Exploring Stockholm, the mesmerizing capital of Sweden, in just one day might seem like an impossible task. So, what to see in Stockholm in one day? This city of islands with its advanced public transportation system is designed for ease of movement and offers a host of experiences that can be tailored to fit your schedule.
Whether you are a history enthusiast, a lover of architecture, or someone who just wants to immerse themselves in a new culture, Stockholm has something to offer. In this guide, I will take you through the must-see attractions and hidden gems that you can realistically visit in a day.
These are the places I go to whenever I am giving a tour. Everything is planned, most within walking distance, to maximize your short visit!
In the morning I suggest you to head towards Djurgården. Djurgården is an island and is also one of the Royal National City Parks. Djurgården is known for its many attractions, such as museums and the famous amusement park Gröna Lund, and for its nature with many old oak trees. Depending on your interests, you could spend half or even an entire day here.
Just before you cross the bridge and onto the island, there are many lakeside cafés that serves tasty “fika” (Coffee and pastries). I normally would have a light breakfast here before starting the exploration.
The first stop on the island would be the Vasa Museum. It is located to the right after you crossed the bridge, behind the Nordic Museum, which you will see first. The Vasa Museum is the home to the only almost fully intact 17th century warship that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. Due to overweight, the majestic warship unfortunately did not make it too far from the harbor and it is the reason why it could be salvaged so intact.
Then walk for a bit and you will reach the ABBA Museum, where you will find many exclusive ABBA memorabilia. ABBA was an influential pop group in the 1970’s to early 2000’s. You may have seen or heard of the critically acclaimed musical, Mamma Mia!, which is based on songs recorded by ABBA. In the museum, there are creative interactive exhibits including a music studio and dance floor that will make you feel you are a member of ABBA!
Afterwards, depending on your interests, you can either enjoy Gröna Lund, the amusement park, or visit Skansen, the oldest open-air museum with a zoo and aquarium. Skansen is like a mini-Sweden. You get to see and learn about Swedish culture, nature, traditions, and animals native to Sweden. Skansen is perfect for families and those who couldn’t travel around Sweden, but want to see it all.
Take the tram, bus, or subway to Hötorget, the city center. Here you can have lunch and rest for a bit. One of my favorite places is Kajsas Fisk in Hötorgshallen. Hötorgshallen is an indoor food market located right next to the movie theatre.
Take the escalators down and walk straight, you will find Kajsas Fisk. Their specialty is the tomato-based seafood soup (Kajsas Fisksoppa) with fresh ingredients. It is a must try because you wouldn’t find anything similar elsewhere. Of course, there are other traditional seafood dishes like Skagen Toast (Shrimp toast) and fried Baltic Herring (Stekt Strömming).
For music fans, you should visit the Avicii Experience Tribute Museum down the street. It has interactive exhibitions such as a DJ set, VR karaoke, and music creation stations. Avicii, Tim Bergling, was a talented Swedish artist and his music has continuously topped international charts even till this day. The museum breaks down the ingeniousness of his music and the burden of fame.
Be prepared to walk for a while, but don’t worry, there are many places for you to rest along the way. After lunch at Kajsas Fisk, head down to Drottninggatan (The Queen’s street), the major shopping street. The iconic black and white street will take you from Stockholm’s city center all the way to the old town (Gamla Stan). There are many boutiques, shopping malls (such as Åhléns), cafés, and restaurants along the way. I wouldn’t recommend to eat in the restaurants on Drottningsgatan or in the old town because of the high prices and they don’t serve authentic Swedish dishes.
You will pass Sergels torg and Kulturhuset (Cultral center) first. You could say Sergels torg is the heart of Stockholm. It is a popular meeting place because of its central location. Sergels torg is a sunken public plaza with a distinctive triangular grey and white tile design. Sergel Fountain is just above the plaza, there is a tall cylindrical monument in the middle that beautifully lights up during the evening.
It is a great place to spend some time and see just how busy and alive Stockholm is. Next to the plaza is Kulturhuset, where you can learn and feel Swedish culture. The library, café, exhibitions, performances, and speeches will take you on a journey of discovering the romantic side of Sweden. The intoxicating atmosphere will make you never want to leave and keep exploring.
Old town (Gamla Stan)
Further down Drottningsgatan, there is a bridge and it is a great spot to take photos. This bridge will take you to the old town. The building arches after the bridge is the Swedish Parliament House. Inaugurated in 1905, the Parliament House was designed in Neo-Renaissance style, with a centered facade section in Neo-Baroque. It is a unique structure and catches one’s eye because the purpose of such architecture is to show the power status of Sweden then.
Walk a bit more and you will see the royal palace to the left, but don’t visit it yet. Go straight or follow the crowd into the old town. The shops and cafés here are fascinating, and if you want to buy some souvenirs to take home, I would suggest you to follow this guide. Sweden is much more than moose shaped pillows and meatballs.
In the middle of the old town is Stortorget, the town center and where the Nobel Price Museum is. Here you get the best view of the old houses and a sense of how people lived. You may have recognized that many postcards of Stockholm feature the colorful houses at Stortorget. You can skip the Nobel Price Museum, because there isn’t much inside, and head towards the Royal Palace.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace may not seem much on the outside, and there is a reason behind it. You will find out why when you go inside. Even though the Swedish royal family hold little to no political power, the monarch has been vital in shaping Sweden and its culture.
When you come out of the Royal Palace, visit beautiful Storkyrkan (Great Church) next door. Both the exterior and interior is marvelous and you get to witness the major historical events that changed Sweden. Afterwards, if the weather is good, you can head down to the shore and just relax with a view of the Grand Hotel across the lake. It is also another photo opportunity.
The royal tour isn’t over yet, walk across the bridge (Strömbron) and you will find Kungsträdgården (King’s garden). It was once the royal family’s back garden. Nowadays during summer, there are plenty of events and festivals here you can join and if you are lucky, you get to see the cherry blossom! If you come in winter, I would suggest you to walk or take the bus to the City Hall instead.
Join a guided tour at The City Hall (Stadhuset), it is the only way to visit. You will get to know the story behind the Blue Hall and Golden Room. Since it is an active government building, the opening hours may change, so be sure to check ahead of time! You can also climb the tower and get a spectacular panoramic view of Stockholm. The tower is 106 meters tall and there is an elevator, however it only takes you halfway up the tower. Also remember that you can only climb the tower during summer.
Photo: Arild Vågen
I recommend restaurant Tradition or Kvarnen for dinner, because they usually serve traditional Swedish dishes other than meatballs, such as Västerbottenpaj, Isterband, SOS, Kroppkakor, and Gubbröra. Kvarnen is a bit outside the city center, so you need to take the public transportation there.
For an all-inclusive experience, visit Fotografiska, the nearest subway station would be Slussen. You can then take the bus or walk. It is one of the world’s largest home for contemporary photography, with four large exhibitions and 20 smaller presentation areas. They also have a restaurant with one of the best views of the city. So, you can spend an entire evening here, calm and relaxed.
If you have time over, then take the subway or bus to Odenplan and check out Stockholm Public Library. It is one of the most iconic buildings in Sweden, if not the entire Nordic region. One of the most striking features of the library is its large, circular main hall with books arranged in a circle. The design is meant to allow visitors to access the library’s collection without the need for guidance.
Since you are there, you can go up the hill behind the library and enjoy the view Observatorielunden park provides on top. The park got its name because of the observatory that is there dating back to the 1700s. This is one of the few vantage points that oversees the city, and you will also find Kafé Himlavalvet, which known for its delicious waffles and special toppings.
If you have more time
These places are outside the city center, and therefore takes time to visit. However, if you do have some time to spare, they are definitely worth the trip.
Mall of Scandinavia
Mall of Scandinavia is one of the largest shopping centers in the Nordics. It offers a premier shopping experience with over 200 stores, including international and Swedish brands. The mall also has a variety of dining options, from fast food to fine dining, providing something for every palate. In addition to shopping and dining, the mall also houses a state-of-the-art cinema, offering a complete entertainment package.
Drottningholm Palace is a stunning royal residence built in the late 17th century. It is one of the best-preserved palaces in Sweden and is often compared to the Palace of Versailles in France. The palace is an official residence of the Swedish royal family and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991.
The estate features several fascinating places including the palace itself, a beautifully landscaped garden, the Drottningholm Theatre (one of the few 18th-century theatres still in operation), and the Chinese Pavilion (an exotic structure added in the middle of 1700’s when chinoiserie was the height of fashion). The palace is open to the public, although some parts may be restricted when the royal family is in residence.
Saltsjösbaden is a locality situated on the Baltic Sea coast, about 15 kilometers southeast of Stockholm. It was originally for the upper class moving away from the city to avoid the crowd and wanting better living environment. It was later re-established as a resort region in the late 19th century and became famous for its hotels and scenic beauty.
Known as the “Swedish Riviera,” the Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden is one of the most iconic buildings in the area, offering luxurious accommodations with a view of the sea. The locality is a popular spot for sailing, and the Saltsjösbaden Yacht Club is one of the most prominent sailing clubs in Sweden.