Answers from Our Experts (2)
In my line of work, I often get asked ”what should we not miss while visiting Stockholm?”. This is actually a tougher question than it may seem as, in my opinion, there are lots of things one shouldn’t miss when in Stockholm! In the end it all comes down how much time you have, what time of the year you are visiting Stockholm and to your own personal interests. But if I was forced to whittle down my recommendations to a top 5 list of attractions, it would look something like this:
- Vasa Museum- This is one of the most impressive museums I have ever come across in my travels. So happy that it is in Stockholm! The museum is built around the royal warship Vasa, which sunk on her maiden voyage in 1628. It was found at the bottom of Stockholm harbour in the late 1950’s in almost perfect condition. Impressive, informative and unique!
- Fotografiska- Opened in 2010, this museum of photography (the largest in the world) has quickly become one of the top attractions in Stockholm. They have had some great exhibitions, including Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle and Robert Mapplethorpe. Their bistro on the top floor, with views of the harbour, is also a wonderful place for lunch or a glass of wine.
- Gamla Stan- The medieval heart of the city! While this area can be overrun with tourists, especially during the summer, it still has its charm with lots to see such as the Royal Palace and Nobel Museum. Otherwise you can walk the cobblestone streets and just soak up the history. A good place to shop for antiques, souvenirs and Swedish handicraft.
- ABBA The Museum- Opening on May 7th, 2013. Due to the high level of interest, I am going to go out on a limb and say that this will be one of the top 5 places to visit in Stockholm. It will actually be a large permanent exhibition within a larger museum called the Swedish Music Hall of Fame. Reports say that it will be high tech and very interactive.
- Summer- Stockholm has lots to offer visitors year-round, but really explodes in the summertime when it stays light long into the night. The Stockholm archipelago with its 30,000+ islands is a natural wonder and is fun to explore by boat, whether for a few hours or a few days. Stockholm has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites which are best seen at this time of the year… the Drottningholm Palace, the woodland cemetery Skogskyrkogården and the Viking settlement of Birka.
As you see, I still managed to squeeze in a few extra attractions in my top 5 list!
If time is short… When it comes to the ordinary must-see-places, these are the ones I really do recommend.
The Stockholm Castle is interesting, but this part is where they keep all the good stuff: like the original clothes in which kings Gustav IV Adolf, Karl XII and Gustav III were killed. The stories about them are also about when Sweden was a superpower and not as neutral as today, so if you want dramatic history, this is where you find it. Jetlag will not be a problem as it is too exciting, and the museum is not too big either. You will not have to stay here for hours and hours.
Stockholms museum of modern art has a magnificent collection and the shows are always exciting, but it is also worth a visit for the site itself. It is built on Skeppsholmen which is a small island opposite Gamla stan, and in itself perfect for a picnic or a visit to the museums popular but slightly hidden coffee shop, where you can look at sculptures by Picasso in the garden.
The Vasa Museum/Vasamuseet
The big warship sank on her maiden voyage in 1682, but apart from the design it looks as it happened yesterday. So of course it is spectacular, but that often also goes for the queues… Be here early.
For a look on how swedes used to live, or if you really want to see a moose. Skansen is an open air museum on Djurgården island, and also a zoo. It was established in 1891. Originally as a collection of historic houses from all over the country, but today it is a little bit of everything (mainly for the family). Aside from history and animals, there are carousels and other attractions for the kids. And on midsummer, a visit to Skansen is recommended for everyone who wants to participate in the traditional celebration.
Gamla stan (Old town)
For a long time Old town was mostly for tourists, but during the last five or six years something has happened. Today it is full of good cafés, some of the city's best restaurants and interesting shops. The medieval streets are very much alive, and if you want dramatic history you there's a lot of guided walks that are very interesting and entertaining.
It opened only a few years ago, and this huge center for photography became an overnight success. So far there have been shows by Annie Leibovitz, Robert Maplethorpe and David LaChappelle (among others), but there is always a few very interesting smaller ones going on at the same time. As Fotografiska is right by the water, in an old building by architect Ferdinand Boberg, its café has a tremendous view.