From the famous Gamla Stan to the lesser-known Solna, this Stockholm neighborhood guide for first-timers contains everything you need to know to explore the city’s districts in 3 days.
If you’re packing your bags for the capital of Sweden, Stockholm, you’re in the right place.
With this Stockholm neighborhood guide for first-timers, you’ll be equipped to explore the city’s best areas in depth, even if it’s your first visit.
From medieval churches and colorful squares to lush parks and open-air museums, you will undoubtedly find something to impress you.
Map of the Stockholm Neighborhoods You Must Visit
How to Use the Following Stockholm Neighborhood Guide for First-Timers
1. At the beginning of each day’s section, you will find the itinerary that I recommend you follow to get the maximum out of your trip.
2. Moreover, you can find short and useful information about each spot, along with its exact location on Google Maps.
3. If you have less or more time at your disposal, I suggest what you can add or skip at the end of the itinerary.
4. To give you a more comprehensive view of the city, I include photos from both summer and winter.
5. Finally, I recommend accommodation and transportation options that I personally used.
How Many Days Do You Need in Stockholm?
Three days are ideal for exploring Stockholm’s neighborhoods without rushing.
You will have enough time to visit all the major landmarks on foot, such as Gamla Stan and the Vasa Museum, as well as try homemade Swedish food.
Additionally, you can engage in an off-the-beaten-path activity like winter kayaking.
If you only have two days at your disposal, at the end of this guide, you’ll find what to skip to tailor the itinerary to your needs.
Unique Accommodation Options in Stockholm for a Memorable Stay
For our stay, we chose Hotel Giò, which offers practical rooms and an impressive lobby, reminiscent of a designer shop, where you can have your breakfast or relax.
It’s located in the less touristy neighborhood of Solna, next to Hagaparken, a large park with a lake that will make your stay memorable.
If you prefer something more central, Grand Hôtel Stockholm in the Norrmalm area offers everything you need for a unique luxury experience.
It’s a true five-star accommodation option, located in the best part of Stockholm, with a building reminiscent of a palace, and a top-notch spa.
On the other hand, if you’re traveling on a limited budget, Castanea Old Town Hostel is a great choice.
It’s located in the “heart” of the Old Town, in a building with centuries of history.
Its prices are particularly affordable, and it’s an excellent base for exploring the city.
Easy and Convenient Ways to Travel to Stockholm
The easiest way to get to Stockholm is by air via Arlanda Airport.
The city has three more airports: Bromma, most of whose flights are domestic, and Västerås and Skavsta.
However, the last two are more than 100 kilometers away from the city center.
From Arlanda Airport, the easiest way to get to the city is the Arlanda Express train.
The journey takes just 18 minutes, and its departures are frequent, usually every 15 minutes.
Alternatively, if you are a group of 3-4 people, or if you just prefer to travel with more comfort, you can use a pre-booked taxi.
The service I use on my trips is Welcome Pickups, as they wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and they have numerous positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Trustpilot.
Stockholm in 3 Days: Day 1
The recommended itinerary for your first day
1) Komet Café
Why: Your first day can’t but start with “fika”.
Fika is the beloved Swedish tradition of taking a break to enjoy coffee and something sweet, accompanied by loved ones.
Komet Café, located in the Kungsholmen neighborhood, next to the Old Town (or Gamla Stan as the locals call it), is one of the best places for fika.
Try at least one savory snack and a sweet – my personal favorite is the cinnamon roll.
2) Stockholm City Hall
Why: Having gained the necessary energy thanks to the coffee break, it’s time for the Stockholm City Hall.
It’s arguably the city’s most impressive building, with its panoramic view from the quay standing out.
Moreover, it offers guided tours of its interiors at regular intervals, in Swedish and English.
You can find all the times on the official page of the city hall, and I suggest fitting one of the tours into your schedule.
3) Riddarholmen Church
Why: In the past, Stockholm was one of Europe’s most significant medieval centers, spread across three islands.
On one of these lies the Riddarholmen Church, parts of which date back to the 13th century.
A stop here is a must as it features architecture that impresses – notably, it also serves as the burial site for most Swedish monarchs.
Why: If you don’t like trying unusual flavors, then skip this spot and move straight to the next.
However, if you want to taste something different, Strömmingsvagnen is for you: Swedish fast food, with fried herring, mashed potatoes, fresh scallions, and pickles.
Definitely not your ordinary street food.
5) Saint Gertrude, German Church
Why: Your next destination is Saint Gertrude Church, also known as the German Church.
Its name is no coincidence, as it was named after the Germans who dominated the area during the Middle Ages.
Don’t miss visiting both its courtyard and interior, where the colorful stained glass stands out.
Why: Just a 2-3 minute walk away, you can find Stortorget, the city’s old square.
Here, you will encounter the iconic red, yellow, and green buildings that feature on every magnet and postcard of Stockholm.
If you’re lucky enough to be at Stortorget near Christmas, you can also explore a delightful Christmas market.
7) Nobel Prize Museum
Why: The Nobel Prize Museum is located on Stortorget.
Even if you don’t plan to visit it, it’s worth appreciating its architecture from the outside.
Note that the same building also houses the headquarters of the Swedish Academy; it’s the organization that chooses the laureates for the famous annual Nobel Prize in Literature, in memory of Alfred Nobel.
Why: A few meters away, you’ll encounter another impressive cathedral, the Storkyrkan.
It’s the city’s oldest church, and it’s certainly worth entering to enjoy the interior.
Among its most remarkable features are the medieval vaulted ceiling supported by red bricks and the statue of Saint George battling the dragon.
9) Homemade Swedish Food
Why: Now, it’s time for some excellent homemade Swedish food at Stockholms Gästabud.
Be sure to try the Swedish meatballs with mash or the warm salmon (they serve cold salmon too, but the warm is better).
For starters, if you want to try something different, choose the reindeer.
However, if Stockholms Gästabud is fully booked, a great alternative nearby is Restaurant Tradition.
10) Royal Palace
Why: The next stop in this Stockholm neighborhood guide for first-timers is the famous Royal Palace of Stockholm.
It’s one of the largest palaces in Europe and the official residence of the Swedish royal family.
It’s as beautiful inside as it is outside and worth a visit.
However, bear in mind that it closes relatively early – you’ll find detailed opening hours on the Palace’s official website.
11) Parliament House
Why: Right next to the palace, on the islet Helgeandsholmen, you will find the Parliament House.
Built between 1897 and 1905, it today houses the parliament of Sweden.
If you’re interested in politics, then consider joining one of the free tours that guide you through the premises.
Otherwise, the building remains ideal for taking some exterior photos.
12) Royal Swedish Opera
Why: As you conclude the first of your 3 days in Stockholm, you will encounter another elegant city building.
It’s the Royal Swedish Opera, built in a neo-classical style.
Its capacity reaches 1200 people, and if you want to attend one of its performances, you need to book tickets well in advance.
However, note that some of the seats have limited visibility of the stage.
Why: Before returning to your hotel, a walk through Kungsträdgården is a must.
The park’s central location and outdoor cafes make it one of Stockholm’s most popular hangouts and meeting places.
If you’re here in winter, don’t miss the outdoor ice rink where locals gather for skating. In summer, you can enjoy your coffee or beer on the benches.
Stockholm in 3 Days: Day 2
The recommended itinerary for your second day
14) Vasa Museum
Why: The second of your three days in Stockholm begins at the famous Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgården neighborhood.
This museum is a must-visit, even though it has only one main exhibit: a 17th-century wooden ship that sank in the mud on its maiden voyage.
Researchers discovered it at the bottom of the sea in 1956 and finally brought it to the surface in 1961.
Along with the ship, many objects that were on it were found and are also exhibited in the museum.
Why: Just a few minutes walk away is Skansen, the second museum on this island that you must not miss in this Stockholm neighborhood guide for first-timers.
Unlike Vasa, Skansen is an open-air museum focused on Swedish history and also features a zoo.
It first opened in 1891, aiming to show what life was like in various regions of the country before the industrial era.
In winter, it also hosts a beautiful Christmas market worth visiting.
16) Royal Djurgården
Why: If the weather allows and you enjoy parks, then you definitely should spend some time exploring the picturesque Royal Djurgården Park.
Filled with walking paths, trees, and picnic spots, it’s an ideal destination for relaxation.
Given its large size, a good way to tour it is by renting electric scooters – that’s what we did, and it was truly memorable.
Why: After touring most of Djurgården island, it’s time to head towards Strandvägen.
It’s one of the city’s most beautiful boulevards, overlooking Gamla Stan, and was built in 1897 for the Stockholm’s World Fair.
18) Pizza or Burger
Why: V Italiano Moderno Stockholm is less than a five-minute walk from The Hallwyl Museum, serving noteworthy pizzas and pasta dishes.
Personal favorites are Prosciutto e Funghi and, if you like spicier food, Salami Piccante.
Alternatively, if you’re not in the mood for Italian, you can find tasty burgers at Flippin’ Burgers right across the street.
19) Pascal Kaffebar
Why: Whether you prefer a good coffee after your meal or a sweet treat, the tiny Pascal Kaffebar serves both.
Located right across from Humlegården, you have the option to either sit at its opposite benches or take something to go and walk in the park.
Everything we tried was pretty good, especially the croissants.
20) NK Stockholm
Why: Your Stockholm neighborhood guide for first-timers continues with the city’s most famous shopping center, NK Stockholm.
It hosts dozens of luxury stores, and you can easily spend 1-2 hours browsing clothes, perfumes, cosmetics, etc.
Even if you’re not into shopping, like me, the premises are worth visiting.
Why: Your stroll continues on Drottninggatan, the city’s famous pedestrian street.
Along it, you will encounter hundreds of stores, literally selling everything, from souvenirs and magnets to expensive watches and stylish furniture.
You don’t have a specific destination here – just relax, enter any store you like, and blend in with the crowd.
Why: At this point, you could say your day is over and return to your hotel to rest.
However, if you can still manage to eat one more sweet treat, Vete-Katten, just a breath away, is one of the city’s most famous patisseries – cafés.
Its showcases are filled with dozens of sweets, but the best we tried was the vanilla pastry.
Stockholm in 3 Days: Day 3
The recommended itinerary for your third day
23) Winter Kayaking
Why: If you’re not into athletic activities, ignore this recommendation and proceed to the next one.
However, if you love them and find yourself in Stockholm during winter, you can enjoy a completely unique experience by going winter kayaking.
You’ll find detailed information in this highly rated tour – keep in mind that the activity will take about half a day, including transportation.
Even so, you’ll still have time to see all the other spots of the day.
Why: If you decide not to do the winter kayaking, you will have enough time to explore another park in Stockholm.
Hagaparken, or Haga as the locals call it, is located in the Solna neighborhood and is part of the Royal National City Park.
You can easily spend 2-3 hours here, strolling and enjoying nature, or drinking your coffee in the cafes located inside the park.
Why: The last of your three days in Stockholm continues in the youthful neighborhood of Södermalm.
Here your journey starts from the southern part of the area with, what else, coffee and fika at Koffein.
Anything you try from the sweets is tasty, with special mention to the shop’s espresso – by far the best I tried in the entire city.
Why: Right in front of Koffein, Götgatan – the most famous street in the area – passes by.
Take your time and stroll along, heading towards Medborgarplatsen, the central square of Södermalm.
Once you arrive, you’ll immediately notice the difference from the squares of the Old Town.
It is in no way as picturesque or beautiful – if you have such expectations, you will be disappointed.
However, it has its own charm, that of a bustling, lively place.
27) Katarina Kyrka
Why: Leaving Medborgarplatsen, take a small detour and check out the Lutheran church, Katarina Kyrka.
This part of Södermalm is more peaceful, and it is worth visiting not only the interior of the church but also the small park around it.
As for the church itself, you will notice that it’s almost brand-new – that’s because it was rebuilt after a fire in 1990.
Why: As you continue towards your next stop, Mariaberget, the scenery becomes more and more picturesque.
Indeed, in a city full of spots with delightful views, Mariaberget may be the best of all: from this point, you’ll take the best photos of the City Hall and Gamla Stan.
It’s a must-stop in this Stockholm neighborhood guide, especially for first-timers.
Why: For your dinner today, you’ll need to return to the Old Town, heading to Aifur.
Here, prepare to live a unique experience, as if you were a guest at a meal during the Viking era.
Upon arrival, you are publicly introduced, you sit next to strangers, the waiters are dressed in period clothing, bards play live music at intervals, and the food is really good.
Important note, make sure you have a reservation because it’s almost always full.
30) Restaurant Akkurat
Why: If you still have energy after your visit to Aifur and you’re a beer lover, you’ll need to walk to the nearby Restaurant Akkurat.
The menu of the place is filled with local and international beers, offering the largest variety in the entire city.
The whiskey list is equally extensive, serving more than 400 labels from around the world.
Optimizing Your Itinerary
The above Stockholm neighborhood guide for first-timers should be enough for you to get a very good picture of the city.
However, if you have just two days at your disposal, then skip the itinerary of the third day entirely.
Although Södermalm has its own unique charm, it is noticeably less picturesque than the areas of the first two days.
Conversely, if you prefer even tighter schedules, on your second day, make a detour to Östermalms Food Hall while you are on Strandvägen (point 17).
Additionally, on your third day, add a visit to Fotografiska.
After visiting Katarina Kyrka (point 27), head a bit more east, and in a few minutes, you’ll arrive at one of the city’s most renowned art museums.
Make Your Trip Easier
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights, as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.
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