Scandinavia's largest city, Stockholm reflects its people: stylish and understated. Surrounded by water, it's enchantingly set over 14 islands each with a unique identity. Founded in 1252, Stockholm's grand Gothic and medieval landmarks stand proudly next to the clean-lined Swedish architecture.
Stockholm's currency is the Swedish Krona (SEK). 10 SEK = £0.80 / $1.04 / €0.97 (as of 2022).
Top 5 things to see
The island which the city revolves around, Stockholm's Old Town is a maze of medieval squares, weaving cobblestone streets, and sand and rhubarb-shade buildings. It's the beating heart of the city; despite the tourist shops, its vibe is second-to-none. Locals gather for the extraordinary coffee scene - along with the hearty pastries on offer - and as night falls the bars and pubs explode with drinks and live music.
If you're going in the High Season (June to August), be sure to visit in the morning and have Gamla Stan without the tourists.
With its masts peering through the building on Djurgården in the city centre, the Vasa Museum is a near 50m-high warship from the 1600s. Minutes after leaving the port on its maiden voyage on 10 August 1628, it sank. The ship was raised from the seabed in 1961 and painstakingly reassembled for for display. Nearly all of the ship you see today is original.
This is a must-visit activity in Stockholm; the scale of the ship will blow you away when you enter.
Tickets cost 170 SEK between October and April, and 190 SEK between May and September. You can't buy tickets online - only at the entrance.
The world's first outside museum, and another must-visit on your Stockholm adventure, Skansen playfully recreates how life in Stockholm once was centuries ago, tracing the life through its magical buildings and traditions. Tour the zoo, attend glassblowing workshops and catch a traditional music festival - there's so much to do.
Skansen is the attraction in Stockholm that locals will recommend to you the most. It is located down the road from the Vasa Museum on Djurgården,
Tickets cost 160 SEK for adults and 70 SEK for children.
An island on Stockholm's eastern archipelago, Vaxholm's pastel-coloured houses, sloping cobblestone streets, and small greens make it a charming day trip. Take the commuter boat from Strömkajen and pass through many of the islands and picturesque residential neighbourhoods until you're met with the imperious Vaxholm Castle, which used to guard invaders entering the city centuries ago.
After taking in the pretty views along the winding paths, head to Hembygdsgårds Cafe for delectable Swedish cakes and pastries. Try and sit at the further table on the outside terrace under a blossom tree and right by the water.
Stadshuset (City Hall)
Stockholm's City Hall subtly joins the skyline; its red-brick facade on the picturesque waterfront on Kungsholmen reflects dazzling at Golden Hour in the city. Its interior could not look more different; light dances from the mosaics of the bejewelling Golden Hall, made from 19 million pieces of Gold Leaf. Climb the 106-metre Bell Tower (guided tours only) for incredible views over nearby Gamla Stan, and the city more generally. Or if you like, take an elevator half way to the top and climb.
Admission into Stadshuset is by guided tour only so check the website (link below) before; its opening times are infrequent too, especially outside of summer. Tickets can only be bought on-site.
Tickets are 130/50/0 SEK for adults/7-19s/0-5s for a guided tour.
The Stockholm Pass provides entry to a number of attractions throughout the city, as well as hop-on, hop-off buses.
1 day = 494 SEK.
2 days = 863 SEK.
3 days = 1,089 SEK.
5 days = 1,399 SEK.
Where to eat and drink
Stockholm's food and drink scene is on an exciting journey, much like Scandinavia more widely, to promote the best of Swedish produce. Its up and coming chefs are always opening vibrant food joints with a keen emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices. If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or have dietary requirements, Stockholm is extremely accommodating. Restaurants serving veggie-only buffets are becoming more and more popular, serving healthy food along with a good atmosphere. Classic Swedish meals, such as herring, and meatballs are being reinvented too!
Stockholm is an expensive city to eat and drink in. A beer can cost upwards of 100 SEK.
A money-saving tip is to make lunch your main meal. Look for Dagens Rått at restaurants and cafes. These are daily lunch specials that offer 2 and 3-course meals for 95-185 SEK.
Stockholm uses the Swedish Krona (SEK). As of 2022, the exchange rate is 10 SEK = £0.80 and $1.04.
For each recommendation I will list the island it can be found.
Chokladkoppen is one of the city's best-loved cafes nestled in the Gamla Stan's main square, Stortorget. One of many cafes, Chokladkoppen is THE cafe to visit; its strong coffee and rustic pastries is the perfect start in a perfect setting in Sweden's capital! Gamla Stan.
Rosendals Trädgårdskafé serves cakes and pastries in one of Stockholm's prettiest locations amongst the greenhouses of the nearby botanical gardens. Djurgården.
Sweden's has an undeniably strong coffee and pastry culture. In fact, they have their own word for having a coffee and taking a break - fika. Fika is a common daily event in the Swedish workplace, where individuals take 20 minutes of their day to relax and discuss life over a coffee.
Hermans is the Stockholm's best spot for top-quality vegan food. Its buffet stretching into two rooms is bursting with homemade bread, hummus, salads and garlic potatoes. If you're lucky, head onto the terrace boasting unbelievable views over the city. Södermalm.
Meatballs for the People is one of the city's best spots for authentic Swedish cuisine specialising in...meatballs, rom moose, wild boar, lamb and more. Its lunch menu is slashed to 95 SEK for all dishes and provides a great money-saving tip for Swedish cuisine. Södermalm.
Ekstedt is an experience as much as a meal out. The expert chefs combine French/Italian twists on old-school Swedish classics. This Michelin-starred restaurants is regularly voted one of the best in the world. Bookings are essential months in advance of your stay.
Holy Cow is one of the best places for Indian cuisine in the city, opposite Vasaparken. Good food at a good price with a great local's atmosphere. Norrmalm.
For the adults
Sjätte Tunnan is an absolute must-visit on your stay. This Viking-themed bar is a maze of twist and turns with giant wooden tables seen in reenactments. You might be lucky enough to find traditional Swedish bands playing on stage well into the night - you're allowed to mix with locals and jump up on the tables. Sjätte Tunnan was the best night out I (Josh) have had on my travels. Gamla Stan.
Burgundy is a cosy wine bistro in the heart of Gamla Stan and boasts one of Sweden's largest wine cellars. Partner it with an exquisite cheeses and relax in the local ambiance. Gamla Stan.
Paradiso is known by cocktails lovers and one of the best bars in Stockholm. Its pina coladas are legendary and reflect the tropical neon interior.
Tipping isn't required in Stockholm.
Stockholm is a very safe city. As a city that gets dark for large parts of the year in Winter, it is well lit on its main roads. Old Town's narrow streets can get dark, so just be careful.
Two Passports Top Tip: The Swedish attitude to alcohol...
The stylish partygoers of Stockholm are very respectful of their alcohol. Outside of bars and pubs, it's most common to buy alcoholic drinks in Systembolaget - government-owned alcohol-only shops. These are open from 10am - 8pm (3pm on Saturdays), so it's quite limiting compared to the other countries you'll visit. Because of this, as well as far higher alcoholic content in regular drinks - ciders are 8% compared to 4 or 5% in the UK - Swedish people's attitude is generally to drink moderately. Bouncers, doorman and bar staff will evict people from the scene very easily.
Systembolaget's are a MUCH cheaper alternative to going out - a cider will cost you 15 SEK compared to nearly 90 SEK in a bar.
If you're planning to have a few drinks in the evening, visit the Systembolaget beforehand and be respectful on the locals.
When to Go
Low Season: October to February
Very cold and the nights are long. In December, the city gets dark by 3 - 4pm, and as a tourist it can get disorientating. However, there are fantastic deals to be had (we flew in December from Stansted for £30 return!).
Shoulder Season: March to May, September
The weather will be still be cool, but the sun will be out more and the ever-stylish Swedish will be rocking their Spring and Autumn collection. A fun time to visit Stockholm.
High Season: June to August
The weather is deceptively warm and the sun is piercingly bright. As you're surrounded by water, the glare is real, so make sure you bring those shades to help you.
Tourists pack the Old Town and boats to the archipelago to the west are busy.
How to Get There
Stockholm Arlanda (ARN)
North of Stockholm is ARN, Sweden's largest airport and one of the largest in Scandinavia. As you would expect from Scandinavia, the airport is extremely clean, efficient and offers a range of cafes and restaurants. Taxis are extremely expensive, so stick with the airport train and bus:
Arlanda Express: One-way for adults/children 280/150 SEK. The trains take you into Stockholm Centrale Station in 20 minutes from 5am to 12:30am; they are frequent, punctual and efficient.
Flubussarna: One-way for adults/children 119/99 SEK. The buses take you into Stockholm Centrale Station in 40 minutes (depending on traffic) throughout the day. The buses leave from Stop 11 outside the airport; they are frequent, punctual and efficient.
Travelling by train
Stockholm Centrale is the biggest train station in the Sweden and located in the heart of the city. If you're coming by train, you'll be stopping here. It has fantastic links to the rest of the city via the metro, and it's very easy to navigate too.
Travelling by boat
It is possible to get a boat into the city from Helsinki (Finland), Riga (Latvia) and Tallinn (Estonia). These range from 16 to 17 hours, so be prepared for a long trip. Just giving you another option...
Travelling in the city
Stockholm is one of the most pleasing cities to wander around as its islands present so much variety. From the pretty greens of Kungholmen to the west overlooking the sea, to the wide streets of Norrmalm's central shopping districts boasting ultra-stylish fashion shops, Stockholm has it all.
However, the extensive metro and tram services do make travelling the islands a lot easier after the excitement of using the bridges wears off. Generally, the metro serves Central, northern, western, and southern neighbourhoods of Stockholm, as well as the island of Lidingo to the east.
Whereas tram generally takes people from the east into the city centre.
It's important to note that the metro does not cover the island of Djurgården where Skansen, the Vasa Museum and the beautiful Royal Djurgården (national park) are - these are accessible by the famous Number 7 tram which runs from Stockholm Centrale.
You can buy tickets at metro stations and tram stops. A single journey is between 30-60 SEK depending on how far you're travelling.
Personally, we would suggest buying a travel card for the duration of your journey if you're staying for more than a long weekend as you will be using it a lot and it'd take the walking from your legs:
24 hours = 120 SEK
72 hours = 240 SEK
7 days = 315 SEK