A Winter Weekend Guide to Stockholm, Sweden
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Stockholm is a city built around water; it’s spread across 14 islands and connected by 57 bridges. The city is full of charming cafes, cobblestone alleyways, and numerous waterfront promenades and viewpoints. One third of the city is made up of parks so you are never too far from a nature break. 90% of the city’s subway stations have art installations and the buildings are often painted in bright colors, meaning there is color around every corner in Stockholm. The city and archipelago are well connected via subway, bus, train, and ferry, which makes Stockholm a very easy city to explore. While it’s very popular to visit during the summer for all of the warm weather festivals, visiting it during the winter will allow you to see the city from a new perspective, avoid crowds, and really appreciate the abundance of saunas. Stockholm is also the perfect launching point to venture north to Lapland, explore before cruises, or to visit the rest of Scandinavia afterwards!
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Where to stay in Stockholm, Sweden
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A masterclass in next-gen hospitality, expect to fall hard for the discreet service, note-perfect interior design, unshowy public spaces and seasonal restaurant.
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Polished boutique hotel in Stockholm with an eclectic vibe.
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Day 1: Explore Stockholm in Stockholm, Sweden
After breakfast, cross the Strömbron bridge to the Gamla Stan (Old Town) neighborhood of Stockholm. The Old Town was built in the 13th century and is full of colorful buildings surrounding the main square Stortorget. Take a walking tour to learn more about the Stockholm Cathedral, the Royal Opera, and the Royal Palace as you walk along the cobblestone paths. Depending on the time, you can even see the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace.
Ready to take a break? Don’t forget about the Swedish tradition of “fika” (a break for coffee and cake). A great spot in Galma Stan is Chokladkoppen, a beautiful (and tiny) cafe with pastries and what is rumored to be the best hot chocolate in Europe. Västerlånggatan is a street on the island that is quite famous. While good for photos, the shops are pretty touristy so save your shopping for the east side of the island, where there are more local boutiques, such as Znogg and Blå Gungan. Make sure to pop into Stockholm's narrowest street (Mårten Trotzigs gränd) for a photo as well.
Spend the rest of your day wandering around the Södermalm neighborhood. This former working-class neighborhood has turned into one of the coolest neighborhoods in Europe and is full of artsy cafes, charming boutiques, and vibrant nightlife. You’ll likely be hungry for lunch at this point. O'PIZZICATO is a good lunch spot if you are in the mood for pasta and risotto or you can visit MamaWolf for Japanese cuisine. For dessert, don’t miss Small Island Chocolates & Coffee, which has a large selection of award-winning chocolates in addition to coffee. Fotografiska is a very popular contemporary photography museum in the neighborhood and is on Fjällgatan, a waterfront street with great views. Walk all the way down to Mariaberget, an observation deck perfect for taking photos of the city.
After you are done wandering, spend your evening back in the city center. Check out the offerings at the Royal Opera House and purchase your tickets in advance. On the night of your show, make a dinner reservation beforehand at Restaurant Operakällaren, a Michelin-starred restaurant next door to the Opera House. Don’t miss Opera Bar, a gorgeous bar that is more than a century old with a beautiful stained glass ceiling.
Day 2: Visit the island of Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden
Start your morning at Green Rabbit, a rye bread bakery using ancient Swedish grains in new ways to make innovative baked goods. In addition to bread and bakery treats, they also serve breakfast and Swedish varieties of Danish smørrebrød.
Take a public ferry across the water to the island of Djurgården to visit the Vasa Museum. This museum showcases a warship that sank during the 17th century and is very well-preserved. The lines for this museum can be long during peak hours so it’s best to purchase skip-the-line tickets in advance. The museum will tell the story of why the giant warship was built, how it sank, and how it has remained in such good condition over the centuries.
Ready for lunch? Pop into Wärdshuset Ulla Winbladh for elevated Swedish food in a historic building.
If you are still eager to learn more after leaving Vasa, visit the many other museums on the island! You can visit the Nordic Museum to learn about life in the Nordic region throughout history, Junibacken if you have children with you, Liljevalchs to view contemporary art, Skansen to learn about Swedish history, a Viking Museum, a culture of alcohol museum, and even an ABBA museum. The Kärleksudden observation deck is another good stop for pictures to appreciate Stockholm from another perspective and view the “Lady Working for Peace” statue.
For dinner, visit Wedholms Fisk for a Scandinavian seafood supper featuring everything from monkfish to turbot. The fish preparations are seasonal but don’t miss the truffles or champagne sauce if they are on the menu! There are beef and vegetarian dishes on the menu as well if someone in your party does not eat fish.
Day 3: Explore Östermalm and visit the spa in Stockholm, Sweden
Spend your morning exploring the Östermalm neighborhood, walking to work up an appetite for your next stop. Wander down Strandvägen for more waterfront views, visit the Swedish History Museum, or climb the tower at Hedvig Eleonora Church, an octogonal church from the 18th century.
Sample lots of delicious bites by taking a private guided tour of Ostermalmshallen, a food hall created inside a historic building from the 19th century. Östermalms Saluhall Magazine editor-in-chief, Lina Bielsten, will lead you through the hall while sharing her personal knowledge and funny stories about the history of the food hall while tasting delicious bites from a few of the stores, which could include everything from Danish smörrebröd with Nordic ingredients to lactose-free gelato and sorbet to charcuterie.
Once you are sufficiently full, spend your afternoon warming up at one of the many fantastic spas in Stockholm. Many of the hotels include access to a local spa in your room rate. Another option is Sturebadet. This beautiful and historic spa has many amenities, including fitness equipment, steam and dry saunas, a cold bath, a lap pool, a hydromassage bath, rocking recliners, and a warm aroma room.
Once you are done at the spa, walk to Brasserie Astoria for a cozy final dinner. The French cuisine offers everything from fish to pizza to beef to salads so it’s sure to please everyone. Don’t miss out on the three-cheese pasta with truffled butter sauce and seasonal vegetables (which are delicious mushrooms in the winter) and the plat du jour, which changes every day.
Day 4: Enjoy breakfast and depart Stockholm in Stockholm, Sweden
After enjoying breakfast at your hotel or a nearby cafe, catch your plane, train, boat or transfer to your next destination!
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out my guide to London: Cocktails & Culture: 3 Days in London.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Sweden.