Stockholm provided many pleasant surprises as a traveller to the city, and despite it being a more expensive destination to visit, it is possible to still see plenty of sights and get around on a budget. On top of that, it was a city I felt entirely safe wandering around in – a big thumbs up for solo travellers!
We stayed in a lovely room in the Old Town of Sweden at a place called the Castle House Inn. This made for an excellent base for exploring the city, and its beautiful winding passageways through the streets. Our SL-Access cards (see the tourist tips at the end of the post!), that we purchased at the information desk in Arlanda Airport got us around on public transport with ease. One thing I learned and appreciated quickly here was the wicked efficiency with which the country is operated. That, and how much the Swedes love their information. You’ll find everything you need to know on most signs – and usually in English too!
Regarding things to do around Stockholm, there really is something for everyone. You’ll find a wealth of shops around the centre, historic sights, and charming buildings in the old town coupled with the usual tourist shops (or tat shops as Riley calls them – they’re my favourite).
If you take the train out a little further from the city centre, you’ll find some tranquil nature reserves that hold beautiful walks through forests that could be from fairy tales. We took a little picnic out to Älvsjöskogen one day, to enjoy the peace it offered not too far from the city.
Head to a place called Telefonplan on the red line of the metro and you’ll find a tower where you can change the lights inside with an app on your phone. Though quite a simple concept, this interactive art installation provided a good 15 minutes of fun for us and a couple of friends one night after dinner. Get off at the Telefonplan T-bana in Midsommarkransen, to change the lights yourself. You don’t even have to be close to the tower but it was fun standing below it and lighting up the building with different colours!
For just 180 SEK (about £15) you can have access to the worlds oldest open air museum, Skansen. This incredible place is located on the island of Djurgården (accessible by ferry) and was founded in 1881, providing an insight to Sweden through the years. It holds around 150 buildings to explore, all replicas or originals from the 19th century, and even a zoo full of Nordic animals, from wolves to moose. We had an incredibly fun day wandering around, with definite highlights being the petting zoo and friendly squirrels roaming around.
Purchase an SL-Access card at the airport or kiosk in a train station. These come in 24 hour, 72 hour, 7 day, 30 day, 90 day and 365 day cards that allow you to travel an unlimited amount of times via the metro and even on the ferry’s around Stockholm. The card itself costs 20 SEK (around a couple of pounds) and then you pay extra depending on the card you need. We paid 325 SEK (around £28) for the 7 day travel card. It made getting around so much easier as no need to faff about with tickets at every station!
Taxis are super expensive so make sure you’ve downloaded Uber for stress-free, A to B, journeys or head to the nearest metro stop which will usually be marked with a ‘T’. Stockholm is a beautiful city to walk around however and as I mentioned earlier, very safe, so use your legs where you can!
Don’t bring heaps of cash. Sweden is working towards becoming a cashless economy and some places now only accept card. This is in an attempt to save staff time (as if the city need be any more efficient!) and prevent robberies etc, so even though you can still use cash in places, it’s best to be prepared to use your card and accept any bank charges to avoid being stuck unable to pay for something.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask people for help. In my experience, Swedes are extremely informative, honest, and helpful, and most speak perfect English. That, in addition to all their signage, makes it quite hard to go wrong when you’re there!