Stockholm is the political, economic, and cultural center of Sweden, and it is one of the sunniest cities in Europe. The long hours of daylight and mild summer temperatures tempt travelers of all kinds to visit, and it ranks 10th in European tourism.
Stockholm’s reliance on the technology and service sectors to fuel the thriving economy make it one of the world’s cleanest urban environments, enhancing the enjoyment of its waterways and abundant green spaces. And the government has appointed a “board of beauty” to protect and preserve the historic beauty of the city.
Visit Stockholm in summer and catch the jazz festival. The Stockholm Jazz Festival Is one of the oldest festivals in Sweden and one of the best jazz festivals in the world. Or visit in winter for cold weather and Stockholm Design Week, celebrating Swedish design with an emphasis on furniture and lighting.
Lovers of art and design will be particularly enthralled with the attractions of this cosmopolitan oasis. It is one of the most museum-dense cities in the world, including the historic Nationalmuseum and the Moderna Museet, which focuses on modern art. Take in the vast array of architectural styles from the centuries of growth and evolution in the heart of the city. Visit one of the three world heritage sites, or one of the eight Michelin star restaurants.
A weekend isn’t enough time to appreciate everything that this incredible city has to offer, but if you only had 72 hours to sample the diversity of art, design, and culture, here’s what you should do:
Book your room at the historic Stallmastaregarden hotel. Located within walking distance of the city center, Stallmastaregarden is a modern hotel with a venerable history going back more than 350 years. The first inn in Sweden, it was opened as the site of Queen Kristina’s Summer Solstice celebrations. It’s a calm oasis in the heart of the city, with breathtaking views of Brunnsviken Bay and the architecture of Stockholm.
Stockholm has a city bike program, where visitors can buy 3 day passes to pick up a bicycle from many convenient locations and travel around the city at leisure with minimal impact to the environment.
Friday night: Dinner
Recover from your flight with an early dinner at East. Taking advantage of plentiful local fish, East specializes in sushi and modern Asian dishes, designed to share. The atmosphere is pop-inspired and colorful, just the right thing to cheer you up in winter, or sit outside in summer and enjoy the view. Dinner reservations recommended, and ask for the secret sauce.
Visit the Opera
Year round nightly performances mean that you can indulge your taste for culture while taking in the architecture of the stunning Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera spans two majestic buildings. The “old” Opera was inaugurated in 1782, and features an imposing Corinthian portico. The “new” Opera was inaugurated in 1899, and is a neo-classical building with a sumptuous interior. Take in a performance or a guided tour, and relax afterward with a glass of wine on the terrace.
Bakverket serves the best breakfast in Stockholm, and they serve it all day, but get there early to avoid crowds. The smell of baking bread greets visitors to the homey atmosphere, and the traditional breakfast of bread, cheese, meat, yogurt, and salad will be the perfect start to your day.
Moderna Museet is Stockholm’s museum of modern art. The collection includes Swedish and international modern and contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Duchamp, and many contemporary artists. The grounds include a sculpture park featuring works from artists from around the world. It’s a must-see for lovers of modern art and design.
From the museum, it’s just a short walk to Prinsen. Prinsen has been a hangout for artists and writers for a hundred years, a tradition they proudly continue to this day. Swedish food with a french feel, served in a comfortable atmosphere. The famous Biff Rydberg a local favorite.
The Swedish Center for Architecture and Design features exhibitions on contemporary design, innovation, and sustainability. Arkdes also has an app that allows travelers to see the best of Stockholm’s design, architecture, and nature on self-guided tours from your phone.
If you’ve made reservations at least a week in advance, dinner at Gondolen is not to be missed. Boasting the best views in the city and famous cocktails, Gondolen is Stockholm’s go-to for special occasions and memorable meals. The service is impeccable, the seafood fresh, and chef Erik Lallerstedt’s interpretation of modern Scandinavian gastronomy makes this more than just a tourist attraction. In summer, the rooftop terrace features a more casual atmosphere with the same breathtaking views.
Sunday morning: Brunch
Brunch at Cafe Spetsen. Locals love Cafe Spetsen, with its good wifi and broad selection of art and design magazines. The cafe focuses on perfect coffee and handmade pastries, and the menu changes frequently to take advantage of local, organic ingredients. Located within Bonnier Konsthall, a visit to Cafe Spetsen also gives you a chance to check out the contemporary art exhibitions at one of Stockholm’s newest museums.
Skansen is the world’s first open-air museum, founded in 1891. Skansen offers insight into the daily lives, homes, dress, and habits of five centuries of Sweden. Skansen includes a full replica of a 19th century town, including craftsmen working traditional trades such as glass-blowing and silversmithing. And the journey there is a trip itself; take the ferry and then the funicular railway to complete the experience.
Before you Leave
Before you leave, visit Ostermalms Saluhall. It’s an indoor food market dating back to 1888, with some vendors in business there for generations. It’s teeming with restaurants, fresh produce and seafood, and a truly unique experience. Pick up a light meal, pack a snack for your flight home, and shop for gifts for friends and family.