The name ‘Stockholm’ easily splits into two distinct parts – Stock-holm, “Log-islet”, but as no serious explanation to the name has been produced, various myths and legends have attempted to fill in the gap. According to a 17th century myth the population at the viking settlement Birka decided to found a new settlement, and to determine its location had a log bound with gold drifting in Lake Mälaren. It landed on present day Riddarholmen where today the Tower of Birger Jarl stands, a building, as a consequence, still often erroneously mentioned as the oldest building in Stockholm. The most established explanation for the name are logs driven into the strait passing north of today’s old town which dendrochronological examinations in the late 1970s dated to around 1000. While no solid proofs exists, it is often assumed the Three Crown Castle, which preceded the present Stockholm Palace, originated from these wooden structures, and that the medieval city quickly expanded around it in the mid 13th century. In a wider historical context, Stockholm can be thought of as the capital of the Lake Mälaren Region, and as such can trace its origin back to at least two much older cities: Birka (c. 790–975) and Sigtuna, which still exists but dominated the region c. 1000–1240 — a capital which has simply been relocated at a number of occasions.
Sightseeing Made Easy
Stockholm tours are exciting in many aspects. When sightseeing in the Swedish capital you can choose from a wide range of opportunities. Ever thought of a ghost walk on medieval streets? Or a bus trip that shows you the ruins of a Viking settlement?
There’s so much possible. Walk, take the bus or a boat, or a combination, and let yourself immerse in this wonderful city with its colorful history and fascinating present.
Below is a quick overview of Stockholm tours I warmly recommend.
Some of them I have been on myself, and all are organized by the city’s most reputable sightseeing company. Please note that some tours may only run in tourist seasons or less frequent offseason.
- Hop On Hop Off Bus Sightseeing. Explore the city the way you want it. Hop on and off an open-top double-decker bus whenever it suits you, and spend as much time as you wish at locations you like.
- Panorama. The quick tour for those that stay for only a day or so. Just 1.5 hours, but some of the best 1.5 hours you will ever spend.
- Golden Viking History Tour. This truly magnificent bus tour provides a day well-spent for all interested in Scandinavian history.
- Golden City Tour – Alfred Nobel. Traditional sightseeing tour with emphasis on the life of the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, who also founded the Nobel Prize.
- Under the Bridges of Stockholm. See the city with its bridges and monuments from the water. If you haven’t been on a boat at least once during your stay, you haven’t been to Stockholm.
- Royal Canal Tour. One-hour-trip around the island of Djurgården where the royal hunting grounds were. The guides even tell you where Björn Borg lives and a former member of Abba.
- Stockholm in a Nutshell. See all the major sights of this city in just 2.5 hours, using coach and boat, with guiding service in nine languages.
- Ghost Walk and Historical Tour. Walk at night through the streets of Gamla Stan, hear stories about ghosts, murders, and mysteries, and visit the places where they all happened. Includes refreshments in a wine cellar!
Stockholm nightlife is, in one word, vibrant. There are rock concerts, techno clubs, classical concerts, opera and ballet, performances of all kinds. And if you are happy with a tasty meal in one of the city’s numerous restaurants or just having a beer in a café, you won’t be disappointed either. Going out here has it all.
- Göta Källare, 45 Folkungagatan T-bana Medborgarplatsen
- Berns Salonger at Berzelii Park
- Slakthuset, 6 Slakthusgatan
- Le bon Palais, 12 Barnhusgatan
- Estelle, Sveavagen 36
Sweden is the world’s third producer of pop and rock music. This is quite an achievement for such a sparsely populated country.
So, pop fans are at the right place. After all, the Swedish capital was Abba’s hometown.
The big pop and rock acts of today perform in the famous Globen stadium.
Another place to see pop and rock musicians including many big names is Berns at Berzelli Park. Lesser known (and many local) bands play in smaller venues and pubs. Some of the best are found near Stureplan.
There are also plenty of jazz clubs here. Gigs are usually announced in local newspapers. Konserthuset, concert hall at Hötorget.
In summer Stockholm nightlife goes outdoors with open-air concerts in Kungsträdgården and in the amusement park Gröna Lund. Another popular area to go for pubs and clubs is Södermalm (Götgatan and surrounding streets). House music, soul, techno, hip-hop: you can dance the whole night long, in small smoky bars and big trendy nightclubs for Swedish girls.
Here you will understand why Stockholm nightlife has gained such an excellent reputation.
But Stockholm nightlife is more than pop culture.
Become friends with Swedish cuisine!
Maybe you decide to experience Stockholm nightlife in a restaurant or bar, instead of going out elsewhere, and have a few more drinks after your meal. Fine, you can have a good time there too.
Obviously it’s a great opportunity to become friends with Swedish food. Before you know you’ll be making your own Swedish meatballs.
There are restaurants in about every price range. Remember though that prices of alcoholic beverages in Sweden are higher than in most other countries!
What To Buy In Stockholm?
There are no less than 4,000 shops in Stockholm, selling about everything you can imagine. Most tourists though buy souvenirs that “prove” they’ve been in Sweden like T-shirts, mugs or key rings with an image of Stockholm, wooden Dala horses or – no kidding – a small pot of elk poop. Others are interested in Swedish glass, ceramic craft and design.
Typical tourist shops are in Gamla Stan, the old town in the heart of the city. If you are looking for souvenirs you’ll certainly find something in Västerlånggatan, the busiest street in Gamla Stan. Prices are high. Nevertheless, many find a cuddly elk or a straw puppet dressed in Swedish yellow and blue hard to resist.
Fans of interior design who wonder what to buy in Stockholm should pay a visit to Södermalm, the island south of Gamla Stan. Contemporary glass, carpets, ceramics, textiles from exotic countries… stroll through Götgatan and Hornsgatan and you can buy it all.
The best area for shopping is the southern part of Norrmalm.
Drottninggatan is the main shopping street. Apart from a few souvenir shops you will find a large number of stores selling shoes, cosmetics and fashion. Among them are big chains, but also a young Swedish fashion designer like Maria Westerlind has a shop here.
Two department stores at Drottninggatan are also worth a visit: Åhléns – visit their book department if you’re looking for beautifully illustrated books about Stockholm – and PUB.
The third large department store in the city centre is NK at Hamngatan. They have a huge assortment of handicrafts and souvenirs in the basement. Their collection of Swedish glass is worth your attention. No bargain prices though, but hey, you’re on holiday!
Melanie is an International Dating Expert at Women and Travel. She provides tips for success in the world of international dating. Her articles cover destinations all over the globe and give first-hand reports on seducing foreign women from all over the world. Her passions are wine, plants, art, travel, animals & writing.