Stockholm has been on my bucket list for quite a few years now, but the opportunity of traveling there never presented itself. As part of the TBEX2016 – a conference exclusively for travel bloggers – I visited the Swedish capital in July.
Of course, my plan was to visit the typical sightseeing spots for a classical tour. However, I didn’t want to miss the chance to experience some more extraordinary tours. As support, I had the Stockholm Card with me that allowed me to access some venues for free.
#1 Gamla Stan
An old town perfect for a stroll
You should take some time and really take in the atmosphere of the old town of Stockholm Gamla Stan on the island Stadsholmen.
You should actually come here a few times. Take a stroll through the small alleys and stop for the occasional cake or meatball break. On your next trip, take a walking tour (I can recommend OURWAY) to find out more about the history, told by the many streets, buildings and walls.
Järnpojkes – the smallest sightseeing spot in Stockholm
Without the walking tour I might have never heard about the small Järnpojkes. Järnpojkes is famous for being the smallest sightseeing spot of the city. Touching its head is said to grant you a wish!
The locals treat it with affection: you can find it dressed in regularly changing scarfs as soon as it gets cold (of course handmade). Because everyone wants to dress the tiniest famous person in the old town!
Change of guards, churches, and museums
On your third visit you can have a look at the change of guards in front of the palace, visit the churches (especially the on where the crown prince couple got wed) or take a crash course in Stockholm history in one of the many museums.
For more background and experiences from Gamla Stan, have a look at TravelWorldOnline!
#2 Boat trip
I LOVE water and I LOVE traveling by boat. Therefore, I was already set on joining multiple boat cruises. I picked the following:
- Historical Canal Tour
- Under the Bridges of Stockholm
- Good Morning Stockholm Tour
- Drottningholm Boat Tour
Historical Canal Tour
All four of them were exciting and I cannot tell which one I liked the most. The Historical Canal Tour was a great tour for starters with a lot of information around the city and its history.
Under the Bridges of Stockholm Tour
The Under the Bridges of Stockholm Tour actually took us to quite a few bridges! I was a little disappointed, that most of them were not really photogenic, though (in contrast to Copenhagen). I enjoyed the cruise nonetheless.
Good Morning Stockholm Tour
The Good Morning Stockholm Tour took us to Fjäderholmarna, a small idyllic island about half an hour from Stockholm. There, you can take a short guided tour around the island and the rest until the boat departs for Stockholm again.
Drottningholm Boat Tour
The Drottningholm Boat Tour brings you to one of the palaces of the royal family. Since 1981 the Swedish Royals have their seat in the southern part of this building. They prefer the seclusion and privacy to the hustle and bustle of the big city, where they resided earlier. Since the trip takes about one hour one-way it is perfect to escape the inner city and just enjoy the breeze.
The palace itself is…. a palace. It is not very different from other palaces. It is pompous and “mighty”.
In the rooms and halls that are freely accessible, you can see how the royal ladies (the palace was meant to be for females only) lived back in their days. Not only can you easily get lost in the many portraits and paintings, but also walk through palatial halls and imagine the life 200 years ago.
Some of the windows allow a view on the baroque garden. Now you can understand why this palace is also called the Swedish Versailles.
All boat tours were included in the Stockholm Card and didn’t cost me a single cent extra! By the way, the cruises alone had a higher equivalent value than the card itself…
#3 Metro tour
I wrote a separate article about my tour through Stockholm’s metro – that’s how amazed I was. Already during my first days in Stockholm I heard about the artistically designed stations. However, I never imagined how great they would actually be! That’s why I only got around to see them at the end of my stay.
After only two stops I was convinced, that these metro stations are worth spending a whole day (and a whole article) on them. One of these two stations was Rådhuset, where I found these gigantic caves.
Sadly, I had already planned a mini cruise to Helsinki and Tallinn on the next day. However, I knew I would be back in a few days and would have several hours to explore before my train to Copenhagen left. That was my chance, to discover the beauty of Stockholm’s metro stations!
I arrived by ship on Thursday at 10am from Tallin and immediately made my way to the metro. I initially planned to leave my luggage at the central station but as I was sitting in the metro, I felt it would be a waste of time. So I spent the next 6h going from one station to the next – with 13kg on my back! People had to think I’m crazy, taking photos with my reflex camera and two backpacks on my back.
The result was definitely worth it!
Södermalm is a District of Stockholm where mostly young people live, love and laughs. In the center of it all is the area SoFo (South of Folkungagatan) with its unique stores (for example for eco-friendly jeans), art galleries and a dissolute nightlife. This is the place to be for party animals and all sorts of other eccentrics. The Berlin of the Swedish capital – or something like this.
This district is also the main setting for Stieg Larsson’s trilogy.
The most interesting thing about Södermalm is, however, its historical background. Even though Södermalm was mentioned in documents as far back as the 13th century, the first real development of the area happened only 500 years later. The reason are the steep cliffs surrounding the island, that made it hard to access. Therefore, only some worker accommodations were placed here and are still there in the north of the island.
Through the heightened position of said cliffs it’s a perfect spot for exciting viewpoint. If you are not keen on searching them you can always opt for the elevator, that gives you a fantastic view of Gamla Stan and the north of the city.
So, if you are looking for the perfect mix of past and present you cannot miss a trip to Södermalm!
The Vasa Museum has exactly one main attraction – the Vasa. In 1628, the ship sank on its first cruise, stayed on the ocean floor for 300 years and is unusually well preserved. Heavily damaged or even destroyed parts were replaced and now you can get a really good impression, how the six stories of the ship looked like before it sank 20 minutes after it left Stockholm harbor.
That’s what the Vasa looks like from the fifth story. You can almost touch it:
The whole museum is dedicated to the ship and boat traveling of the past centuries in general. Scattered over the six stories are various showcases with smaller exhibition pieces and descriptions. Also the museum guides are always happy to tell you about the history of the ship.
For example, they explained to me that they were sure this is the Vasa because of the royal emblem at the rear.
#6 Skyview Stockholm
Skyview is some sort of gondola-elevator outside of the Ericsson Globe Arena in the south of Stockholm. Since 2010, two glass gondolas travel across bend metal tracks to the highest point of the arena at over 100 meters and offer you an undisturbed view across the city.
The gondolas take up to 16 persons. One ride to the top or don takes almost five minutes each and the stop at the top takes the same amount of time. So there is ample opportunity for photos or videos or just taking in the scenery.
The entry to the Skyview is also included in the Stockholm Card.
Weitere nützliche Tipps zu Stockholm:
Food and drinks
Stockholm is not a place for low budget travelers. But even here I managed to not spend more than 50 Euro for a whole week for food and drinks.
The first “trick” is pretty straightforward – the tap water in Sweden is of high quality and also very tasty. So there is really no reason to buy and water.
If it comes to food, I simply went into the grocery store and If I wanted to get some food outside, there’s always a Happy Meal from the big M. That’s only 3,50 Euro and together with an extra burger for one Euro it fills me up completely.
At one point I had a Walking Tour in the early morning and didn’t make it to the grocery store. I paid 10 Euros for a sandwich and some juice! I call that a lesson learned.
There are several Hotels in Stockholm. The prices are from 20 to 40 Euro a night. For the same you can also find an Airbnb.
I really treated myself this time: The last night before my mini cruise to Helsinki and Tallinn I spent in a Scandic hotel . That’s a hotel chain across all Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium and Poland. In Stockholm alone there about ten of their hotels.
One of them is the Scandic Ariadne, which is situated directly next to the cruise ship harbor. From here it’s only ten minutes by foot the Stockholm central station. That’s why I decided to spend a night in a fabulous room on the 15th floor and enjoy a nice, big bath tub.
A big WARNING before we go on: You cannot buy tickets on the busses in Stockholm. You can buy time cards directly at the metro station or as a paper card in every Pressbyran-Shop. For everything else, you need an SL Access Card that you can buy for 20 Kronen (2Euros) and then repeatedly recharge as needed. A 24-hour ticket is 115 Kronen (around 11 Euro), a 72-hour ticket is 230 Kronen (around 23 Euro) and a ticket for a whole week is 300 Kronen (about 30 Euro).
To get a good overview about what to do in Stockholm, feel free to have a look at GetYourGuide* !
Hui, that was pretty excessive, wasn’t it? Are you missing something? Leave a comment!
PS: The night in the Scandic Ariadne Hotel was sponsored. My opinion was not affected by this in any way. I received the Stockholm Card as part of the TBEX from Visit Stockholm.
PPS: All links marked with a (*) are affiliate links. Click here to find out more about the topic.
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