Places: Stockholm – Stockholm’s archipelag
Time: 24th – 31th of August 2018
In a sentence: I felt in love.
What can I say about Stockholm? I love it. The atmosphere, the people, the old town, the archipelago, the views, the nature, and the salmon. Oh damn…I want to return there.
But let’s go in order.
How to arrive in Stockholm?
Essentially, you’ll go to Stockholm by plane, so, it is important to know that Stockholm has 3 airports:
- Stockholm Arlanda: the main one, the biggest one and obviously, where the low-cost don’t go. So if you arrive here, you’re lucky. From here to the city center it’s about 45 minutes and 119SEK (€11.5 – 13US$) by bus.
- Stockholm Bromma: a small airport close to the city where a few airlines companies land and depart.
- Stockholm Skavsta: the smallest one and you have to know two things: you will land in the middle of nowhere, literally, and it’s 80 minutes to the city center. Moreover, the bus will cost you 159SEK (€15.5 – US$17.5). I spent 20€ about the flights and 30€ about the buses 😛
If you want to save some money buy the tickets online here: Flygbussarna or through the app. You pay a bit more at the counter. You can save up to 40SEK (€4 – US$4.5).
Be aware that there are discounts for families and youth up to 17yo!
I started from Skavsta and for me was impossible to sleep in the bus, my eyes wanted to devour this new country. Brand new bus, a perfectly smooth road with 2 lanes, no traffic, and the bus driver was smiling, nice and a perfect English speaker. I already love this country.
With the bus, you’ll arrive at the central station, where you can have a typical stop in the tourist office for a map and some info and in a supermarket to eat something. Everybody was smiling at me and extremely nice. Sorry, where are the stereotyped cold people of Scandinavia? Still doesn’t know… read after to know more about this stereotype 😀
Well, it’s finally time to discover the city!
The best way to discover Stockholm
Usually, the best thing to do in a new city firstly is a guided tour around the city with someone. No, don’t worry, I know you are traveling on a budget, like me, and want to save money as much as possible to travel more. So you have two possibilities. If you have a friend or a host (Couchsurfing) who have time to show you the city, go for it, absolutely! Whether you are not doing Couchsurfing (very bad!) or you don’t have friends in the city there’s no problem. You can join a freetour! In Stockholm, there are two main companies: Freetourstockholm & Stockholmfreetour. I used the first one for 2 different tours which one I liked and another one, nope. There’s no suggestion about which is the best tour-operator because it simply depends on which guide you’re lucky, or unlucky to have. But anyway I suggest you do it because even if you don’t like you have nothing to lose. You can always leave the group whenever you want (tell to the guide, sometimes they wait for you, you can always invent an excuse) or don’t leave a tip at the end. Because yes, it’s free but if it’s worth it, it’s nice to leave a tip for the guide. In any case, you have an idea of the city and now, you can go and explore by yourself!
Stockholm is a quite expensive city, so if you want to save money and explore decently the city my suggestion is to buy the Stockholm pass which is a paper ticket that permit you to enter practically everywhere without paying the entrance ticket. Because the museums, and every other attraction, in Stockholm is expensive, with this pass you’ll save a lot of money. Especially if you want to explore also the archipelago like I did (I absolutely suggest you!), you’ll not pay any of the boats to reach the islands!
Gamla Stan, the old town
The old town is a little Island, called “Gamla Stan”, in Stockholm’s Archipelago. There’s a little bridge that connects to the city center and another one in the opposite part that connects to another part of the city, Sodermalm.
This island is tiny and cozy, with just tourists around and some policemen who tell you to be careful of pick-pockets. Typical shops and restaurants for tourists, magnets, t-shirts, and postcards. But I don’t want to talk about this, there’s a quite interesting fact. If you look carefully you’ll notice something strange. A lot of the houses are leaning. The reason is quite funny: the foundations of these houses are trash. Yes, you read correctly, trash, garbage, rubbish! And quite an old one, from the dark age. They recently discovered that in the dark age people of Stockholm put the rubbish outside the island, in the lake, very gross, indeed! With the time it grew up until becomes part of the island, where now some of the houses are founded. And more time is passing more they become leaned, in some years some of the houses will touch each other! It’s happening because the trash is not perfectly stable and the weight of the buildings are thinning the trash-soil under.
Must see and do in Stockholm
I highly recommend you to enjoy the boat tour “Under the bridges of Stockholm“, it will show you nice parts of Stockholm and you can hear the nice stories about the city through the guided tour on the headphones. It will give you another, awesome and different, view of the city.
- The museum of Vasa (for more info scroll down in the museum section)
- Do FIKA! (My Italian friends will laugh for this, but I can’t explain why 😀 )
It’s a very Swedish thing, it means to go for a coffee, or tea, together with a piece of sweet. You’ll find cafés and cake shops everywhere. And the sweets are amaaaaazing 😛
- Explore the archipelago with boat tours.
- Wandering the city center and Gamla Stan by feet.
I did a lot of boat tours, also during the evening and I saw just old couples within them. I was the only young person on most of the boats I’ve been. And most of them were locals. Why? It’s the best part of Stockholm! Go and explore!
There are so many options from 1hour to an entire day and even more, I suggest you all of them (yep, I enjoyed so much), depends on your budget and time, remember, with the Stockholm pass you don’t pay!. Check them here -> Stromma.
During the boat tours, you’ll see a lot of villas all around with different styles. I discovered, talking with locals, that a lot of Swedish prefer to live there because you are in the middle of nature and on the lake, at just 20-30min from the city center. And most of these villas has a private docking for the boat. To see these villas the best boat tour is the one going to Artipelag and Gustavsberg.
I was the only one on the boat, all the others had the dinner included. But I’ll never forget the moon and the light of the city reflected on the water and the colors on the horizon.
Free things to do in Stockholm
- You should know that a lot of metro stations in Stockholm are pieces of art! So, Enjoy a free tour of the metro of Stockholm from the official metro service. Only during the summer season (for the English language) and it takes about 1 hour. Here all the info Art Walks.
Ok, this is not completely free because you have to pay the ticket, but still…
- Walking through the city. This city is magnificent and nothing is better than just wandering around and lose yourself in the city. And not only in the Gamla Stan!
- Visit the incredibly nice round library
- There are free museums, too! Here a list:
- Moderna Museet
- Maritime Museum
- Medieval Museum
- Hallwylska Museet
- Dans Museet
- National Museum
- Nordiska Museet
- Historiska Museet
- Arme Museum
- Naturhistoriska riksmuseet
- Etnografiska Museerna
Where to eat
Well, if you are a backpacker with a low budget the only way to survive is go for a supermarket. Here, the simplest ready-made salad will cost you about 55SEK (€5 – US$6). If you want to go to a restaurant, is much more! But there is a good, very good, middle-way. SaluHall or better, Ostermalms Hallen, in the link there are all the infos to find it. With around 120 – 140SEK (€11.5-13.5 – US$13-15) you’ll find the best ready-made salmon salad you’ll ever try. Salmon is my personal favorite flavor on earth, and the one which I ate there…you can’t imagine….you simply MUST try! I went, for three times, to “M Seger Meat & Cheese” because it was the cheaper (120SEK) and with a different kind of salmon salad every day. Absolutely worth it!
The SaluHall is around 7 mins to the Nybrokajen by feet. It’s where the most of the ferries start, a very good place to enjoy your street food and the view, whatching the old ferries slowly go and return.
Same for the Strömkajen, but the best place is some meters away from there, in front of the National Museum you’ll have the view of Gamla Stan, here!
Best spots in Stockholm
Here, the best place to see the city from above, with a link to google maps:
- Skinnarviksberget: the most famous point
- Urban Deli: a rooftop restaurant and cafè in the city center, you can go up for free.
- Långholmens klippbad: I discovered this place casualty, just wandering around, and I was completely alone.
Stockholm, the museums’ city
A premise, I’m not exactly a museum guy. Most of them, usually, are boring, in my personal opinion. But in this city, I went to a lot of museums and I enjoyed so much! With the Stockholm Pass, you don’t have to pay the entrance fee and plus, in case of bad weather, it happens ooooften, you can go inside and have some good time.
The best I visited are these:
- The Vasa Museum
This is absolutely a MUST in Stockholm. There isn’t anything else similar in the entire world. You will see a big old ship sank in 1628 after 20 minutes of the inaugural launch. And it is completely intact, 99% of it, to be precise. It’s astonishing and the story behind is absolutely fascinating, I don’t want to say more…just a picture to give you an idea.
There are 30mins guided tour every hour in English and Swedish and twice a day other languages, check in the website 😉
This is the most open museum in the world! If you like photography, this is a must for you, absolutely worth it. I suggest you visit in the evening, almost nobody around and you can enjoy the exhibitions in a warm place, without losing sun hours inside a building 🙂
- Nobel Museet
Interesting history, facts, and curiosity about the famous Nobel prize.
There is a nice 30mins free tour inside, almost every hour.
- Moderna Museet (FREE)
At the Moderna Museet, there is a free guided tour, it is short, but the guide was astonishingly good. There is no info about it on the website, so you have to check at the counter at the entrance for the timing. I did one at 18.00. There is also a free audio guide through your smartphone via an app. Remember to bring your headphones!
When I was there I was lucky, There was a concert of electro deep music in the evening, for free.
Within the same building, there is also ArkDes. Free exhibitions which change frequently.
A very famous open-air museum with nordic animals and the nice staff will show you how it was the life in a old time, with explanations of old works.
On weekdays there are fewer people but also the exhibitions are rarely and some things are closed, at least when I went there.
Where to stay in Stockholm
So, for the first night, I didn’t find anybody who wants to host me by Couchsurfing. So, I checked hostels, the minimum price I found was about 23€ in a dormitory outside the city center. I’m the kind of man who when is doing something, or do it very well or nothing. I decided to spend “a bit” more to sleep in a luxury hostel, 42€ for a night in a 6 beds dormitory. If you think that in a cheap basic hostel nearby the city center you pay about 28-30€, it’s not so much. Oh, I forgot to say the best part. This hostel was a sailing ship. If it’s not enough, it was anchored exactly in front of the old town. After 2 months wandering around Europe in the cheapest way possible, at least 1 cool night was due!
I’m happy to say that the price I found, 42€, it was more expensive than usual, I saw that the normal price is about 33€. Like a normal hostel!
If you want to check or book, here it is the link: Af Chapman
Be careful to book the “cabin” and not a “room” if you want to stay inside the ship.
In Stockholm, there’s another cool hostel, but I didn’t try it, just to let you know about it 🙂
Yes, it’s a hostel inside an airplane, a Jumbo Jet!! I think is the best choice if you are landing or departing from the airport because obviously, this hostel is within the airport!
Scandinavian people (in general!)
They are not cold, at all. They have just a different mentality: for them start to talk with a stranger is impossible simply because they think to bother someone else. Plus, they also like being by themselves, in peace. But they are lovely and warm people, it’s just difficult to open them and start a conversation. After, everything is much better 😉
Nice stories about Stockholm
Do you know why the famous “Stockholm’s syndrome” is called like that? Guess where it happens? If you wish to know the funny story here it is: Norrmalmstorg robbery
Another nice story was about the royal family. The princess, Victoria, wanted to improve her fitness. So, she went to a gym, as everyone else would have done, and encountered the nice owner of the gym, Daniel Westling, who became, firstly, his personal trainer, and after, her fiance. And guess what? In 2010 they married! But, actually, it wasn’t so simple. Daniel wasn’t a royal and he had one “big” problem. He didn’t act, speak or eat like a royal. So after some years of learning, he was able to become “Duke of Västergötland” and “Prince”, and the couple received the consent of the King to marry. Nice romantic story 🙂