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Stockholm, Sweden Travel Guide

Stockholm Summary


  • Picturesque setting on Lake Malaren
  • Home to 100 museums, like the Museum of Modern Art and Skansen, the oldest open-air museum in the world
  • Impressive architecture abounds in Gamla Stan
  • Extensive public transportation system makes it easy to get around
  • Far less crime than some other European cities
  • Up to 18 hours of daylight in the summer
  • The birthplace of world-famous H&M, the city has numerous shops and boutiques
  • Breath-taking sunrises and sunsets in the summer months
  • Beautiful green spaces, with one-third of the city covered by parks
  • One of the cleanest big cities in the world
  • Very gay-friendly, with an international annual gay pride festival held here
  • The origin of the smorgasbord, visitors can try traditional foods like reindeer, moose, and meatballs, or opt for the in-vogue "new Swedish" gourmet dishes
  • Traditional Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace takes place daily in the summer and twice a week during the rest of the year
  • The oldest preserved warship in the world attracts many visitors
  • Distinct seasons, with ice-skating in the winter and swimming in the summer
  • Almost everyone can speak English


  • As the most densely populated area in Scandinavia, the city can be very crowded
  • As little as 6 hours of daylight in the winter
  • Just about everything is expensive


  • Norrmalm: The main borough of Stockholm's city center, home to numerous museums and tourist attractions
  • Ostermalm: Chic area where the "rich and famous" live
  • Gamla Stan: "Old Town" Stockholm, where the Royal Palace is located
  • Sodermalm: Bohemian area with art galleries, clubs, and historic homes
  • Nacka: Business-centric area, 10 minutes from central Stockholm

What It's Like

Dubbed "the Venice of the North" for its many waterways, Stockholm offers the best of both worlds -- a booming metropolis steeped in culture and history, without the dingy feel of some of the other big cities in Europe. One of the cleanest cities of its size, Stockholm was Europe's first "green" capital and maintains much of its natural splendor in the parks that cover one-third of the city.

Another third of the city is covered in water. Set on Lake Malaren, Stockholm is made up of 14 islands, interconnected by a system of bridges and tunnels. (The city's subway and ferry system makes it easy to island-hop.) Central Stockholm is referred to as Innerstaden and consists of several small islands. Norrmalm, one of the most popular destinations in Innerstaden, is home to the majority of the city's 100 museums, like the Museum of Modern Art, as well as fabulous shopping. Gamla Stan offers a peak into historic Sweden through the maintained medieval city layout and centuries-old palaces. Most visitors come during the summer, when daylight lasts up to 18 hours and the weather makes for comfortable swimming and sightseeing. In the winter months, daylight can be as brief as six hours, but the opera season is running during that time and visitors can partake in numerous winter sports and activities.

Where To Stay

Unlike other tourist-centric cities, Stockholm does not have a plethora of new hotels -- instead, Stockholm relies on its hotels' stately grandeur to draw crowds. These hotels can be pricey, and do not always offer the most up-to-date amenities, but the service is hard to match. Some newer hotels do provide more modern amenities, but then the service can lag. Most hotels offer special deals and packages throughout the year, particularly during the summer.

Many travelers will prefer to stay in one of the areas that makes up Stockholm's city center, Innerstaden: Normalm, Sodermalm, Ostermalm, and Gamla Stan. Other areas are usually about a 10-minute drive from central Stockholm. Normalm is home to many popular tourist attractions while Nacka, although outside of Innerstaden, is a wise choice for business travelers.

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