How to Experience Authentic Stockholm

Stockholm, the historic capital city of Sweden, is spread across an archipelago of islands, making it a fun, water-based city to explore. It offers an authentic Swedish cultural experience if you incorporate local food, museums, and boat trips into your visit, and that’s what this article is all about. Välkommen att Stockholm – welcome to Stockholm!


Photo by A Cruising Couple via


Most Swedes speak English, so there’s no need to worry about the language beyond saying “tack” (thank you). When you hear locals chatting, listen to the very sing-song, up and down tones of this old Nordic language.

Food and Drink in Stockholm

Brace yourself for higher prices in Stockholm, particularly when it comes to alcoholic drinks. My favorite place to start the evening is at the Absolut Ice Bar in the Nordic C hotel. Admission includes warm hooded capes as you step into a -5°C (23°F) environment where everything is made of ice–the walls, the benches, the bar, and even the glasses!

Fresh smoked fish, gravlax, meatballs with lingonberries, and cinnamon buns are classic Swedish foods. Try Gubbröra, an egg and anchovy salad served with rye crispbread, or choose a  smorgasbord feast of smoked eel, herring, jellied seafood, roast beef , and cold salads. The upmarket Gondolen restaurant has superb water views for diners

Boats and a Warship!

A boat tour around Stockholm’s islands and bridges gives you a good introduction to the city. Sit back and listen to the English commentary through your headphones as the cruise parades some of Stockholm’s grandest buildings before you. Trips include passing through one of the locks connecting Lake Mälaren with the Baltic Sea.

Another taste of Stockholm’s maritime history is the Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgarden. You can’t miss the building as it has the ship’s masts sticking out through the roof!

Vasa Museum

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This magnificent warship sank in front of the royal palace on its maiden voyage, in 1628. It was left in disgrace at the bottom of the sea until 1961, when it was raised almost completely intact. Now restored, it is now one of Stockholm’s most fascinating museums.

Stockholm’s Must-See Attractions

The cheapest way to get around Stockholm is with a 24-hour ticket on a hop-on, hop-off open-top bus tour. It covers the main sights of the city around Nybroplan, the museums on Skeppsholmen, Stadsgårdskajen wharf, and the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan. The changing of the palace guard, complete with military band, takes place daily at 12.15 p.m. in summer, and at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays in winter. The nearby Cathedral and the Royal Opera House are both worth looking inside.

Changing the guard at the Royal Palace

Image by FRTravelFoto via

Further afield, Drottningholm Palace is a UNESCO-listed attraction with wonderful gardens. The open-air museum at Skansen showcases five centuries of Swedish history though its relocated buildings and exhibits. The Kaknästornet communications tower has a café and viewing gallery with panoramic vistas across Stockholm.

Cheap flights to Stockholm will deliver you to the modern Arlanda (ARL) airport. There are regular rail transfers to the city, where you’ll find a wide choice of Stockholm hotels, from five star luxury chains to charming townhouse accommodation in the Old Town.

You may enjoy a quick peek inside the Hotel Bentleys in this article!


About gillianbirch

Greetings from your international roving reporter! Based in beautiful Cornwall UK, I am a freelance travel writer and published author of several travel books. As the wife of a Master Mariner, I have travelled extensively and lived in exotic locations all over the world including the Far East, Europe, Australia and the Republic of Panama. I would describe myself as having “endless itchy feet and an insatiable wanderlust”, as I continue to explore Europe, Florida and further afield, writing about my experiences with humour and attention to detail. BTW, I have a Diploma from the British College of Journalism and am a member of the International Travel Writers’ Alliance and the Gulf Coast Writers’ Association.
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