A city overflowing with cultural gemstones, enchanting beauty, and well-preserved history, there are countless things to do in Stockholm. From world-class museums and thought-provoking galleries to dazzling UNESCO World Heritage Sites and imposing palaces, there are so many incredible places to visit here that you’ll never have enough time, no matter how long you’re visiting!
Despite looking like it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, Stockholm certainly isn’t stuck in the past. The city’s captivating Old Town twists and turns with the vibrant city center and trendy modern districts merging into a single destination that’s both old and new, sleepy and dynamic, traditional and progressive.
Spread across 14 islands on Lake Mälaren, it’s almost like Stockholm has been purposely designed for exploring. Put on some comfy walking shoes, leave Google Maps untouched, and simply wander. You never know what magical things you might come across!
With such a huge choice of things to see and do, it can be tough to know where to begin. To make your vacation planning easier, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Stockholm. Add these exciting activities to your Stockholm bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time exploring Sweden’s stunning capital city.
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Stockholm, Sweden
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15 cool and unique things to do in Stockholm
1. Get Your Bearings with a Boat Tour
Even though it’s pretty compact, it’s still easy to get lost in Stockholm. One of the best ways to get a feel for the city is to sign up for a boat tour on your first day. There are all kinds of boat tours to choose from. So whatever type of experience you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it!
The Royal Canal Boat Tour is one of the most popular. On this 50-minute trip, you’ll leave the city behind and sail around Djurgården. The picturesque island is well known for its magnificent museums, impressive historical sites, and wonderfully green landscapes. On your way back, you’re treated to an amazing view of the city’s skyline.
To get a feel for old Stockholm, sign up for the Historical Canal Tour instead. This adventure begins at the iconic City Hall and travels through narrow canals, passing the picturesque shoreline and the gorgeous buildings found along it.
During your 50-minute ride, you’ll sail around Kungsholmen and see all kinds of fascinating places with rich histories. Keep an eye out for the hotel that was once a prison!
2. Wander around the First-Ever Open-Air Museum at Skansen
A visit to Skansen is not only one of the most unique things to do in Stockholm, but it’s also one of the most unique things to do in the world! This is because Skansen is the first and oldest open-air museum on the planet.
Launched in 1891 by visionary teacher and academic Artur Hazelius, Skansen aims to show future generations what everyday life was like in Sweden before the Industrial Age made its impact. The huge museum covers more than 74 acres (30 hectares) and is bursting with blissful rural scenes you’ll struggle to believe are real!
Over 150 houses and buildings were rounded up from all over Sweden and reassembled in the museum. As you explore, you’ll discover town districts, manor houses, a church, and a bakery. To help you picture what life was like back then, there are staff members dressed in costumes “living” in the village, all going about their daily lives.
As an added bonus, Skansen also includes a zoo and an aquarium home to more than 200 animals and sea creatures from around the world. It costs a little more to enter, but it’s worth it!
3. Enjoy Free Entertainment with Parkteatern
If you’re visiting during the summer, one of the most fun things to do in Stockholm is to watch one of the many performances organized during Parkteatern. The annual cultural event takes place in public locations throughout the city, and all the shows are free to enjoy!
From dance performances, famous musicals, and music concerts to theatrical plays, instrumental concerts, and children’s shows, there’s absolutely tons going on. The events are held from June to September, and many of them take place in city parks.
Taking in a show is the perfect way to enjoy the cool outdoor air during the evening while getting a little culture. Plus, it’s all for free!
Dates, performances, and locations change each year. So it’s best to check the official website to see what will be happening when you’re in the city. And because there’s no charge, spaces fill up fast. So pack yourself a picnic, get to your chosen spot, and make a day of it.
4. Ramble Throughout the Royal National City Park
When you need a break from all the Stockholm sightseeing, one of the best things to do is head for the Royal National City Park. This sprawling six-mile-long green space winds its way around the city and incorporates three royal parks: Djurgården, Haga, and Ulriksdal.
Stockholm’s Royal National City Park is the place where people go to relax and forget about hectic city life. Although, you’ll find there are so many amazing things to do here that you might end up more tired than you were to begin with!
If you love nature, you’ll have an incredible time exploring the wilderness zones. From centuries-old trees and craggy hilltops to secret swimming spots and rippling streams, this park is a haven if you like spending time outdoors. Visit at the right time of year, and you might even spot the deer, fox, and moose that live in the park.
If you prefer more traditional tourist attractions, you’ll never get bored with the theaters, museums, castles, and historical homes also found here.
5. Feel Like Royalty at Stockholm’s Royal Palace
If you’ve got a whole day to spare and you’re left wondering what to do in Stockholm, spend it exploring the city’s Royal Palace. Encompassing more than 600 rooms, the palace is one of the largest in Europe and can easily entertain you for an entire day – if not longer!
The 18th-century Baroque complex is home to the King of Sweden and is where many royal events and receptions take place. If nothing exciting is happening during your visit, you’ll still have a fantastic time wandering around the palace’s five museums.
The Treasury is the most exceptional museum, where you can see the royals’ most important possessions, including sparkling crowns and heroic swords. Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities is also worth a visit. Here you can admire a magnificent collection of Greek and Roman sculptures bought by the king during his trip to Italy in 1783-84.
Don’t forget to make time for the changing of the guard ceremony! It begins at 12:15 pm each day (except on Sundays when it starts at 1:15 pm) and lasts for 40 minutes.
6. Forget IKEA and Try Authentic Swedish Meatballs
You can’t possibly visit Stockholm without trying one of Sweden’s most iconic foods – meatballs! Made from a combination of ground veal and pork, eggs, milk or cream, breadcrumbs, and seasonings, these bite-sized treats are simple yet delicious.
In Stockholm, you’ll most often see them served with a generous scoop of mashed potatoes, rich gravy, lingonberry jam, and pickled cucumber. You’ll find the emblematic meatballs available in practically every restaurant and food kiosk throughout the city. But here are a couple of the best places to try them:
Bakfickan understands that sometimes the side dishes play just as big a role as the main dish. Here they take just as much care with their mashed potato and lingonberry sides as they do with their meatballs, making a delicious and well-rounded meal.
Meatballs for the People is another great place for meatballs if you grow tired of the regular version. This cool restaurant serves up a bunch of different types of meatballs made from ingredients such as elk, salmon, and beef. They also serve special snacks and beers for dogs!
7. Sail the Seven Seas at the Vasa Museum
One of the best things to see in Stockholm is a giant 17th-century ship. And there’s only one place to see it – at the Vasa Museum! Originally owned by the all-conquering King Gustavus Adolphus, the Vasa was a colossal ship that went down on its maiden voyage in 1628.
The ship was stuck underwater until 1961, when it was taken back to the surface, lovingly restored, and placed in this fascinating museum. A staggering 95% of the ship is entirely original. Even the three towering masts were reconstructed to the exact heights and specifications of the originals.
As well as the giant 64-gun warship itself, the Vasa Museum also displays a treasure trove of artifacts, which were discovered at the same time. Through the 10 exhibition rooms, an explanatory movie, and countless relics, you can easily imagine what life was like on the Vasa.
In addition to the main attraction, Vasa Museum is also home to a handful of other historic vessels. Take the time to explore, and you’ll find a torpedo boat, lightship, and an icebreaker.
8. Treat Your Taste Buds at a Crayfish Party
Crayfish is one of the best things to eat on a lazy summer day in Stockholm. In fact, the delicacy is so loved that locals hold crayfish parties (kräftskivor in Swedish) throughout August and September!
These parties are designed to mark the end of summer and are a great excuse for a final get-together. Crowds of people gather in outdoor spaces with party hats and glowing lights, making the most of the final warm evenings. Big pots of crayfish are boiled along with salt, dill, and beer. The crayfish are chilled until they reach their perfect temperature, after which they’re devoured straight from the shell.
You might not have the chance to join in on a crayfish party, but there are plenty of other places you can dig into the delicacy. B.A.R. is a great place to try the dish. At this eatery, you can choose fresh crayfish from the counter, and the chef will cook it for you on the spot.
9. Fall in Love with Photography at Fotografiska
If you’re an avid photographer (or like the idea of becoming one!), one of the best things to do in Stockholm is to spend an afternoon at Fotografiska. Set inside a repurposed customs building by the water in Södermalm, this museum is home to one of the greatest photography art galleries in the world.
Each year, Fotografiska is divided into four excellent exhibitions bursting with magnificent examples of contemporary photography. Some of the photographers who’ve displayed their work here in recent years include Akseli Valmunen, Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, and Robert Mapplethorpe.
As well as the eclectic rotating exhibitions, the art gallery also hosts cutting-edge music events throughout the year. Be sure to check the website to see if there’s anything interesting happening during your visit.
If you’re feeling hungry, stop by the gallery’s top-floor cafe. Here you can soak up some of the most beautiful views over the city while digging into creative dishes made from organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.
10. Loosen Up at the Stockholm Jazz Festival
Stockholm hosts all kinds of incredible events throughout the year, and one of the best for music lovers is the Stockholm Jazz Festival. Held across 10 days each October, this music festival is the largest of its kind in Sweden and includes around 160 live music concerts spread throughout the city.
The event first began in 1980 and has since grown bigger and bigger. Today, famous jazz artists from all over the world travel to Sweden’s capital for the chance to perform. Some of the most recent artists include B.B. King, Eva Dahlgren, Louise Hoffsten, and Peter Asplund.
The Stockholm Jazz Festival was originally hosted in one single location, but performances now take place in more than 60 venues all over the city. The venues are all indoors, so you don’t have to worry about fall weather ruining your plans. Dates, locations, and performances change every year, so make sure you check the website for the current program!
11. Find the Best Views of the City at Monteliusvägen
For the best sights in Stockholm, head to Monteliusvägen. Just a short walk away from the remarkable Fotografiska gallery, Monteliusvägen is a quarter-mile walking path that will reward you with views almost too beautiful to be true!
From the glistening waters of Lake Mälaren and the standout Stockholm City Hall to the islet of Riddarholmen and the emblematic Gamla Stan, you can see all the best parts of Stockholm from this single small path. For the ultimate shots, visit at sunrise or sunset when the lighting is just perfect.
Even the other side of the path is stunning. It’s lined with charming houses that will make you feel like you’re walking through the pages of a fairytale book. Along the path, you’ll also find a handful of places to stop and sip a glass of wine in the summer or cozy up with a cup of coffee in the winter.
12. Discover Your New Favorite Artist at Moderna Museet
Moderna Museet is the art gallery to visit when you think you don’t like art galleries. Home to one of the most spectacular European collections from the 20th century up to today, Moderna Museet features pieces by famous artists such as Matisse, Derkert, Dalí, and Picasso.
Within its walls, you’ll find art of all types, including prints, drawings, photography, and films, covering almost every subject from modern classics to contemporary art. Step outside, and you’ll find some bright and colorful sculptures to admire, too. With such a huge variety of artwork on display, you’re bound to find at least one piece that turns you into an art lover.
In addition to the permanent displays, the art gallery also offers a world-class selection of temporary exhibitions rotated throughout the year, hands-on workshops for kids, a great gift shop, and a comprehensive library. If you end up spending longer admiring the artwork than you thought, there’s also a fantastic restaurant, which rewards diners with views of Djurgården and Strandvägen.
13. Feel Like a Kid again at Gröna Lund
Spending a few hours at Gröna Lund is one of the most fun Stockholm activities there is. Hidden away on the island of Djurgården, Gröna Lund is the oldest amusement park in Sweden. It first opened in 1883, although you’d never know it! The park is filled with family-friendly attractions that are just as modern as any other theme park.
If you’re up for a thrill, head for Monster. One of the park’s newest rollercoasters, Monster flies at 55 miles per hour, sends you upside-down four times, and peaks at a height of 112 feet!
If that’s a bit too much for you, there are plenty of other rides and rollercoasters to choose from. There are also tons of gentle attractions for kids, making Gröna Lund one of the best places in Stockholm to visit as a family.
As well as all the rides and attractions, the amusement park is also a great place to catch concerts. Throughout the summer, all kinds of artists from across all genres and ages take to the stage here. From Paul McCartney and My Chemical Romance to Dua Lipa and Tom Jones – you’ll find a range of famous artists playing here!
14. Get Lost in Gamla Stan
One of the must-do things in Stockholm is to spend time exploring Gamla Stan, also known as Old Town. One of the best-preserved medieval city centers in all of Europe, Gamla Stan feels more like an open-air museum than a bustling town.
Take a walk along the pedestrianized streets, and you’ll discover countless beautiful sights that will leave you speechless. Gabled houses dating back to the 1600s, artisan boutiques selling handmade crafts, and bakeries laden with sweet local treats straight from the oven are just a tiny example of the amazing things you’ll find here.
The two main streets are Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan. We recommend you start with one and see where your feet take you. With so much whimsy around every corner, you really can’t go wrong!
If you prefer your day to be a bit more organized, plan to visit the Storkyrkan Cathedral, Nobel Prize Museum, and the Royal Palace. If you’re visiting during the winter, you’ve absolutely got to make time for the Julmarknad Christmas market, too.
15. See What’s Happening at Kungsträdgården
Whatever time of year you visit Stockholm, there’s always something exciting happening at Kungsträdgården. A hidden park tucked away behind the Royal Palace, Kungsträdgården is a lively place where people gather to sip coffee at open-air cafes and have a good time.
In the spring, the park is filled with thousands of people eager to celebrate cherry blossom season. At this time of year, the trees are covered in delicate pink flowers that look amazing in photos! In the summer, Kungsträdgården holds fantastic open-air concerts, while in the winter, part of the park is purposely frozen over and becomes a dedicated ice rink.
Even when there’s nothing organized going on, you’ll still find lots to do at Kungsträdgården. The pathways are lined with restaurants dishing up seasonal cuisine, as well as art galleries displaying remarkable pieces by local artists.
You’ll also find ancient plazas, gorgeous fountains, sunken pools, and flower-studded gardens to explore. Locals have nicknamed the place “Stockholm’s outdoor living room,” and when you see it in person, it’s easy to understand why!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Stockholm. What’s your favorite thing to do in Stockholm?
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