With its arresting redbrick façade and 100-meter tall bell tower topped with the Three Crowns of Sweden, the grandiose Stadshuset or Stockholm City Hall is one of the capital’s most impressive landmarks, looming over the waterfront of Kungsholmen. Dating back to 1923, the City Hall is the masterpiece of architect Ragnar Ostberg and a celebrated example of Swedish National Romanticism, now home to the city's principal government offices.
Open to visitors via guided tour, the grand interiors are equally magnificent, starting with the famous Blue Hall, equipped with a 10,000-pipe organ and the location of the annual Nobel Prize ceremony and banquet. Next up is the Council Chamber, designed to mimic a Viking Longship and decked out with Carl Malmsten furnishings, and the Golden Hall, where the elaborate wall mosaics shimmer with over 18 million pieces of gold leaf and colored glass.
Skansen is an open air museum and zoo in Stockholm, and was founded in the late 19th century by Artur Hazelius as a branch of the Nordic Museum. Its purpose is to show the different ways of life in of Sweden before the industrialization. After scouring the country, Hazelius bought around 150 houses and had them deconstructed and shipped to the site of the museum, where they were rebuilt to illustrate the spectrum of life in traditional Sweden. Only three of the buildings are not authentic, but they were scrupulously copied in full detail from historical models.
Skansen expanded tenfold since its inception, and now features various houses and workshops where you can experience traditional craftsmanship, such as butter making, weaving, shoemaking, and glass blowing. There is also a zoo containing a wide range of Nordic animals including the bison, brown bear, moose, gray seal, otter, red fox, reindeer, and wolverine.
With a history dating back to 1874, the Feskekörka is Gothenburg’s oldest market hall, Scandinavia’s largest fish market and the much-celebrated focal point of the city’s legendary fishing industry. Owing its peculiar name (literally: the ‘Fish Church’) to its church-like appearance, the Feskekörka’s unique surroundings only add to its charm and a stroll around the lively marketplace is a popular pastime for tourists.
Today the busy market remains largely unchanged from its 20th-century heyday, with elaborate displays of fresh, seasonal produce and a steady stream of top chefs, local families and visiting foodies haggling over the morning’s catch. From fresh-off-the-boat cod and halibut, to live spider crabs and lobsters, seafood lovers will find everything they need here, but even if you’re only browsing, head to one of the food stalls or restaurants, where you can sample local delicacies like pickled herring, smoked salmon or seafood smörgås (open sandwiches).
All ABBA, all the time. Stockholm’s ABBA Museum is an interactive space for fans of the Swedish pop group to dive deep into the band’s history and trivia. With plenty of the band’s costumes, gold records, memorabilia, and much more, the museum invites its visitors to experience the feeling of being ‘the fifth member of ABBA.’ Check yourself out in their stage costumes, sing with them at the Polar Studio, interact with holograms, and even go on stage with the band.
Some of the museum’s different interactive exhibits include Waterloo, where you’ll be transported back to 1974 Brighton; The Polar Studio, where you can get hands-on with the mixing desk; and Benny’s Piano, the self-playing piano that has some special tricks in store for you.
Also included in the ticket price are the exhibits: Swedish National Music Hall of Fame and The History of Swedish Popular Music.
Buzzing with activity day and night, the grand main street of Avenyn (Kungsportsavenyn) runs for a kilometer through the heart of Gothenburg city center and makes a popular starting point for exploring the city. Laid out in the middle of the 19th century, the scenic parade is lined with stately architecture and crammed with shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as offering tram links to all the city’s top attractions.
Start your walk at Götaplatsen square, home to the City Library, Gothenburg Concert Hall and the Gothenburg Museum of Art, as well as one of the city’s liveliest nightlife areas, then follow the boulevard all the way to the Rosenlund Canal, where you’ll find the grand Neo-Renaissance Stora Theatre and the Kungsportbron bridge, from where boat tours set out along the city’s canal ways.
Stockholm is a popular port of call and a key turnaround point for many European cruises. As a result, this cultural capital—home to some two million people—is well equipped to handle (and entertain) travelers. Visitors can go back in time on a tour of the historic streets of Gamla Stan, lounge in well-kept green spaces or wander the interesting shops that line the bustling waterfront. And while Stockholm has a reputation for being a pricy port, there are still good options for getting around on a budget.
Passengers docking in Frihamnen can walk to the ferry terminal from port, hail a taxi or hop aboard one of the nearby buses to reach more interesting parts of town. Those who arrive at Gamla Stan can easily access the city’s electric trolleys or explore on foot.
One of the largest and least touristic of Stockholm’s many islands, Kungsholmen is a popular retreat for locals during the summer months, when its scenic walkways and waterfront restaurants offer a tranquil alternative to the lively shopping and nightlife districts of Södermalm or Gamla Stan.
The star attraction of Kungsholmen is the grand Stockholm City Hall, which famously hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremony, and visitors can not only tour the legendary building, but take in the views from its 100-meter tall bell tower. Other highlights include the scenic waterfront promenade of Norr Mälarstand, which stretches all the way to Rålambshovs Park, the central Scheelegatan, crammed with bars and restaurants, and the harbor by City Hall, from where boat cruises head out to explore the islands of the Stockholm archipelago.
There are few more atmospheric ways to discover Gothenburg’s rich maritime history than bedding down in a stylishly redesigned ship cabin or dining with a porthole view over the waterfront, making the Barken Viking one of the city’s most intriguing attractions. Despite itsname, the Barken Viking bears no relation to the Norse warriors – instead, the boat was built in 1906 as a merchant ship and since retiring from service has been permanently moored in Gothenburg harbor.
Today, the striking four-masted ship floats proudly in the Lilla Bommen marina and has been transformed into a hotel and restaurant, with marine-inspired décor designed to complement the ship’s original fittings. Although the ship is closed to non-guests, many visitors choose to enjoy lunch or dinner at the onboard restaurant or sip a beer at the top-deck bar – the perfect excuse to explore Scandinavia’s largest vessel.