It’s the number one attraction in Stockholm and for good reason: not only is the interactive Abba section wildly fun and informative, the Swedish Music Hall of Fame is in the same building (and included in your ticket price) and is in and of itself beautifully presented. Abba was intimately involved in conceptualising the entire thing and it shows.
It was called the mightiest warship of its time, yet after setting sail in front of hundreds of people, at around 4.30pm in the afternoon it sank just outside Stockholm harbour less than 30 minutes later. And there it lay for more than 300 years, finally being raised in the mid-20th century in what became a world-renowned salvage operation. The museum where it sits today is a fascinating look into Swedish history.
The Royal Palace
Stockholm’s Royal Palace is the official residence of His Majesty the King, but also houses a number of excellent attractions open to the public, such as the Royal Apartments, the Royal Treasury, and the Museum of Antiquities. It’s a wonderful place to spend the day (be sure to catch the Changing of the Guard) before heading over to Gamla Stan (The Old Town) next door.
With more than 150 buildings – homes, churches, schools, shops and workshops – transported from around the country, Skansen is a miniature historical Sweden. In addition to the buildings, the world’s first open-air museum also has native animals such as bears, wolves, and seals, a children’s zoo, and craftspeople creating things like blown glass and pottery on site. This is one for the whole family, with plenty of things to hold everyone’s attention for the entire day.
Stockholm’s amusement park overlooks the water. It is not just filled with the usual rides and games, it also has a number of great restaurants and bars and hosts a series of summer concerts that attract top international acts. Be warned, though: these shows are incredibly popular, so plan ahead.
One of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, Stockholm’s Gamla Stan is filled with award-winning restaurants, cafés, bars, shops, and a number of wonderful museums. The cobble-stoned streets are pedestrian-friendly and there you’ll find both the oldest street in Stockholm (Köpmangatan), and the narrowest (Mårten Trotzigs Gränd).
Located on the beautiful island of Skeppsholmen, Moderna is home to an excellent collection of Swedish (and international) modern and contemporary art – think Picasso and Giacometti. It also hosts numerous exhibitions, such as the recent visit by legendary performance artist Marina Abramović. Several excellent restaurants and an absolutely amazing gift shop round out the offering.
When it was opened by Annie Leibovitz in 2010, Stockholm’s Photography Museum immediately became one of the most popular attractions in the city. Each year, four major exhibitions are staged and those are complimented by roughly 20 smaller ones. The café on the top floor offers absolutely stunning views across the water to Djurgården, and the gift shop is a treasure trove.
Revisit your childhood at Junibacken, which takes you into the world of Astrid Lindgren, Sweden’s world-renowned children’s author. Pippi Longstocking is of course a integral part of the museum but you’ll also meet Emil, Karlsson on the Roof, The Brothers Lionhearted, and many more. The Story Train exhibitions were designed by the Royal Dramatic Theater, the bookshop is extremely well-stocked, and the restaurant offers not just great traditional Swedish food but also killer views.
The Museum of Spirits isn’t focused on ghosts, it’s focused on booze. Housed in Stockholm’s only two remaining 18th century naval buildings, the museum looks at Sweden’s complicated history and relationship with alcohol. Sponsored by Absolut, the museum is home to some of the vodka-maker’s most known art works, as well as things like a room where you can experience what it feels like to be drunk. Unsurprisingly there’s a bar on the premises – and a very good restaurant.
City Hall (Stadshus) is one of the most iconic buildings in the city and is the seat of Stockholm’s government. It’s also where the annual Novel Dinner is held, and offers an absolutely fascinating tour that gives you the history of not just the building but of Stockholm as well. A small café abuts the grounds and you can even swim in the waters that lap up against it.
Taking up nearly a third of the city’s real estate, Kungliga Djurgården (the Royal Game Park) is home to some of Stockholm’s top attractions, but is also a massive green oasis where city dwellers walk, run, bike, and generally feed their need for nature. There are a number of excellent restaurants and cafés where you can rest before wandering the island a bit longer or visiting yet another amazing attraction.
Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde
Originally the home of Prince Eugen, the building and grounds were deeded to the state upon his death in 1947. Prince Eugen was one of Sweden’s best-known landscape painters, and the museum – which is among the most visited in Sweden – houses many of his most renowned works, along with much of his collection. Temporary exhibitions are regularly staged in this stunning building designed by renowned architect Ferdinand Boberg.
Royal Swedish Opera
The premier stage for opera in Sweden since 1773, Kungliga Operan offers not just the chance to see top-level talent, you can also tour the premises. The tour takes you backstage into the royal rooms, and gives a peek into the orchestra pit, as well as a thorough history of the building, which is fascinating in and of itself.
You’ll experience one of the best views in town from heart-stopping heights when you ride to the top of the world’s largest spherical building, Globe, in a glass gondola. The trip takes about 30 minutes and at the top you’ll drink in 360 degree views of the city. Globe is home to some great shops and restaurants, and is one of the premier event venues in Stockholm.
The Nobel Prizes are arguably the most prestigious awards in the world. This museum not only gives you the history of the prizes but also hosts numerous exhibitions focusing on subjects related to the various prize categories and the ceremony itself. But don’t think it’s all seriousness and science – recent exhibitions have looked at Nobel fashion and artists considering the Dalai Lama.
The Stockholm archipelago is home to more than 30,000 islands that range from the lively sophistication of Sandhamn to the remote wildness of Möja. Whether you choose a day trip to one island, or island-hop for a weekend, there is no doubt you’ll come away somehow transformed by the beauty around every corner.
This one is for history buffs. The Army Museum takes you through Swedish history dating from 1500 to the present day. Looking at both wartime and peace, the three floors are filled with an astounding number of historical objects and trophies, as well as staged scenes and the Raoul Wallenberg Room, which looks at the man who saved thousands upon thousands of people from the Nazis.
Built in 1279, Storkyrkan is a medieval church that is home to the legendary Vädersolstavlan, as well as numerous other unique objects. Regular religious services are held here and it’s the go-to church for royal weddings, funerals for prominent citizens, and those always popular royal baptisms.
The National Museum of Science and Technology is Sweden’s biggest museum of technology and is devoted to allowing both kids and adults see, feel, touch, and understand technology through interactive exhibitions. With everything from space and energy to the environment and the digital world coming under the microscope, this museum is enormous good fun, as well as wildly informative.
Use this handy map to find the 20 best attractions in Stockholm: