Filling three days in Stockholm

I’m going to be in Stockholm for Labor Day weekend (which I realize isn’t a thing in Sweden). Basically, I’ve got Friday evening and all day Saturday–Monday to fill.

I’ve never been, and I don’t speak Swedish (I do speak French, Spanish, and a little Dutch, but I imagine English will be more useful than any of those).

Tell me what to do, Dopers.

My interests include

history (although I know next to nothing about Sweden’s)
art (the old-fashioned representational kind, not that weird stuff the kids are all into these days :D)
theater, but again, I have no Swedish
miniatures — a particular favorite; I’ve been to miniature museums in the Cotswolds (dioramas) and Paris (military installations), but I know there aren’t a lot of them in the world

Restaurant recommendations are welcomed as well. I’m not traveling on my own dime, so low- to medium-priced would be best. Although I’ll probably take myself out for a fancy-dancy meal one night.

I’m currently booked into a hotel in Vasastan (I believe that’s the name of a neighborhood), although that can be changed — I’d like for all the good stuff to be within walking distance of or metro-accessible from my hotel.

Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Here is the official brochure

Sweden is expensive compared to the UK or USA so you need to be aware of prices. Almost everywhere takes credit cards, but some make a charge for it so get some SEK before you leave for small purchases like coffee and use a CC for anything else. Public transport is very good.

Here is some help from a local that he posted on another forum:

For the ultimate in miniatures, you have to go to Hamburg.

This video is an eye-opener.

I had a day and a half there about 10 years ago and pretty much winged it. There’s a lot of stuff there, the public transportation is excellent, and it’s not hard at all to find interesting things to look at.

The old part of the city, Gamla Stan, is definitely where you want to go for old architecture. There’s also 300 year old restaurant there that’s pretty cool: Den Glydene Freden. It wasn’t cheap, though.
The little island just north of Gamla Stan, with the government building, has a smallish museum about medieval life that was free when I was there.
The Vasa is a 17th century ship recovered from where it sank, and is now a museum. It was closed when I was there, but it sounded interesting.

We were in Stockholm for a cruise, but only for the day. We went to the Vasa Museum which is well worth a visit. We also happened upon the changing of the guards.

We took the subway with no issues, and no problem with only knowing English.
I envy you - Stockholm is one of our cruise stops we definitely want to go back to.

It has been ten years for me too, but one thing I enjoyed that isn’t mentioned yet is climbing to the top of the Stockholm City Hall Tower. I remember the internal brickwork of the tiny corridors and stair cases to be cool, and the view from the top was good. Since history and architecture were the first things on your list I suspect this might be just up your alley too.

Vasa was interesting. A ferry ride out to the Archipelago was nice too.

Hej! We were just there earlier this month.

  • The Vasa Museum is a must-see, go early to avoid the crowds. Allow plenty of time, too, especially as you’re a history buff.

  • We had a lovely meal at Bakfickan, the “hip pocket” rear bar/terrace (we ate outside) of the opera house.

  • We also really enjoyed the concept of fika, and ate a LOT of kanelbullar (cinammon and/or cardamom rolls) with tea/coffee.

  • We took a ferry to the holiday island of Grinda. It was a 90ish minute ride, the island was charming, and full of happy Swedes. There are a few restaurant options, so don’t feel the need to pack a picnic unless you really want to. The ferry took us past Vaxholm fortress, which was nice to see from the water.

  • Just wandering was great. We had lovely weather, although hot, and did a bunch of sitting in parks, people watching, admiring buildings. You know you’re in Europe when you glance up a side street and see a beautiful verdigris-y dome. The watersides were chock-full of swimming and boating Swedes (like I said, it was HOT) so if you’re into that, take your swimming gear and look up somewhere local to where you’re staying. (Where are you staying? We rented a nice AirBnb in Norrmalm).

  • Not sure if you’re flying into Arlanda, but the Flygbussen were cheap, clean and ran well into the night (we arrived at 1:30AM, a very delayed afternoon flight from Oakland. Norwegian Airlines doesn’t have the best reputation for timeliness…!)

  • The underground (T-bana) was easy to use. Overall we did not use any cash, although our US credit cards, sans PIN, were useless at many unmanned kiosks, e.g., those to buy underground tickets. We bought tickets instead in the newsagents adjacent to the station. Some station did not have a convenient newsagent, though!

  • Everyone spoke English. EVERYONE. I’d been learning Swedish on an app, and was quite disappointed when my halting Swedish questions were answered in impeccable English!

  • We had a great experience too at the Stockholm Visitors Centre next to the cultural center. A chirpy guide gave us exactly the info we needed, timetables and brochures, etc. I bet if you asked in person about your more esoteric questions (miniatures) they could help you out.
    Have a great trip!

Since the OP is looking for advice, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Sweden is quickly (but not officially) getting rid of cash. Especially bar and restaurants. Look for “Kontantfritt” (No cash) as you enter an eatery. You do want some cash for small purchases. Get it from an ATM, not an exchange office even though ATMs have also entered the endangered tech list. There are a bunch of them at Arlanda Airport so get your cash there, since they are getting harder to find on the streets. $50 should be more than enough for a three day stay.

Tipping. It follows the general European way of "rounding up. " Don’t think in terms of percentages. If the check comes to SEK 380, You might give 400. That tip is about $2.
And since many places won’t accept cash, when you pay by card, the waiter will enter the amount of the check and then you’re supposed to enter the final sum. Again, this is where you enter 400 and ok.

If you want to splurge, check out the Gondola (“Gondolen”)
It’s a bit pricey, but not awfully so. The views are spectacular.

Don’t eat anywhere in the Old Town. Everything there is a tourist trap, with cheesy, kitschy gift shops and horribly overpriced restaurants and coffeeshops.

I could fill 3 days just walking around; it’s a lovely city and most of the pretty tourist sites are within reasonable walking distance.

Since you’re going in early autumn there’s a couple of things you may be able to do that were not available when I was there:

  1. Bus that drives directly into the water (“ocean bus”). Just a gimmick, but still I’d go on it.
  2. Rooftop sightseeing tour.

Or did I dream both of the above activities? :slight_smile:

Also a note about the coffee: Swedes drink the strongest coffee in the world. By the end of my trip I was just saying “Hey, give me the weakest latte you can imagine” to get what I considered to be a “normal” coffee.

And it’s true about the level of English. I remember at one point a guy working in a service station saying the following to me: “Please pardon my English; I don’t think *Converge *is correct, I should have said Merge”. I of course reprimanded him for his atrocious English :slight_smile:
(Although, that was a young person, I did encounter some older Swedes that did not speak English at all, but not many)

Whoops. Sorry.

Nothing to do with Stockholm, but ifd you like miniatures you should see the Canal Museum in Amsterdam. One room contains a big dolls-house that is a model of the actual museum building. Through each window you can see a room decorated as for a given point in history- with miniature semi-transparent people dancing the minuet, etc. I assume it’s an example of Pepper’s Ghost. Part of the garden is modelled and the fish ponds have moving fish.

The climax of the model is the present-day room- which is the room containing the dolls-house. Therefore through the window you can see another, tiny doll’s house- with inside tinier people moving about…

It quite blew me away. Beautifully done.


Thanks for the suggestions, everyone —and for all the information, bob. I’m really looking forward to this.

And now I have to plan trips to Bonn and Hamburg.