I realize that Stockholm probably isn’t on everyone’s bucketlist, but it should be. Sweden is generally thought of as cold and too far north with too little sunshine, but everyone I know that’s been to this city has completely fallen in love, myself included. That said, we were lucky enough to have a local tour guide in one of our yacht week skippers, so we got to see more of the surrounding area than I think most tourists do.
Hotel: We stayed at the Scandic Continental. It was nice and clean and very centrally located. It wasn’t exactly cheap but it had a triple room and we had a bunch of hotels.com discounts so we were able to get it for pretty cheap.
To/From the airport: There is public transportation but it seemed to be about the same price for three of us to take the bus/train as it would to take a cab. That said, we were lucky enough to have a local tell us to ONLY USE OFFICIAL CAB COMPANIES. There are a bunch in line when you first walk out of the airport, and some of them will scam you. Some of them won't even take you if you don't have a credit card with a chip reader - they refuse to use the ones that require signatures, which most American cards do. Make sure you ask your driver first. You want to take the yellow ones on the far end.
In town: We mostly just walked everywhere. It's not that big of a city. Keep in mind we did stay in a central location to the tourist attractions.
What we did:
Free Walking Tour: as usual, cannot recommend this enough. You get to know the city from a local. Our tour guide spoke perfect English and shows you things you probably wouldn’t notice on your own, like statues in bottom of the river.
Stockholm Pass – This was something I wish we had looked into and bought in advance. We ended up getting it after our tour, and it was well worth it. We went into a bunch of places and did more for cheaper than it would have been on its own. Here’s a few of the things we did with the pass:
The Palace – this was actually pretty cool. We wandered through on our own, but they do have walking tours at specific times in English. Don’t miss the royal jewels – they’re at a separate entrance from the palace and the chapel. We also got lucky and caught the changing of the guards which was fun.
Royal Canal Tour: We hopped on one of the harbor tours and that was amusing. We were surrounded by a large tour bus of a different nationality that didn’t actually want to hear the commentary in English and talked over it so that was a bit frustrating. In addition, the route gets smaller and doesn’t quite follow the map if the water levels are different.
Nobel Prize Museum – This was a cute museum to check out. We enjoyed it but I wouldn’t plan for more than an hour there. The neighborhood around this area is great – definitely take the time to wander.
Storykrykan Cathedral – an old church with a lot of dead people in it
Drottningholm Palace – This was my second favorite part of the city. This IS included in the Stockholm Pass and it includes the tour of the theater and the Chinese Pavilion. Definitely plan for an entire afternoon or morning because you can wander around the house and the gardens for hours. It’s also a boat ride away, so check the times before you leave. I cannot recommend this enough.
The Stockholm Archipelago – we were lucky enough to have our Yacht Week skipper rent a boat and pick us up right in the heart of Stockholm and take us out for the day. We stopped at a couple of smaller vacation towns and grabbed ice cream and then we got to wakeboard and sun tan. Most of all we just got to check out the archipelago. It’s stunning and unique and most tourists don’t get to see it. If you can find a small group tour to see it, I’d highly recommend it.
What we Missed:
Everything else on the Stockholm Pass – there’s so much to do we ran out of time. From what I’ve heard, the ship museum is really cool.
Where we ate:
Bistro Bestik – we found this place on Trip Advisor. I would highly recommend making a reservation because it was busy and we got super lucky that they had an open table. It was popular with both locals and tourists. It’s not a big place and it’s a bit hidden down a side street, but the food was great and the servers were funny and friendly. I’d highly recommend the bread, the Swedish meatballs, and the flank steak.
Stockholms Gastabud - this restaurant is tucked away in the Old Town section of the city. It's pretty small and from what i remember they don't take reservations. That said, it was worth the wait. We got the reindeer appetizer because it's the local option so why not. It was unique - I'd definitely say give it a go. We also all enjoyed our dinners. I'd definitely recommend this place if you want somewhere good in Old Town (Gamla Stan)
Otherwise, we did a lot of quick food because we were always busy. There are plenty of options in the neighborhood around the Nobel Prize Museum/The royal palace. There’s also quite a few options in the shopping district near where our hotel was.
General Tips and Tricks:
Buy the Stockholm pass in advance.