I recently went on a solo trip to Stockholm, Sweden and almost immediately fell in love with the city. I’ll be sharing my perfect itinerary for 3 days in Stockholm soon but before then, I want to share some tips and tricks you should know before you visit Stockholm.
Keep these seven things in mind, and your visit to Stockholm will be so great you’ll be planning your next trip before you even leave (or was that just me who did that?).
Everyone speaks English
If you’re worried about a language barrier in Sweden, you don’t need to be. Everyone in Stockholm speaks English and they may even speak it better than you do! It’s very impressive when you travel, especially through Europe, and realize how many people are multilingual.
They may start in Swedish first, since Stockholm is so diverse and you may be mistaken for a local, but they will happily switch to English for you!
Many places only take card, no cash
If you visit Stockholm, there’s really no need to run to the ATM and take out a bunch of Swedish krona. For starters, this currency will only be useful in Sweden. So if you’re planning a larger Europe trip, you don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of krona in a primarily euro-driven society. But more importantly, you won’t need it! I was in Stockholm for three days and never needed cash.
In fact, in some places, cash is not accepted. I visited museums, restaurants, shops and grocery stores that only accepted cards. So when you visit Stockholm, skip the ATM and make sure your debit and credit cards are working abroad (hint: get a card with a chip and pin).
And a reminder: Sweden is expensive! But the price tag will feel a lot less painful if you just swipe your card and don’t look at the total (kidding!).
Pick the right airport
Did you know Stockholm has more than one airport? I didn’t. Which is how I ended up on a RyanAir flight to Skavsta Airport, about 90 minutes outside of the Stockholm city centre, instead of Stockholm Arlanda Airport. If I had chosen Arlanda, I could’ve taken a quick 20 minute train into the centre (though I probably wouldn’t have been able to pay only $50 CAD roundtrip for the flight from Prague!).
Luckily, Stockholm’s transit and bus system is quite good so I was easily able to get on a direct bus into the city centre from Skavsta. It took about 90 minutes and cost apx $20 CAD each way.
In addition to Skavsta and Arlanda, there are also Bromma Airport and Västerås Airport that all serve Stockholm. Arlanda is the closest to the city, and then Bromma, with Västerås and Skavsta being the farthest away. However, they are all accessible with decent transit links into the city. But if you plan to visit Stockholm, you need to take note of which airport you’re flying into and factor any extra travel time into your plans. Check bus schedules and ensure you don’t miss your flight out!
Even when it’s busy, you can find quiet spots
I visited Stockholm in the middle of summer on sunny and bright days – aka the peak of tourist season! And despite being in Stockholm during this very busy time, I was surprised that I was easily able to find lots of quiet spots all to myself. And I didn’t even have to leave the main tourist sights!
Walking through Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town, can be a little intimidating during a busy summer day. The main shopping street through town is packed with tourists, restaurants and souvenir stores. But simply turn off onto any of the side streets and you’ll have it all to yourself. I absolutely loved getting lost in the maze of Old Town streets. It felt like walking back in time, through a fairytale that was all mine.
I had similar experiences when I was visiting other popular sights like the Fotografiska Museum and the Royal Palace. Despite the Royal Palace being one of Stockholm’s main tourist attractions, I found that I had many of the rooms all to myself. I smartly managed to get ahead of the one guided tours, and suddenly found that I could be queen of my own castle.
You can’t say you visited Stockholm if you don’t enjoy a little fika time. Fika is an integral part of Swedish culture, and one of the reasons why I think I’d love living in Sweden. Fika is a Swedish coffee break. But it’s more than that. It’s the art of taking time out to go enjoy a coffee and a pastry without rushing off to your next appointment or staring at your phone the entire time.
And because fika is so important, you’ll find some of the most delicious coffee and pastries when you visit Stockholm, Sweden! I was impressed with all of my morning coffees and pastries, and loved enjoying them alongside Swedish locals in some very cute coffee shops.
Step up your fashion game
Sweden is one of the most fashion-forward countries in the world. From their designs and interiors (it’s not just IKEA up there) to their everyday wardrobe, Stockholm is certainly one of the most fashionable places I have ever been.
Usually when I travel, I don’t really care about fashion. I want to look nice enough in my photos but I mostly just want to be comfortable for trekking around all day. But Stockholm was the first place where I actually felt a little self-conscious. It seemed like every local was in a very high-fashion look (short, wide-leg pants that I could never pull off were everywhere) and only dressed in neutrals. It’s not that I was dressing like a slob, but my bright floral dress from Old Navy certainly stood out in a sea of runway-ready black.
When you visit Stockholm, I suggest stepping up your fashion game slightly and sticking to neutral colours. You certainly don’t need an entirely new travel wardrobe, but you might want to leave the leggings at home in this fashion-forward city. If you do decide to buy some new options, Stockholm has really amazing clothing and design stores – if you can afford to shop in them!
Stockholm is very pedestrian-friendly
One of my favourite things about Stockholm was how easy it was to walk around. While the transit options are great (and you definitely need to check out the subway), this really is a city that is meant to be walked. You’ll find many pedestrian-only streets with beautiful street art and lots of cute shops and restaurants. Most of the old town (Gamla Stan) is pedestrian-only and there are nice paths along the water, making this city even more magical.
With all of these pedestrian streets, you’ll be sure to come across a few lion statues. These lion statues or barricades were designed by Anders Årfelt, who originally created sheep barricades for another city. Stockholm wanted some animal-inspired barricades of their own, and decided on the lion, which you’ll see throughout Sweden (including on their coat of arms).
Those are my tips for your first visit to Stockholm! Overall, Stockholm is a really beautiful and easy city to visit. I had the best time and I’m super excited to put together my itinerary post.
How excited are you to visit Stockholm?
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