You came to Scandinavia expecting great things: meatballs, IKEA, ABBA, Vikings, and of course, meatballs.
Well congratulations, you’ve made it to Stockholm: the biggest, baddest, and brightest city in the north. You’ve seen the fjords in Bergen and joined the hordes of cyclists in Copenhagen, but now it’s time to move up to a true metropolis, or, at least, a city with a real subway system. Stockholm is a Scandinavia-traveler’s dream. It’s a bustling city where oxford-clad businessmen in Östermalm rub elbows with hipsters in Söder, where the museums range from old-fashioned (The Nordic Museum) to positively psychedelic (ABBA: The Museum), and where the world’s first bar made from ice coexists with a luminescent tiki bar. Stockholm is the city to visit in Scandinavia, and it draws a crowd to match. Spend some time in one of the city’s numerous hostels (which are the best in Scandinavia), and you’ll meet every kind of traveler, from backpackers who packed three pairs of socks to child millionaires with more suitcases than can fit under a dorm bed. No matter where you fall in the duffel bag vs. three suitcase debate, you’ll find something in Stockholm. Foodies can choose between gourmet coffee and pickled herring, history buffs from crown jewels and ancient cannons, and outdoor adventurers from kayaks and bicycles. One thing’s for sure, though: no matter what you choose, you’ll never be bored.
Stockholm is the biggest city in Scandinavia and is truly urban with an extensive and highly efficient public transportation system and many neighborhoods with distinct character. At the center of it all is the bustling Norrmalm district, where you’ll find Stockholm Central Station and the busy shopping street, Drottninggatan. Norrmalm is flanked to the west by Kungsholmen, a growing residential area home to City Hall, and to the east by Östermalm, Stockholm’s most extravagant neighborhood. Östermalm is filled with expensive stores, Ferrari dealerships, and cafés rampant with suit-clad men who carry briefcases (not just because they’re European, but also because they’re rich). To the south are several notable islands, housing Gala Stan, Södermalm, and Djurgården. Djurgården has many interesting museums and cultural sights like ABBA The Museum, Gröna Lund, the Vasa Museum, and Skansen. Gamla Stan, just south of Norrmalm, is the Old Town, where you’ll find narrow, cobblestone streets packed with tourists, restaurants for tourists, and shops for tourists, as well as the Royal Palace. Finally, just south of Gamla Stan is Södermalm (usually shortened to Söder), an old working-class neighborhood-turned hipster hangout spot.
Stockholm’s main airport is Stockholm Arlanda, located about 40km north of the city with flights to most major European cities, as well as a few airports in North America and Asia. The easiest way to get between Arlanda and Stockholm Central Station is the Arlanda Express, a 20min. train ride with departures every 15min. most of the day. One-way tickets cost SEK 280 for adults (26 and older), SEK 150 for people 25 and under, and SEK 140 for students, and can be booked online at www.arlandaexpress.com. Stockholm Central Station (Stockholm C) is the main train station in Stockholm. Trains to destinations around Sweden are operated by SJ. The main hall is open daily 5am-1:15am, though parts of the station open earlier.
Public transportation in Stockholm includes buses, a metro system (called Tunnelbana), trams, and ferries around the city. Tickets can be purchased on the SL app or at ticket kiosks. Tickets cannot be purchased on board buses or trams. If you plan on using public transportation more than a few times, it makes sense to purchase a travel card for SEK 20. With the card, you can buy a pass for 24hr (SEK 120, SEK 80 discounted), 72hr (SEK 240, SEK 160 discounted), or one week (SEK 315, SEK 210 discounted). Stockholm has a city bike program with over 100 stations across the city. A 3-day rental costs SEK 165 and can be purchased at most tourist centers. Bikes can be taken from any stand and returned to any stand, but each individual bike must be returned within three hours.
Tourist Offices: Stockholm Visitor Center (Kulturhuset, Sergels Torg 3-5, 8 508 28 508; open May 1-Sept 15 M-F 9am-7pm, Sa 9am-4pm, Su 10am-4pm; Sept 16-Apr 30 M-F 9am-6pm, Sa 9am-4pm, Su 10am-4pm).
Banks/ATMs/Currency Exchange: If you need hard currency (unlikely), exchanges are available at Arlanda Airport and Stockholm Central Station, though you may be better off just finding an ATM (Bankomat in Swedish) on the street.
Post Offices: Sweden’s postal service is called PostNord, and doesn’t have many brick-and-mortar locations. Letters can be mailed on the street, or at private mail centers like Mail Boxes Etc. (Torsgatan 2; 8 124 494 00; open June 26-Aug 21 M-F 10am-6pm, Sa 10am-2pm, Aug 22-June 25: M-F 8am-7pm, Sa 10am-2pm).
Internet: The Stockholm Visitor Center, Arlanda Airport, and Stockholm Central Station also have Wi-Fi.
BGLTQ+ Resources: RFSL is the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (Sveavägen 59; 08 501 62 950; www.rfslstockholm.com).
Emergency Number: 112. For 24-hour non-emergency health advice, call 1177.
Police: Norrmalm Police Station (Kungsholmsgaten 43; 114 14; open daily 24hr).
US Embassy: There is a US Embassy in Stockhom (Dag Hammarskjölds Väg 31; 08 783 53 00; open M-F 8am-4:30pm).
Rape Crisis Center: Södersjukhuset, one of Stockholm’s main hospitals, has a 24hr telephone hotline and an emergency clinic for rape victims on the second floor (Sjukhusbacken 10; 08 616 46 70).
- Karolinska University Hospital, Solna (Karolinska vägen; 8 517 700 00; open daily 24hr).
- Södersjukhuset (SÖS) (Sjukhusbacken 10; 8 616 10 00; open daily 24hr).
Pharmacies: Pharmacies in Stockholm (called apotek) are widely available and generally open between 10am and 6pm. There is a 24hr pharmacy right across the street from Stockholm Central Station.
- Apoteket C W Scheele (Klarabergsgatan 64, open daily 24hr).