I’m fairly certain that they are multiple ways to have a good day in Stockholm. However, this post is how you can have the perfect day in Stockholm. It’s a day where you can soak up the cultural experiences. Since, let’s face it, when you visit Stockholm in winter you won’t be soaking up much vitamin D.
My friend and I explored Stockholm during our 10-day sojourn in Scandinavia. Stockholm was our second stop (right after Helsinki) and it was the perfect way to exhale in the middle of our fast-paced travel plans.
A perfect day in Stockholm begins on foot, exploring 14 islands that make up the capital city. It includes devouring history and art with free museums and getting lost in the winding, golden alleyways of Old Town. The late afternoon of a perfect day in Stockholm includes fika with old friends, followed with a walk by the sea. How you end your perfect day in Stockholm is completely up to you.
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A PERFECT MORNING IN STOCKHOLM
STOCKHOLM ON FOOT
I think Stockholm (and most cities) is best explored on foot. However the entire city of Stockholm is quiet expansive at 380 square kilometers (147 square miles and the size of Detroit, for my fellow Americans). Never fear, public transportation is abound in Stockholm and beholds the most breathtaking subway stations.
For a perfect day in Stockholm on foot, I would recommend a path or purpose to your walking. I planned our morning so we could stroll down Strandvägen, a street “unparallelled in Europe.” From this vantage point you can delight in the views of the sea and stunning buildings built in the late 19th century. The early morning hours brought a heavy snowfall, making the esplanade sparkle in the sunlight.
INDULGE IN CULTURE
Our first indulgence during our perfect day brought us to Hallwyl House, the 19th century home of eccentric and wildly wealthy Count and Countess Hallwyl. The home holds collections of all sorts from the turn of the century, demonstrating that even in 1898 Swedes had incredible taste. If I were to describe Hallwyl House in three words they would be: decedent; opulent; and bourgeoisie. However, the price of admission is anything but; it’s free.
After Hallwyl House we headed to the Swedish History Museum, where again the admission was free. The museum covers Sweden’s history from the prehistory, to the Viking Age, to human rights. There is even an exhibit discussing the interpretation of history and who is or isn’t a part of the historical and cultural narrative. I love museum exhibits that make you pause and think critically.
If you have time and don’t mind spending some of your travel budget on a museum, I would recommend the Vasa Museum. In 1628, the Vasa sank on her maiden voyage in the Stockholm harbor and stands as the most well-preserved ship to be recovered. Upon the urging of my cousin, I took his advice to visit although boats are not of particular interest to me. I was afraid the museums was just going to be the ship. While the ship takes center stage, all adjoining exhibits detail the building, history, sinking, and retrieval of the wreckage in a truly engaging way. Don’t skip it simply because it’s one of the most popular museums in the city. It’s truly stunning and you could spend hours in the exhibits. In my opinion, it’s well worth the $16USD or 150SEK for admission.
EXPLORE GALMA STAN
Would you like to visit a place where the reward for walking hours and hours is beautiful buildings and charm? Then meander the streets and alleyways of Gamla Stan! This is the island where Stockholm was born and is the best preserved medieval city centers in Europe.
I didn’t have a route in mind when walking in Old Town; my only goal was to take in the warmth and imagine I was a medieval princess. The main streets of Gamla Stan are brimming with tourists, but it’s so charming, you forgive. It’s easy to step onto a side street to avoid the crowd and experience a more serene beauty. If you want a plan, you can learn more about the city from walking tours that meet at the Gamla Stan train station. Check out Free Walking Tour in English and Spanish or Our Way Tours, $20USD.
A PERFECT AFTERNOON
FIKA IN STOCKHOLM
After exploring for much of the morning, treat yourself and a friend for fika at Vete-Katten. Translated to mean “coffee break” or “coffee and cake,” fika is far more than the simple grab-and-go of a coffee. Fika is the way you enjoy coffee, tea, or hot cocoa when you are traveling. A fika is full of discussion. It’s the way you watch people and gaze out the window imagining your life in this place. Fika is where you taste, savor, and imagine how you can replicate this glimpse into the Swedish culture when you are back home.
The hour was spent drinking coffee, catching up with a friend from college on years of adventures, and relishing my first (and sadly, only) semla. We arrived the second week of Lent, so I had been drooling over the traditional dessert featured on Instagram. I was determined to sink my teeth into the pastry the moment I arrived in Stockholm.
Vete-Katten, where we enjoyed fika, became one of the first businesses owned and operated by a woman (just a few years after women gained the right the vote in Sweden). Currently it’s one of Stockholm’s few remaining authentic patisseries and immediately takes you back to another time. Grab a seat and enjoy your afternoon here!
A PERFECT EVENING IN STOCKHOLM
Spend the evening as you choose to round out a perfect day in Stockholm. I recommend exploring City Hall and Riddarholmen by moonlight. It’s a wonderful way to continue absorbing the romantic loveliness of the city.
Dreaming of visiting? Pin an image below so you can plan a perfect day in Stockholm!
Sold on Stockholm but wondering what else there is to do an see in Scandinavia? I’ve written about 3 reasons to add Helsinki to your travel plans; a two-day travel guide to Helsinki; and how to get yourself to Scandinavia. Check out these posts for more travel planning details and inspiration.