Stockholm, Sweden’s capital and largest city, sits across 14 islands in an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. Known as the “Venice of the North,” its cobbled streets, ochre-colored buildings and medieval street layout make this one of Scandinavia’s most beautiful cities.
Visiting Stockholm is an incredibly rewarding experience, especially in summer when the weather is sunny and warm. The Swedish capital also plays host to many cultural institutions.
The Old Town
Gamla Stan, or the Old Town of Stockholm, is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved medieval city centers. This charming labyrinth of cobbled streets, faded mustard and rust-coloured townhouses and meeting squares is a must-see for anyone visiting the Swedish capital.
Among the most popular attractions in Old Town is Stortorget, which is often referred to as the “Great Square.” This is where you’ll find many of the best-known buildings, including the Royal Palace and the Church of St. Nicholas.
Another must-see is Branda tomten, a pretty, shady square with ivy-clad facades. It’s a great place to people-watch and has lots of quaint restaurants around it.
The Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum, located on Djurgarden island, is one of the city’s most popular attractions. It is a meeting point for Sweden’s history and an essential part of Stockholm’s tourism industry.
The museum features the world’s best-preserved 17th-century warship, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged from under the sea. The ship is now home to a collection of artefacts that encapsulate 17th-century naval warfare and on-board life, including an entire seamen’s chest, racks of pewter-ware stamped with their owner’s marks and carpentry tools.
Visitors are treated to 11 interesting exhibitions around the ship, plus a 17-minute film about its construction, sinking and recovery operation. The museum has been named among TripAdvisor’s top 25 museums in the world and it is a must-see for anyone in Stockholm.
High on a hill overlooking the harbour is Millesgarden, a sculpture garden built by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles. The idiosyncratic garden blends Nordic, southern European and Alpine elements.
Millesgarden is a must-see in Stockholm. It consists of three main parts: the artist home, an art gallery and a sculpture park.
It is located on an island called Lidingo, about 20 minutes from the city center. The museum and sculpture garden are open year-round.
The renowned artist home and antique collection is complemented by a vast sculpture garden with meandering pathways, terraces and fountains. Many of the sculptures feature mythological figures or take the water or sky as their subject.
The Royal Palace
Stockholm’s imposing Royal Palace is home to the Swedish crown and its royal family. It also houses the country’s central government offices and courts of appeal.
Built by master architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, the regal building was completed in 1754. Its baroque style was inspired by the Palace of Versailles in France and was a departure from the classical motifs that defined European courtly etiquette at the time.
Most of the palace’s interiors were modelled after French prototypes, and many rooms boast ceiling paintings displaying scenes from Sweden’s kings’ wars and triumphs. Those in the King’s Gallery, the state bedchamber and the audience room, which was designed by Jacques Fouquet, depicted the monarch’s military exploits in full allegorical splendour.
The Gamla Stan Mural
If you are traveling to Stockholm for the first time, then a visit to Gamla Stan (The Old Town) should be high on your list of things to do. It is a historical district that was established in the 13th century, and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic (17th- and 18th-century) colorful architecture.
This area of the city abounds with historic and traditional restaurants, cafes, and shops. It is a quiet, charming, and historic district where locals still sit outside to enjoy the sunshine while they talk to their neighbors.
Located in the heart of Gamla Stan is Storkyrkan, the oldest church in Sweden. It was built in 1270 and expanded multiple times over the centuries. During the Renaissance and Gothic periods it was remodeled and embellished. The cathedral also houses a large number of works of art from various periods.