I recently returned from spending 3 days in Stockholm where I absolutely fell in love with the city. It was my first time visiting Sweden and within a few hours of my plane landing, I was already head over heels for Stockholm. This charming city is absolutely beautiful, very pedestrian-friendly and has so much to see and do. Yes, it’s expensive. But it’s worth it!
Check out my perfect itinerary for 3 days in Stockholm below so you can fall in love with the city just like I did! And be sure to read the 7 things you need to know before you visit Stockholm.
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Day 1 in Stockholm
Start your first day in Stockholm with the popular Swedish traditon of fika. Fika is a Swedish coffee break, kind of like their afternoon tea, but it’s about more than just running out to Starbucks. Fika is taking the time to sit in a cute and cozy coffeeshop with a delicious drink and sweet pastry. It’s about savouring the moment and enjoying every last bite (and drip!). What better way to start your 3 days in Stockholm than with a morning fika just like the locals?
Subway art tour
After you’ve fueled up on coffee and pastry, it’s time to head underground. Did you know that Stockholm is home to the world’s longest art gallery? And that’s because it spans the length of their 100 metro stations. Artists have been commissioned to turn over 90 of the metro stations into beautiful works of art.
I suggest doing a self-guided tour of the subway art following an online guide during off-peak hours. Trust me, you don’t want to be squeezing in with the masses during rush hour. The city does run free art walks, but I wouldn’t suggest them. I went on one while I was in Stockholm and did not enjoy myself. With the noise from the subways and commuters (the tour was at 3:00 PM), it was impossible to hear the guide. Plus, I found the history and stories a bit dry, and the plan to hit only three stations in an hour very slow. So partway through, I ditched the guide and did my own subway art tour.
You can buy a ticket for 75 minutes and easily hit a bunch of great stations following a self-guided itinerary. I’d suggest jumping on the train around 11:00 AM, after morning rush-hour.
Lunch at Kungshallen
For lunch, head to Kungshallen, one of the coolest food halls in Stockholm. Here you’ll find a number of restaurants and a food court, serving diverse cuisines from local Swedish food to sushi and Mexican tacos. I headed to the sushi place (what can I say? I miss Vancouver!) and really enjoyed a bimbimbap rice bowl.
Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s old town and one of the coolest parts of the city. My favourite thing about Gamla Stan is that while the main road through was packed with tourists and souvenir shops, you could veer off onto any of the side streets and have the entire road to yourself. I loved wandering through the cobblestones and cute houses – it felt like walking through a medieval fairytale!
Spend the rest of your afternoon wandering through Gamla Stan, admiring the houses, popping into the shops and visiting some of the churches and old buildings. If you prefer to go on a guided walk with more information and history, check out this Old Town Walking Tour.
Stockholm has lots of great food options and many are conveniently located near Gamla Stan. If you want traditional Swedish fare and a fancy dinner out, try Frantzen. For something a little less fancy, but very cool and modern, try out Haektet. And there’s also a well-loved Italian restaurant that locals flock to, Taverna Brillo.
Day 2 in Stockholm
The Royal Palace
Stockholm’s Royal Palace, or Kungliga slotten, is where you’ll start the second of your 3 days in Stockholm. I suggest heading here in the morning since it’s one of Stockholm’s more popular tourist attractions. However, there’s no need to set an early alarm; I rocked up mid-morning in the busy summer season and still had full rooms all to myself.
You can buy a ticket through any of the entrances (or get the Stockholm Pass and save money – more on this below!) and visit a number of different areas like the treasury and the royal apartments. At each area, someone will ask to see your ticket and tick off the box for that area. Since you’re shelling out about $25 CAD for a ticket, make sure you do visit all of the areas.
My favourite part of the Royal Palace was definitely the apartments. There are lots of rooms to visit and I was often able to have entire rooms to myself as the palace wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be. There are signs with information, as well as an audio tour through part of the apartments.
The palace also has a cute little courtyard with a nice outdoor cafe, and you can watch the changing of the guard from there.
After your big morning at the palace, you can grab a casual lunch nearby. As mentioned, the Royal Palace has a cute cafe in the outer courtyard with some nice lunch options. You could also try Indian Street Food, a food truck turned multi-location restaurant chain, that is a favourite in Stockholm.
Shopping or the park
Even if you only have a few days in a city, I think it’s important to do some more low-key activities. And especially when you’re in a city as cool as Stockholm, it’s nice to spend some time just getting to know the city. So for this afternoon, treat yourself to some awesome Swedish shopping or relax in a beautiful park.
Gamla Brogatan is one of the main pedestrian shopping streets in Stockholm and close to the central bus/train station. Start there, and then head to Stockholm’s other shopping streets. Hopefully you’ve got a big wallet because while the clothing and designs are beautiful, they’re not cheap!
If you’d prefer to spend the afternoon relaxing at a park, check out Kungsträdgården. There’s a beautiful fountain, a field, lots of restaurants, a stage where concerts are held and even an ice rink in the winter! It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the city.
Dinner at Meatballs for the People
One of my favourite meals in Stockholm was dinner at Meatballs for the People. I have never been a big meatball fan until getting to Stockholm. They know how to do them right! And Meatballs for the People might be the prime example of that.
They open at 5:00 PM for dinner, and there was already a line when I arrived just before five. So I would advise coming early if you want to secure a seat. I got the classic Swedish Meatballs dish, complete with gravy, potato puree, ligonberries and pickled cucumbers. It was delicious! There’s also a sampler plate where you can try their different types of meatballs, and they have veggie options.
Hopefully you saved some energy, because there’s one more stop on your second day in Stockholm. After an early dinner at Meatballs for the People, head over to Fotografiska, my favourite museum.
I’m not a museum or art gallery person, but I was totally wowed by Fotografiska, Stockholm’s photography museum. I absolutely loved the exhibits and found that there was lots to discover but not so much that you’re overwhelmed. The exhibits change often, so I’d love to go back and see what else is displayed. While I was there in August, the exhibits included war photography, celebrity portraits, modern art and an exhibit on plastic in the ocean.
The reason I suggest heading to Fotografiska after dinner is because not only does this place have amazing photo exhibits, it also has a great second floor cafe with a beautiful view. Time your visit so you can enjoy dessert in the cafe during sunset – you will not be disappointed. They also have a lounge and DJ area, plus the museum is open until midnight, so I suspect it could be very fun to stay late.
Sold? Grab your ticket to Fotografiska here! (It’s valid all day, so you can go anytime.)
Day 3 in Stockholm
Sadly, it’s your last of 3 days in Stockholm. Since this is your final morning in Stockholm, you have to cap it off with a final fika. Soak up the Swedish vibes as you start your morning with a delicious pastry and coffee.
After breakfast, head off to the Vasa Museum, where you’ll find the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged. It’s the museum with the viking ship!
As soon as you enter, you’ll be immediately met with the giant ship. It can be overwhelming. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the Vasa Museum when I first arrived. Walking in, all I could see was this huge boat and a swarm of people around it. The lighting is quite dim, and my eyesight isn’t great so I was a little disoriented and didn’t even want to stay. But I pushed through, and I’m very glad I did.
I would suggest joining one of the introductory tours so you can learn more about the history of the Vasa ship and Swedish maritime history. The tours are free, last 60 minutes and seem to leave every hour. After the tour, you’re free to explore the rest of the museum. While it’s all built around this one boat, it’s impressive how much they’ve been able to bring into the museum. There are interactive sections, 3D maps, artifacts like canons and clothing from the 17th century, and even full-scale rooms to walk through.
It’s a great family friendly museum and there’s lots to discover. And even if you’re not a huge museum fan or maritime nut (I’m neither), I think you’ll still enjoy it.
Lunch in the garden
After spending the morning inside a museum (and a dimly lit one, at that!) get outside for a lovely lunch in the garden. I had lunch at nearby Villa Godthem, and it was a great. A tad on the expensive side, but the food and beautiful atmosphere more than made up for it. There’s also the well known Rosendals Trädgard, a local favourite where meals are crafted around local produce. And you can eat in the greenhouse!
Boat cruise or another museum
In the afternoon, you can either take to the water or hit another museum. Stockholm is in the middle of an archipelago, which you likely realized as you criss-crossed over bridges and through islands around the city. If you have more than 3 days in Stockholm, you can get on one of the larger ferry ships and visit some of the islands a few hours away from Stockholm. I didn’t get a chance to do this when I was in Stockholm, but I’ve heard great things.
But if you only have an afternoon, you can hop on one of the local archipelago cruises that sails around the harbour. Or, if you prefer something more active, why not kayak around Stockholm yourself? What a great way to see the city – from the water!
If the water isn’t for you, you can spend your final afternoon at one of Stockholm’s other amazing museums. Even for me, not a museum person, I was tempted to visit quite a few of these. There’s the ABBA Museum, which is supposed to be a lot of fun and very interactive (though it’s expensive for a museum, so you better have Money, Money, Money). There’s Skansen, a large open-air museum and zoo that is very family-friendly. And there’s the Nobel Prize Museum, where you can learn about the founder, Stockholm native Alfred Nobel, and past winners.
Fancy final dinner
Since your 3 days in Stockholm is coming to an end, this is the perfect time to treat yourself to some fine dining in Stockholm. Fancy favourites include Agrikultur, Gastrologik and Lilla Ego.
Where to stay in Stockholm
If you’re on a budget, I would recommend staying at the Birka Hostel. I stayed here during my 3 days in Stockholm and would highly recommend it. This hotel is perfectly located – it’s right in the middle between the Central Station and Gamla Stan – about a 15 minute walk to both. It’s on a side street, so nice and quiet, but right off a main road with lots of shops and restaurants. It’s also right next to a metro station!
The hostel is very clean and very reasonably priced. I was able to stay in a single room with my own bathroom (toilet and sink; private shower room was shared in the hallway) for abut $60 CAD per night. Comparatively, other hostels had rooms in 4-6 bed dorms for $50, so it was a no-brainer for me to pay $10 more for a private room!
The room itself was very clean and actually more spacious than I thought it would be. The staff were great and the shower actually had better water pressure than my shower at home. My only complaint? The wifi signal was very weak in my room. I was on the 3rd floor in the corner, so I’m not sure if that was part of the problem. But I would still recommend Birka Hostel for its price, location and room!
Tips for 3 days in Stockholm
- If you’re planning to visit a few museums, the Royal Palace and/or take a boat tour, look into the Stockholm Pass. This pass grants you entry to 60+ attractions and includes a boat tour and hop-on hop-off bus for only $70 USD. PS: It’s even cheaper if you buy a multi-day pass ($100 for two days, $120 for three days, etc.). The Stockholm Pass includes entrance to the Royal Palace, Fotografiska, Vasa Museum, Nobel Prize Museum, Skansen plus tons of other attractions and boat tours. Grab your Stockholm Pass here!
- Stockholm is a very pedestrian friendly city. There are lots of pedestrian only streets (usually marked with a lion statue barricade) and tons of squares and streets with great shopping and restaurant options. Enjoy walking this beautiful city!
- And when you tire of walking (which can happen with all of the hills), hop on Stockholm’s excellent public transit. Buses, trams and the metro are all very efficient. And you’ll definitely want to check out the awesome subway art!
- In addition to great architecture, there are also a lot of beautiful green spaces in Stockholm. Check out some of these beautiful parks and gardens, as well as lots of great viewpoints all over the city.
- You can’t visit Sweden and not have fika. While locals will usually head out to fika in the mid-morning or afternoon, I’ve included it in the itinerary above around breakfast time. But fika is a good idea any time of the day! Take a breather, rest your feet and indulge in great coffee and pastry.
- As you likely know, Scandinavia in general is a very expensive area to visit. This is definitely true for Stockholm. You’ll want to save up before this trip, as even basic meals and accommodation will cost you. However, window shopping, wandering Gamla Stan and enjoying the parks are all free!
- For more tips for first-timers, check out my post: 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Visit Stockholm.
Are you in love with Stockholm yet?
I hope so! I certainly am and can’t wait to go back (and bring Colin with me).
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