3 Days in Stockholm: A Beginner Itinerary
Finally sharing my recommended 3 days in Stockholm itinerary. Here’s how I spent my first time in Sweden’s capital!
After two weeks in Norway and a little under a week visiting friends in Örebro, Stockholm was the last spot on my wintry visit to Scandinavia! I decided to add a few days in the city after realizing Arlanda Airport would be the easiest airport to fly back to the US from. Plus, I’m never one to turn down a visit to a new European place, especially one I know next to nothing about!
Turns out Stockholm is quite a fun city with a ton of history. From the viking foundations to the Nobel prize to ABBA, there really is something for everyone visiting! Here are some tips for your trip as well as an itinerary I organized and mainly followed.
Thanks to Hobo Hotel for the media rate and Visit Stockholm for the complimentary Stockholm Pass!
Tips for Visiting Stockholm
As a major city, of course Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport sees plenty of international flights! It’s about 30 minutes north of the city center and really easy to get to and from. I flew out of here and used the Arlanda Express for my transfer. It leaves from Stockholm Central Station and goes to Arlanda South (T2, 3, and 4) and Arlanda North (T5).
When I was coming from Örebro, I just hopped on the train for 2 hours, buying my ticket at the station. Again, it went to Stockholm Central Station, and from there you can either walk or get the subway to where you’re staying.
If you want to travel by bus, I’d check the routes on Flixbus. I took this from Oslo in Norway to Örebro, so I’m sure there are plenty routes that’ll get you to Stockholm from wherever you are!
I mainly got around Stockholm on foot or by subway. I actually wished I’d checked out more of the subway stations because the art in them is supposed to be incredible. There’s even a subway art tour you can do!
For those of you who like them, Stockholm does, of course, have a hop on, hop off bus.
My extra tip is to get the Stockholm Pass if you plan on visiting a lot of popular spots in one go. It covers most museums, tours, and more. The only thing in this post it doesn’t cover is the ABBA Museum. Plan where you want to go and then cross reference it with their covered attractions to see which is the better deal.
How to Spend 3 Days in Stockholm
Check-in: Hobo Hotel
If you’re looking for a trendy boutique hotel then look no further than Hobo Hotel! I stayed here for two nights and was obsessed with how hipster it was. It’s in the Brunkebergstorg area and is meant to feel like a community space as well as a hotel. Kinda wished I was staying longer to get to know the hotel better since I was mostly out sightseeing!
The hotel was designed by Berlin-based Werner Aisslinger, who collaborated with local designers on the custom-made artwork you’ll see throughout. In addition to the bar and restaurant space, it offers an event space, a stage, the Grandpa Kiosk lobby shop, and more. Also – don’t skip the breakfast, it was so good!
As a bonus it’s in walking distance of Stockholm Central Station.
Day 1: Gamla Stan
I always like to spend the first day doing the brunt of my sightseeing because I feel like I lose a bit of energy with each day.
After filling up on the breakfast at Hobo Hotel, make your way to the Strömmer Ticket Shop to see what boat cruise you can do! There a lot of options in the summer, but in the winter there’s pretty much just one — a cruise that goes around Fjäderholmarna and back.
You could also just book your boat cruise ahead here. Or if you’re with a group, it might be worth it more to book your own private tour and customize a bit.
When I booked my ticket, I had some time to kill, so I crossed the bridge over to Gamla Stan.
Walk around Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan translates to “The Old Town” in Swedish and is, as you might guess, the old town of Stockholm. Ha. It sits on Stadsholmen Island and goes way back to the 13th century. The main place you’ll want to see is Stortorget, the big square with the colorful buildings in Gamla Stan. I just wandered a bit, but if you want more history insight and guidance, book a walking tour here.
Pop into Stockholm Cathedral
While you’re in Stortorget, pop into Storkyrkan, or the Stockholm Cathedral! The church goes back to the 1300s and the interior is stunning. The ceilings are designed with rib vaults and groin vaults along with a massive organ, paintings, and stained glass windows. Seriously – so many details!
Take in the Nobel Prize Museum
Another place to visit (and that I had time to before my boat ride) is the Nobelmuseet or Nobel Prize Museum! It’s right in Stortorget and hard to miss. It’s located in the former Stock Exchange Building and is all about Alfred Nobel himself and the history of the prize. I found the exhibits to be quite interesting and inspiring, so I 100% recommend taking your time to read about the different stories. As a bonus, stop by Bistro Nobel and order the special ice cream!
Enjoy your boat ride
A boat ride is a must no matter the time of year. Stockholm is an archipelago after all!
In the summer, the boat cruises are endless, and I think a lot of them will even allot time in one of the islands.
In the winter, there’s really only one choice but it’s still a nice way to sightsee! It’s going to be freezing, but I think it’s so much more worth it to sit up on the deck and take in the views than sit below and watch out the window. The winter cruise lasts about an hour and does a nice circle out to Fjäderholmarna and back with a tour guide letting you know what exactly you’re seeing.
If you’re hungry, a good time to eat is after the cruise. I’m pretty sure I skipped because I ate so much at breakfast, but there are plenty of places in the area to grab a bite!
Do a tour of the palace
I would definitely give myself the afternoon to explore all the nooks and crannies of the Royal Palace. It truly is both massive and magnificent. Like it honestly just felt like it went on and on in a good way. I started a whole separate post to break it down, it’s that big!
The palace you see today is the official residence of the royal family (though they actually live in Drottningholm Palace) and was completed in 1760 after a fire destroyed the original Tre Kronor Castle, which stood from the 1200s to 1697.
You don’t need a guide necessarily to walk around the palace, but I think it’d be nice if you want to learn more of the history and more about Sweden’s monarchs. Book tickets here
Dinner at Bastard Burgers
A Swedish franchise! I first heard about these in Örebro but didn’t try until Stockholm. Bastard Burgers started off in northern Sweden and uses 100% renewable energy from the Lule River. There’s one right next to Hobo Hotel, so it was an easy meal to pick-up before I headed in for the evening.
Day 2: Island of Djurgården
Time to explore the Island of Djurgården! A number of big sites are here, so you definitely want to carve out time. If you’re feeling like walking, it is only about a 20-25 minute walk from Hobo Hotel. My recs for today work a little better if you go in nicer weather. I skipped the morning recommendations because it was cold and drizzly, and I don’t think either spot was actually open in January. But if you go and they’re open, definitely go to at least one of the spots!
Send the morning at Skansen & Grona Lund
The big outdoor activities to do in the morning are to check out Grona Lund and Skansen! If you’re not into amusement parks, you can skip Grona Lund, but Skansen should definitely not be missed if weather permits! This open air museum dates back to 1891, making it the oldest open air museum in the world. Its main appeal is being able to explore what Sweden was like pre-Industrial Revolution. I’ve never really been to an open air museum now that I think of it, but it sounds like such a nice way to get learn about some local history.
This is when I’d grab lunch before you get sucked into the museums I have listed below all afternoon.
Let your jaw drop at the Vasa Museum
When I told my parents I was going to spend a few days in Stockholm before circling back home, my dad told me I had to visit the Vasa Museum. I know it doesn’t sound that interesting — a museum about a ship — but I promise it’s worth the visit.
It’s built around a 17th century warship that sunk after making it a whopping 1,400 yards from land. Once you enter the museum, you’ll see just how big this ship is! Use the audio guide and follow along to learn the history of the ship and time period. Book tickets here
You can also do a boat tour that follows the path the Vasa did.
Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy the ABBA Museum
Guys. GUYS. I cannot emphasize this enough — GO, no DANCE all the way to the ABBA Museum. It’s pricey and not included in the Stockholm Pass, but it’s worth every penny. It’s such a HAPPY museum.
ABBA is probably Sweden’s most famous export, and I just love them and all they’ve done for fun pop music. The museum goes into their history as a band and even includes a special exhibit for the Mammia Mia musicals, which are my favorite! Book tickets here
Dinner at Sturekatten
Sturekatten is a nice little restaurant if you want some soup and fika before headed all the way back to Hobo Hotel. If you walk, it’s about halfway between Djurgården and Hobo. If not, there’s plenty of spots around the hotel!
Some other options include this fine dining experience or this vegetarian and vegan-friendly food tour.
Day 3: Island of Södermalm
Time to head down to Södermalm! I actually think you could walk to the first spot on this list from Hobo Hotel, but I rode the subway to the closest station.
From what I’ve briefly read, Södermalm, which translates to southern island, is the trendier, more local part of the city. (Actual people from Stockholm feel free to correct me on this!). I didn’t do too much here, but I did like the vibes! Definitely would want to base myself somewhere in Södermalm next time I visit and get to know the area more. Maybe even do this walking tour.
Pop over to Mikael Blomkvist’s Apartment (Kind of)
This one is for fans of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This spot is the location of Stieg Larsson’s Mikael Blomkvist apartment. I don’t think you can actually go in, but you can visit the bridge and snap a pic! Also it just has cool views of the street below.
Take in the scenery from Ivar Los Park
From here, walk over to Ivar Los Park where even in winter you can get some gorgeous views of the river!
Södermalm is supposed to have lots of cool eateries around its different neighborhoods, but I honestly didn’t eat at any so I don’t have anything specific to recommend.
One museum I wish I’d had time to visit is the Fotografiska in Södermalm. It’s the largest photography museum in the world and works directly with photographers, estates, and other galleries to build their exhibits. There’s actually cafes and restaurants here that focus on sustainability and locally produced food, so it could be worth just coming here for lunch or dinner too. Book tickets here
Shop and dine in SoFo
SoFo, or south of Folkungagatan, is supposed to be the hippest neighborhood in Stockholm. Spend your last afternoon just walking around here, shopping, and looking for fika! As always you can grab dinner here or at one of the spots next to Hobo Hotel.
And that’s all I’ve got for spending three days in Stockholm! I know there’s SO much more to do in the warmer months — pretty much everyone said so lol. I remember sitting on the boat deck and the guide was like, “Really you should come back in the summer.” Can’t wait to visit again and see if he’s right!
For more Sweden travel, read these posts next:
Before making my way over to Stockholm, I first visited friends where they were teaching. Turns out there are a lot of fun things to do in Örebro, a smaller city around 2 hours away! I was there where my friend taught me the art of fika and introduced me to quite a few delicious Swedish pastries.
Part of why I was visiting Sweden was because I’d planned a 2 week trip to Norway to visit another friend. Since they’re neighboring countries, it’s easy to hop on a bus or fly over. In Norway, we started in Trondheim and stayed at the Britannia Hotel. We then made our way to the Helgeland coast and exploring the islands of Lovund and Vega before driving all the way up to the storybook Lofoten Islands!
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OH MY GOSH get me to that Abba museum ASAP!! Looks epic!!