A long weekend getaway itinerary: 3 days in Stockholm

A long weekend in Stockholm? A city escape in Europe? Those two things we hadn’t done in a very long time. So did we lose our edge for city exploration or we forgot how to enjoy cities? The answers will follow. Here is all about how you can spend an amazing 3 days in Stockholm. Our packed, detailed and full of nice finds Stockholm itinerary for 3 days or more if you want to just take it slow.

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary

Things to know before you visit Stockholm

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Go City Pass, formerly Stockholm Pass

If you’re into exploring Stockholm with its museums, historical spots, and nature at the archipelago, you can consider buying a Stockholm Pass (which has now changed and it’s called Go City Pass). It comes with 1, 2, 3, or 5 days options. If you plan to also travel a lot in the area – you can add the travel pass to it for the corresponding number of days.

When getting the pass, consider how many museums you can visit and how many activities you can do for the time. Most of the venues have working time until 5-6 p.m. so there is not so much time to use the pass after all (thank you, Fotografiska Museum). We did some good non-stop exploring combined with an occasional ride on the hop-on hop-off bus and boat and it was totally worth it – the price of the pass for 3 days. However, if you plan to explore the city at a slower pace, the Stockholm Pass might not be the right deal for you. Check the prices of the activities and tours you plan to take and calculate what’s better.

Getting around in Stockholm

Airport to City

The company Flygbussarna runs buses from Skavsta Airport to Cityterminalen in Stockholm. To and from Arlanda airport to the city you can use the buses of the same company or train.

Public transport app – SL

When it comes to commuting within the city, you can use the metro, trains, buses. There are some cards for regular users but we couldn’t figure out a way to get those or maybe we weren’t eligible so we used single tickets every time. We downloaded the SL app so we didn’t have to go to the machines every time – we just clicked a few times and our ticket was ready to be shown to the station staff.

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary, sailing the archipelago

Renting bikes/kick scooter/push scooter

Good old bikes might seem a bit outdated compared with new fancy kick/push electro scooter, but you’ll be spoiled for choice in Stockholm – the sharing economy of all those semi-automatic rides is at its blooms in Sweden’s capital. If you want to explore the city on semi-foot, go for a Lime or any of the alternatives.

Weather and what to pack for a spring/fall trip to Stockholm

Weather in Stockholm

The basic elements of dealing with Stockholm weather are a windproof, waterproof, good mood. When you go out, dress in layers for the ultimate onion style. This way you can take something off when you notice sunshine or put something on when the clouds appear. Windproof clothes would be the perfect outfit for literally every season in Stockholm. The same goes for waterproof shoes, as rain could be nasty and plenty. A good mood is essential to overcome whatever negative feelings the weather in Stockholm May give birth to.

We visited Stockholm in springtime which has the most unpredictable weather so we had to pack extra stuff just to be sure we’re never too cold, or too hot, or too wet. Temperatures varied between 9 and 21 degrees Celsius and it went from clear to sunny to cloudy to windy to rainy just a thousand times for our 3 days in Stockholm.

Packing tips

What to pack for a long weekend in Stockholm? If you like active exploring you’re going to need good comfy and eventually waterproof walking shoes. Flip-flops to rest your feet at home or if you decide to visit a beach / a spa center.

If you want to post yourself on Instagram, take your fancy clothes as usual, but take a good windproof jacket which you will wear in between IG photo shoots and when you actually explore outdoors.

The rest is what you’ll pack for any long weekend in a Northern country – warm clothes, underwear, shoes, toiletries, medicines, etc. Put a scarf or two and why not an extra jacket just to be on the safe side.

3 days in Stockholm – our itinerary

Day 1 in Stockholm and beyond

We actually started our Stockholm long weekend with leaving Stockholm and sailing for 2 hours to Birka island. The weather was supposed to be the best on our first day, so we decided to take the most outdoorsy trip in the beginning. After almost a full-day trip to Birka Viking City, we return to Stockholm for walk-in-dance-out experience in ABBA The Museum.

Birka Viking City

As day one had the most promising weather forecast, we decided to put the most outdoorsy activity on that day. Well, sunny in Sweden can still mean cold but we were determined to take seats on the upper deck and enjoy the surroundings on our two-hour journey from Klara Mälarstrand to Björkö island (Birka).

The two-hour journey through islands and canals was both picturesque and full of nice stories. We had a Viking guide (also an archaeologist) to tell us stories of kings and pirates, of Vikings and villagers.

So Viking is a job, for those who wonder. Vikings choose to travel to foreign lands on their ships in search of new experiences, wealth or new lands. Sounds like travelers, right? In some villages, up to 90% of the people would be Vikings at some point in time. Women could be also Vikings. Actually, on Birka Island we learned that maybe one of the most powerful Vikings ever was proved to be a woman. For the win!

Anyway, we sailed east to Björkö with the wind in the hair and enjoying occasional rays of the sun. Onboard with us, there were a few school classes of students who were on the journey through Vikings and history as well.

The island itself is very well organized – you get a map with all the points of interest in case you want to do a self-guided tour. Anyway, we recommend you take their tour (or the one that comes together with the whole excursion) as it’s always better to hear from the experts. For a small island, Birka has a lot of stories to tell and it was a strategical place once upon a time.

So after the great tour, we had some time for walking around, taking photos from above, seeing the museum, enjoying the scenery. Last but not least, there’s the only restaurant on the island which offers some great and quite bearable menus, even vegan options. I say bearable because affordable doesn’t make sense in Sweden. 😉

The food was actually quite delicious, they said it’s because they use local ingredients. It was nice to grab a bite in a sailor-Viking setting while some guys were playing cards nearby – just like in a true pub!

ABBA The Museum

ABBA The Museum is not included in Stockholm Pass and that’s the only bad thing about it! But you can still book your ticket for the ABBA experience online. The whole museum experience was lovely – from interactive spaces with stories to lots of games and challenges to visitors. We were happy to learn the most important stuff around forming the group, the backgrounds of each member, how they felt through their careers, how they felt about their families and how the whole ABBA machine works together.

Tip: Take an English audio guide and enjoy being guided by ABBA members themselves! How cool is that!

Visitors of the ABBA museum can sing and record their favorite songs, dance and try choreographies, shoot videos with hologram ABBA members, take photos and even conduct an orchestra. It’s very cool for all those who love music! We easily spent two hours and we were happy as we didn’t have to wait or queue for any of the experiences.

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary, ABBA museum

Day 2: Going deeper in the archipelago

Day two was bustling of activities – castles, old towns, moving around the archipelago, museums. We took the most out of it, our feet weren’t so happy though. So let’s visit Drottningholm Castle, Skansen, Gamla Stan, and Fotografiska Museum.

Drottningholm Castle

Drottningholm Castle and its gardens are an hour away from Klara Mälarstrand pier and it’s basically at half the way from central Stockholm to Birka. The boat has an open deck so if we could bear the wind, we would’ve probably sat there. But we couldn’t so we shared a table inside the boat and took out our breakfast – bananas, and cookies from a supermarket at the metro/train station.

In less than an hour, we approached an island with a majestic palace. Even the drizzling rain couldn’t stop us from taking photos and absorbing the reflections in the peaceful waters of the archipelago.

The palace inside was a feast for the eye – especially if you enjoy abundance in decoration and exposure of how rich people used to live. Once you get inside the palace, you follow the signs and merge with the crowd. We were lucky to explore the majesty of some rooms almost alone, while in other rooms we were praying for air. But royal life is not easy.

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary, Drottningholm Palace

The surrounding gardens were another story – full of space, air and green! Some people always choose to explore gardens of palaces and we can see why (at Drottningholm as well). We would have stayed longer if it wasn’t the uninviting weather.

The biggest surprise was the Drottningholms Slottsteater theatre. It’s amazing to be able to visit a place that survived a couple of fires and still is used for some theater and opera plays. In the tour, they explained to us what was the theater culture 200-300 years ago. We saw the sets (serving to up to 30 different backgrounds), the whole mechanics are still working. And if you wonder why you shouldn’t whistle at the theater (except for the obvious good manners reasons) – well, keep in mind the technicians used to be sailors and they communicated via whistling.

And another very visually appealing place on the castle’s premises – the Chinese Pavilion. Even if you look at it from the outside – it’s easy to imagine you’re somewhere far more to the east. And rooms of this summer residence have their own different colors and elements.

Pro tip: the whole Drottningholm Castle experience with the boat from Stockholm, the entrance to the palace, gardens, the China Pavilion, and theater are included in the Stockholm Pass. We highly recommend the theater – it’s definitely a highlight and a rarity to see.

Skansen open-air museum

One of the highlights of Djurgården island (it’s full of attractions) is the traditional open-air museum Skansen. It is one of the most visited places as it’s also kid-friendly. Actually, you can see traditional architecture and crafts, combined with a zoo and a fair.

It’s an amazing theme park and if you want to have an idea of what was life like some time ago – go ahead. We enjoyed some traditions in action, like the street organ player and the girls who provided stacks of hay so kids can play. Of course, it’s such a place that attracts so many children – if you want to enjoy peace and tranquility you’ll have to skip Skansen or look for outer walking paths.

We were lucky to spot a deer in the wild – it was like a fairytale!

Hop on hop off bus

We used the interactive map to check where are the buses and according to the map, we knew if it was worth the wait to save some walking. Well, even with our impeccable navigation skills, we still took the bus in the wrong direction so we had a ride to the western part of Stockholm’s Östermalm. We passed the Tekniska Museet, the TV tower and a huge green meadow that’s used for festivals or just for outdoor activities. Why not?

Generally, hop on hop off buses in Stockholm will provide rest for your feet, but they’re usually closed as the weather wouldn’t permit the upper deck to be open. So for quality sightseeing, we recommend using your good old soles.

Gamla Stan

The Old Town – Gamla Stan. It’s such a pleasure to wander its cobblestone streets and look at the ochre-colored buildings. If you come closer to the water-side – another world reveals to you – bars, cafes, boats roaming the archipelago. Gamla Stan is one of those places where time can slow down or even stop for you.

If you want to soak in the atmosphere of Old Town with modern entertainment, don’t skip Gamla Stan. Plus it has many churches and buildings of historical and architectural value.

Pro tip: make sure you sit at the water-side before or at sunset – the sky could be simply amazing!

Fotografiska museum

Fotografiska Museet is one of those cool places that are a rare sight in Stockholm – it has extended the working time so you can visit it after all the other museums close at 5 or 6 p.m. On weekends it works until 1 a.m.! You can book your entrance ticket for Fotografiska Museum, if you don’t have Stockholm Pass.

There are a couple of floors of different exhibits and photographers presented change over time but we believe no matter when you visit – it will be full of amazing stuff to enjoy.

It is much more than just exposing photography – we’d say it’s a visual experience to walk through the Fotografiska Museum.

At the top of the very cool urban-style building, there is a restaurant and a lounge bar with nothing less than cool vibes! We didn’t find a proper place next to the window so we just walked around and left the chillout experience with a view for our next visit.

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary, Fotografiska Museum

Old stinky restaurant ship with cheap beer and french fries

We’re pretty sure there is no word for “drinking quite affordable beer and not so tasty french fries on the deck of a stinky old ship that was turned into a restaurant”. Here – that was kind of a unique experience we almost had in Stockholm. I mean, after absorbing the view towards the sunset over the archipelago and trying to imagine the stories those old sofas and dirty carpets would tell, we decided to leave. Which was even approved by the staff who were smoking and cursing in many different languages. What diversity!

Tip: consider this our Smulstromställe. The word means a secret hidden place you’ll never find unless a local told you about it. Well, you might find it yourself plus we’re not locals, but you get the point. Now get on a stinky old ship and see what happens next.

Day 3: make your own fun tours in Stockholm

Our last day in Stockholm was the day where the weather showed how crazy it could be. We had drizzle, heavy rain, wind, sun. We hid in the Stockholm’s subway, explore the Vasa Museum, and took the Royal Canal Boat Tour. In between, we sunburned, went soaking wet, and had our hairstyles totally messed up by the winds.

DIY Stockholm Tunnelbana tour

Knowing that Stockholm’s subway has some amazing subway stations (thanks to Petya), we had to make our own Tunnelbana tour in Stockholm. And the good news is that once you enter the subway for 45 SEK a ticket, you can ride it forever (unless you leave the system of course).

So our Tunnelbana tour had a very ambitious plan but we wanted to do other stuff on our last day in Stockholm. Maybe we have spent a total of two and a half hours underground. But all the stations are such masterpieces!

So here are all the stops and metro lines in our custom-made self-organized Stockholm subway tour:

T-Centralen – blue line, red line, green line
Hötorget – green line
Odenplan – green line
Thorildsplan – green line
Östermalmstorg – red line
stadion – red line
Tekniska Högskolan – red line
Mörby Centrum – red line
Solna Centrum – blue line
Solna Strand – blue line
Tensta – blue line
Kundsträdgärden – blue line

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary, Tunnelbana subway

Royal Canal Boat Tour

You can literally choose from tens of boat tours around Stockholm – it’s an archipelago after all. Tours vary in length and type – from 40 mins to 4-5 hours of sailing, maybe some even longer. You can choose between, historical, natural, cultural tours, some with audio guides in many languages, some with live guides onboard.

We wanted to just experience a short tour around the central archipelago so we chose the Royal Canal Boat Tour. It goes through the beautiful Djurgården canal and passes some of Stockholm’s most well-known places, such as Slussen, the Old Town and the islands of Fjäderholmarna – “the gateway to the archipelago”.

We were quite unlucky with the rainy weather but we still went outside on the open back part of the deck to enjoy romance along the surrounded by a green canal. We got wet quickly but maybe this was the moment when we realized the weather is just part of your Swedish experience so you have to learn to enjoy tiny nice moments with people you love (even if you’re wet and cold).

Vasa museum

Another miracle of the Djurgården island, the Vasa Museet! It is all about the fascinating ship Vasa that had an unlucky destiny and managed to sail for like a mile before it sunk.

It is a majestic ship that took a lot of work, manpower, and money to be built. You can explore it on 6 floors to get different perspectives from bottom to top.

Except for the huge ship that fills in a huge museum space, you can explore different mini exhibits on each floor – processes of building, restoration, interior, and exterior design. You can see movies, parts of the ship in separate rooms. Basically everything for this majestic ship.

Even if you’re not into sailing or ship construction and history, we think the Vasa Museum is a great place to visit in Stockholm. After spending time around her (Vasa) and learning about her history, we asked ourselves why she was doomed with such a tragic destiny. Maybe it has something to do with her purpose – it was a warship after all…

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary, Vasa Museum

If you have more than 3 days in Stockholm

If you’re lucky to have more time in Sweden’s capital, we suggest some other fun activities for you. Like visiting all the cool free museums in Stockholm, taking the Ghost Walk tour, enjoying the city on a bike, or sailing to a few more islands and the neighboring archipelagos. Food tours are always a good idea to explore a place. Or you can just practice fika, as Swedes do.

Fika

If someone tells you they don’t love fika that means they are lying to you. Fika means having a good time with a hot drink (best coffee) and something sweet. So the sweet warm combination is best enjoyed with friends or people you just love.

We practiced fika in so many different places – on the bench outside the supermarket, in our motel room, on the train, in metro stations, basically everywhere except for a regular coffee shop. But we loved every bit of dessert and every drop of hot drink in those settings – it was just lagom for us!

Tip: if you want to experience lagom – just be the right amount, the sufficient, balanced and so on, just be ready to improvise and find the place/food/people to share it with.

Sweden, 3 days in Stockholm itinerary, eating out, fika

Eating in Stockholm

Let’s just say it – eating out in Stockholm is simply expensive! So here is how we ate during our long weekend in Stockholm.

Breakfast – we usually got bananas and snacks from the supermarket or on the go from minimarkets at the train/subway stations. Ate breakfast on ships, on the train, generally on the go.

We did sort of brunch on our last day – basically, it was fika on the metro while doing our Tunnelbana tour. It was quite amazing as we did it continuously while having longer legs between stations we wanted to get off to see.

Lunch – one time we ate at the only restaurant at Birka island. Our second lunch we secured from a minimarket at Drottningholm island pier.

Our dinners were supplied from the supermarket and consisted of dry food, pre-made salads, and soups that were easy to warm up in the microwave of our motel. Last but not least, we enjoyed different Swedish beers and some good old movies on TV.

For our last dinner, we walked around in the neighborhood and discovered quite the affordable Greek restaurant run by a Turkish Swede. It was the perfect place for our grande final dinner. Food has a different taste when it’s not cooked in the microwave! Plus Greek salad is just the best thing ever!!!

Fun fact: Stockholm can be vegetarian-friendly. We missed it, but you can try this Stockholm vegetarian, vegan, and raw food tour.

Accommodation in Stockholm

We chose Motel L in the Älvsjö neighborhood – just a few stops away from the center, but in a very quiet place. There was a big supermarket nearby, microwave at guests’ disposal, and very minimalistic but still comfy rooms.

You can always choose a more central location and more luxury, but for us, it was about the neat, clean, and straight to the point approach of the Swedes to everything, including accommodation.

Eventually, Stockholm lived up to our expectations! It was fun, full of things to do, multi-faceted and geared towards all different kinds of travelers.

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2 Responses

  1. […] members (how could we all possibly fit on that little boat?), another boat came gliding through Stockholm’s water. This was the beautifully sleek sailing yacht from Out Sailing. There was a slight sigh from […]

  2. […] We recommend staying at least 2 or 3 days in Stockholm. […]

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