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There’s just something about Stockholm, Sweden’s capital and beating heart. It’s an intellectual city like Berlin and brimming with cultural artifacts like Rome. On a Scandinavia cruise, Stockholm is a bit of a wildcard. It’s a leader in the design space that put Scandinavian minimalism on the map. The city is home to an array of museums, historic buildings, and genuinely delicious eats scattered across the 14 connected islands that comprise it. Stockholm is also a pioneer in the foodie scene, where expensive delicacies and down-to-earth street foods collide.
For a city that has been around since the 13th century, Stockholm balances hundreds of years of history with a sleek, modern energy. On your Stockholm cruise, don’t miss a walking tour through the cobblestoned streets of Gamla Stan, the Old Town. Spend an afternoon at the Nationalmuseum or the Vasa Museum, and you’ll leave with more knowledge about Vikings and Swedish art than you ever thought possible. Because Stockholm is a set of islands connected by bridges, there’s often a light breeze and plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and water sports during the summer months. Stockholm is the perfect introduction to the finer things in life in Scandinavia.
You’d be hard-pressed to arrive in Stockholm and not go to Old Town, the historic city center also known as Gamla Stan. Walk these cobblestoned streets surrounded by hundreds of years of history, plus plenty of modern flourishes, including restaurants, galleries, and cafes just waiting for you to explore.
Art buffs and novices to the history of Sweden will be amazed by the world’s largest collection of Swedish art at the Nationalmuseum, where sculptures, paintings, and mixed media works dating back hundreds of years are on display for all to enjoy. Dive into Stockholm’s rich art history here.
The island of Djurgarden is home to the world’s only intact Viking ship, which is in remarkably good condition despite sinking in 1628. It’s the most visited museum in Scandinavia, so be prepared for crowds. A guided tour is a great way to learn about the museum’s detailed history.
The royal family of Sweden has lived in this palace since the 1600s and continues to call Kungliga Slottet home today. There’s a fascinating Changing of the Guard ceremony in the afternoon. Guided tours of the palace are a structured, smart way to see as many of the over 600 elaborate palace rooms as possible.
Kayaking along the picturesque canals in Stockholm is a bucket list item, just like taking a gondola along the canals of Venice. Hop in your kayak and spend the day on the water, stopping for lunch or a coffee when you’re ready to take a break from paddling.
Over six miles of lush greenery set this national park in the middle of Stockholm apart from other green spaces. It’s considered a marvel in urban development where you can experience its peaceful nature and then head to the amusement park, stop in at one of the museums, or watch a show. Visitors of all ages will find something to be entertained by here.
This open-air museum and zoo is dedicated to showing what life was like before industrialization swept the nation. Over a million people come to Skansen and walk these grounds each year. You can take a guided tour if you’d like, or venture out on your own as you watch reenactments or spot exotic animals along the way.
Certain types of dishes rule the menu in Sweden, making the cuisine in Stockholm some of the most unique combinations of food in the world. Swedish meatballs have skyrocketed in popularity in America, but you’ve got to try the real deal in Stockholm. Pickled herring, potatoes and sour cream, boiled eggs, and salmon are all popular items on menus, often served in a buffet style. Bakeries offering delights like cinnamon rolls and sweet buns are popular breakfast items to enjoy with coffee.
Nearly 2 million people live in Stockholm, but it wasn’t always the sleek capital of Sweden that it is today. In fact, this archipelago of islands didn’t rise to prominence as a trade center and global power until the 17th century. In the 19th century, the city rapidly industrialized, which made it possible for even more Swedes to move to the islands. Today, Stockholm is where much of Sweden’s industry is based, and is therefore a key part of the country’s economy. The city has grown not only in size but in global recognition as one of the most beautiful capital cities in Scandinavia, and has earned acclaim for its art institutions, eye for design, and culture. As a major coastal tourist destination in this part of Europe, there are many cruises to Stockholm from the UK and other nearby ports.
There are two cruise ship ports in the city, and Frihamnen is the one that larger ships tend to dock in. It’s a short taxi ride or 15-minute bus ride to get to the city center from the port. There’s also a ferry terminal.
Public transportation in Stockholm is efficient and relatively quick, but navigating on foot is also a perfectly good option for a stop on a Stockholm cruise. Many of the islands are connected by ferries, and taxis and Ubers are easily hailed. Locals often use bicycles to get around, and renting a bike for the day is an easy, scenic way to see the city. In other words, there’s no shortage of options.
Swedish crystal and household items are among the most popular souvenirs that travelers take back with them after cruises to Stockholm from the UK and other places, but that doesn’t mean shopping in Stockholm is all fine wares. Iris Hantverk, Nordiska Galleriet, and other stores are a must-see for design geeks. You’ll find your standard souvenir shacks scattered around the cruise port, selling t-shirts, shot glasses, magnets, and other little trinkets to remember Sweden by.
The official currency in Sweden is the kronor (kr). Paying with debit or credit cards is more common than using cash, as Sweden is moving toward a cash-free system. Tipping and haggling in Stockholm aren’t the norm. If there isn’t a service charge already included in your dinner or lunch bill, feel free to tack on 10% as a tip. Like other places, it’s polite to round up when you’re taking a taxi as a tip for the driver.