Exploring Stockholm in 48 hours

Stockholm
Riddarholmen island, Gamla Stan

If you follow my blog or just occasionally read my posts you know that I’m totally crazy about London. As it happened just three weeks before my 11th trip to London my husband and I spent a weekend in Stockholm, Sweden. Because I was creating my to-do list for my solo trip to London I didn’t really spend a lot of time on planning our Stockholm trip.  Also, I didn’t want to over-plan our stay since we literally had just a bit more than 48h to enjoy Stockholm. Our plane landed on Friday evening and we had our return flight on Monday morning (this April).

Sweden
on the way from the airport

On the drive from Skavsta airport to Stockholm we got to admire the Swedish landscape: forests and lakes and colourful wooden houses. The scenery resembled our drive from the airport to Oslo center two years ago. Our trip to Oslo influenced this trip because when I researched briefly Stockholm sights I found a lot of similar things/museums as in Oslo and I didn’t really want to do the same things twice (e.g we visited the Norwegian Folk museum in Oslo so I didn’t see the point in visiting a similar museum in Stockholm).

Stockholm
this doesn’t look like Stockholm but it is

On Saturday morning we had a big breakfast so that we could explore Stockholm on foot. The sun was shining and the temperature was around 6°C. We walked straight to the Central metro station and then turned left towards the Kungstradgarden which was in full bloom. I decided to follow more or less the suggested walk from a Lonely Planet guidebook to explore the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and a few other islands. We passed by a nice church and reached the water.

Stockholm is built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. So, yes any comparison with Amsterdam or Venice is valid. I was confused all  the time whether I was standing by the lake or the sea or the river because Stockholm was founded at Lake Mälaren’s freshwater outflow to the Baltic Sea. Stockholm is an old city. Its beginnings date from the 13 century when Birger Jarl, the city’s official founder built a castle. The name of the city Stockholm could be translated as a tree-trunk islet. My main focus was to wander around the Old Town (Gamla Stan) spanning over several small islands.

We took a couple of photos of the Royal Palace across the water from the Gustav Adolfs torg (square) where you can find the Opera house. My dad is a musician so I like to take pictures of operas on my trips too. When I was a kid I liked to go through my mum’s postcards box and look at the postcards my dad sent from his concert tours from Italy, Luxembourg, Germany, etc. He was never in Sweden though.

opera house
the Royal Palace behind my husband
the Royal Palace behind my husband

My husband and I crossed the Norrbro bridge and took pictures of Riksdag (the Parliament house). We were on the tiny Helgeandsholmen island which together with Stadsholmen and with Riddarholmen forms the Old Town (Gamla Stan) of Stockholm. The name Gamla Stan can also refer just to Stadsholmen island where you can find the Royal Palace. It was around 10 am and most of the streets were almost empty. There were pricey souvenir shops but I couldn’t resist going in and having a look at the unnecessary mugs, glasses, coasters, t-shirts and the rest which I always end up buying.

The houses in the narrow streets on our way from the Parliament to the Cathedral were colourful and tall but narrow and they reminded me a bit of the houses I saw in Bruges. We entered the Cathedral (Storkrykan) from the 14th century. It is the oldest building in Stockholm. I was surprised to see a giant sculpture of St.George killing the dragon inside the cathedral. I didn’t know that he was an important saint for Swedish people too. I always just associate St.George with England. The organ music filled the air while we were looking around the warm cathedral. The churches are usually quite cold inside but every church we entered in Stockholm was warm.

Stockholm
the parliament building

the bridge through the parliament building

the City Hall behind us
the City Hall behind us
the cathedral
the cathedral

From the cathedral we walked down towards the square Stortorget which is the most photographed place in the whole Old Town. Unfortunately, there was a delivery truck so I struggled to get a decent photo of this charming square. The houses at the square look like they came alive from a page of a story book. The Nobel museum is too at this charming square which has a tragic history since the big bloodbath of 1520 took place there. We returned to Stortorget the next day to see it in the night. It was almost magical. Our next stop was another interesting square called Kopmantorget. There is a statue of St George and the dragon again.

At this point my husband went down to the water to see the navy boat while I strolled back and forth for a while and discovered narrow dark alleys and numerous cute historical houses. I also saw a restaurant called Unter Kestenjen whose name I could understand well because it resembled a lot the same Croatian word (under the chestnut):). I literally found it hard to keep my mouth shut while wandering around the Old Town (Gamla Stan) from all the aaaa and uuu at the beauty surrounding me. Wherever I looked I saw adorable pastel coloured historical houses.

Gamla Stan, Stockholm
Stortorget
the Nobel museum is here
the Nobel museum is here
Stockholm
Kopmantorget

the chestnut and the restaurant
the chestnut and the restaurant

When my husband returned we continued walking down to Jarntorget square where I saw a cake shop Sundbergs ( I didn’t go in but don’t you worry I returned there the next day). We soon stumbled upon the narrowest street called Marten Trotzigs Grand. That’s a funny name for a narrow street. At this point we were already in a shopping street Vasterlanggatan and came across more people than we saw so far walking around Gamla Stan. Suddenly I saw familiar letters and discovered the Viking restaurant. I didn’t care how touristy it might be I had to go there (my husband was even more excited than me). It was closed so we decided to return there for the dinner. Then he saw a games shop and his heart probably skipped a beat. You see, my husband is seriously into board games.  The shop SF Bokhandeln AB was quite big and had books and Harry Potter wands too not just the board games.  

Viking restaurant

It was almost 12 o’clock so we hurried back to the Royal Palace to see the changing of the guard at 12.15 pm ( on Saturday, it’s at 1.15 pm on Sunday). We passed by a funny looking urinal. I remember seeing a few of those in Brussels too but this one looked nicer. There were already a lot of people at the palace’s entrance so we found a spot and waited to see the changing of the guard. There was music (a brass band) and soldiers doing their routine. I found it a bit boring. And the rain started even though it was sunny and warm until then. The weather changes quickly in Stockholm, I came to realize.

Long time ago Sweden was a part of a union with Norway and Denmark. In the sixteenth century the Swedish nobility broke ties with the union and the modern-day Sweden was born. The first independent Swedish king was Gustav Eriksson Vasa. If you are more interested in the Swedish royal family you might want to visit the Royal Palace apartments but I didn’t really want to pay for the entrance so we just saw the changing of the guard and took photos of the palace’s exterior.

After the short ceremony we went to the free Royal Armoury Museum in the royal palace’s dark cellar. Everything was written in Swedish in the museum. But I saw interesting royal coaches, armour, weapons, crowns, royal clothes and even some dead kings. It’s a good museum and it’s free which is always a bonus.

Across the museum I saw a Finnish church and we also passed by a German church on our way back to Vasterlanggatan street where we stopped our sightseeing before to see the changing of the guard. We continued walking down Vasterlanggatan until we reached a zebra crossing that leads to another small island-Riddarholmen. It’s smaller than Stadsholmen where we wandered all morning and it looked deserted. You’ll find a big church Riddarholmskyrkan on this island and a number of private palaces from the 17th century. The islet boasts an excellent panoramic view of the bay Riddarfjärden with Stockholm City Hall in the background. I wished we had more time to thoroughly explore the Knights’ islet since we just walked passed the church to the shore to see the red City Hall.

Stockholm
Riddarholmen island

the City Hall
the City Hall

I loved the red brick building of the City Hall in Oslo and this one in Stockholm was even more spectacular. It was across the bay so we walked on and crossed the bridge to come to another island- Kungsholmen. I saw an ad for the Eurovision contest. Since it was Saturday we saw several wedding parties in the City Hall’s courtyard. You can visit the City Hall on a guided tour but we came too late. The annual Nobel Prize ceremony is held there too. We strolled by the lake and saw interesting old boats and some modern apartment buildings that resembled the historical houses of Gamla Stan.

When I travel somewhere I tend to walk for hours and hours without a proper rest because I don’t want to waste the precious little time I have in a city. We only had 48h to see everything we wanted in Stockholm so we returned to Gamla Stan from the City Hall the other way round to look for the Medieval Museum which is supposedly under a bridge near the Parliament building. We came back to the Opera square and saw the sign for the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities. We decided to go in there and ask for the directions for the Medieval museum. While we were there already and since it was free we checked out the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities too. It’s got a large Egyptian collection and impressive artifacts from Cyprus. There’s even a cool looking café upstairs. We didn’t spend a lot of time in this museum because it was already approaching 5 pm when the museums close and we still haven’t done the Medieval museum which was on our wish list.

Stockholm

Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities

We found the Medieval Museum under the Norrbro bridge which we actually crossed in the morning. This museum is free and it is one of the most interesting museums I’ve ever been to. It focuses on the people and their everyday life in the medieval times. You can also find inside the museum Stockholm’s city wall from about 1520 preserved as a fixed ancient remnant 55 meters long. The museum is totally family friendly. Even though it doesn’t have a lot of interactive stuff it’s quite fun because you can enter a reconstruction of a pub, a farm or a church from the yesteryear. It’s definitely not one of those dreary museums where you just see a lot of exhibits in glass cabinets with boring descriptions on cards. Plus everything is in English and in Swedish!

the old city wall
the old city wall

IMG_0508

It was finally time for dinner so we retraced our steps back to the Viking restaurant eagerly awaiting a true Viking feast. Alas the whole place was booked and it wasn’t opened on Sunday either so we left Stockholm without eating in a theme restaurant. I was starving since we haven’t eaten much from breakfast apart from muesli bars and chocolate so I wasn’t too picky to find a place to eat. I wanted something Swedish and I didn’t care much about the price. A lot of places were booked so we ended up in a restaurant called Magnus Ladulas which is one of the old town’s core taverns according to their business card. We didn’t actually get a table in the wine cellar part of the restaurant because it was full but we got one in the bar area.

My husband ordered Swedish meatballs and beer while I had some chicken in a tasty sauce accompanied by wine and followed by an ice-cream for both of us. It was a good meal but it wasn’t the best especially when you take the price into account. Moreover, it was probably one of the most expensive dinners I ever had and it wasn’t a Michelin starred restaurant. However, we were hungry and we were in Stockholm on a Saturday night so we couldn’t really choose if we wanted to eat in a Swedish place that wasn’t fully booked.

After the dinner we walked back to our hotel. This time we crossed the bridge that separates two parts of the parliament building when we left Gamla Stan and proceeded down the main shopping street of Drottninggatan towards the Central station. By the time we reached our hotel it was already around 9 pm so we went to sleep. No partying in expensive Stockholm. To be honest those years are far behind me.

Nowadays when I travel I enjoy exploring as much as I can during the day and then I  have a dinner or perhaps go out for drinks later. But I was kind of disappointed that we stayed at the hotel for two nights in a row (the first night we just arrived and were too tired to wander around our neighbourhod) so I told my husband that we have to go out for drinks tomorrow night on our final night in Stockholm. What about you? Do you enjoy the night life when you travel?

Stockholm

Have you been to Stockholm? Did you find Gamla Stan to be as beautiful as I did?

Share if you liked this post

Follow my travels Facebook / Twitter / Bloglovin’ / Google+

ps. Did you check my post on Vasa  museum in Stockholm?

This post is also available for offline reading and free download as a travel article app. If you choose to upgrade (to get GPS navigation) I’ll receive a small commission. Thank You! To get the app click here

 

78 thoughts on “Exploring Stockholm in 48 hours

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday Photo: Stockholm 2016 – the Red Phone Box travels

  2. Pingback: My 2 year of travel blogging+giveaway – the Red Phone Box travels

  3. Pingback: Travel as a menu #travellinkup – the Red Phone Box travels

  4. Pingback: 12 months, 12 photos – the Red Phone Box travels

  5. Pingback: Exploring Stockholm in 48 hours (part II) – the Red Phone Box travels

  6. Pingback: Snapshots from Stockholm (April 2016) – the Red Phone Box travels

  7. Pingback: What are my greatest adventures? – the Red Phone Box travels

  8. Pingback: I dream of…..travelling! – the Red Phone Box travels

  9. Pingback: What has travel taught me?(#TravelLinkup) – the Red Phone Box travels

  10. Pingback: Vasa Museum, Stockholm – the Red Phone Box travels

  11. Pingback: How do YOU stay SAFE when you TRAVEL? – the Red Phone Box travels

  12. Wander Mum

    We are going to Stockholm later this summer so this will come in very handy! I’m getting very excited! It reminds me a bit of Copenhagen with its colourful buildings and waterways. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Exploring Stockholm in 48 hours (part II) – the Red Phone Box travels

  14. Pingback: Unexpected places (June Travel Link Up) – the Red Phone Box travels

  15. The cherry blossoms are lovely! I’ve been to Stockholm but only for a day and I’m sad to say I don’t remember much from it. I love the Nordic countries though so any excuse to go back…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a wonderful weekend in Stockholm. Lots of sights for me to refer to as we plan our trip there next year. Experiencing nightlife is a thing of my travel past now we have kids but I used to party quite hard! Remembering some great nights out in Santorini and Lisbon now. Thanks Tanja!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The Medieval Museum sounds really interesting, as does the Viking restaurant! Is it just me, or does the Viking alphabet look a lot like runes Tolkien’s Elvish runes? Pity you didn’t get to eat there, though! Stockholm sounds like an expensive place in general so it’s great that you got to do and see so much for free.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I thought too that the Viking runes looked a lot like Tolkien’s letters!Sadly we didn’t get the chance to eat there. Stockholm is expensive but beautiful:)

      Like

    1. it was 48h and yet everything that was written in this post actually happened in one day!:) the rest is to come soon:) I’ve already written about visiting the Vasa museum (we did that on the second day) but we did other things too:)

      Like

  18. I spent about the same amount of time in Stockholm. I thought it was one of the cleanest and most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The leaves were changing (it was late October), and it was one of my favorite fall experiences ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sounds like you got more than you thought you would in Stockholm, which is always a nice surprise. Great architecture from the opera and cathedral! I loved the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities the best, it looks like it has an abundance of historical artifacts I would love explore. Thanks for sharing your findings!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. aandj8804

    I’ve never been to Stockholm, but I’m hoping to go some time in the future. It looks like you did a lot in 48 hours. Gotta admit though, I’m not sure if it was the lighting or what, but that stagecoach looked kind of creepy. For a minute I almost wondered if it had been salvaged from the Titanic or something. Not the royal look you see in Disney movies. 🙂

    I think the last picture you shared is my favorite. Those clouds! The bridge is lovely too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Miriam @londonkitchendiaries

    So lovely to read about your trip to Stockholm. I have been many years ago – would love to visit again! The picture of Kungstradgarden with all the cherry blossoms looks absolutely stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s