Sweden

My City Guide: Stockholm in 48 Hours

This year, my Dad got married in Germany and so we decided to really make the most of our time abroad with a multi-city trip by train. As a result, we ended up touring one of the most beautifully rural places in the world: Scandinavia. 

After stretching our legs and testing the water in Copenhagen – you can get my Copenhagen city guide here – our journey continued into Stockholm. Travelling by train through Scandinavia is perhaps one of the easiest and cost-effective travel experiences I’ve ever had. Copenhagen to Stockholm was fairly straightforward and consisted of a train to Copenhagen airport, a train to Malmö where passports were checked, and then a straight train to Stockholm itself. It’s quite a long journey, with about 6 hours of travelling in total, but the trains were pretty comfortable – as comfortable as trains can be – with free Wi-Fi and an onboard café – their toilets weren’t too bad either. 

When we finally got to Stockholm, the sunny weather we’d experienced in Copenhagen had deserted us and the heavens poured. It took us almost an hour to get to the hotel in between stopping outside every shopfront in the hope that the rain would let up. And then when it didn’t, we made a mad dash for it. 

Considering we were working to a budget, the hotel was fairly basic and a little out of the way, but then Stockholm is spread out over 14 islands, so there’s no surprise there.

Connect City Hotel

We stayed in Kungsholmen at the Connect City Hotel. And as much as the hotel was very nice and clean, we’d made the mistake of keeping it super basic and had opted for an inside room to keep costs low – overall it worked out at about £50 per night. This was all well and good until we realised there weren’t any windows.  

For most hotels, this likely isn’t going to be too much of an issue, but the decor really didn’t help and it just felt like we were underground.

Once we’d recovered from the downpour, showered and changed, we were ready to go again and ventured out for a stroll to see what was in the nearby area. Instead of walking back towards the train station, we decided to head in the general direction of the Stockholm Hard Rock Café. 

Exploring Stockholm

The most beautiful part of Stockholm is all the water. There’s water everywhere.

We crossed over the Barnhusviken, down Sankt-Eriksgatan and on to Odengatan. Instead of just stopping for cocktails – I was pretty hungry – we decided to eat at the Hard Rock Café and loved their Blackened Chicken Pasta. 

Once overstuffed with food, and having purchased the obligatory Hard Rock t-shirt, we walked on to Sveavägen – past the library – and made our way towards Stockholm’s major pedestrian street, Drottninggatan. If you’re to go anywhere, this is where you need to be. It has everything; cafes, restaurants, shops, boutiques and is pretty much the central hub for the underground lines too. 

By now we’d come almost full circle and we’re back near the train station so we took the opportunity to check out the City Hall and what an amazing building that was. You can walk right down to the water’s edge and see right across the Riddarfjärden. The sun was just setting and the view was stunning. 

Visiting Gamla Stan

The next day we started bright and early with the intention of visiting Gamla Stan; the Old Town of Stockholm. After realising just how away everything is, we took the plunge and decided to buy a ticket for the underground. 

The travel cards come in 3 time zones: 24 hours, 72 hours and 7 days. We were only there for 2 days, and we weren’t sure if we would need a second day’s ticket so opted for the 24-hour one which cost 115 SEK. The best part though was that these tickets were valid for all types of transport; trains, buses, trams and boats within the city which is actually pretty good value. 

Be aware there’s an additional 20 SEK charge because the cards are made of plastic – a great incentive to encourage Swedes to re-use them but not too great for tourists as there was no way for us to return the card at the end of our stay. In the end, we donated them to the reception of our hotel in the hope that they would be passed on to someone else.

Armed with our travel cards, it was time to explore Gamla Stan. The tube system was relatively straight forward and almost identical to how the London Underground operates so it was pretty easy for us to get around.

If you’re looking to visit Stockholm and you’re not sure what to do, I would highly recommend taking a walk through Gamla Stan. Not only is it a beautiful and quaint part of the city, but there’s also quite a lot to see and do, including; visiting the Royal Palace and the Nobel Prize Museum. Plus there’s loads of little cafes and eateries you can stop at.

We paid a quick visit to the Nobel Prize Museum but it was being refurbished so there wasn’t as much to see or do as there would be normally. It was a little disappointing but even if you don’t go in, Stortorget – the iconic public square – is definitely worth a visit, with some of the most amazing and colourful buildings in the city. 

Museum of Swedish Cultural History

After wandering around Gamla Stan for the majority of the morning, we hopped back on the tube and headed towards Kungsträdgården where we exchanged the underground for a tram and made our way to the Vasa Museum. The tram dropped us off on Djurgårdsvägen, right in front of the Museum of Swedish Cultural History which was one impressive building.  

The Vasa Museum was only a short walk from there and on the way, we decided to stop at Josefina’s for lunch. A great little spot that overlooks the water and, when it’s nice and sunny, has a great outdoor space.

Vasa Museum

Have you ever seen a Viking warship before?

I hadn’t, and so our trip to the Vasa Museum was highly anticipated. Make sure you take a jumper; the actual museum is pretty chilly to help preserve the ship.

The size of the ship was almost mind-blowing. It’s not something I’d ever thought about before, but when we were there, it was simply overwhelming.

There were five different floors you could visit, each one littered with knowledge, history and artefacts from the ship – including the bones of some sunken sailors. All the while, you’re walking round the immense bulk and amazingly restored wooden warship. It was 130 SEK well spent. 

Phil’s Burger – a must-visit Stockholm eatery

Our meal out that night was at the highly recommended Phil’s Burger. It was almost like the Swedish version of Five Guys but decorated with more of a restaurant feel in mind. As the name might suggest, the menu was mainly burgers and pretty good burgers at that. Well-priced and juicy (without being greasy) these burgers were some of the best I’ve ever had

Shopping in Stockholm

Our final day in Stockholm was a little more relaxed and so we decided to have a browse through the many malls. 

MOOD is one of the latest additions to the shopping suburbs and can be found at Regeringsgatan 48. Inside was more like Alice’s Wonderland than a shopping centre with fake foliage and a whimsical theme, and each hallway has been labelled with one of the famous streets from London.

We stopped at a nearby Espresso House to refuel and plan the rest of our day. Equivalent to a Starbucks, there was an Espresso House on almost every street corner. The coffee was pretty good and the fresh cakes and pastries weren’t bad either. In fact, the Espresso House chain quickly became one of our favourite places to swing by. 

I soon discovered Sweden’s largest bookshop, Akademibokhandeln on Mäster Samuelsgatan, was only round the corner. Thanks to Scandinavia’s fluency in the English language, there was a section dedicated to English literature and so I was able to pick up The Blinded Man by Swedish author Arne Dahl in English. 

From the bookshop, we walked down Regeringsgatan and along Hamngatan and found ourselves back at Kungsträdgården where we enjoyed some people watching.

From Kungsträdgården it’s just a short walk over the bridge to Gamla where we sat and enjoyed an amazing pizza from Rodolfino on Stora Nygatan. 

The rest of our afternoon was spent browsing up and down Drottninggatan – including paying a visit to Ordning & Reda, a cute little stationery shop. We also paid a visit to Café Belmondo for some very expensive cake and coffee. 

Exhausted from all the food, the walking and the prospect of moving on to the next city, our evening was spent in O’Leary’s sports bar opposite our hotel for surprisingly good food and entertainment. 

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