Looking for a weekend away? Look no further than Stockholm, the perfect city for a weekend escape.
Straddled across 14 islands on the edge of the Baltic sea, Stockholm has rich heritage of royalty, maritime exploration and culture. Today, Stockholm is epicentre of all things Scandi in both design and outlook. The city has a progressive outlook with an inclusive atmosphere that makes you feel instantly welcome. The locals are always interested to hear where you have come from and what brought you to their capital city.
Not only is Stockholm the capital of Sweden, a haven for Scandi culture and a global city, it also has significance to fans of the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision first came to Stockholm in 1975 after Sweden’s first victory in the previous year. The contest has returned to the city twice more; in 2000 and 2016. Only three other cities have been a host city more than this.
Another Eurovision link is Stockholm’s close ties to the Swedish super-group and contest winners, ABBA. The group formed in Stockholm in 1972 and some of the videos were filmed in the city. The hit single ‘Summer Night City’ was written as a tribute to the city and the long days of Swedish summer.
Whether you’re a Eurovision fan or not, there’s much to see and do in this amazing city! Isn’t it time you booked your weekend escape to Stockholm?
A Weekend in Stockholm – What to see?
Gamla Stan – Stockholm’s Old Town
No weekend in Stockholm is complete without a visit to the Gamla Stan. Dating back to the 13th century, it’s the oldest part of the city and has become very popular with visitors to the city.
The old buildings combine with narrow cobbled streets to create a bustling neighbourhood filled with independent shops, souvenir stores and local restaurants. There shops here are very diverse selling everything from chic Swedish design to viking statues and frozen yoghurt.
Best known among the traditional buildings are the painted facades around the Stortorget, which is the main public square. These buildings have become a symbol of the city and are immortalised within the gifts being sold in souvenir stores. This is a popular square for visitors looking for food and refreshment.
Spend some time wandering around the alleyways of the Gamla Stan and try to move away from the main thoroughfares. Away from the shopping streets you can catch a glimpse of what it’s like to live here.
Also be sure to walk around the edge of the old town for stunning views across the water towards other parts of the city. By doing this you will also pass the Royal Palace and the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag).
On an island in the east of Stockholm is Djurgården, a recreational area which is filled to the brim with museums, cultural sites and amusement parks. The pace of living in Djurgården is slower here, there is less traffic and trees begin to out-number the buildings.
There is a lot to see and do on Djurgården, more than you could do in a weekend (and much more to see in Stockhom) so prioritisation is key.
My top pick amongst the attractions on Djurgården is the ABBA museum, an interactive experience which retells the story of Sweden’s most famous musical export. From their humble beginnings as folk singers in the early 1970’s to global super-stardom, this museum is packed with interactive features which bring the band’s story to life.
The museum is also filled with iconic outfits, memorabilia and photo opportunities, plus your chance to become the fifth member of the band, accompanied by holograms of the original band members.
The museum also includes entry into the Swedish Musical Hall of Fame which gives an insight into Sweden’s thriving music industry.
Another extremely popular attraction is Skansen, the world’s oldest open air museum which also doubles as a zoon. Visitors flock here to experience life in Sweden before the industrial revolution.
Despite being 130 years old, Skansen still attracts huge numbers of visitors to witness traditional Swedish life. The Christmas markets in Skansen are particularly popular with both tourists and locals.
This is a museum dedicated to the Vasa, a Swedish warship which capsized and sank during it’s maiden voyage in 1628.
Today the majesty of the Vasa has been fully restored to its former glory. Vasa Museum tells the fascinating tale of life on board as well as an insight into how the ship was salvaged and excavated.
The museum is quite rightly one of the most popular attractions in Scandinavia and quite often appears in publication bucket lists so is well worth a visit.
Norrmalm is Stockholm’s modern city centre and a great base for visitors to the city.
Drottninggatan is one of Stockholm’s busiest shopping streets, stretching from the Gamla Stan in the south to the Observatorielunden into the north. Although many of the stores here are international chains, there are many Swedish brands and independent stores here so it’s worth exploring further.
Designtorget is a favourite of mine offering stylish and affordable Swedish design features blended with sustainable living. This brand is only available in Sweden so I’d recommend having a look while you’re here, especially if you’re looking for home ware.
As an aside, it was during a visit to Designtorget that I discover Wet Pot Systems (another Swedish brand) which I’m now obsessed with. Have a look here!
If you’re looking for food, try Polpette, a Swedish-Italian restaurant at the southern end of Drottninggatan. This independent restaurant offers a mix of Italian pasta dishes and traditional Swedish cuisine including Swedish meatballs.
Now a public park, this stretch was originally a private garden used by the royal family, hence the name of the park being ‘Kings Garden’. The walls were demolished in the 1800s and the park is now open to the public.
The Kungsträdgården is now a popular meeting place for locals and a focal point for events in Stockholm, especially at weekends. The cafes which line the park are perfectly located for a relaxing coffee whilst watching the world pass by.
In spring the park comes to life as the cherry trees blossom, transforming the trees into clouds of pink. Whilst in the winter the park is filled with ice skaters.
The park is also used for live music events and was home to the Eurovision Village during the 2016 contest.
Although I wouldn’t usually recommend a department store as a place to visit whilst travelling, NK Stockholm was different. The store specialises in luxury brands but it’s these good combined with the Swedish taste for intelligent design that makes the store stand out from the others.
Also, the building, which sits on Hamngatan at the northern end of the Kungsträdgården, is over 100 years old and features interiors in an Art Nouveau style. It’s worth having a look inside for this alone.
Hötorget Flea Market.
Roughly translating to Haymarket, Hötorget is a public square in the centre of Norrmalm. Although the square itself isn’t particularly notable, it’s definitely worth visiting the flea market that’s here at weekends.
Whilst the flea market is here, Hötorget fills with fresh produce, antiques, second hand books and vintage vinyl records. There’s plenty to see on the varied stalls and the square comes to life with locals looking to snap up a bargain.
Some of the items on sale here are quite random; some of the stalls reminded me of the Jaffa flea market in Tel Aviv.
This water facing boulevard stretches from Norrmalm to Djurgården, but is technically in a neighbourhood of it’s own called Östermalm.
Historically the Strandvägen was a prestigious area which can be seen today in the elaborately designed buildings. Today it is home to foreign embassies and expensive hotels.
If you are heading towards Djurgården, it’s worth walking this way as the waterside has great views in all directions. In the summer months, the jetties here become floating bars and if the weather is good this is a great spot for afternoon refreshments.
Where to stay?
If you’ve got cash to burn and looking for a splurge, look no further than the Grand Hôtel. With stunning waterside views towards the Royal Palace, this is the hotel of choice for international celebrities and world leaders.
Lower in price but well located, the Sheraton Stockholm is a 3 minute walk into the Gamla Stan. It’s also a short walk from the hotel to the Central Station making this a good location to explore from.
Being part of an american chain however, some of the Swedish design quirks have been lost.
A New York inspired hotel with a generous helping of Swedish design. This hotel offers everything from windowless cabins to full suites so there is a room to suit all budgets.
The hotel is close the Arlanda Express terminal which connects the city to the airport. This makes the Scandic Grand Central a great option for those on a weekend visit or short stay in Stockholm city.
Although I don’t often stay in hostels, Generator Hostels offer private rooms in addition to dorm style accommodation.
Generator offer simple surroundings which are clean and affordable. The hostel is located a little further away from the city centre than the hotels above but the prices are also much lower. A must for traveler on a budget.
What to bring home?
This luxury candle and perfume company was founded in Stockholm in 2006. Visit the flagship store on Mäster Samuelsgatan to see the full range of products offering luxury through simple, high quality ingredients.
The staff are very helpful and can support if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for
Sweden is famous globally for its chic, intelligent design and home ware. The larger brands are a carbon copy of the stores elsewhere in the world, so hunt for the smaller independent stores. Designtorget is a favourite of mine with stores on Kungsgatan and Sergels Torg.
These traditional hand carved horses were once associated with the province of Dalarna, but are now a symbol of Sweden. You can pick up the Dalahäst for a low cost at most souvenir stores.
Higher quality Dalahäst with more elaborate designs are available for a higher price from some shops.
Thank You For Reading “A Weekend in Stockhom”
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