Scandinavia Series: Stockholm, Sweden Travel Guide

Stockholm is a vibrant, beautiful and charming city. We only had 2.5 days to explore the city and how we wish we would have been able to spend more time in Sweden’s capital. This is usually the case for tourists so making the most out one’s stay regardless of how short it is is the best way to go. Happy to share as well that this is the 22nd country that I have explored! 🙂

WHEN TO GO

Sweden has four seasons – Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. The best time to visit if you prefer sunshine and warm weather is May to September. This also means that the day is longer. If you are fascinated with the autumn foliage just like me, it is nice to visit in October. If snow is what you are after, aim to go from late November to March with February as the coldest month. It is best check the forecast months before your visit all the way to the days before your holiday.

The tour schedules also vary per season. More attractions and tours are open and available during Spring and Summer. It is also more crowded during summer where tourism is at its peak. There are less tourists in the colder months. However, tour durations and availability could be limited or may not be available at all. These are the factors that should be considered before booking your trip.

CURRENCY

The official currency of Sweden is the Kroner (SEK). Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe that has opted out of the Euro system. When exchanging your money, always check the latest exchange rates online and use it as benchmark. The most common advise online is to not exchange your local money to SEK in the airport or at your hotel as they charge a huge commission fee.

ATMs also offer a good deal. It’s also wise to use a credit or debit card. Prior to your holiday, call your bank to check if you can use your card outside your home country.

GETTING INTO THE CITY

We travelled to Stockholm by train from Oslo Central Station. The journey took about 4.5 hours and it brought is to Stockholm Central Station so it was very convenient. I recently posted a 9-Day Itinerary for Travel in Scandinavia that lets you use different modes of transportation. The credit actually goes to my husband who came up with this itinerary.

If you are arriving by plane, you would most likely arrive at Arlanda Airport. Commuter trains to Stockholm depart twice an hour from Arlanda and take around 45 minutes. This requires a separate ticket from your Stockholm pass. Flygbussarna Airport Coaches depart every 10-15 minutes between Arlanda Airport and the City Terminal (next to the Central Station) and travel time is around 35-45 minutes. Alternatively, you can also travel by bus or taxi.

GETTING AROUND THE CITY: TRAVEL CARD & SL ACCESS CARD

The public transport in Stockholm includes buses, trams, trains and light railway. There are tickets and travel cards for short and longer periods of time. Stockholm has an SL Access Card (similar to London’s Oyster Card) which is an electronic smart card that lets you load tickets. There is a 20 SEK fee for the card itself, but you can re-use your card at future visits to Stockholm. There are also single use travel cards with tickets valid for 75 minutes, 24 or 72 hours and gives you unlimited rides for the entire duration. Note: You cannot purchase a ticket onboard the buses, onboard most of the trams and light railway trains, or onboard commuter ferries so you need to get it in advance.

  • How to use. Place your travel card or SL Access card on the card reader at the automatic barriers in the Metro and at the commuter train stations, the blue card readers on board the buses or the blue cardreaders on poles placed on tram and light railway stops as well as at some commuter boat jetties.
  • Where to buy. Tickets and travel cards are sold via ticket agents, at the SL Center and at Metro and commuter railway stations. You can buy a single ticket via a smart phone app (you will have to register for this service).
  • Validating your ticket. Before taking your first ride, remember to validate your travel card.
  • Inspection. It is your responsibility as a passenger to ensure that you have a valid ticket. Failure to show on demand a valid ticket will render a penalty fare of  SEK 1,500 plus a single ticket fare.

GETTING AROUND THE CITY: USING THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

By bus. Board the bus through the front doors and touch with your travel card or SL card on the blue card readers. If you use the app, show your ticket on your mobile phone to the driver. When you wish to disembark, push the STOP button. You will then see the word ‘Stannar’ (which means stopping) lights up in the display on the bus. When getting off the blue buses in the Stockholm city center, you must also push the button on the pole next to the door so the door opens. Note: You will need a separate ticket when you take the buses to and from the airport.

By Metro and train. Tap your SL Access card or travel card on the automatic barriers to enter. The Metro and commuter trains stop at all stations along the line, apart from express trains that skip certain stations that run during peak hours.

Light railway and trams. There are no ticket barriers on the stations. Instead, there are ticket inspectors onboard the trains. Be ready to present your SL Access Card or travel card when asked. You always need a valid ticket when you board the train/tram.

ATTRACTIONS AND TOURS: STOCKHOLM PASS

The Stockholm Pass is a sightseeing card that serves as your entry pass to some of Stockholm’s rich variety of museums and attractions. It also serves as your ticket to boat and bus tours. It is designed for visitors to help them discover the history and culture of the city. Once you’ve purchased the Stockholm Pass you won’t need to purchase any more attraction tickets. Visitors can choose from the following validity duration: 24, 48, 72 or 120 hours which must be dated by hand with the date of first use at the back of the card. You can then use the pass once per museum, attraction or sightseeing tour. To check the latest rates of the Stockholm Pass, visit the Stockholm Pass website.

Is it worth it? If you are the type of traveller who is energetic and tries to visit as much attractions as you can, then this is for you.

Since we visited in October, a lot of tours and attractions were unavailable (unfortunately!!!). We would have been able to see more attractions if we visited during the summer season. We were able to visit and take the following attractions and tours:

  • Hop On Hop Off by Bus. The service is by City Sightseeing and Gray Line with 20 bus stops starting from Stomgatan. The first departure in October is at 10am and the last trip is at 4pm. Each complete tour is approximately 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can hop on and hop off the bus at any of the stops. The Hop On Hop Off by boat is only available from late April until the first week of September.
  • Under the Bridges of Stockholm. This is the complete sightseeing tour if you’re looking to see Stockholm from the water. The tour departs from Stromkajen and lasts for 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Royal Canal Tour. This tour takes you through greener parts of Stockholm. It also departs from Stromkajen going out through the canal of Djurgarden with a 50-minute duration.
  • Stockholm Panorama. This bus tour will take you through all the city districts and pass famous sights. You will learn about the capital city and its history. This tour departs from Gustav Adolfs Torg and lasts for 75mins.
  • Skansen Open Air Museum. Skansen is the world’s first open-air museum founded in 1891. Here you stroll through five centuries of Swedish history. Skansen is the only zoo in Stockholm and is home to Nordic wild animals. This is our most favourite attraction and we highly recommend spending more than just half a day in Skansen.
  • Nordic Museum. The facade of the building has the form of a Nordic renaissance castle. The exhibitions are in the fields of Nordic light, folk art, fashion, interiors and traditions.
  • Skyview. Get to see Stockholm from 130 meters above the sea. This gives you a 360 degree view of the city.
  • The Royal Palace/ The Royal Apartments. This is one of Europe’s biggest palaces and the Swedish Royal Family’s official residence.
  • Vasa Museum. This museum features Vasa which is the world’s only rescued 17th century ship.
  • Stockholm Cathedral. Located in the Old Town, this is the venue for so many historic events

OTHER ATTRACTIONS FREE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC

  • Gamla Stan (Old Town). This is the place that any tourist should not miss. This place is very picturesque and immerses you even more to the soul of the city. There are lots of cute shops and restaurants too.DSCF8204
  • Culture and History. Army Museum, National Museum of Ethnography, Hallwyl Collection Museum, The Swedish History Museum, Museum of Mediterranean and near eastern antiquities, Medieval Museum, Historical Ships, National Sports Museum, Maritime Museum and Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities
  • Arts and Architecture. Architecture and Design Centre, Bonniers Konsthall, The Museum of Modern Art and National Museum of Fine Art
  • Royal. Royal Armoury, Skokloster Castle

ACCOMMODATION: RADISSON BLU STOCKHOLM

We stayed for two (2) nights at Radisson Blu which is conveniently located near the Central Train station. Read more about my review about our stay HERE.

I hope this helps you prepare your perfect itinerary for your holiday in Stockholm! 🙂

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