Travelers from around the globe are drawn to Sweden’s capital city for its fika culture, Viking history, and practically unmatched number of museums. But those who prefer to veer off the beaten path will find plenty of under-the-radar things to do in Stockholm, Sweden, too, whether that’s riding the subway, going to the library, or strolling around a cemetery. Think these sound like less-than-thrilling activities? Read on to find out why they’re just a few of the best things to do in Stockholm, and to discover more of our favorite hidden gems in the city.
1. Rosendals Trädgård
A biodynamic garden serving farm-fresh food
For travelers who want a taste of laid-back, Swedish farm life (and farm-to-fork food), Rosendals Trädgård Garden is one of the best places to go in Stockholm. “It’s a lush little oasis just off the beaten path and a wonderful place to spend a quiet afternoon during free time,” said staffer Jeff of the serene spot on Djurgården island. “It’s a working farm and biodynamic garden that’s complete with apple orchards, a farm store, and a greenhouse cafe, where you can indulge in freshly made baked goods and sandwiches. Many of them are made with fruits and veggies harvested from the surrounding land.”
2. Stockholm Tunnelbana
A subway system that doubles as an art gallery
When you think of exciting things to do in Stockholm, Sweden, riding the subway might not come to mind. But the city’s 100 subway stations, or Tunnelbana, are decked out with dramatic murals and other eye-popping works created by more than 150 artists, making the transit system one of our favorite hidden gems in Stockholm. Notable stations include Kungsträdgården, which features colorful murals and a self-sustaining, cave-like eco-system that’s home to a rare type of spider. Walls and ceilings inside busy T-Centralen station boast giant, blue vines, which artist Per Olof Ultvedt painted to create a calming effect. Our Highlights of Scandinavia: Sweden, Norway & Denmark tour includes an entire free day in Stockholm—the perfect opportunity for travelers to explore the city by subway.
A walking path with pretty skyline views
One of the prettiest things to see in Stockholm is the city’s skyline, with its elegant bridges, bell towers, and pastel-colored buildings reflected in Lake Mälaren. For panoramic views of the lake, Stockholm City Hall, and Riddarholmen Church, locals say the quarter-mile-long Monteliusvägen walking path, on the northern edge of Södermalm island, is pretty tough to beat—especially at sunrise or sunset. With charming houses to admire on one side and beautiful city views on the other, it’s no wonder why strolling here is among locals’ favorite things to do in Stockholm. We say it’s a great way for travelers on our Highlights of Northern Europe: Amsterdam to Stockholm tour to get the lay of the land during free time.
A scenic spot for picnicking and sunset watching
Travelers who stroll along Monteliusvägen and want to soak in more stunning city views can keep walking westward for about 10 minutes, to Skinnarviksberget. This is one of the most scenic hidden gems in Stockholm and the highest natural point in the city center. Locals flock to this flat, rocky hilltop spot on Södermalm island to enjoy sweeping views and sherbet-colored sunsets—often with a picnic, to-go bites, or bottles of wine in tow.
A modern, waterfront museum that’s all about photography
Set in a former customs house at the water’s edge, this museum on Södermalm island exhibits works by esteemed and emerging contemporary photographers. With so many of Stockholm’s 40-plus museums dedicated to more traditional subject matter, such as fine art and Viking history, the decidedly modern Fotografiska stands out. Its modern cafe, well-curated shop, and variety of educational and interactive programming are even more reasons why visiting Fotografiska is among our favorite things to do in Stockholm. Travelers on our Scandinavia: The Capitals & the Fjords tour can explore the museum during a free afternoon in the city.
The public library known for its trail-blazing design
You don’t have to be a bibliophile to appreciate the unique design of Stockholm’s public library, or Stadsbiblioteket, which has a cubic base and cylindrical top. Designed by famous Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, the library is a celebrated example of the style known as Swedish Grace—which makes visiting one of our top five free things to do in Stockholm. Step inside to marvel at the library’s towering, open shelves, the first of their kind in the country. For design buffs and book lovers alike, it’s one of the most awe-inspiring things to see in Stockholm during their free time.
7. Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design
A place of education, inspiration, and innovation
Sweden has long been at the forefront of architecture and design. (We have the Scandinavian country to thank for countless cultural icons, among them Eero Saarinen’s curvaceous tulip chair and a certain megastore known for its minimalist, easy-to-assemble furnishings. Looking at you, IKEA.) If you’re curious to learn how the country became a leader in these arenas, exploring the [Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (a.k.a. ArkDes) during free time is sure to become one of your favorite things to do in Stockholm. Situated on Skeppsholmen island, ArkDes is part museum, part study center, and part venue for discussions about the future of architecture, design, and urbanism. Guests can take guided tours, marvel at detailed building models, browse a permanent collection of more than 4 million objects, and even enjoy live musical performances.
A serene cemetery known for its noteworthy design
The idea of hanging out in a cemetery during your free time might seem strange, but Skogskyrkogården, located south of central Stockholm, is so much more than that. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cemetery was designed between 1917 and 1920 by Gunnar Ashland and Sigurd Lewerentz, two leading architects of the Swedish Grace movement. Architecture buffs and outdoor enthusiasts looking for the best things to do in Stockholm won’t want to miss visiting this special spot, which is the final resting place of notable Swedes including the late DJ Avicii and legendary actress Greta Garbo.