Referred to by many as The Venice of the North, Stockholm is the medieval heart of Sweden. Known for its high-end shopping and dining, Stockholm is also full of historical attractions, ancient churches and major monuments. It’s a long way to come for just 3 days, but if that’s all you can spare, then this 3-day suggested itinerary will be very useful. There are of course numerous other destinations in this city so you might want to mix and match the suggestions below to create your own itinerary.
Things to know before traveling to Sweden:
Language – Swedish is the official language of Sweden. Most Swedes in the city and other main tourists’ destinations, speak English so you can absolutely get by without speaking the Swedish language. Like other countries in the world, speaking at least some Swedish phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals. Out of courtesy you could always begin with “Hej, pratar du engelska?” meaning “Hi, do you speak English?”
Etiquette – Most Swedes don’t like vulgar and loud people. As a visitor, you are expected to behave politely and dress appropriately. On meeting, ensure an eye contact with a firm handshake with all attendees. Do not forget to say please and thank you when out and about.
Currency exchange – The official unit of currency in Sweden is Swedish Krona. Exchanging money in Stockholm is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Europe. Currency can be exchanged at the banks, money exchange counters around the city and airports. Most major establishments like hotels and restaurants in major tourist and business destinations accept credit cards. The best way to get local currency is to use ATMs, which are widely available in Stockholm and other major cities.
Getting to Stockholm – You can get to Stockholm from New York for 264 USD (Norwegian Air) just be flexible with your travel dates; from Berlin – 54 USD (Norwegian Air); from Hong Kong a round-trip to Stockholm starts at abou 415 USD (long layover in Doha, perfect to explore what Doha has to offer); from Sydney – 860 USD. Indeed, flying to Stockholm won’t break the bank.
Transportation – Getting around Stockholm and the rest of Sweden is fairly easy. The city is quite compact so visitors can easily explore its tourist attractions on foot. If you are short on time or you prefer less time walking, Stockholm has efficient subway systems, bus transport networks, trains and ferries. If you are short on time and want to squeeze in many attractions in 3 days, then purchase a 72 hour Travelcard (a Stockholm Pass add-on), which provides unlimited travel to all networks in Stockholm including subway, trains, commuter trains, boats and buses. You can also bike on your own or join one of the guided biking tours offered in the city.
Accommodation – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Stockholm, from luxury hotels to cheaper accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfasts. There are also plenty of apartment rentals if you prefer the comfort and convenience of having your own place with cooking facilities. If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary, we recommend accommodation options available in Södermalm or Gamla Stan.
Where to stay in Stockholm:
Lydmar Hotel (Sodra Blasieholmshamnen 2, Stockholm 103 24, Sweden)
Grand Hotel (Sodra Blasieholmshamnen 8, Stockholm 103 27, Sweden)
Nobis Hotel (Norrmalmstorg 2-4, Stockholm 111 86, Sweden)
Motel L (Hammarby Alle 41, Stockholm 12030, Sweden)
Detailed Itinerary: Best of Stockholm, Sweden in 3 Days
Assuming you had to cross an ocean to get to Stockholm, your first day will be rife with jet lag. Take a flight that arrives in Stockholm Arlanda Airport as early as possible and check into your preferred hotel/hostel. Located 25 miles north of Stockholm City, Stockholm Arlanda Airport is connected to downtown by the high-speed Arlanda Express train, Flygbussarna Airport Coaches and commuter trains. To walk off your jet lag, hit one of the quirky breakfast and brunch spots in Gamla Stan.
There’s no better way to get acquainted with the city than taking a historic tour through Gamla Stan’s medieval alleyways. Then, go to the Vasa Museum and marvel at the Vasa Ship, which capsized in Stockholm during the 17th century. Just before lunch time, make your way to the Royal Palace and do not miss the Vaktavlosning (changing of the guards ceremony), which normally starts at 12 PM and lasts for 30 minutes. After lunch, come to grips with Stockholm’s history by joining a guided tour of the Royal Palace. After your historic tour, make your way back to your hotel and get a good night sleep so you have energy for a whole day of adventure the next day.
On the morning of Day 2, get set to experience the glories of Stockholm. Start by grabbing some breakfast. A typical breakfast in Sweden is a simple combination of strong espresso and an open-faced sandwich. Oatmeal topped with fresh fruits, boiled eggs and cereals are also some of the well-known Swedish breakfast options. After breakfast, make your way to Drottningholm Palace (the private residence of the Swedish royal family). Whether you are a history buff or not, Stockholm’s magnificent architecture created by generations of architects, sculptor and landscape architects will surely leave you in total awe. After your palace tour, head to Södermalm district, one of the coolest districts in Sweden.
In the afternoon, join a guided tour through The City Hall of Stockholm (Stadshuset). Guided tours, either private or public, are required as visitors cannot walk alone in the halls. Climb the 365 steps to the top of Stadshuset for a grand view of the Swedish capital. In the evening, you may watch a ballet or opera in Royal Swedish Opera. For performance schedule and ticket prices, visit their official website.
Your final day in the city can be spent on last-minute shopping and seeing those Stockholm attractions that you haven’t yet had time for. You may also dedicate this day to Skansen, world’s first open-air museum situated on the beautiful island of Djurgården. Also, not to be missed is the National Museum, Stockholm’s main art gallery. Head back to your hotel, then to the airport in time to check in for your international flight home, or you may opt to continue traveling independently in Sweden (check our guide for Sweden), or extend your stay in Stockholm.
This is the end of our 3-day suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form, the only way to travel Sweden. There are several alternative routes of travel within the area and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Stockholm!
Have you been to Stockholm or anywhere else in Sweden? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Cityview of Stockholm, Sweden (TTstudio/Shutterstock.com)