48 Hours In: Stockholm

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

With long, bright days and a royal wedding on the horizon, Sweden's water-laced capital is at its finest. Sophie Lam prescribes a perfect trip

Click here for
48 Hours

In...Stockholm map

Travel essentials

Why go now?

Days are long and love is in the air in the self-styled capital of Scandinavia. Tomorrow, Sweden's National Day, marks the start of a fortnight of Love Stockholm celebrations (lovestockholm2010.se). Highlights include art tours for two, regal dressing-up for kids at the Skansen museum (1) and royal-themed walking tours. Events build up to 19 June – the royal marriage of Crown Princess Victoria and the personal trainer, Daniel Westling.

Touch down

Arlanda Airport is served by SAS (0870 60 727 727; flysas.com) from Heathrow, Edinburgh and Manchester; British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) from Heathrow; and Norwegian Air Shuttle (00 47 21 49 00 15; norwegian. com/en) from Gatwick and Edinburgh. The fastest route into town is the Arlanda Express (arlandaexpress.com), which whizzes to Central Station (2) in 20 minutes for Sk460 (£41) return. More economically, the Flygbussarna (flygbussarna. se) bus takes 45 minutes to reach the same point for Sk219 (£19.30) return.

Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) flies from Stansted to Skavsta (88km south-east of the city) and Vasteras (96km east), and from Edinburgh and Liverpool to Skavsta. From Skavsta, Flygbussarna takes around 80 minutes to reach Central Station (2); Sk249 (£22) return. From Vasteras, 75 minutes and Sk219 (£19.30) return.

For city-break packages, contact Visit Sweden (020-7108 6168; visitsweden.com/ citybreaks).

Get your bearings

Composed of a jigsaw of 14 islands where the Baltic Sea meets brackish Lake Malaren, Stockholm's geographical DNA is beguiling. The harbour city huddles around Gamla Stan, riven with narrow medieval streets. South is Sodermalm, or "Soder", home to off-beat boutiques, bars and restaurants. East is the tiny museum island of Skeppsholmen and beyond, leafy Djurgarden, once the royal game park – further still is the constellation of islands of the Stockholm archipelago. To the west is increasingly hip Kungsholmen, and north on the main island are Norrmalm, Vasastaden and Ostermalm, the main commercial and shopping districts.

The tourist office (3) at 27 Hamngatan (00 46 8 50 82 85 08; stockholmtown.com) dispenses Stockholm Cards. These grant access to the underground, buses and trams as well as admission to 80 museums and attractions (Sk395/£35 for 24 hours, Sk525/£46 for 48 hrs and Sk625/£55 for 72 hrs).

Check in

Right now, the best place to be is by the water and Stockholm's newest hotel offers just such an opportunity. Hotel Skeppsholmen (4), 1 Grona Gangen (00 46 8 407 23 00; hotelskeppsholmen.com) is perched on the edge of leafy Skeppsholmen island. The design-driven rooms are housed in a pair of late 17th-century military buildings and start at Sk1,747 (£154), including breakfast. Just along – and on – the water is the af Chapman (5) (00 46 8 463 2266; svenskaturistforeningen.se/afchapman), a ship-turned-youth hostel. Dorm beds Sk280 (£25) per person, double cabins Sk580 (£51). Across the water is the Lydmar Hotel (6), 2 Blasieholmshamnen (00 46 8 22 31 60; lydmar.com) where stylish doubles start at Sk2,800 (£247), including breakfast.

Day one

Take a hike...

... through ancient Stockholm on Gamla Stan. The lofty yellow, red, pink and green buildings of the "old town" lean in to each other, creating an atmospheric web of narrow streets. Concentrated on tiny Stadsholmen island, Gamla Stan is the point where Lake Malaren meets the Baltic Sea and is dominated by the Royal Palace (7) (00 46 8 402 6130; royalcourt.se; open daily 10am-5pm; adults Sk100/£8.80).

Start at the north face of the palace by Norbro bridge and admire the imposing Roman-baroque façade, then tuck right down pedestrianised Vasterlanggatan, the main drag where defensive walls once stood but where 19th-century shop-fronts now mostly frame tourist trinkets and packed-out cafés.

As you negotiate the crowds, glance at the tiny cobbled alleys that siphon off either side. Then slip left up Kakbrinken to Stortorget (8), the oldest square in the city, lined with merchants' houses and the former stock exchange. Continue across the square and head down Kopmangatan, the "merchants street" that brings you to Kopmantorget (9), a small square with a statue of St George and the Dragon. Take either of the cobbled slopes that lead off either side on to Osterlanggatan then continue left up the quiet street past the shuttered early 18th-century Den Gyldene Freden restaurant (10) (00 46 8 24 9760; gyldenefreden.se) up to Slottsbacken and the Storkyrkan (11), the newly restored 14th-century brick cathedral that will host the royal wedding on 19 June.

Window shopping

Cross Skeppsbron bridge to Sodermalm, the home of the cool and the quirky. Forgo the branches of H&M and Levi's on Gotgatan, one of the city's longest streets, and dip into Weekday (12) at number 21 (00 46 8 642 1772; weekday.se), which sells its own line of clothing (including Cheap Monday jeans) as well as independent labels; and Design Torget (13) at number 31 (00 46 8 644 1678; designtorget.se), a trove of innovative Scandinavian homeware and gifts. Things get cooler still in SoFo, eastern Sodermalm, with Grandpa (14), 21 Sodermannagatan (00 46 8 643 6080; grandpa.se) for designer and vintage finds and Coctail + Deluxe (15) at 43 Bondegatan (00 46 8 642 0741; coctail.nu) for kitsch paraphernalia.

Lunch on the run

Testament to its success, there are now four branches of Vurma Café (00 46 8 669 0960; vurma.se) in Stockholm. Try the Soder outpost (16) at 31 Bergsunds Strand. Sandwiches are the order of the day – chicken with goat's cheese, roasted veg and apple syrup or grilled halloumi with pine nuts, rocket and balsamic, for example – served in a vintage setting of floral cushions, mismatched furniture and retro artefacts. Prices from Sk43 (£3.75) to Sk79 (£6.90).

Cultural afternoon

Travel through Sweden's history at Skansen (1), an enjoyable open-air museum on Djurgarden, laid out like a large village (00 46 8 442 8000; skansen.se). Repositioned examples of Swedish architecture, from 14th-century farmsteads to 1930s townhouses, are set amidst gardens and interspersed with enclosures of Nordic animals, including moose, reindeer, wolves, lynx and brown bears. The park is brought to life by costumed "residents", who might be baking bread at home or working in the apothecary. Currently open 10am-5pm daily (times vary throughout the year); Sk100 (£8.70).

An aperitif

Be simultaneously dazzled by the views across the water of the imposing Royal Palace (7) and the chic, white interior of the Verandan Cocktail Bar at the Opera House (17), Karl XII's Torg (00 46 8 676 5800; eng.operakallaren. se). Cocktails such as apple cider martinis start at a regal Sk130 (£11.40).

Dining in style

Skeppsholmen was once a naval base and while most of its ochre-hued military buildings now house art museums, a former torpedo factory and naval laundry recently emerged as Hjerta Restaurant (18), 28 Slupskjulsvägen (00 46 8 611 4100; restauranghjerta. se). The bright warehouse interior opens on to a harbour-side terrace in summer. Food is fresh and rustic. Start with the skipper's bread – a pizza of sorts topped with cheese, walnuts, wafer-thin reindeer slices and mushrooms, goat's cheese and herbs or cod and chorizo (Sk135/£12). Mains include cod with a scallop and bouillabaisse reduction for Sk275 (£24), or poussin with asparagus and green beans for Sk215 (£19).

Day two

Sunday morning: go to church

Take your pick of churches, from small and colourful to grand and soaring. Low-rise Stockholm is punctuated with spires, the grandest of which is that of Riddarholmskyrkan (19) on a little island annexe of Gamla Stan (00 46 8 402 6130; royalcourt.se). The burial place of Swedish monarchs is one of the city's oldest buildings, dating back in part to the 13th-century. Services are no longer held here, but step inside and admire the plaques that adorn the walls. Open 15 May-15 September daily, 10am-4pm (until 5pm June-September); Sk30 (£2.70).

Take a view...

...from the new SkyView (20), a glass gondola that ascends 130m up the spherical Globe Arena, 2 Globentorget (globearenas. se). The journey takes around 20 minutes and offers a superior view of the water-laced city. Open 10am-7pm weekdays, until 5pm at weekends (later opening June-August); Sk130 (£11.30).

Take a ride

Stockholm is easily explored on foot, but with the sun sparkling seductively on the harbour at this time of year, there's even more incentive to get on the water. The Baltic archipelago east of the city is some 24,000-islands strong, but boats ply the waters frequently to reach those both nearby and furthest away.

The most popular stop is Vaxholm, an island of wooden houses, ice-cream kiosks, nautical shops and a 16th-century castle. Boats depart daily from Stromkajen (21) and take around an hour; check at the counter outside the Grand Hotel for timetables. Sk150 (£13) return.

Out to brunch

Admire the work of Picasso, Matisse, Tinguely and Dali at the Moderna Museet (22) on Skeppsholmen (00 46 8 5195 5200; modernamuseet.se; Sk80/ £7), then proceed to the glass-fronted restaurant for brunch with a harbour view. There are two sittings at weekends (11.30am and 2pm) for a smorgasbord of fresh salads, cheese, breads, eggs, gravlax, herrings, cured meats, sausages, desserts, tea, coffee and juice; Sk265 (£23) per person.

A walk in the park

East of Skansen (1), the museums and attractions on royal Djurgarden melt away into a section of Ekoparken (23), the world's first self-styled "National City Park" (ekoparken.com). The site extends well beyond the island, but stick to Djurgarden and you can meander along oak-lined trails past horses, cyclists, villas and the summer residence of Karl XIV Johan, the 1820s Rosendals Palace (00 46 8 402 6000; royalcourt.se).

Icing on the cake

The Grand Hotel (21) at 8 Blasieholmshamnen, open since 1874, recently upped its grandeur with the opening of Raison d'Etre's flagship spa (00 46 8 679 3575; raisondetrespa.se). Inspired by Norse traditions, it features mosaics of bucolic Swedish scenes, saunas with ice-cold plunge pools, another pool surrounded by fire pits and cascades, suites with views of the Royal Palace (7) and a gamut of treatments that start at Sk330 (£29).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week