With five days in Stockholm, there’s a lot you can do. For instance, walking through 13th century Gamla Stan, enjoying fika (the Swedish version of coffee break with friends), and trying all the Swedish foods and desserts. Of everything I did, this is a list of my absolute favorites, with one exception of one place I wish I had visited. Here’s your guide to Stockholm, Sweden.
WHAT TO VISIT
Stockholm’s Old Town (Gamla Stan)
Parts are touristy, yes, but there are so many wonderful nooks, cellars, and restaurants to discover on this 750 year old island . I loved the narrow alley ways and walking over cobble stone streets. Just avoid the main tourist strip Västerlånggatan Street, and you’ll be fine. Learn more about Gamla Stan.
A modern experience and especially popular with the young crowd, this photography museum runs exhibits throughout the year. It will run you about $14 USD, which includes free wifi. Bonus: The top floor restaurant has amazing views of Stockholm, and I hear the food is equally as good. Learn more about Fotografiska.
Birth Place of Stockholm Syndrome (Norrmalm)
This one’s for you, psychology majors. In 1973 a prisoner tried to rob a bank, and took hostages. Despite violence and maltreatment, the hostages began to sympathize with their captor. This phenomenon became known as “Stockholm Syndrome.” Located in trendy Norrmalm at the intersection between Norrmalmstorgsgatan and Hamngatan you’ll find the building where the incident took place. Maybe you were never a psyche geek, but this siting will impress at least one of your friends.
Vasa Museum (Djurgården)
See the world’s only preserved 17th century ship that sank in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961. Unfortunately, I did not go to the island of Djurgården where the musuem is located, but I really wish I had. Vasa is the most visited museum in Scandanavia, with good reason. Learn more about the Vasa Museum.
Planning a trip to Stockholm? Learn what you need to know before you visit Stockholm Sweden.
WHERE TO EAT / DRINK
Cafe Schweizer (Gamla Stan)
Located right on the main tourist strip of Gamla Stan and always crowded, this cafe carries some of the tastiest treats in Stockholm. The the overall décor and romantic French atmosphere will knock your socks off. I came here three times, it was so good. Bonus: Free wifi. Learn more about Cafe Schweizer.
Cosy Cafe (Gamla Stan)
My favorite hipster coffee show in Old Town. I had my morning soy latte here twice plus dessert. The interior lives up to its name with colorful art and cushioned benches along the windows. I could have spent hours there working on my laptop, or having fika. Yes, they have wifi. Learn about Cosy Cafe.
Vurma Cafe (Hornstull/Södermalm)
When I first got to Stockholm I stayed at an AirBNB with friends, and asked our host for recommendations. Out of the many, Vurma was our absolute favorite. We spent hours there on two separate days. Without an English menu, the staff is more than happy to go over your options, even when it’s busy. One caveat: there is no WIFI. A sign on the wall reads “No Wifi. We talk to each other.” So bring your friends and have fika 🙂 Learn more about Vurma Cafe.
The Hairy Pig Deli (Gamla Stan)
Sorry, this restaurant is not vegetarian friendly. Located on the ground floor of a small intimate space lit by candles, its building has been around for hundreds of years. While not traditional Swedish food (the chef is English), the quality and atmosphere lend to an unmissable dining experience. I had the pork sausage on a rosemary bun with two tapas: smoked salmon pate, and moose lasagna. Salivating right now just thinking about it. Learn more about the Hairy Pig Deli.
Strömmingsvagnen (Near Slussen Station)
A great option to try fried herring, a traditional Swedish food…. I know, but trust me. It’s probably the cheapest meal you’ll find in Stockholm, and it’s incredibly satisfying. I had fried herring over fried rye bread topped with red onions, honey mustard, and fresh dill. The food truck is located right off the Slussen metro exit before you cross the bridge into Gamla Stan. Try it! Learn more about Strommingsvagnen.
Order Glögg (anywhere)
If you come by during the winter months, you must order glögg, which comes in a small serving and gingerbread cookie on the side. Glögg is made of spiked mulled wine, garnished with raisins and almonds. I have made this at home around the holidays, and it is always a hit.
Go to a Cellar Pub (Gamla Stan)
There are many, both hidden and advertised, but I only had time to visit two. One was tiny and intimate, hidden below a traditional restaurant. You wouldn’t know to find it unless someone told you about it (I found out through a travel blogger). The other, more popular cellar pub I visited was called Wirstrom’s Pub. One you go down into the cellar, there are multiple little caverns to sit with your friends. I went on a Monday night, and they had live traditional Irish music. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.
WHERE TO STAY
The Castanea Hostel (Gamla Stan)
One of the nicest hostels I’ve ever been in without spending much extra. Great wifi, clean bathrooms (not to mention there are enough of them, and most are private), and a well-functioning kitchen and hangout lounge. It’s located in a quiet, beautiful nook of Gamla Stan, very central.
By the way, you are not too old to stay in a hostel. I witnessed an entire family – husband, wife, and two teenage girls – have breakfast together at my hostel. I’ll keep going as long as I continue to have good experiences like in Castanea. Learn more about the Castanea Hostel.
Here are some of my favorite statues and icons to visit. Most you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking for them.
Järnpojke “The Iron Boy” (Gamla Stan)
This 15 cm high statue is the smallest in Stockholm. I happened to stumble upon him one night while trying to find my way back to my hostel. I walked through the backyard of a church, and noticed a tiny spotlight on the ground that illuminated the boy wrapped in knitted clothing, surrounded by coins. I learned later that it is good luck to rub his head and/or give an offering, neither of which I did. Learn more about The Iron Boy.
The Cuckhold of Skeppsbron (Gamla Stan)
One of the weirder relics to discover, this pained face that can be seen above the door of Skeppsbron 44, which features none other than female genitalia. As the legend go, a man from the 20th century owned the building and created the sculpture after his wife cheated on him. The tormented face is supposed to be his own.
Rag and Bone (Near Gamla Stan)
I spotted the little brass fox on my way to the airport, sitting on the other side of a bridge. His strategic placement is meant to remind tourists and the wealthy of poverty and the homeless. You have to admit thought, he’s kind of cute. Located near the corner of Drottninggatan and Strömgatan, across the bridge from Gamla Stan.
Have you ever been to Stockholm? What did I miss on my list? I’ll be sure to add any suggestions for next time.
If you’re planning to visit, also read 10 Things to Know before you go to Stockholm.