Stockholm Top Ten Sights

by Elena on January 9, 2012

top ten things to do in stockholmStockholm is one of the most stunning capital cities in the world so choosing the top ten things to do in Stockholm is a pretty arduous task. The city is essentially a collection of islands, fourteen in all, connected by bridges and with beautifully maintained waterways traversing Stockholm. There is no shortage of museums, galleries, and other attractions in the city, but simply wandering the streets and soaking in the atmosphere is a great draw for tourists in itself, especially considering the number of parks and green-spaces in Stockholm. Having said that, there are certain must-see sights that regularly feature on tours of the city, so ask Ulko Tours to schedule these on your private tour of Stockholm and have a fabulous holiday in Sweden’s capital.

No.1 Djurgården

The Scandinavian city of Stockholm is built on fourteen islands and Djurgården, one of these islands, is home to a number of the city’s key attractions including an outdoor museum/zoo. Translating to Game Park, Djurgården attracts more than ten million visitors each year and is almost right in the middle of Stockholm. Djurgården is also accessible by bike, which offers a great opportunity to explore the park, particularly along the canals passing through it. Picnicking in Djurgården is popular in summertime and there are scores of benches and plenty of open space for everyone. After exploring the island head to the little cafe at the southeastern end and watch the ferries and other waterway traffic while marvelling at the presence of such a beautiful sanctuary in the middle of the biggest city in Scandinavia.

Millesgården

Stockholm-Tourist-Attractions-MillesgårdenLess than ten minutes on transit from the center of Stockholm, Millesgården is another rather grand park full of art deco sculptures. The house and grounds belonged to Carl Milles and his wife and many of his sculptures are on show here, among the work of other artists. The couple bought the property in 1906 and quickly turned the cliff-side landscape above lake Värtan into a vibrant home and studio space, with the buildings the work of the architect Carl M. Bengtsson. Milles had an open-air sculpture studio built for himself and continued to work here for many decades, gradually acquiring further property to the south and increasing the scope of the sculpture gardens. Millesgården was turned into a foundation in 1936 and donated to the Swedish people many of whom have enjoyed whiling away a whole afternoon at Millesgården, either strolling through the trees and admiring the sculptures or settling on a bench with a good book and enjoying the ocean view. There is now also a cafe offering delicious food and fine wine, although those on a budget might like to bring a picnic to enjoy instead. There is an entrance fee and often a special exhibition; the current show runs until January 15th and features international artists working with glass.

No.3 City Hall (Stadshuset)

Taking a tour of Stockholm’s City Hall is a great way to find out about Swedish history as this functional building has an impressive tale to tell. The City Hall looks rather grand with towers and crowns adorning the outside and is equally spectacular inside with a grand hall that hosts banquets, notably the Nobel Prize banquet. An hour-long tour features a gold mosaic room but is more interesting for the wealth of information that the guide imparts about the events that happen in each room, the building’s architecture, and the idiosyncratic Viking theme ceiling. There are also great views over to Gamla Stan and Sodermalm and the gardens are a great place to picnic in the summer.

No.4 The Old Town

The Old Town in Stockholm dates back to the 13th Century and is nestled right next to downtown Stockholm making it an easily accessible part of the city and a regular feature of Stockholm tourist trips. Bustling with restaurants, cafes, unique shops, museums, and all so unassuming, the cobbled streets take on an even greater charm at Christmas and New Year. Stockholm’s Old Town is beautiful by day and vibrant at night as the cafes stay open to offer warming beverages. If you’re looking for Stockholm souvenirs then this is the place to find something special.

No.5 The Vasa Museum

vasamuseum stockholm top ten things to do This 17th Century warship sank on its maiden voyage and was recovered 333 years later!

The Vasa Museum is a highlight of any trip to Stockholm, featuring the world’s only preserved 17th Century warship. The Vasa sailed from Stockholm on her maiden voyage in 1628 but sank and was lost until the 20th Century when it was discovered and salvaged and given new life in this Swedish museum. The vastness of the ship means that the museum provides six levels from which to view the Vasa, a ship commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Unfortunately, the King’s imagination outran that of his engineers who kept warning him that the desired additions to the already vast ship would make it unseaworthy. The ship, with more than 700 carved sculptures, sank into the Baltic Sea not far from the harbor but is now housed in the Vasamuseet on Djurgården island. The museum shows a film every hour about the Vasa’s history and there are guided tours daily, but be warned, the museum houses the ship in a humid environment so dress in layers.

No.6 The Royal Palace and the Changing of the Guard

A wonderful, and free, thing to do in Stockholm is to watch the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace, a tradition that has taken place daily since 1523. The Royal Guard is made up of around 30,000 people from the Swedish Armed Forces, meaning that changing the guard takes around forty minutes. The switchover takes place at 12pm every day between November and March, with the public changing of the guard on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The winter-time changeover is not quite as ostentatious as the summertime changing of the guard but still worth seeing. The King’s Birthday on the 30th April prompts special horse displays and other holidays also mean that special events take place at the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace itself has something of a fairytale feel to it, featuring the treasury, the royal apartments, the armory, and a variety of exhibits that help explain Swedish history.

No.7 Drottningholm Palace and Court Theater

Drottningholm Palace and Court Theater is six miles outside the center of Stockholm and reachable by road but it is far nicer to travel there by boat and see the beautiful Swedish landscape rolling by as you go. Trips depart from the dock just below the City Hall and combination tickets are available. The palace is a stunning example of European royal architecture and you can find out more about its history, and that of the still functional theater that was built in 1766, on one of the tours that run throughout the day. The times of the tours are listed to the right of the palace as you enter the gates, at the Court Theater, so get your tour ticket first and then you can relax and enjoy the grounds until tour time. There are guards in each room but you’ll find that they are themselves very knowledgeable and friendly. There is also a fabulous little gift shop here, full of interesting items perfect for souvenirs.

No.8 Skansen Open-Air Museum

skansen open air museum stockholm top things to do See actors dressed in period costume at the historic Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm.

Founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen was the world’s first open-air museum. This popular Stockholm attraction, located on Djurgården and featuring a variety of actors, gives visitors an opportunity to travel through Swedish history and learn about the country’s regions and historic houses. The actors also demonstrate how to make bread the traditional way, as well as producing handicrafts including carvings. Some actors seemingly just wander the antiquated streets of Skansen in costume. A whole host of Scandinavian animals such as lynxes, wolves, bears, and wolverines are also on show at Skansen, though not freely so don’t worry about a sudden wolf-attack whilst browsing in the jeweller’s window. A great place to visit with kids in Stockholm.

No.9 Skeppsholmen

Similar to Djurgården, Skeppsholmen is another island in the center of Stockholm, this time a little quieter and home to the modern art museum. The fountains and sculptures outside the museum are rather fabulous and will likely tempt you inside, or you could stroll along the waterway and admire the old boats until you reach the restaurant and cafe where you can enjoy a relaxing drink on the terrace and watch the sunset. There is a hotel on the island making a great base from which to explore Stockholm, along with a youth hostel housed in a ship.

No.10 Ice-Skating at Kungstradgarden

Last but not least on this run-down of things to do in Stockholm is a special winter-only excursion. Ice-skating at Kungstradgarden is free and great fun for all the family. Probably Stockholm residents’ favorite skating place, the rink is modeled on that in the Rockefeller Center in New York and opened here in 1962. Usually operating from mid-November to March the rink is teeming with impressive skaters and beginners alike and is worth a visit even if you won’t don a pair of skates as there is live music, and food and drink stands to keep you and the family entertained. Open most days from 9am to 6pm, with late night-opening on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, skates can be rented on site.

There are so many things to do in Stockholm tourists have a hard time deciding how to spend their time and money. Contact Ulko Tours and ask about more wonderful cultural, entertaining, relaxing, and free things to do in Stockholm.

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