Rain or shine, when Justin Timberlake schedules a concert within 2 hours in any direction, you go.
And that’s just what we did when we booked a trip to Stockholm to see him in concert earlier this month. I’ve seen him live as part of NSYNC more times than I should confess to, but boy oh boy does he put on a phenomenal solo act. Jessica Biel, you’re one lucky lady! Although he also has show dates in London, it was cheaper to travel to Stockholm for the weekend. I’d never been to Stockholm AND I adore JT. That’s what I call a win-win.
Besides our JT date we also fit in some sightseeing. Stockholm is stunning, and I’m not just talking about all those blond Scandinavians waltzing around. Did you know it’s built on 14 islands and full of medieval history? The weather wasn’t the best for outdoor activities, which is unfortunate because 30% of the city is comprised of parks and 30% of waterways. We still made the best of the other 40% of the city and left Stockholm happy campers.
Sights & Activities
My favorite highlight was the Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgården which houses a 17th century battleship that sunk in the Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage. It was recovered in 1961 and the museum only opened in 1990 after years of restoration. Guided tours are offered with the cost of admission and I’d recommend joining one if you go. The guide was so knowledgeable and explained the history and politics that ultimately caused the ship to be unfit for sailing. Long story short, the captain suspected it wasn’t seaworthy, but because the ship was commissioned by the King no one wanted to give him the bad news. Conveniently, the captain was unable to make the maiden voyage. Can’t say I blame him. Another interesting fact is the reason the ship is so well preserved is thanks to the brackish sea water in the Stockholm harbor. My unscientific definition of brackish water is water that isn’t as salty as the ocean but is more salty than a lake. Overall, very cool to see up close.
Also on Djurgården is Skansen, a zoo / park / outdoor interactive museum created by curator Artur Hazelius in 1891 to capture life in Sweden before the Industrial Revolution. Actors play different roles (ie. baker, storekeeper, glassblower, farmer) and welcome you into their workshops and storefronts to answer your questions about life back in the day. If you’re into cute animals, May and June are best for visiting because of the abundance of newborn critters running around the zoo.
For lunch we walked to an amazing indoor market called Östermalms Saluhall where we found delicious seafood and Swedish meatballs galore.
Stockholm is super walkable with all the bridges connecting islands so I did a self-guided walking tour of some highlights one afternoon. Here’s the Royal Palace.
Gamla Stan is the old medieval center of town. You can see the cobblestone alleyways and narrow streets among all the tourist shops and cafes.
The Nobel Museum is near the Royal Palace and was so inspiring. I didn’t capture any photos inside but this is the courtyard where the museum is located. Included in the price of entry is a guided tour (check the website for times by language) so I learned all about Alfred Nobel and the history of the prize. Fun fact: the Nobel Prize medal has more gold than the Olympic gold medal!
Know Before You Go:
- Sweden’s currency is the Swedish Krona (SEK). I just took cash out at an airport ATM.
- Stockholm is walkable but if your feet get tired you can purchase transportation passes that work for the bus, ferry, underground metro, and street tram. We bought a 24 hour pass for ~$10.
- We stayed in Södermalm which has been deemed the hipster part of town. It was off the tourist trap path and full of great bars, restaurants, and shopping without being too far from visitor highlights.
- To get from Stockholm Arlanda Airport you can take an express train direct to the city center or the city trains for a bit less money – you’ll follow the signs in the airport to the city trains and there’s a help desk where you can purchase a ticket and figure out your stop.