Archaeologist Dr Colleen Batey joins you on this Scandinavian itinerary. Credit:

An expert guide to Stockholm

Author: Melissa Moody

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Sweden’s stylish capital is a port stop you’ll remember long after your ship has sailed. Built on a cluster of islands at the edge of the Baltic Sea, it offers stylish streets, the ABBA Museum and some of the finest food you’ll ever eat.

Tracing its history back a thousand years, Stockholm is a city built on water, with handsome buildings of all ages spread across its 14 islands, linked by 57 bridges.

capital is also home to an array of museums and galleries, as well as an eclectic foodie scene that runs the gamut from homely traditional treats to cutting-edge New Nordic cuisine.

If you just have a day to spare, take a stroll through the romantic cobbled streets of Gamla Stan (Old Town) before spending an absorbing afternoon at the National Museum or the fascinating Vasa Ship Museum.

We promise you’ll leave either attraction brimming with enough knowledge to win a round of Mastermind. History not your specialist subject? Don’t miss the opportunity to sing withSweden’s very own fab four at the ABBA Museum, or admire the work of the world’s greatest snappers at the Fotografiska photography museum.

The best time to visit Stockholm is during the spring and summer months when the nights are longer and the temperatures warmer (sunset is after 10pm in June). That’s when the city really comes alive, with a whole range of outdoor festivals, pop-up street food carts and even the chance to swim or kayak in the sea.

Elegant, effortlessly cool, and beautiful, Stockholm rewards a visit


Vasa Museum
Pride of the Swedish navy when she sailed out of Stockholm’s harbour in 1628, the mighty warship Vasa sank just minutes into her maiden voyage. Largely forgotten for more than 300 years, she was salvaged in 1961 and found to be in exceptional condition, with even the personal possessions of her crew still intact. Now the world’s best preserved 17th-century ship offers a time-travel experience in the custom-designed museum that was built around her.

The Abba Museum
With ABBA fever reigniting as their digital avatars hit the London stage, Stockholm’s ever popular ABBA Museum is a must-do. Located a short bus or tram ride from the city centre, it’s a treasure trove of memorabilia, stage clothes, concert footage and interviews.

Even better, you can sing and dance with holograms of Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid while you wear your own digital costume. The only problem is, which ABBA star to be?

The world’s oldest open-air museum, Skansen offers visitors the chance to sample Swedish life as it was before the industrial revolution. You could easily spend a whole day wandering around this hilltop site, with stops at traditional workshops such as the glassblowers’ hut and the rustic bakery. There are great photo opportunities on top of a gigantic painted wooden horse, and a Nordic zoo where you can see bears, wolves and moose in their natural surroundings.

Since opening its doors in 2010, Fotografiska has become one of the world’s leading photography museums, with a host of big names showing their work here. Housed in a fine Art Nouveau building that once served Stockholm as a customs house, the exhibition galleries occupy two floors, with a popular restaurant and wine bar on the level above.

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Sing your heart at the Abba Museum


Foodies (and pyromaniacs) will adore this fine-dining restaurant in the city centre, where chef Niklas Ekstedt uses a fire pit, a wood-fired oven, a wood stove and smokers to create his unique interpretation of New Nordic cuisine. The menu constantly changes but expect the likes of hay-infused sweetbreads and salsify, birch-fired lamb, flamed rhubarb – and a surprise in every forkful.

Den Gyldene Freden
Located in Gamla Stan, Den Gyldene Freden has been cooking since 1722, making it the world’s second oldest restaurant. Now owned by the Swedish Academy, it hosts regular lunches for the judges of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yet despite its age and establishment credentials, ‘The Golden Peace’ is bang up to date, serving exemplary Swedish cuisine with interesting contemporary touches.

Cafe Saturnus
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a huge freshly baked cinnamon bun and coffee at the popular Cafe Saturnus. This buzzy French-inspired hangout on Eriksbergsgatan offers plenty of sweet delicacies as well as delicious baguettes and salads at lunchtime.

Be sure to try a freshly baked cinnamon bun and coffee at Cafe Saturnus.


City Hall
One of Stockholm’s most iconic buildings, this massive edifice of nearly eight million bricks is the embodiment of the Nordic Romantic style. Visitors are invited to climb its 106-metre tower for amazing views – and photos – of the city below.

Gamla Stan

Dating back to the 13th century, picturesque Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s famous Old Town. Centred upon Stadsholmen island, it’s a beguiling maze of cobbled streets and architectural treasures, including the medieval Storkyrkan cathedral and the Royal Palace, as well as some of the city’s most enticing coffee shops and restaurants. Practically everything here is Insta-worthy, from street scenes to window displays.

In a city packed full of scenic views, this short walking trail offers the finest of them all, with perfect shots of City Hall and Gamla Stan. If you’re lucky enough to visit at sunset, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing pictures as the sky and the water turn gold (though you may be in for a long wait if you’re here in summer).

View of the City Hall Castle, Stockholm


Fashion retail giant H&M was created in Stockholm, and the company’s worldwide HQ remains here, so you won’t be surprised to find a number of its stores along pedestrianised Drottninggatan (Queen Street).

But there are plenty of other gems on this busy shopping thoroughfare, including Ahlens City, one of the best department stores in Stockholm, with an excellent selection of local fashion brands, plus make-up, books and homewares.

Looking for souvenirs? Packed with the latest creations by up-and coming Swedish designer-makers, Designtorget’s compact stores are the perfect place for gift-hunting – especially if your friends are fans of Scandi style. Scattered across the city, each store sells everything from cool wall-hangings to postcards and crockery.

If it’s designer fashion you’re looking for, head to pedestrianised Biblioteksgatan where you’ll find a wide choice of high-end labels, with both Swedish and international brands and designers represented.

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