Let me start by stating the obvious: two days is not nearly enough time to visit Stockholm.
I was visiting London when I decided to take a short trip to Stockholm, Sweden. I had planned on spending a few days exploring, but thanks to a delayed flight and the quick onset of a chest infection I was left with only two days to see some sights.
Despite that, I did my best and crammed in as much as possible. Most of the sights I saw was on a free walking tour of Stockholm and those are highlighted below with a (FWT) in the title). The walking tour was a great way to see some of the city and learn about the history of Sweden and Stockholm.
Drottninggatan (Queen St) (FWT)
Keen to do some shopping? Then look no further than Drottninggatan. I just hope you’re a fan of H&M as there’s about six stores lining the street, along with their head office. Most of the world knows that Sweden gave us all IKEA, but thanks to my guide I learned that Sweden has also given the world H&M, Spotify and Skype.
The next stop on the walking tour stops at Hötorget which is home to two food malls. So if you’re feeling peckish then head there for a good meal.
PUB Building (Haymarket Hotel) (FWT)
PUB was a major department store that opened in the 1880s. Hollywood actress Greta Garbo worked at the store as a clerk before going into acting in the 1920s. The department store closed in 2015 and the building is now the Haymarket Hotel. Rumour has it that a lot of English speaking tourists would get excited at the sight of the building as it used to have the letters PUB displayed prominently. Imagine their dissatisfaction when they walked into find a department store and no booze in sight.
Stockholms Konserthus (Stockholm Concert Hall) (FWT)
Sweden isn’t just home to flat-pack furniture. It’s also the home of the Nobel Prize. After a newspaper reported his brother’s death as his own, Alfred Nobel decided to change his will and create a foundation so that prizes could be given to those who made or did something to benefit mankind. All the Nobel Prizes are awarded at the Concert Hall each year, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Norway.
Stockholm City Hall
I didn’t get a chance to visit City Hall, but I did pass by several times. The annual Nobel Prize dinner is held at Stockholm’s City Hall each year.
Balance Training City (FWT)
If you’re up for a gym session, head to Balance Training City as you may just meet your future husband or wife, who may also be a member of the Swedish Royal Family. That’s what happened to Prince Daniel, who met Crown Princess Victoria after she trained at Balance as one of his PT clients.
Former Kreditbanken building at Norrmalmstorg (FWT)
Ever wondered where the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ came from? Well if you head out on the Free Walking Tour of Stockholm you will stop by the former Kreditbanken building at Norrmalmstorg (the white building in the picture below) and hear the story behind the term. Here’s the abridged version: It all started in 1973 when Jan-Erik Olssen decided to rob a bank and in the process, took four people hostage. Over the course of six days, the hostages started sympathising with him (and his friend who he’d negotiated to be brought in) and when he agreed to turn himself in, the hostages stood around him and his friend to avoid them being shot by police. Some of the hostages went on to testify for him at trial, and one apparently was a guest of honour at his wedding.
Kungliga Operan (Royal Swedish Opera) (FWT)
The last stop on the walking tour is the Opera theatre that King Gustav III commissioned in the 1770s. Years later, the King was attending an Opera performance when he was shot, and died a week later due to the bullet wound.
Across the river from the Opera theatre sits the Royal Palace (aka Stockholm Palace). Construction started in the 13th Century, but the Palace had to be almost completely rebuilt after a fire gutted the Palace in 1697. There’s a rumour that an architect started the fire to be able to design and rebuild the castle, however these rumours remain unfounded.
There is a Changing of the Guard held just after 12pm on most days. The walking tour finishes anywhere between 11:30 and 12pm so head to the Palace after your tour to check it out.
Are you a fan of Eurovision? Then you may recognise the Ericsson Globe as the location of the 2016 competition. It’s the world’s largest hemispherical building and there’s a gondola outside that takes you to the top of the building.
The Tea Centre of Stockholm
If you’re a fan of tea, then look no further than the Tea Centre of Stockholm. They make a variety of different blends that can suit anybody’s taste. My personal favourite is Söderblandning, aka the ‘mistake blend’. They ship internationally too which is great for when you run out of tea.
No trip to Sweden is complete without a trip to IKEA. I was taken to IKEA for lunch and enjoyed Swedish meatballs and some amazing desserts. Need I say more? It’s IKEA. Just go.
Extremfabriken (Ninja and Crossfit gym)
Want to work off your IKEA lunch? Then head to Extremfabriken for some ninja training. This was the whole reason why I headed to Stockholm and I had an absolute blast at the gym. There’s obstacles, weights and a foam pit to keep you entertained for hours.
Eat a Semlor
Semlor is a cardamom flavoured bun with almond paste and whipped cream inside, dusted with icing sugar. They are amazing. Try and find a bakery or café that makes fresh ones. Your tastebuds will thank you.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Stockholm in winter, then be sure to go ice-skating. I was staying with a friend who lives close to a large lake. Being January, the lake was frozen over with thick ice meaning we could head out for a night of ice-skating. Despite not having skated for over 20 years, I managed to stay on my feet the entire time and skating whilst having only the moonlight to see was an incredible experience.
There are several places around the city that are suitable for skating in the winter. Either head to a public rink or find a local who can take you out on an iced lake.
I didn’t get a chance to visit the ABBA Museum so I will have to head back to Stockholm another time to pay a visit. My trip to Sweden was short but sweet, and has left me wanting to explore a lot more.