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Travel Guide: Stockholm, Sweden

September 17, 2018

Stockholm is a beautiful old-world city spanning 14 islands, where the lake meets the sea. Here are a few things you need to see, do and experience if you're planning a trip to Sweden's capital!

I recently spent two weeks touring Sweden and Denmark. We discovered our Swedish heritage (and 75 new family members) thanks to an Ancestry DNA kit that was a gift from my daughter, Kelsey, two Christmases ago.

Our Swedish relatives gather for a reunion at a camp in the middle of Sweden every other year, and this year my son Matt and I, along with 11 other relatives from the States, joined them.

In addition to spending “family” time, we spent 10 more days exploring as much of Sweden and Denmark as possible. Stockholm was our first stop on the journey.

Stockholm is a beautiful old-world city built on fourteen islands, where the lake meets the sea with eight centuries of history to peruse. The archipelago with its 30,000 islands defines Stockholm and wherever you look is water and iconic red cottages in the country side. The water is quite clean for both swimming and fishing. There are many green spaces in Stockholm, the air is fresh and you are never far from nature even in the heart of the city.

The city is compact and easy to walk. It has a castle and a medieval 13th century town, Gamla Stan. It is a city open for everyone… holistic, clean, natural, down-to-earth and welcoming. During the summer, the days are long with up to 20 hours of daylight!

Studio Brunstrum-Chicago-Interior Design-stockholm-travel-guide

While we were in the city, we also took a boat trip to the nearby island of Vaxholm, which is a popular seaside resort for many. Vaxholm is the capital of Stockholm’s Archipelago, and is populated with lovely cottages and homes with towers and porches, many of which are only accessible by private boat.

Where to Stay:

  • At Six – An old bank transformed into a new contemporary hotel with lots of art curated by Sune Nordgren and fabulous panoramic views of the city.

Where to Eat:

  • Osterlanggatan 17 in Gamla Stan
  • Weldholms Fisk
  • Flying Elk
  • Cocktails at the Royal Opera
  • Coffee in the King’s Garden, lined with lime trees.
  • Vaxholm Café and Bageri – We were seated outside, right on the water, watching little kids swimming! We ate dessert first as there was an irresistible table of sumptuous cakes and pastries.

What to Do:

  • Tour the island of Gamla Stan and The Royal Palace to see the changing of the guard.
  • Take a historical canal tour.
  • Take an Archipelago boat ride to and from the island of Vaxholm.
  • Tour the Citadel on Vaxholm and walk the island. The Citadel is a fortress built in 1548 on the initiative of King Gustav Vasa to protect Stockholm from attack. In the 1800’s it was a society of military soldiers, families, maids and prisoners and was instrumental in Stockholm never being conquered.
  • Visit ABBA, the Museum for an inside look at the music, costumes and records of Sweden’s most famous and influential pop band. I even sang… as the fifth member of the band! Not good…
  • Wander through the Museum of Modern Art. We saw an exhibition of 28 Swedish projects entitled “Public Luxury” that tell the story of how architecture and design articulate our common values and conflicts in today’s world.
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