We didn’t have much time in Stockholm. It was our last stop before heading back to Malaysia. We loved it – remembered thinking that I wished I had allocated a whole two days in the beautiful city. Stockholm folks are also very friendly. Everyone I spoke to even for a simple thing like asking for directions, really go out of their way to help. I have not seen anything like it – anywhere.
If you are here for just a short stopover – you can choose to stay near the airport, or in town close to the central station. It’s quite convenient – there is a short direct train ride to the airport (Arlanda Express) from the station – about 18 minutes. If you find this expensive – there are other options like the bus – they take about 45 minutes or so.
So we did both – airport and city hotel. For airport hotel, we stayed at Radisson Blu Arlandia Airport. Really nice. It is NOT located at the terminal itself – the terminal hotel is called Radisson Blu Airport Terminal Hotel. The terminal hotel looked really nice (and of course very convenient) but way too expensive for me. Anyway the shuttle buses are frequent and free – so I don’t think it’s a biggie to stay a few kilometres away from the terminal.
On our last night in Stockholm, I decided to stay in the city – and we chose to stay at Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel. I discovered there were two Radisson hotels – quite close to each other. So I think location wise, you won’t go wrong with either one. I think it’s great to have a base close to the Central Station if you are here only for a short stopover. The station area, is an easy walk to the Old Town or Gamla Stan.
The public transport is great – there is no need to book a taxi. Unless you are a big group because it end up cheaper to get a car.
We took the Arlanda Express – very convenient and comfortable. It’s a quick 18 minutes right to/from the airport. A couple of things that you can consider when deciding your transfer option. For Arlanda Express
- Children below 7 always travel for free.
- One child/youth below 17 always travel for free when accompanying an adult paying a full fare ticket
- If you travel in a group of 2 or more, you get a discount.
- If you know your date of travel, fix the date of travel – you get more discount than the flexi ticket.
I was quite lucky that they had an early bird promotion when I was travelling – so we got even cheaper return tickets than what you will get today for a full fare return adult ticket. I didn’t see that being promoted from Jan 2020 though.
Another bus option is Flygbussarna – click here for website.
Getting Around Stockholm
You can easily walk around to the major sights in the city from the central station area. But if you were like me and you had done lots and lots of walking before even getting to Stockholm, you may want to have an option to take the public transport to get around at some point during the day.
To be honest – usually, I would take the Hop on Hop Off option – but I wanted to start early in that day so I decided to get a mobile travel card. You have other options of course – you can buy the tickets at the self service machines at the station or ticket counter at some stations and all. But it’s really convenient to just have it on your phone. (Very, very important – you cannot buy the tickets on the train/buses etc).
Simply download the app on your phone from App Store or Google Play. It is called “SL-Reseplanerare och biljetter” (Journey planner and tickets). I bought us the 24 hour ticket (probably didn’t need it); you have the option of single journey tickets that are valid for 75 minutes or the 24 hour option. You have more travelcard options outside the mobile app – such as 72 hours, 7 days ticket option etc. With the ticket you can use all the bus, train, tram and commuter ferries.
What To Do In Stockholm
If you have only a day – you can walk around and enjoy the sights but you will have limited time to explore the museums and all.
Gamla Stan, or the Old Town is said to be the largest and best preserved medieval city in Europe. It was also where Stockholm was founded in 1252. We walked over to Gamla Stan early morning on a weekday. I think that is the best time to enjoy this place – not many people, (and tourists just yet). Of course the shops will be closed – but it’s just very quiet – so you can have a nice walk and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
A short walk will take you to Stortorget – the main (and oldest) square in Gamla Stan. It’s not a big square – mind you. The most photographed side (and the most colourful) is the one you see on the picture below. Today the buildings house restaurants and cafes on the ground floor.
Dark history –
The Square is known also as the location where the Stockholm mass execution (labelled as ‘Stockholm Bloodbath’) took place.
In November 1520, King Christian II of Denmark (famously known as Christian the Tyrant) ordered a mass execution in the Square. More than 120 people were decapitated. It was said that “The bodies of the decapitated lay untouched for three days until they were taken outside of Stockholm to be buried.” – quoted from notes by Olaus Magnus, a Catholic historian who witnessed the execution.
Nobel Prize Museum
The Nobel Prize Museum is also located at the Square. If you want to visit though, do check the opening hours – from September to May, they are closed on Mondays.
- (quoted from Nobelprize.org) Alfred Nobel left most of his estate, more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,702 million) to be converted into a fund and invested in “safe securities.” The income from the investments was to be “distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.” The Nobel Prize amount for 2019 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 9.0 million per full Nobel Prize
- Malaysia’s first Nobel Peace Price winner (2013) is Nasarudin Mohd Yusof, recognised for his work as a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Stockholm Royal Palace
Not far from the Square, is the Royal Palace. It is the King’s official residence and the venue for the monarchy’s official receptions. The Palace is open to the public and there are free guided tours of the grounds. They even have special programmes to entertain the little ones – animal trails and so on. Checkout the palace website for details here.
I would have loved to visit the interiors – but we didn’t have much time. If you want to get some unique souvenirs (even limited editions) – don’t forget to visit the Royal Gift Shop! They have got porcelain items, clothing accessories, jewellery and so on.
Just next to palace is the Storkyrkan, Stockholm’s medieval Cathedral, built in 1279. The cathedral holds religious services and concerts (choirs etc). There are also guided tours available.
I’ve attended the parliament debate in London before. I know they televise these on TV but it is so different to be there in person. So if you are keen to attend one – here at the Parliament House, the Public Gallery has approximately 500 seats open to the public when the members of the Riksdag meet in the Chamber for debates. You can also take photos, with no flash of course.
House of Nobility
I had no idea what this building was – but it was beautiful. Found out later it was a building that holds the records of the Swedish nobility. Not my kind of thing – but like the architecture and the location.
Close to the palace, you will see a number of boats docked at the pier. If you are able to squeeze it in, why not take one of the many boat tours offered around the city. The tours in winter are a bit limited – as I discovered (so check and book what is available in advance).
Options that you may want to consider:-
- Lunch or dinner tours
- Boat Tour to Drottningholm Palace (where the King/Queen of Sweden resides at the moment). Only available from Mar – Oct.
- Steamship experience
- Checkout Stromma.com website
The City Hall was completed in 1923 – so not as old as the buildings at Gamla Stan. But it does stands out on its own with its 106 metre tower with the three crowns (representing the Swedish national coat of arms) at the top.
The Nobel Prize banquet is held at Blue Hall at City Hall every December; the hall can accommodate 1,300 guests. Another impressive hall is the Golden Hall which decorated with 19 million gold mosaic tiles. You can visit the City Hall by joining one of the daily guided tours.
You can also squeeze in a trip to the Vasa Museum – which is a bit further out from the Old Town – on the island of Djurgården.
The museum houses the famous warship – the Vasa ship that capsized and sank in Stockholm 1628. It was salvaged from the seabed after more than 300 years and is the world’s best preserved 17th century ship.
Retail - Clothing, Jewellery, handbags, accessories etc
The main shopping areas are quite close to the central station. You can find high end shops (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada) along Birger Jarlsgatan road. Even closer to the central station, you can find H&M, Mango, Zara, Pandora and so on.
For items like antiques, comic books, and other special trinkets etc – I would check out the shops around the Old Town.
We also got to check out the Mall of Scandinavia. It’s a bit further out – so you need to take the train, or the bus. The closest station is Solna Station. We needed to go there as I needed to buy some Lego items for the kids. It is said to be the second largest mall in the Nordic countries. There is also a Disney store here.
We had a nice time in Stockholm – one more day would have been perfect. But I think we managed to cover quite a bit in 24 hours. We even got to do some shopping – bought Lego, a new suitcase amongst other stuff. New suitcase to fit all the shopping stuff (yeah – I know – bad right?).
Also – of course – I got a few Swedish pandora charms to add to my collection.
Check out the following links for the rest of our Arctic adventure:-