika / drink
Falafelbaren - located on Hornsgatan 39B. The best falafel in town. If you’re going to have lunch here, make sure to be there before 12 if you want a table. The restaurant is really small and at 12 all the hungry, working Stockholmers run to this place to eat. You can, of course, order takeaway and eat someplace else, but just so you know.
Gondolen - located on Stadsgården 6. Have dinner with an insane view over Stockholm. Find more here.
Johan & Nyström - located on Swedenborgsgatan 7. Enjoy some really good coffee and buy some coffee beans to bring back home.
Paradiset Matmarknad - located on Brännkyrkagatan 62. It’s a grocery store with only organic food and on the second floor, you’ll find restaurants that all serve great food. Why not pick up some kombucha and organic fruits on your way out? Picture below.
The area around Odenplan and S:t Eriksplan is great in the evenings. You’ll find a lot of really great restaurants and pubs here.
Where to eat / fika / drink
Lilla Ego - located on Västmannagatan 69. This place is outstanding. I’ve never had as good food anywhere. If I tell you that you have to book a table like 3 months in advance you’ll perhaps believe me? You can also go there, wait by the bar and hope that you’ll get a table. It can take up to 2 hours but it’s SO worth the wait. A funny thing is that ”Lilla Ego” is the name of a song written by the Swedish band Kent (one of my favorite bands actually). And at the restaurant, the only play music by Kent. I love that!
Burgers & Beer - located on Rörstrandsgatan 11. Try their chickpea burger wrapped in cabbage leaves. Sooo good! And gluten-free.
Café Pascal - located on Norrtullsgatan 4. They probably have the best coffee in Stockholm. And the cafe is super cozy!
Pom & Flora - located on Odengatan 39 (they have another cafe in Södermalm, on Bondegatan 64). A great place for coffee or lunch.
Helenes Krog - located on S:t Eriksgatan 67. Great food and awesome service. One of our favorite places.
Flippin' Burgers - located on Observatoriegatan 8. Another great burger place.
Café Saturnus - located on Eriksbergsgatan 6. A great place for a fika!
Juiceverket - located on Norrtullsgatan 21 (and in a few other places around town). Visit for fresh juices.
Waldemarsudde - a perfect place for a picnic or just an afternoon stroll. Get lost in the beautiful surroundings and escape the busy city life for a while. See the first photo below.
Rosendal - this is a huge garden, with the most amazing flowers. Here you’ll also find a shop and a restaurant/cafe. Indeed worth a visit. Read more here. See the second photo above.
Vasa Museum - see the famous ship Vasa, which sank minutes after setting sail for the first time in the 17th century. Read more here.
ABBA the Museum - you probably know the Swedish band ABBA (otherwise - shame on you!). This is their museum. Read more here.
Junibacken - one of the most famous persons from Sweden is the children's book author Astrid Lindgren. Junibacken is a place dedicated to her and the fictional characters from her books and a few other famous characters created by other authors.
Gröna Lund - Stockholm’s amusement park with some super scary roller coasters and whatnot.
Skansen - a zoo with all the Nordic animals (including elks, horses, goats, and bears) and some tropical animals, like alligators, snakes, and spiders.
Mall of Scandinavia - if you like shopping and want a combination of fashion, Scandinavian design, Tesla cars and beauty shops, then this is the place. In the largest mall in Scandinavia, you’ll find shops for everything together with lots of restaurants, IMAX, and grocery stores. And just outside you’ll find Friends Arena (see below).
Friends Arena - a huge arena for all kinds of sports events and concerts.
For the family
Fjärilshuset Haga Ocean - walk around in an indoor rainforest as butterflies in all sizes and shapes fly around you. One might very well land on you. Read more here.
Drottningholm Palace - another palace and Their Majesties the King and Queen's permanent home residence. The surroundings are absolutely outstanding so you should indeed go visit. The palace is on the is on UNESCO's World Heritage list. See photos below and read more here.
Rosenhill - kind of a hippie place where you also can buy organic and local vegetables and eat in their restaurant. Read more here and see photos below.
Tyresta National Park - if you’re looking for hiking possibilities in Stockholm, then this national park is for you. We spent a weekend hiking in this park and given it is so close to the city it was great. You’ll get to see a lot of Swedish nature so why not go hiking? Read more here and see photos below.
One last thing...
Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet and Cosmonova - if you love science and a bit of history this place is like a dream. Learn about dinosaurs and all the things in the museum and then visit Cosmonova for an interesting movie. Cosmonova is this dome-shaped IMAX movie screen, 760 square meters big. Here you can watch documentaries about planet earth, animals or space. It's really, really cool and so worth a visit. Read more about the museum here and about Cosmonova here.
Use the metro, the commuter trains or take the bus. You’ll need to buy tickets from SL, which is the company that provides the commuter services. They have an office at the central station (on the same floor as the metro), they’ll help you get what you need. The SL-ticket will work on the buses, trains, and metros so you don’t need different tickets.
Where to stay?
Hotel Diplomat and Grand Hotel are two of the most famous hotels in Stockholm and therefore quite expensive. My best advice for finding a great place to stay that matches your budget is to use booking.com. We always use their site when we book our hotels. They have not sponsored this post, I just think it's a great site.