Three days in Stockholm is barely enough to scratch the surface of the Swedish capital, but it is possible to cover a lot of ground in those three days and get a taste of this magical Scandinavian city.
Off the back of my Thalys Explorer trip, I jetted to Stockholm from Amsterdam to get my first taste of Sweden.
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Pretty much anything goes in easy-living Stockholm in summer, but I do have just two tips before we get into the itinerary to help get the most out of your short stay:
Tip #1 – The Stockholm Pass
If you are planning on following this itinerary or ticking off at least some of the museums and attractions Stockholm has to offer, then get yourself a Stockholm Pass.
I managed to save myself 929.50 SEK (about 143 AUD) by buying the 72 hour pass which gives you entry to just about all the major museums and attractions in Stockholm (except the ABBA museum) as well as a few canal cruises and access to the Hop On/Hop Off buses and boats.
You can purchase a transport ticket on top of that, but if you’re staying nearby, then the Hop On/Hop Off boats and buses are never far away. The only additional transport costs I incurred in my three days in Stockholm were the train tickets to and from the airport.
Tip #2 – Stay in Sodermalm
This wonderful neighbourhood is perfect for food and bars and it’s walking distance (or a quick bus trip) into the old town. If you’ve followed my recommendation above and got yourself a Stockholm Pass, then you will be able to grab the Hop On/Hop Off bus if you need to give your tired feet a rest.
I stayed at the Hotel Clarion which was perfect location-wise and a really lovely hotel. For a good dorm room option in the area, Skanstulls Hostel is a quaint little stay where you’ll definitely make friends.
Explore Gamla Stan (The Old Town)
Long time readers will know that I’m obsessed with exploring the old towns of Europe. It’s part of the reason I keep going back to Nice and the surrounding towns on the French Riviera.
Here, the saffron coloured buildings, cobblestone streets and winding laneways of Gamla Stan are the perfect introduction to three days in Stockholm.
Stockholm’s famous old town is home to a bunch of the city’s attractions anyway, but getting totally lost in the narrow alleys is the true joy of this part of the Swedish capital.
Stockholm isn’t a cheap city, but wandering around Gamla Stan and exploring is totally free and there are hours of amusement to be had.
The Nobel Museum
In the heart of Gamla Stan, the Insta-famous Stortoget Square is home to The Nobel Museum which is housed in the former stock exchange building.
A fascinating history of the man behind the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, is held here as well as detailed information about the award itself and past recipients.
When I was visiting they did make mention that the museum has run out of space and may move – so depending on when this happens, the location of the museum may change.
Entrance to this museum is included on the Stockholm Pass, otherwise entry costs around 120 SEK.
Gamla Stan’s oldest cathedral is right next to the Nobel Museum and the normally 40SEK entry fee is also included on the Stockholm Pass, so why not pop in to have a little look around.
It’s an impressive church that still has a place in Stockholm’s modern history with the Crown Princess being married here in 2010.
I was lucky enough to visit on a day when there was a guest choir practicing, which made the visit even more delightful as I wandered amongst the statues and pews to the sounds of choristers.
Changing of the Guard and The Royal Palace
If you’ve timed your visit just right and are in Stockholm in the summer months then the Changing of the Guard is well worth a watch and happens at 12.15pm each day (except for Sunday where the ceremony starts at 1.15pm).
Outside of summer, you’ll need to check the days the ceremony takes place as it’s not an every day occurrence.
Following the changing of the guard in all its pomp, it’s time to explore the Royal Palace, The Armoury and the Treasury.
The Royal Palace is included in the Stockholm Pass, too, otherwise entry is around 180 SEK.
Meatballs for the People
When it’s time to close out the day and find some Swedish tucker before getting some rest, there is absolutely no place better than the aptly named Meatballs for the People.
Serving up (you guessed it) Swedish meatballs of all different varieties, you can go with something as simple as beef or take it up a notch to reindeer meatballs!
My waiter recommended the wild boar balls with lingonberries – The Classic – on their menu and it was so good I went back again on my last night to have some more.
Coffee at Chokladkoppen
Start your day right back in Stortoget Square in Gamla Stan with a coffee in the open air at Chokladkoppen.
Proudly LGBTQI friendly, and serving up wonderful coffee and iced chocolates as well as yummy food, this cafe is open long hours for all your caffeine or cocoa needs.
It’s the perfect place to sit, sip a coffee and watch the world go by in Stockholm’s most famous square as you enjoy your three days in Stockholm.
Skansen Open Air Museum
Three days in Stockholm wouldn’t be complete without a bit of history! For a trip back in time, use the hop on/hop off boats to get across to the world’s oldest open air museum, Skansen. Here, its possible to explore a vast expanse of land dotted with quaint painted wooden houses and old-style workshops.
I stumbled across a bakery where dutiful women in traditional dress were cooking up traditional Swedish flatbread and just a little further down the road was a furniture factory and an engineering space.
It’s possible to spend ages in here, so make sure you grab a museum map and watch the clock if you only have a short time.
Skansen does have a recommended visit guide available online if you only want to spend 1-2 hours here. Entry is usually around 125 SEK, but again entry is included on your Stockholm Pass!
The Vasa Museum is one of the most awe-inspiring museum experiences I’ve ever had. The Vasa was a 17th Century ship that famously sank on her maiden voyage and was pulled up intact from the sea depths after 333 years to be displayed in this museum.
Usually, ships and maritime type museums are not my kind of thing, but I’d been told that this was a not to miss experience and I am oh so glad that I went.
The ship itself is HUGE. There’s plenty of information in the museum about how it was constructed and what happened on the day it sank but there’s no denying the real centrepiece is the magnificent ship with all it’s carvings, still looming large all these hundreds of years after it sank.
The Vasa is a short walk from Skansen, so doing both in the same day makes sense. It’s also close to the Nordic Museum and the ABBA museum – neither of which I managed to get to in my three days in Stockholm, but both come well recommended. The Vasa Museum is included in the Stockholm Pass, otherwise it’s around 130 SEK to visit per ticket.
Entertaining people since 1883, Stockholm’s famous amusement park features frequently in Instagram photos for it’s old-time vibes and waterfront placement.
In summer, the park is pulsating with locals and tourists alike and parties run well into the evening with concerts in the park featuring big name performers weekly.
Whether you’re a thrill seeker or more moderate ride-goer, there are attractions here to please everyone.
I felt like a big kid again on the Vilda Musen (Wild Mouse) and the Jetline and then grabbed myself a local beer and sat in the sun by the waterfront and snapped some photos.
Entry to this old quirky amusement park is included on the Stockholm Pass or is around 110 SEK. Rides are not included, however, so factor in that additional cost when planning your afternoon.
Check the Gröna Lund website for information on the summer concert schedule, because if you can time your three days in Stockholm to coincide with a concert day, you’ll get to watch the sun set over the park to the sounds of great music.
Take a boat to Drottningholm Palace
On the final day of three days in Stockholm, it’s time for a ferry ride to UNESCO World Heritage Listed Drottningholm Palace, which is still the private residence of the Swedish Royal Family.
The boat ride over takes about 40 mins and on a beautiful day, I totally recommend grabbing a couple of beers from the supermarket before hopping on and then cracking them open whilst sitting outside and watching Stockholm go by.
The palace gradually comes into sight, perched on the water’s edge and behind it lies a seemingly endless expanse of gardens and manicured lawns.
Taking a picnic is a good idea as there are a few lovely shaded grassy areas to sit and have a bite to eat.
I recommend grabbing picnic supplies from the supermarket when you grab your beers so that you can have a nice rest amongst the impressive gardens in the grounds of Drottningholm Slott.
The boat ride over and back, entry to the palace and entry to the picturesque Chinese Pavilion nestled in the gardens are all included in the Stockholm Pass, otherwise they will set you back around 350 SEK.
Royal Canal Cruise
Keeping with the boating theme, it’s time to explore the Stockholm archipelago on the Royal Canal Cruise.
Kick back with a relaxing 50 minute ride with audio commentary travelling through the many waterways of Stockholm. One of my favourite parts of this tour was watching the locals relaxing on the banks of the canal or sailing their boats around ours.
It’s the perfect demonstration of just how integral the water is to the Swedes.
As soon as the sun comes out in summer, they seem to flock to the water to relax and enjoy life and it’s really enjoyable to see.
Again, this cruise is included in the Stockholm Pass, or otherwise will set you back 220 SEK.
In terms of museums, I totally feel like I saved the best for last with the open wonderfully late Fotografiska.
This Museum of Photography is probably more like a gallery running several different exhibitions at once than a museum, but it’s a perfect way to spend the last evening after an awesome three days in Stockholm.
Grab dinner around the Södermalm area beforehand and make your way to the Fotografiska around 8pm for a couple of hours of photography fun.
The exhibits are usually intriguing and a real mix of fine art photography and more un-staged snaps.
When I was there, I loved the exhibition of the works of Mary and Linda McCartney.
The Fotografiska is also located at the foot of a peak sunset viewing spot, so if you’re there in summer, exit the museum and make your way across the road and up the stairs to get a beautiful view of the city on the water as the sun’s last rays disappear. This museum is also included in the Stockholm Pass or costs 135 SEK to get in.
Södermalm Bar Hopping
Now, hopefully you’ve already had a chance to check out the many bars in the Södermalm area because you’ve taken my advice to stay in the area, but if you haven’t then tonight is your chance to wander around the streets and bar hop to your heart’s content.
I love Snotty Sound Bar, Pet Sounds Bar and Nada Bar for some casual drinks and fun.
As a solo traveller, you can decide to sit up at the bar and make friends or hide in a corner unbothered at these bars, although be warned that on a weekend they will get busy.
Three Days In Stockholm – Wrap Up
So there it is. My three days in Stockholm itinerary. It is definitely possible to cram more in or do less if you want a more relaxing time, but I found my itinerary to be a good mix of both. I either walked or took the hop on/hop off boats everywhere to enjoy just wandering around the city.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the value of the Stockholm Pass. It’s such a super saver when it comes to seeing the main attractions the city has to offer. A 72 hour pass costs 940.50 SEK and I saved just under 1000 SEK. Not bad for a city where the cost of living is extremely high.
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Last time I was in Stockholm I was at a hotel at Gamla Stan also! I loved all the colored buildings and Grona Lund amusement park. Thanks for bringing back my memories 🙂
It is such a beautiful city. I absolutely loved it – especially in the summer where the days are long and light! Thanks for your lovely comment.