The vibrant city of Stockholm makes for a perfect 48-hour stay.
The city is large enough that you won’t run out of things to do, but small enough that you’ll feel well acquainted with it after 48 hours.
On top of that, even if your Swedish is not up to scratch, most of Stockholm’s residents speak very good English, so you’re unlikely to run into much trouble with language barriers.
The city has great transport links, with a 24-hour bus and tram pass that costs 120 SEK (approx £11). In general, shopping and eating out is quite expensive in Stockholm, expect to pay around 100 SEK (approx £10) for a standard snack in a cafe. But it isn’t too difficult to save up money by taking advantage of the free events and activities.
For an easy start to your time in Stockholm, wander down to the river-side, alongside the lavish buildings and beautiful cityscape. The Royal Dramatic Theatre lives up to its name even in appearance, with a dramatically ornate exterior plated with gold. Such sights are not uncommon along the river, and if you want to join in on the affluent lifestyle, designer shops such as Chanel are close to the river. However, if that’s not for you, head up Birger Jarlsgatan and into Humlegården for a more peaceful garden walk.
If you’re nearby, a little café and bakery called Bread and Table is a great stop for a fresh sandwich and pastry treat. The staff speak a bit of English, but all the food is on show, so it isn’t too hard to figure out what you’re about to buy. Along Birger Jarlsgatan and the streets around it, there are loads of cafés and lunch stops. For something even quicker, you’ll never find yourself too far from a 7-Eleven in Stockholm.
An Island of Museums
On the small island of Djurgården, connected to Stockholm’s mainland Östermalm by a short bridge, you’ll find enough museums and activities to keep you going for the whole trip. On the island, there is the Nordic Museum (100 SEK entry), the maritime Vasa Museum (130 SEK entry), the Biological Museum and even the ABBA Museum (250 SEK entry), among many others.
For animal lovers or history lovers, Skansen Park is a good start. The entrance fee changes throughout the year, but the current price is 180 SEK (GB£17) per adult, with various concessions available.
The park markets itself as “living history”, and is a large open space with winding trails leading to villages and old, Swedish buildings. At the half of the park furthest from the main entrance, you can see animals such as wolves, bears, elk and others roaming about their grassy enclosures.
If you’d prefer some more aquatic wildlife, skip Skansen and head to the Aquaria Vattenmuseum, that starts with a realistic rainforest room, complete with dramatic rain and lightning effects.
After a bit of a brain workout at the museums, or a physical workout from the twisty paths of Skansen, you’ll be more than deserving of a big Swedish dinner. Mentioned before, some of the restaurants can be a bit pricey, but it’s well worth it for a traditional meal. For a main meal under 200 SEK (£19), try Meatballs for the People, a friendly restaurant serving a variety of different Swedish meatball dishes.
For something more up-market (with up-market prices), try Prinsen, a restaurant serving traditional Swedish dishes in an ornate setting. Make sure to try their Swedish cheesecake!
Starting another day with a leisurely walk, head to Berzelii Park or Kungsträdgården, perfect for a stroll in the sun. Both parks are also near to the Army Museum and Dance Museum, as well as the large Gallerian shopping mall.
If you’re walking along Kungsträdgården, there are some great little cafés along the walk, overlooking the garden and fountains. Piccolino has a few main dishes as well as a selection of cakes, and some outdoor seating for a summer lunch al fresco. If you’re looking for something more substantial, Bar Burger Café and TGI Fridays are also on the garden, and there are a few cafés and restaurants in the area around the gardens too.
The Palace and Södermalm Island
For a free event not far from the gardens, go across the bridge to the Royal Palace, where you can see the changing of the guard in the palace’s outer courtyard at 12:15pm on weekdays, and 1:15pm on Sundays, all throughout the year. The changing of the guard lasts around 40 minutes, but you are free to come and go as you please.
Nearby you can visit the ornate organ room of the church called Slottskyrkan for free, or pay a fee to wander around the rest of the rooms. Another museum with free entry is the Livrustkammaren museum, AKA the royal armoury museum. In an underground location, you can have a look at some of the weapons and other items previously owned by the royal family, and kids can try on some costumes in the final room. There’s even an adult-sized suit of armour for anyone who wants to try it out!
Afterwards, have a look around the old town on the island of Södermalm, accessible by another bridge. There are some pretty gardens to relax in, and two main picturesque churches: Katarina Kyrka and Sofia Kyrka.
For a dinner near to the Palace, Sjätte Tunnan is a Viking-style restaurant focusing on meat dishes, and serves some great old-style beer and mead, but the main courses range from 250 SEK upwards.
The Flying Elk has similar prices, but serves more modern Swedish food with a nice selection of artisan beers. The Hairy Pig Deli is slightly cheaper and offers tapas-style Swedish food, but can get pricey the more you order!
For cheaper food it might be best to head away from the palace, and head to somewhere like B.A.R. Restaurant, close to the Grand Hotel. There are a number of other bars around there too, so a boozy last night is always an option!
For a city break that isn’t packed with people, spend 48 hours in Stockholm to unwind whilst staying close to civilisation.
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