Chilling in Stockholm

(~9 day stay, end June – early July 2016, ~10-15 min read)

We could’ve arrived in Stockholm earlier if not for the repair works on a major highway bridge due to an accident. Now we took a long detour passing from the west then to the north of city before heading to the north east towards my friends David’s house near Ākersberg. He hosted me for my almost 2 weeks stay in Sweden. I wrote about my experience with his family and friends here.
Hence, what I write here will overlap with that other post. Here it will mostly be a summary of the places I went and the things you can do during summer. Timetables might change for the other seasons.

The first glimpse of Stockholm for me was Jakobsberg Centrum a suburb on the north west of Stockholm along the E18 highway. The weather was rather gloomy. It was cloudy and a bit cold with some drizzle. Not the picture of summer I had in mind considering the weather was perfect when I celebrated midsummers long weekend at Davids hometown near Tranās.

We stopped by Jakobsberg train station to buy an “Access” card which is the card you should have if you want to use public transport in the Stockholm region. (Approx ~SEK25) plus a 1 week pass ( SEK300 ). You should be able to get it at major train stations. To top it up, you can either do it via the counter or pay with card through the ticket vending machines.

SL Access Card for the transportation network in Stockholm

Midway through my stay in Stockholm, I joined David up north to Dalarna which meant I had to buy another pass for my remaining 3 days before I flew out. The 72 hour pass costs SEk270 which is just slightly less than a 1 week pass. The airport pass to Arlanda Airport via train is SEK85.

Transportation costs is quite pricey. Hence, it’s always worth it to buy a pass (e.g 24hour,72hour, 1 week, monthly pass) instead of paying as you ride. It also saves you from queuing besides the fact that all modes of transport only accept prepaid ticket/access cards.

Went to buy some groceries and then home to settle in after wards.

So these are the things that I did in Stockholm :

  1. Free City Tour

To get your bearings of the city, I would suggest that you join the free city tour. I think there’s a few companies running the tour and there’s a few types of tour as well (e.g City, Gamla Stan/Old Town free tour) but mine left from the Kulturhuset which is above the T-Centralen train station at around 10 am and lasted for around 1.5 hours. So you should google to find which free tour suits your needs.

The tour brought us to Drottninggatan (the main shopping street and purportedly the longest one in Scandinavia), Haymarket (Hötorget) where the Concert House is located (also where the Nobel Prize giving ceremony is held), Sveavagen (to the spot where the Prime Minister was shot dead in the 1980’s), Stureplan and lastly to Kungsträdgārden overlooking the Gamla Stan.

2. Change of Guards at the Royal Palace

I also managed to catch the guards procession accompanied by a musical band that were on their way to the Palace for the changing of guards. The changing of guard happens everyday at around 12pm but changes according to the time of the year. Arrive early if you want to be able to get a good spot or else you’ll send your time tiptoeing trying to see what’s happening (even not seeing anything at all if you’re unlucky). Since my free tour ended late, I decided to not go to the change of guards that day due to the sheer number of people already congregating there.

Alternatively, you can also watch their procession as they pass through Kungsträdgārden making their way to the Palace compounds. Less crowds. The changing of guards itself is more orchestrated compared to the one in Copenhagen. The band seems to have a more prominent task of playing music. There’s also a PA system to explain to the tourists about what is happening.

3. Royal Palace

There are a few attractions requiring tickets for entry. I bought a Royal Palace combination ticket for 5 places in the Gamla Stan for SEK 90 (student price). Includes visit to the Riddarholmen Church, the Royal Apartments, the Treasury and the Tre Kronor Museum and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, within seven days.

Out of the 5, I would say the Royal Apartments and Riddarholmen Church were worth the visit. The other spots were small and/or you are not allowed to take pictures. I have also visited Greece a few weeks before so I was not really keen on seeing more statues in the Gustav III museum.

 

4. Public ferry to see the city from the water

Stockholm has stunning views from the water however, boat tours are pricey. The next best thing is a recommendation given by the free tour guide ( and also suggested by David ) which is taking the public ferry. The ferry departs from Nybroplan and it was included in my Access weekly pass. The ferry passes through Djurgārden where you can see the Gröna Lund (a theme park ), the archipelago of islands and continues all the way the waterways along the south eastern suburbs. The ferries are surprisingly small yet needs to cater for a lot of passengers because transport links to the south east suburbs that are located by the waterside is poor.

5. Stroll along the main streets and areas of Stockholm CBD (Drottninggatan, Sveavägen, Karlavägen, Östermalmstorg, Östermalm, Stureplan, Gamla Stan, Södermalm)

Apart from the Drottninggatan shopping street, Sveavägen is one of the main roads in the city. Hard Rock Cafe is located along this road if you are a souvenir collector. Some of the people I know are so I had to pay a visit.

You should also visit a beautifully built public library across Odengatan from the Hard Rock Cafe. The main concourse of the library has a round shape with the librarian counter at the middle and at the side of the building are loads of books. You can also ask to use the computers/internet for free.

As you stroll around these areas/streets, you will also run into a few more public parks and churches that you can visit for free.

6. Visit the Swedish Parliament

At the south end of Drottninggatan lies the Swedish Parliament just as you enter the Gamla Stan which conducts free tours that you may want to join. Its based on a first come first serve basis. So be sure to get there ahead of time. There are several tours and conducted in a few languages. Tour lasts approximately 1 hour.

You can also walk around the narrow streets and alleys of Gamla Stan. Lots of shops sell Swedish souvenirs and lots of restaurants as well. Be prepared to pay tourist prices though.

7. Visit the museums

Most of the major museums in Stockholm are not free. If you would want to enter a lot of them, you might want to consider buying the Stockholm City Pass. It was too expensive me so I did not get one. They do however have some small and lesser known museums that you can enter for free (e.g Historiska Museet, Medeltidsmuseet (keep an eye for the easy to miss entrance below the bridge) and Hallwylska Museet).

To get a list of which ones, you can request for a list from the tourist information centre. Like Copenhagen, take note of the museum closing days, opening times of the day and free entry days to make sure you are getting value from the city pass if you decide to get one.

I visited the Vasa Museet (SEK 100 for students) which is a museum dedicated to as they say the biggest failure in Swedish history. It contains a well preserved warship that took so much money and time to build but sank not long after leaving the port killing some crew and members of the public who were inside for the inauguration of the ship. Free tours of the ship are available (after you buy your ticket that is). Try to arrive early because it’s one of Stockholms biggest attractions. I arrived around 9am but it opens earlier. Read more about it from their website here.

The ship inside Vasa Museet…It’s massive!

8. Cruise the Stockholm Archipelago

If you have a whole day free, you can try taking the Talinn Silja cruise from Stockholm to Äland Island and back. You are actually taking 2 ships. The first cruise ship will sail to Turku (Ābo), Finland but will make a stop at Mariehamn, Āland Island. So you disembark here and board the ship that is going the opposite direction from Turku to Stockholm.

I literally just stopped in Äland Island just to switch cruise ships. The view of the archipelago of islands that you are able to see as you leave Stockholm is stunning with its unspoilt nature of clean dark blue waters and green forest covers. The islands are also home to small communities and summer houses dot some of these remote islands. If you get bored of the great views, the ship has some slot games, duty free shopping and sauna to name a few so that you can pass the time.

Book early via online and you might be able to get this tour for €2! Tour takes around 10-11 hours from around 7 am until around 5-6pm. No food is provided though so you can either pay for it or pack your own. You also do not get allocated seats. There are public seats on the deck outside that you are free to choose from.

9. Skansen Open Air Museum

Another attraction that you can go to is Skansen. It’s an open-air museum and zoo on Djurgārden. Entrance is on the expensive side, SEK 180 even for students. The area is big and it takes hours to just walk around this place. You are just paying for entrance. Inside the museum itself, there a few more attractions which require separate payments.

I was told that they dismantled some old Swedish traditional structures from the other counties and reassembled them there. So you can see how the Swedes used to live in the old days and there are workers in some of these structures. They will show you what and how the Swedes used to live in those buildings as well as answer any questions that you might have.

10. Chilling at the public parks

Lastly, I and David chilled at some public parks in the city for example, Kungsträdgården in the city centre is a hotbed for people watching. Events are usually organised here and there’s food stalls/booths selling food that you can enjoy while sitting at the grass or benches. Next to it is the St Jakobs Church that is free to enter.

Gärdet near Kaknästornet (the broadcasting tower which you can pay to visit) and also near Sveriges Television (SVT) Headquarters. It’s a big public park where people usually go for jogs, cycling or any other recreational activities.

Another park that I liked was Vitabergsparken which is a park near Sofias church in Södermalm. The park was full of young people chilling and relaxing over some drinks as it was a Friday night when we visited.

After that, you can walk around Södermalm which is a suburb south of the Gamla Stan. You can walk around along the ringroad and Hornsgatan that goes to most of the major parts of the suburb. There are public parks and with pathways along the lakeside of which you can have a good view of the city skyline. I particularly liked the city view of the Gamla Stan that I managed to take from Monteliusvägen.

From this point, you can also see the City Hall with its clock tower. You can walk along the seaside and the big square that is enclosed by the city hall building. The area around the city hall and Riddarholmen is also enjoyable to walk around.

Lastly, another park which is a bit far from the centre. It’s a hill located in Hammerbybacken. In winter it becomes a mini skiing resort with its own ski lifts. In summer however, it becomes a spot for the city dwellers to exercise as the hike up to the top of the hill is quite challenging. From the top, you will be able to see the suburbs in the south of the city.

11. Malaysian Embassy open house

Since it was Eid, the staff from the Malaysian embassy and Tourism Malaysia office in Stureplan which I visited while exploring the city invited me to a feast at the ambassadors official residence in Viking Hill. The house had a stunning view of the waterfront albeit a bit far from where I was staying. It took me almost 2 hours on public transport to get there ( or 1 hour if you are already in the city centre).

She had a cook from Indonesia to help her cook all the Malay meals to be served on that day. The community didn’t look so big as I was told there were only around 1000 Malaysians registered with them. Some of the people I talked to at the function were professionals such as doctors and engineers. Almost everyone I met were saying it was getting harder to get their visas due to the tightening of requirements because of the refugee crises but most of them seemed to be happy with their life in the country.

12. Other random places I went

Stockholm University, Tunnelbanna blue line, Museum of Natural History

13. Shopping for groceries and food

My itinerary and expenses which does not include accommodation are as follows. It’s in Swedish Kronors due to the fact that exchange rates move all the time.

In short, I visited and did the following :-

  1. Free City Tour
  2. Change of Guards at the Royal Palace
  3. Royal Palace (combination ticket to enter 5 attractions near the palace)
  4. Took the public ferry from Nybroplan to see the city from the water
  5. Stroll along the main streets and areas of Stockholm CBD (Drottninggatan, Sveavägen, Karlavägen, Östermalmstorg, Östermalm, Stureplan, Gamla Stan, Södermalm)
  6. Visit the Swedish Parliament
  7. Visit the museums
  8. Cruise the Stockholm Archipelago
  9. Skansen Open Air Museum
  10. Chilling at the public parks (there’s loads but I preferred the ones that I highlighted below)
  11. Malaysian Embassy open house
  12. Mall of Scandinavia said to be the largest in the region (but it’s not really that big actually).
  13. Additional things to check out, Västra Skogen T-bana on the Blue Line which people claim has the longest escalators in Stockholm. Some blue line stations also have artwork painted on the walls.

My expenses are as follows :-

Swedish simcard bought in Malmö ( Conviq ) : SEK 79

Accommodation : SEK 0 (because I was staying my friend, David )

Transport : Total SEK 640 consisting of

SEK25 (for the Access Stockholm Transportation Card)

SEK 300 ( 7 day pass)

SEK 230 (72 hour pass)

SEK 85 (Arlanda Airport Pass)

Food : approx SEK 600 ( Cooking your own meals saves loads! We cooked at home and I packed the meals with me when I explore the city…Occasionally, I bought some pastries from the supermarket, fast food such as Maxx and Mcdonalds and pizzas as a treat to David for hosting me)

Cruise tour with Tallinn Silja : €29

( €2 for tickets, €7 for sauna, €20 for duty free drinks)

Entry ticket to attractions :
Total SEK 370 consisting of :

SEK90 ( Student combo tix to the Royal Palace )

SEK 180 (Skansen)

SEK 100 (Vasa Museet)

Grand Total for Expenditures : approx SEK 1800 and €29

(not inclusive of accommodation which I expect should be around SEK200-300 a night for a bed at a hostel).

I had fun in Stockholm that I didn’t want to leave. Have you ever been to Stockholm? Did you like what you read? If you have any comments and questions about my trip, ask them below. I’ll try my best to help 🙂

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