What to do in Three Days in Stockholm
Stockholm is a compact city with a lot to see and do! It’s possible to cover a fair amount of ground in three days, including a visit to some of the many islands that make up the archipelago. Follow my itinerary below!
A quick caveat on seasonal activities: I was there in August, and so my recommended itinerary is for a visit from March-October. During the winter, many of the outdoor activities either are closed for the season, or happen on a very shortened schedule.
As mentioned in my Stockholm overview, a lot of the tourist activities can be paid for by getting the Stockholm Pass. I didn’t get it myself, and saved money by paying for just the museums and tours I wanted to do. I’ll mark which activities can be paid for with the Stockholm Pass, and what their prices would be for adults otherwise.
For an overview of Stockholm, including tips to keep in mind when planning and packing for your trip, check out my overall guide.
While I think the Stockholm Pass is optional, what you should definitely pick up on day 1 of your time in Stockholm is the 3-day unlimited Metro pass (260kr). You can purchase at any metro station, along with the SL card to store the fare on (additional 20kr). It covers trains, trams, buses, and ferries. All of which are very easy to navigate, very reliable, and will get you everywhere you’ll need to go in your three days in Stockholm.
While at the metro station, I’d recommend starting off your trip with a quick peek at one of the longest public art museums in the world - the Swedish Metro. Over 100 of the stations have been designed with unique artwork, some in homage to Sweden in general, others designed specifically to reflect something of the history of the area that the station is in. You’ll find archeological artifacts, optical illusions, cave-like ceilings with rainbow flags, or 8-bit pixelated tiles.
The metro offers free tours starting from T-Centralen - check the schedule, as they run more often in the summer months. They also have a downloadable app with an audio guide. If you’d like to do your own tour, you’ll find several guides online that list some of the highlights. Not a bad art tour for the cost of one swipe of a metro card! As mentioned in the overall guide, the Stockholm metro trains run every 5-10 minutes, are well marked, orderly, and easy to navigate. I’d start your metro tour after 10:30am, to make sure you’ve missed rush hour. The tour run by SL takes a little over an hour. If you’re doing it on your own, I’d budget 60-90 minutes for it.
This afternoon, make your way to Gamla Stan, aka Old Town Stockholm. This small island is the original city of Stockholm, and has the narrow cobblestone streets, slightly crooked buildings, and a sometimes bloody history associated with it. It’s also where you can find the official Royal Palace (though the family doesn’t live there). I would skip the tour of the palace, as it’s not that exciting, and instead take one of two free walking tours of the area, which will start around 1pm. Free walking tours are a great way to get an overview and a flavor of history, while meeting other travelers and getting recommendations of things to see and do. It’s also a great way to save money (though tip your guides well. They’ll take multiple currencies and sometimes pay-by-app).
They’ll likely walk you through Stortorget Square, which has one of the common postcard images of Stockholm, of the ‘Painted Ladies.’ Fun fact: This square was host to a particularly bloody wedding in the 1500s, one reminiscent of Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding. A Danish king, angry with Sweden for reneging on a deal (the two countries were tied politically and royally at the time…) got married in the square with a three-day banquet. The festivities didn’t last very long, as he sealed the exit alleys, took everyone captive, and executive the offending noblemen. They say the building is red due to the amount of blood washing down and covering the building. Ok well, not really, but interesting story!
After a day of touring, you’ll likely need to sit down. You should find a cafe out of Stortorget Square (I recommend Tradkojen, but there’s plenty to be found!) for that most sacred of modern Swedish traditions, fika. Fika is an afternoon coffee and pastry break that is a near daily habit of all Swedes. And with the amount of delicious pastries in Stockholm, you’ll need a few fikas to try them all!
Don’t fill up too much, though. From Gamla Stan, you can walk, bus, or bike down to the next island south, Södermalm. From there, head towards Fjällgatan, a street that heads up along a steep overlook on the northeast side of the island. There’s several points here with scenic lookouts over the harbor and the city skyline that make it a great place to watch the sun go down. Some of the surrounding streets have well-preserved 17th century buildings that are also worth checking out.
When you get hungry, head over to Herman’s for dinner. Herman’s is one of the more well-known vegetarian restaurants in town. This is partly because of the good food (served buffet-style), but also due to its location. Perched up on a hill, their outdoor garden seating has some of the best dining views in the city.
After a filling dinner, you may be ready to call it a night. If you’re still up to see more, a long walk or short cab/uber/scooter ride will take you to the photography museum, Fotografiska, directly beneath you. Yes, you can see the building from Herman’s, but thanks to massive construction in the area, the steps leading down the hill to the museum are closed and the closest way to get there is a detour about a half mile around to the Slussen metro station. Good way to walk off a large dinner, at least.
Why should you visit this museum? A few reasons. It’s late night hours (open until 11pm during the week, 1am on the weekends) make it a trendy place to visit for a night out. The exhibits are uniformly fascinating and well curated. And it has both a top floor cafe and an outdoor bar on the weekends that are a great place for an end-of-night drink. It’s covered by the Stockholm Pass, or the cost is 165 kr.
As you can tell, I’m all about being frugal with my sight-seeing. For a list of 10 of the best things you can see and do for free (or cheap) in Stockholm, including several of my Day 1 suggestions, check out this list
Today you should take advantage of Stockholm’s many, many boat tours that can take you all over the archipelago. The greater Stockholm area is made up of 24,000 islands, some of which have fantastic small villages, others of which are just rocks. If you want to explore further afield, Waxholmsbolaget offers ferries to some of the islands, or will do a full-day tour. I’d recommend checking out Fjäderholmarna or Vaxholm, which are both thriving small islands with great places to stop for lunch. This site has some further details on what to see and do there. Stromma takes the Stockholm Pass, and offers both ferries as well as day tours and hop-on-hop-off boats around the city.
If you do want to check out one of the royal palaces while in Stockholm (there are many), skip the palace on Gamla Stan and instead take a Stromma boat up to Drotningham Palace. This is the actual residence of the royal family, and is a beautiful oasis out of the city. The boat ride itself (about an hour each way) lets you see some of the nearby towns and islands of the city. Stromma will offer a combo ticket that is 5 hours for 340 kr (or this is covered by the Stockholm Pass), for 3 hours at the palace. To be honest, unless you really want to take your time in the gardens of the palace, 2 hours there is more than enough the see the palace, gardens, as well as a coffee or tea break. Stromma won’t check your return ticket time, so don’t worry about which boat you get onto.
If the thought of boats make you seasick, why not take part in one of Sweden’s main activities - biking! There are many tours on bikes that can take you through the city, stopping at some of the parks and museums. You could also rent a bike and ride through the parks and nearby islands yourself! Suggested routes here and here.
On your last day, take a leisurely stroll to visit some of Stockholms’ many museums. Start by heading over to the famous Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgården. This is one of the more popular museums in Stockholm, and with good reason. I myself was doubtful if it was worth it, but it’s a fascinating story that you should definitely learn about. The Vasa was a 17th century ship ordered to be built by King Gustavus. It was the Titanic of its day - larger than anything else in the fleet, and meant to go after neighboring Poland. Until it sank about 25 minutes after launch into Stockholm Harbor when a gust of wind caused it to tilt precariously and take on water. The ship was built to specifications given by the King itself, but those specs made it not seaworthy, and no one could tell the King otherwise. The ship stayed at the bottom of the harbor until the 1960’s, when a team found it largely intact, and came up with a way to bring it up in one piece from the bottom of the sea. It spent decades being restored back to what it once was.
At the museum, watch the intro film, and then take one of the 20-minute free tours that happen 3 times an hour, as they’ll give you all the background you need. From there, different exhibits talk about the ship, the building process, and life aboard a Swedish vessel at that time. If you’re hungry or need a caffeine fix, the cafe is pretty great and has views out over the water. Entrance to the museum is 150kr, or free with Stockholm Pass
If you walk along the water, nearby the Vasa Museum is the ABBA Museum. This ode to Sweden’s most famous pop group is really for superfans only. And at 250kr for an entry fee (though free with Stockholm Pass), it may not be worth it. However, outside the museum are cardboard cutouts of the band - it’s definitely worth swinging by to get a photo taken in one of those. Because you’re in Sweden, and why not.
A fairly unique experience in Stockholm can also be found on the same island in the form of Skansen, which bills itself as the world’s oldest open-air museum. Obviously this is best visited in the warmer months. Similar to Colonial Williamsburg or Plymouth Plantation in the US, Skansen places you within a traditional Swedish village, complete with reenactors and animals. However, unlike those places, Skansen will take you through time, having living exhibits take place from the 1700s through the early 60s. Cost of entry is 140kr, or free with Stockholm Pass.
Slightly off of the island, but also worth a visit (partly because it is free) is the Swedish History Museum. Set in a former armory, the museum focuses on Sweden’s history from prehistorical events up until the early 20th century, with interactive exhibits and lots of Viking artifacts.
Since it’s your last night,why not splurge on a seaside restaurant? On the southern side of Djurgården is Oaxen Krog and Oaxen Slip, the former a Michelin-starred restaurant that takes reservations only, and the latter the bistro that is open for walk-ins. Both can be found inside of a boathouse. The food is excellent and a modern take on traditional Swedish food.
Other options to visit in Stockholm if you have more time:
Stockholm City Hall (and Tower)
Check out a Nordic Sauna
Nobel Prize Museum
I hope you enjoyed this look at what to do in three days in Stockholm! To learn more about how to plan your trip to Stockholm, including where to stay and how to get around, check out my guide. To find out more sites you can see for free, check out this post.
Pin this for later!