As the largest city in Scandinavia and Sweden’s capital, Stockholm is an excellent introduction to the Nordic region. Every year, tourists come here and find themselves inspired by its beauty and the Swedes’ laid-back lifestyle approach.
Stockholm is one of those rare places that remains cosy enough to provide an intimate experience, despite being a decent-sized metropolis. And despite only having 975,000 residents, there’s more than enough here to keep you entertained for weeks—if not months.
If you’re planning your first trip to Stockholm but don’t know where to start, fear not; you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find a four-day itinerary that will enable you to explore the city at a relaxed pace.
Things to Keep in Mind
This is a general guide to spending four days in Stockholm; I recommend that you arrive in the afternoon or early evening a day earlier and leave late on your final day. Doing so will help you get a whole night’s sleep before exploring the city, along with helping you get the most out of your time on the ground.
The time of year that you visit will dictate a lot of what you do. Whereas the summers involve long days and decent weather, winters are cold with only six hours of sunlight.
For activities that require you to be outdoors, such as sightseeing, you might want to visit when the daylight hours are more accommodating. Alternatively, you can spread your trip across more days.
Although Stockholm’s city centre is very walkable, you might want to purchase a public transport pass to get around quicker. You can find a full breakdown of prices and whatnot in this beginner’s guide.
Okay, so we’ve now covered the basics. Having had a decent night’s sleep, you’re now ready to get out and explore!
The first tourist spot for virtually everyone that visits Stockholm is Gamla Stan. It gets crowded during the day, so it makes sense to set your alarm early and check it out before everyone else wakes up.
Stockholm’s old town is a beautiful mixture of colourful houses that belong on chocolate boxes and cosy cafés, with a couple of restaurants thrown into the mix. The best way to explore is by aimlessly wandering and allowing yourself to get lost.
After jaunting around the cobblestoned streets for as long as you want, it’s time to head over to trendy Södermlam. The metro from Gamla Stan to Slussen takes just a couple of minutes, but you can also walk there with ease.
In Södermalm, you’ll struggle more to take things out of your itinerary than put them in. Start by exploring the collections of houses at Nytorget and around Sofia Kyrka. Even though you’re in the centre of a capital city, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to the Swedish countryside.
At this point, you’ll be more than ready to join in with the Swedes for a good old Fika break. And as it goes, you’re in luck; Södermalm has no shortage of bakeries and cafés for you to take a step back and escape the world outside for a while. St:Paul Bageri on Sankt Pauls Gatan is a personal favourite for coffee and a pastry; make sure you try the almond cardamom buns!
After spending however long you want drinking coffee and consuming sweet treats, it’s time to head outside again. Södermalm has plenty more picturesque streets to explore, including Brännkyrkagatan—which is near one of the city’s best viewing points (more on that soon!).
The best way to explore the rest of Södermalm is left to right. If you’re feeling a little lazy, hop on the metro to Zinkensdamm. From there, you’re just a short walk away from Skinnarviksberget—the highest natural point in Stockholm.
Skinnarviksberget is popular with tourists and locals alike. In the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see Swedes enjoying a chat with friends accompanied by a picnic or some beer. Again, you can spend as long as you want here taking in the surroundings.
From Skinnarviksberget, start walking back towards the city centre. You’ll soon notice a wooden pathway known as Monteliusvägen, which is a hugely popular lookout point. For the entire way, you’ll get an uninterrupted view of downtown Stockholm; closer to the end of the trail, you’ll almost certainly be accompanied by tourists trying to capture a shot of Riddarholmen and Gamla Stan.
If you’re not a fan of crowds, you can walk along the waterfront instead for a slightly different perspective.
Having done a lot of walking and only a little eating, you should be more than ready for some grub at this point. Scandinavia has some excellent burger places, and Stockholm is no different. One of Sweden’s most popular chains is Bastard Burgers, and you’ll find several restaurants throughout the city—but the one on Rehnsgatan in Vasastan is Stockholm’s first.
At Bastard Burgers, you can order several variations with a decent selection of fries to match. Bastard Burgers also has some sizable shakes that could very easily double down as dessert.
Day one in Stockholm was pretty hectic, wasn’t it? If you’re feeling a little tired, you’ll be pleased to know that your second day in Sweden’s capital won’t be as fast-paced. So in that sense, you could say it’ll be a little more… Swedish.
Do you know what else is Swedish? Good fashion. Much of your day will revolve around this—but first, it’s time for some breakfast at your hotel.
After filling up and getting dressed, your first stop is Stockholm’s iconic city hall. The building opened in 1923 and is arguably the city’s best-recognised building. Once you venture into the courtyard, you’ll find several photography opportunities—plus some picturesque views in the direction of Riddarholmen and Södermalm.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can book tours throughout the week. However, you have to book these on the day; you can do this in the store that you see soon after entering the courtyard.
Once you’ve enjoyed your fix of culture, it’s time for some shopping. Stockholm is one of the world’s leading fashion cities; at this point, you’ll probably have noticed that the locals effectively make it a never-ending catwalk.
The largest department store in Sweden is Åhléns City, just outside T-Centralen and close to Drottninggatan. Inside, you’ll find various designer brands for men and women—including Acne and Tiger of Sweden.
Along Drottninggatan, you’ll find several different shops and outlets. If you’re missing Södermalm too much by this point, you can also head back over there to discover the district’s unique outlets. One of the best is Grandpa on Södermannsgatan, which aims to make you look good and limit its environmental impact.
After a long, hard morning shopping, you deserve a break. Spend the rest of the day hopping in and out of Stockholm’s several cafés before finishing off with dinner.
You’ve probably noticed by the five trillion boats that Sweden has a close relationship to the coast, so it’s time to sample some of the city’s finest seafood. Wedholms Fisk is arguably the city’s best restaurant, even though it does come with a pretty hefty price tag. Hop on the metro to Kungsträdgården before completing your journey on foot.
Your first two days in Stockholm have focused entirely on the city, so it’s time to step away from the bright lights and crowds (it’s all relative) for a bit. Day three is primarily about getting into nature.
Today, we’re heading to Djurgården—an island that locals and visitors alike can’t get enough of. The most scenic way to get there is via the ferry from just outside Gamla Stan; your journey is included in the public transport pass and will take roughly 10 minutes.
After enjoying breakfast and a coffee, head over to Djurgården however you like; trams and buses also run between the island and central Stockholm. We’ll start the day with a bit of walk around its perimeters, which will take 2-3 hours. Despite still being in the centre of Stockholm, you’ll feel worlds away.
In addition to its nature, Djurgården has some of the Swedish capital’s best museums. Nordiska Museet is an excellent place to learn more about Nordic culture and an absolute must for first-time visitors. If you’re a music fan, the ABBA Museum is also worth considering.
Djurgården is also home to Skansen, one of the world’s finest open-air museums. In effect, it’s Sweden in a nutshell — and it’s a rewarding experience for adults and children alike.
We can’t forget about the Vasa Museum after. Inside, you’ll discover a huge Swedish ship that sank in the waters around Stockholm centuries ago. Even if you’re not a history buff, it’s very much worth the entrance fee.
After hopping in and out of Djurgården’s various museums, you’ll almost certainly be ready for some food. This evening, we’re heading to the upscale district of Östermalm and getting our forks into some Swedish meatballs. Inside the food hall, Husmans Deli serves some of Stockholm’s most popular versions of the dish—though you should expect crowds. The deli also closes at 7pm, so you might want to go for lunch instead if that’s too early for you.
Okay, so we’ve reached the final day of your Stockholm trip. We’re not going to stray too far from the city centre because catching your flight home is probably a good idea.
It’ll be an early start; after eating and packing, check out of your hotel rooms and store your bags somewhere. If you can’t keep them at your accommodation, Stockholm Central Station has lockers you can pay for.
Today, we’re going to explore two more islands — both of which are pretty close together. The first is my favourite island in the city, Skeppsholmen. From here, you’ll get an excellent view of Gamla Stan and Södermalm. You’ll find a few additional museums here, such as the Stockholm Toy Museum. But even if you’re all cultured out at this point, circling the island is pleasant and doesn’t take too long.
To get to Skeppsholmen, you can take the ferry from Gamla Stan. Alternatively, walk or cycle across the footbridge connecting Strömkajen to the island.
When you’re finished on Skeppsholmen, you can walk directly across to Kastellholmen. The island’s main highlight is a small castle, but it also offers a great view towards Djurgården. You’ll almost always have this place almost entirely to yourself.
With time running out before you need to head back to the airport, take the last few hours exploring Stockholm’s artistic metro stations. Some of the best ones to check out are:
- Tekniska Högskolan
- Mörby Centrum
If you’re short on time, stick to two or three. But if you’ve got a late flight, you can easily catch all the highlights. You can find some of the best stops here.
Once you’re done on the metro, grab your bags and hop on a train to the airport (or home, depending on how you’re travelling). When you’re home and have declared your love for Sweden’s capital, start saving so you can return.