How to spend one day in Stockholm, Sweden
One day itinerary for Stockholm
The largest city in Scandinavia, Stockholm is also far more affordable than its Nordic neighbours. In just one day, you can see priceless art, wander historic streets, experience the concept of fika and learn about the medieval past of the city – all for less than £50.
1. Free Walking Tour
Start your day in Stockholm at 10am with a free walking tour. As we all know, the free tour will actually cost you a tip – around £5 per person is common etiquette for a decent tour – but it’s worth it to see the city through local eyes and learn some fun facts to tell your colleagues when they ask about your trip so you sound worldly and cultured. Knowledge like this also comes in handy at the odd pub quiz.
I went with Free Walking Tour Stockholm and chose the Old Town tour as it was a bit shorter than the full City tour and I’m more interested in anecdotes and interesting stories than monuments and museums. It went for about an hour and a half, taking me from Gamla Stan station to the main square.
2. Riddarholmen Church and lake views
After the walking tour, you’ll have time to squeeze in one more stop before lunch, so head over the bridge to the small island with Riddarholmen Church, near where the walking tour began. This church is the burial site of every member of Swedish royalty – except for one, who abdicated the throne and is one of the few women permitted to be buried in the Vatican in Rome. If you do the walking tour you’ll find out why. The church is pretty enough, but the real magic is on the far side of the island which faces the lake and is a great spot for a photo.
3. Medieval Museum
I’m not usually one for museums but this interactive museum is free, so I decided to give it a try. It chronicles Stockholm’s history and gives some insight into what life was like in the medieval times for those who lived in the city. You can pay around £2 for an audio guide which provides some interesting stories to bring the museum’s exhibits to life. It takes around an hour, and complements the Old Town walking tour nicely.
4. Moderna Museet and ArkDes
Once you finish up at the medieval museum and grab a bite to eat, take a scenic walk around to the small island which is home to Stockholm’s museum of modern art and museum of architecture and design, where you can easily spend an afternoon – for free. Walking there will take you past some more sights like the Opera House, Kungstradgarden park, the Grand hotel and the National Museum then across Skeppsholmen Bridge. Start in Moderna Museet which has an amazing free modern art section (and a rotation of impressive paid exhibitions if any take your fancy) then follow the signs to the connecting ArkDes which offers an array of changing exhibitions as well as a display chronicling the history of architecture in Stockholm.
Where to eat
As always, I came to Stockholm equipped with a list of potential dining destinations from my trusted research sources, but alas, in one day you can only eat so much food.
After being there, here are the ones highest on my recommendation list for your trip to Stockholm:
The Hairy Pig Deli
Cultur Bar & Restaurant
Creperie Fyra Knop
Meatballs for the People
Transport in Stockholm
Getting around in Stockholms city centre is really easy by foot, and beautiful as the city is made up of interconnected islands so you’ll cross bridges and see water at almost every turn. The itinerary above will get you around 15km across the day, depending on where you start and finish, so you’ll have every excuse to eat those meatballs.
Getting into the city from the airport was also easy, we didn’t research beforehand but at the airport compared the train and the airport bus, and opted for the bus as it was about half the price and not a big time difference. It dropped us at the central train station, and from there it was a safe, well lit and scenic twenty minute walk to our accommodation in Sodermalm.
If you can’t tell already, we’re walkers – we find it makes you feel healthier while travelling, less guilty about eating and drinking and you see much more of a city. Plus, it helps with the budget.
How much I spent in a day in Stockholm
Airport bus transfer: £10
‘Free’ walking tour tip: £5
Hot chocolate to warm up after walking tour: £5
Medieval Museum audio guide: £2
Lunch and a wine at Creperie Fyra Knop: £20
One day total: £42
Make a weekend of it
I found the best places to eat were in Sodermalm and this is said to be the trendiest of Stockholms island suburbs, so that is where we ended up staying overnight. If you want to make a weekend of your one day wanderlust, I’d make a reservation for dinner here then stay in an Airbnb or hotel nearby.
I stayed at Hellstens Glashus which included a nice little buffet breakfast. Whenever I get a breakfast included I tend to try to make it count for brunch so we only need to eat a second meal that day. So if you had the breakfast on Sunday, you could get away with picking up a snack or having a light late lunch before flying home Sunday evening.
In terms of more sights to see, I personally like to spend my second day in a city at a much slower pace; sleeping in until check out, taking advantage of an inclusive breakfast and going for a scenic walk before a coffee, light lunch or drink before heading to the airport to make a flight home. Three scenic walks you could do in Stockholm are along Soder Malarstrand, the lake side of Sodermalm, Norr Malarstrand on the Kungsholmen side of the lake or a bit further outside the city in the huge Djurgarden.
How much I spent in a weekend in Stockholm
Day one: £42
Dinner at Meatballs for the People: £30
Accommodation at Hellstens Glashus: £88 (double room including breakfast)
Day two: £20 for late lunch before using your return bus transfer to get to the airport (£10)
Weekend total: £190
My trip highlights
Moderna Museet’s free collection is absolutely outstanding, featuring works from Picasso, Matisse, Dali and even Duchamp’s Fountain. I didn’t know this before going so essentially had my mind blown seeing these pieces in the flesh. One of the best parts about European travel is stumbling across things you thought you’d only see in books (even better when it’s for free, too!) so this was a definite highlight of the trip for me.
I also really loved the vibes (aka beer) at Meatballs for the People. We actually went for dinner, which worked well as the mashed potato and delicious meatballs make for quite a heavy meal. I highly recommend the Shogun IPA, brewed in Sweden – one of the best IPAs I think I’ve had! I booked in advance and was glad I did as it got busy, so if you want to go I’d recommend using their online booking service in advance to guarantee your table.
Finally, I got to experience the Swedish concept of fika, which is actually a new name for an old travel habit of mine. Loosely translated, fika means ‘coffee and cake break with a friend’ but it’s one of those Scandinavian terms that represents a feeling and way of life that words can’t really express.
So if you do head to Stockholm, take some time on your trip to hole up with a coffee, treat and a friend to debrief on your adventures and take the time to drink in your day (or weekend) in this incredible city.