Stockholm – capital city of Sweden. Many months ago, Swiss Airlines ran some promotional fares for Europe and I decided to fly in to Stockholm in May on my own for a short visit before hopping over to Norway for more adventures!
48 hours in Stockholm, solo
On a Wednesday morning in spring, I landed in Stockholm at 9am. I was to fly out to Bergen at 1pm on Friday, so I actually had less than two full days to explore Stockholm. With the limited time, it took me quite a bit of research to work out my itinerary. I didn’t wanna do tourist hotspots just because they’re listed in the guides. I only wanna go where I think I’ll be happy to go. That’s one of the top benefits of solo-travel =D
The Places Travel Guides Recommended
Vasa Museum, to see the Warship that sank
This would be the #1 attraction that all the guides and blogs will recommend. However, I didn’t visit, and don’t regret it yet. Vasa Museum was built to showcase a warship called Vasa. In 1628, after sailing within minutes for a short 1300m, Vasa capsized and sank, much to the horror of the spectators who came to send it off on its maiden journey. The disaster was mainly due to a faulty design: the ship was simply too top-heavy to be stable. It was a disaster and only 30 of its crew and passengers survived. The main designer had died before the ship was completed, so no one could be faulted after the accident.
For 333 years, Vasa sat at the seabed until it was finally recovered. Where it had been submerged, the water was too cold and fresh for shipworms to thrive. A dead zone had been unintentionally created by sewage – bacteria won’t live, which resulted in Vasa staying in excellent condition! It was restored to 95% of its original version, and is the only preserved 17th-century ship in the world. Vasa Museum is also the most-visited museum in Scandinavia.
Why I didn’t go
I’m really not too into maritime stuff. Add that I have a deepppp fear for deep &/or dark waters.. I don’t really wanna be at the museum to visualize how it was to be trapped inside that sinking ship, and to stay sunken for centuries. So, I chose to skip Vasa Museum!
I didn’t enter but had passed by the Royal Palace during my random strolls and a walking tour (see below). The Royal Palace is the official residence of the King of Sweden. There is the popular changing-of-guards ceremony that takes place on most afternoons once a day, depending on the season. For the first day that I was in Stockholm, I couldn’t be at the palace on time. For the second day, I was to be at Moderna Museet since morning, so again, I couldn’t make it.
Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council for the city. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Stockholm, and also houses offices, conference rooms and ceremonial halls. It’s the venue for the Nobel Prize banquet. You can only visit the City Hall by joining guided tours.
The Fotografiska Museum is a centre that showcases contemporary photography. If you’re into photography, you might be interested to visit. Last year, they had featured Erik Johansson, a Swedish-born, Prague-based digital imagery master whose work I admire a lot.
Where & What I Decided to Go & Do Instead
Hunt for Instagram-perfect angles at the library
heard read me right. Stockholms Stadsbibliotek is SO PHOTOGENIC – how could I not see it with my own eyes? This library was designed by Gunnar Asplund, a Swedish architect, and was officially opened in 1928.
Ps: The people are there to read/study/research. You might find yourself to be the only tourist there, so stay quiet and respectful of the space when you’re visiting 🙂
Admire cherry-blossom trees at Kungsträdgården
Cherry blossoms certainly weren’t in my plans when I booked my Swiss Airlines air-ticket a good ten months before the trip, but guess what, Stockholm has cherry blossom trees! In good timing, the trees were still in blossom when I was in Stockholm. In fact, I went back again the next day because it was just so comfortable to hang out there.
Check Routes North for other suggestions on where to see cherry blossom flowers in Sweden during spring.
Join a free walking tour
Walking tours are a great way to know a little more about new cities. I joined one organized by Free Tour Stockholm. My host was hilarious, informative and a great guide. In 1.5 hours, I had a great time learning about the Old Town’s history!
Although walking tours can be free, it’ll be a nice gesture to give a small tip to your tour guide to thank him/her for the city introduction. My tour guide was very professional and she will look into your eyes in gratitude and without even sneaking a glance at how much you pass her, quickly stuff your token into her bag. It’s nice because you don’t have to feel embarrassed at your tipping amount – it’s goodwill.
Get lost at Gamla Stan
Also known as the Old Town, Gamla Stan has plenty of winding, cobblestoned lanes with many shops. This is definitely a tourist hotspot, so be prepared for higher prices here.
Explore Stockholm on foot
Whichever neighbourhood/district I happened to be at, I’ll explore a little more of it by foot, including Slussen, Södermalm and the city centre.
Admire the views at Monteliusvägen
Sshhh. This is quite a secret spot I suppose! There’s very few people when I went! #yessss. I could hear birds chirping, soft traffic and the metro in the far distance. It was super calming to spend some quiet moments here in the cold weather.
Get on a boat for some island-hopping
I knew I wanted to take a ferry in Stockholm, and that shall happen on the second morning. From [near] Slussen, I boarded the boat bound for Skeppsholmen. Later on in the afternoon, after waiting for quite some time in the cold weather, I finally got on the boat from Skeppsholmen to get to Djurgården. A local helped me to figure out which was the right boat to take (or you can always ask the captain when the boat arrived).
I pretty much had no idea where or what is available at this sprawling garden, other than ABBA Museum (which I wasn’t interested to go), Skansen Museum, and the amusement park – Grona Lund. So I walked without a fixed destination, simply admiring what’s around me. It was so relaxing. I saw a lady sit at the park reading a book, while her kid was sleeping in the pram. At that time, I couldn’t help thinking to myself:
How blessed these people in Stockholm are,
to live in a modern city yet get all the greeneries and waterfront views anytime!
If you need to get away for some quiet time away from your hectic city life, yet stay close to the city and enjoy nature, Stockholm is a wonderful option.
Try different forms of transport systems & discover Stockholm’s underground metro art
I took the metro as much as I can because I wanted to save time and energy. I also took the bus at the city center; hopped onto the tram at Djurgården which was to take me to Kungsträdgården.
I didn’t specifically went in search of the Stockholm’s famous underground metro art, but came across them when I was taking the train a few times. Other than the underground walls, the rainbow escalator was a delight to stumble upon!
Spend hours admiring Marina Abramovic’s work at Moderna Museet
Moderna Museet is a free museum with different exhibitions going on at the same time. When I was there, it was just perfect timing that the museum was showcase one of my most respected artists’ – Marina Abramovic’s – work. I spent an intense few hours going through “The Cleaner” exhibition.
Eat a leisurely lunch at Moderna Museet
To be honest, in Singapore, I don’t really do lunch too leisurely. It’s not in a rush either, but I just don’t spend that much time enjoying my food. However, in Stockholm, I was amazed by this view from the window at Moderna Museet restaurant, I just had to eat lunch leisurely.
I was also really happy to be where I was, my second day in Stockholm. You know, everytime you get to a new city solo, it can be a little unsettling trying to settle your nerves. But by the second day right here, I was definitely feeling way more at ease in this city.
And here’s my actual itinerary
• From Arlanda Airport, take airport bus to city centre (outside T-Centralen)
• Buy 72-hour transport card at T-Centralen station. Take metro to Södermalm
• Walk to Skanstulls Hostel. Leave luggage with reception
Afternoon till evening:
• Explore Södermalm area
• Lunch at Södermalm
• Take metro and walk to Stockholm public library for photos
• Take bus to Kungsträdgården for cherry blossom trees
• Go back to hostel to check in
• Take metro to city centre to meet up for walking tour
• Join walking tour and walk from city centre to Old Town
• Go back to Södermalm. Buy dinner and go back hostel
• Eat snacks in hostel room
• Buy takeaway coffee from cafe near hostel on way out
• Take metro to Slussen
• Walk to harbour
• Wait for ferry to go Skeppsholmen island
• Visit Moderna Museet for Marina Abramovic’s exhibition
Afternoon till evening
• Have lunch at Moderna Museet’s restaurant
• Take ferry to Djurgården
• Walk around Djurgarden. Explore Rosendal gardens
• Take tram to Kungstradgarden to admire cherry blossom trees
• Take metro to Slussen. Walk to Monteliusvägen for evening views of Stockholm
• Grab dinner at Slussen
• Take metro and walk back to hostel
• Eat dinner, shower, pack luggage
• Take train to T-Centralen station
• Take airport bus to Arlanda Airport
• Check in at airport. Have brunch at the airport
• Board SAS plane bound for Bergen, Norway
Phew, that’s the end of my very short trip in Stockholm! I thought this post will be a short one but it took a long time for me to prepare this! 😅
Hope this post will help you for planning a trip!
Visited: May 2017
Information sources: Vasa Museet
Image credits: Vasa museum ship – Pixabay. All other photos taken by me.
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View other of my Scandinavian posts here:
• 10 most important travel trips you need to know for your first Stockholm trip
• 6 Days in Norway – How Much Did It Cost?
• How We Underestimated Mt Ulriken – Bergen’s Highest Mountain
• 12 Photos to Inspire You to Go Hike in Norway
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