Top tips for visiting Stockholm, Sweden

I've recently returned from a trip to the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden. I was there for six days, although a large proportion of that was taken up by events around a family wedding. I'd flown to Stockholm before, but not stayed there. As we've family there, we'd stayed in their house located an hour outside the city. The wedding provided the perfect opportunity to explore this beautiful city, as it would take place in its heart.

So having experienced the city, what advice can I give to others?
  1. Arriving in Stockholm: Stockholm has three airports to choose between; Stockholm Arlanda (ARN), Stockholm Bromma (BMA) and Stockholm Skavsta (NYO). Arlanda and Brommna are the closest to the city centre, but all are connected by the Stockholm city bus, train, and taxi services. Skavsta Airport is mainly used by low cost airlines and for cargo services. If you go for the taxi option, a fixed fare of 575 krona is payable to the city centre.
  2. Bridges and Water: The city of Stockholm is spread over 14 islands. This is what gives the city its undeniable charm, but it means there are a lot of bridges and tunnels to circumnavigate to get around. Don't be surprised if the bus or taxi you're in disappears down a tunnel only to reappear going back over a bridge in the opposite direction. It is just the city's geography and the limited routes available for traversing around.
  3. Large Infrastructure Projects: Like any capital city, Stockholm has a lot of traffic at busy times of the day. However this is made worse by the sheer number of road, rail, and other transportation projects being carried out all over the city. The city is growing in size exponentially, but the infrastructure has failed to keep up with demand. Among the projects under construction is a new bridge that won't be ready for at least 5 years, and a major road junction near the ferry port.
  4. Getting Around: If you don't need a car, Stockholm has a wealth of good transport options. There's buses, trams, lots of bike hire firms (and excellent bike paths), and battery powered scooters that can be hired. There are quite a few accidents on those scooters though, mainly at night after folk have had a few tipples!
  5. Tourist Sites: There's a Hop On Hop Off tourist bus with some 25 stops and taking two hours to complete the route. There's also a tourist boat that takes an hour, and you can buy a combined bus / boat ticket to save money. These can be a little expensive, around £40 for the combined ticket though.
  6. Gamla Stan: If you do nothing else in Stockholm, spend a day wandering around the old town's streets. Being the original location of Stockholm, many buildings date back well into the 18th century. It includes the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral, and Nobel Museum, but the real joy is just wandering around the maze of cobbled stone alleys. Window shop in some of the most atmospheric antique shops you're ever likely to find, and stop in one of the many restaurants for lunch. If you're there when the weather's good enough, most have outside seating. Don't worry about getting lost, as you'll soon find some water or bridge to get your bearings.
  7. Night Time Walks: What better way to digest a good dinner than to go for a gentle stroll. And what nicer vista can you get than the reflections of old town houses on Lake Mälaren. Whether you're located on Gamla Stan or one of the other islands, head off on one of the many footpaths and see where it takes you. You won't regret it.
  8. Don’t Ignore the Suburbs: Most tourists on a city break rightly spend their time within a couple of miles of their hotel. Whilst it is true that the major historical sights of Stockholm are in the city, there’s a lot more to offer the more intrepid traveller. For example, drive out of the city heading north, and a wonderful wooded wilderness awaits you. There are many well maintained trails to help you find your way around. Just ensure you’re prepared for any eventuality. Remember, Swedish weather is different to yours.

    So there you have it. Stockholm is a beautiful city, full of life and colour. Whatever you end up doing, just breathe it in and enjoy it.