This itinerary will give you a well-rounded look at the city's history, culture, and restaurants for vegetarians if you're short on time!
Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia, and it's comprised of 14 separate islands! You could easily spend weeks there, learning all about Sweden’s centuries-old history and taking in its forward-thinking, eclectic, and exciting contemporary culture. But if you’re short on time (like we were), here is a super detailed 4-day itinerary that’ll give you a well-rounded look at the city and Swedish culture!
Before we get to the itinerary, a couple of notes about accommodations and getting around:
Choose a hotel/hostel that includes a free breakfast. You’ll save tons of money by filling up on free food in the morning so that you only need to buy one or two meals “out.” We stayed at Scandic Continental which had, truly, the most amazing free breakfast buffet we’ll probably ever see in our lifetimes and it had a very convenient central location.
It will depend on your exact itinerary, but we found that it wouldn’t be worth it to purchase a metro pass. Stockholm is very easy to walk around, and for the times we didn’t feel like walking or it truly was too far, we just purchased a single-use ticket. They cost about $5 and are valid for 75 minutes. This means you can travel as much as you want/need to within those 75 minutes before you need to purchase another ticket.
The stunning free breakfast buffet at Scandic Continental
Day 1: Experience a Swedish Spa
Points of Interest: Centralbadet
Where to Eat: Govindas, Mikkeller
Hands down, a spa is the best way to start your trip. We wasted no time heading to one after our overnight flight landed in Stockholm around noon. You’ll feel so refreshed, plus, it’s so Swedish! I’d recommend Centralbadet in Norrmalm. It’s not only centrally-located, but it includes access to several baths, jacuzzis, pools, and saunas, in addition to offering spa treatments, AND there is a vegetarian buffet right in the same building.
Have lunch at Govindas
Cost: ~$14 per person
Govindas is a vegetarian buffet in the same building as Centralbadet. Vegetarian buffets are a thing in Stockholm, and we’re totally here for it. You won’t necessarily find “traditional” Swedish fare at the buffets, but it’s a perfect way to fill up your bellies and do as the locals do! Sweden is notoriously expensive, but Govindas is just $14 a person, which on Swedish terms, is a steal.
After you pay for your plate, go ahead and fill it up and head into the lovely courtyard. It’s bright and it’s full of plants. What more could you want in a vegetarian buffet? After you’ve had enough (you can enjoy as much food as you’d like to), it’s time to head to the spa!
Relax and unwind at Centralbadet
Cost: ~$40 per person
I’ll admit that Centralbadet is a bit confusing, especially if you’re someone like me who is completely unfamiliar with European spa/bath culture, but please don’t let that deter you. The front desk staff are incredibly helpful and I promise that you’ll love it so much you won’t want to leave. Plus, their signs are in English as well as Swedish.
The entrance to Centralbadet
The $40 cost will get you into the spa, with access to the jacuzzis, saunas, baths, and pools. You can experience essentially everything there except for a treatment (like a massage), because they cost extra.
Be prepared that you might have to step a bit outside of your comfort zone here. You wear your bathing suit (and a robe provided to you) for everything, except in the saunas where you’re expected to wear nothing underneath your robe. You’re also expected to shower without your bathing suit before entering the spa and before entering the saunas as well. You will be surrounded by naked bodies. Keep in mind though that the lockers and many of the saunas are separated by sex.
Oh yeah, and there is a little cafe where you can get a drink! Talk about ultimate relaxation, for real!
Drinks and Snacks at Mikkeller
We ended up here based on a suggestion from one of Ryan’s coworkers (he actually collaborated with them in making a beer for his band – how cool), and we LOVED it. It’s quaint, yet friendly and fun all at the same time, with of course, great drinks and delicious food.
I mean look at how cute these tables are!
Going out in Stockholm is not cheap, but Mikkeller has such an amazing selection of beers on tap that its worth trying at least one or two. If it’s on draft when you go, get the ThaiPA – it’s one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. And their food! While the portions are pretty tiny, the flavor is incredible. They have a small selection of Smørrebrød, which are open-faced sandwiches popular in the Nordic countries, as well as a few other snack-y things. Definitely try at least one of the options on the menu, but be prepared for tapas-style portions.
Some of the super yummy dishes at Mikkeller bar
Day 2: Exploring Gamla Stan and Södermalm
Points of Interest: Gamla Stan, Fotografiska, Free Walking Tour of Södermalm
Where to Eat: Hermans, McDonalds
Get the best of both old and new Stockholm with two of the city’s most distinct islands, Gamla Stan and Södermalm. Today is a lot of walking, but with a few different stops spread out over the entire day, you can enjoy everything at your own pace!
Gamla Stan literally translates to “Old Town,” and that’s exactly what it is! It’s surprisingly small, and you can loop around the whole thing relatively quickly.
Spend the morning wandering the small alleyways and cobble-stoned streets of Gamla Stan. This is where you’ll find like, all of the souvenir shops in Stockholm and there are of course many restaurants and cafes as well if you’d fancy a coffee break! There are some restaurants worth visiting in Gamla Stan that I’ll get to later, but in general, be wary of going out for a drink or a meal here. Due to its high tourist traffic, everything will be even more expensive than Stockholm already is.
Charming streets in Gamla Stan
Just walking around and exploring Gamla Stan might be plenty for you, but if you want to kill some more time, you can always check out the Nobel Museum or the Royal Palace. Also, Gamla Stan is a photographer’s dream! So many enchanting alleyways to photograph, and so many colorful buildings that make the perfect backdrop for portrait shots. Once you’ve seen enough of the Old Town, make your way toward Södermalm, because there’s lots to do over there!
Cost: ~$18 per person
Fotografiska is an art gallery with a cafe/restaurant in Södermalm and it has the most amazing view. Art galleries aren’t everybody’s thing, and I get that. They’re not typically mine either. But check out their website and see what sort of exhibitions will be up when you’re visiting – you might be interested in some of them!
If you do go, do not miss the top floor cafe and restaurant. It has huge windows with incredible views overlooking the sea. And, it’s the perfect spot for a “fika” break! Fika is the Swedish tradition of having a midday break for coffee/tea and a sweet treat. Cinnamon and cardamom pastries are especially popular in Sweden!
Check out this view!
Hermans Vegetarian Buffet
Cost: ~$15 per person
Hermans is one of the best vegetarian buffets in the city. It’s very close to Fotografiska, so they’re worth doing together. You’ll have great views here too, as well as a fun, young, bohemian atmosphere. Their food selection is amazing, and they even have their own beer! Their buffet includes food from all over the world and, again, you can have as much as you’d like to. It’s one of those places that you just don’t want to leave. So stay a while and soak up the incredible views, as you enjoy one of the best lunches you’ll ever have.
The best vegetarian buffet in Stockholm!
Södermalm Free Walking Tour
Cost: Free! (+ whatever you choose to leave as a tip)
Free Tour Stockholm has three different tours you can take and they’re offered in English, Spanish, and German! They all have different start times and meeting points, but the Söder tour worked out perfectly into today’s itinerary. You don’t need to reserve your place or anything, all you need to do is show up! It starts at 3:00pm right outside of the Slussen metro stop and will bring you all around Södermalm, which is widely considered to be the “hipster” island, and similar to Brooklyn in New York! The tour did a really nice job of going over the history and contemporary culture of the island, plus fun facts about Stockholm in general (did you know Candy Crush was invented there?)
An example of one of the views you get on the Söder free walking tour!
Dinner at McDonald’s
I know what you’re thinking. But you need to hear me out. McDonald’s in Sweden is unbelievable. It’s truly a vegetarian’s fast-food dream and I despise the fact that Sweden’s McDonald’s menu does not exist here in the United States. I think about it every single day. Their menu is like, completely different. For example, they have no less than THREE vegetarian burger options. Two vegetarian burgers AND the McVegan. We don’t even have one vegetarian option! And those burgers are so good. SO good, you guys. And, you can even get falafel bites and sweet potato fries, I mean come on! Not fair, McDonalds. Not fair. The bottom line is that everything is delicious, please visit McDonald’s in Sweden. Whether you choose to dine in, or do take out and have a night in at the hotel, I promise you will not regret it! (It’ll give your bank account a welcome break too).
The McVegan! Can you tell we opted for a take-out night at the hotel?
Day 3: Museums on Djurgården
Points of Interest: Vasa Museum, ABBA the Museum, Spritmuseum
Where to Eat: Brinken
If you’re cringing at the thought of a whole day of visiting museums, I’m about to change your mind. Stockholm is just bursting with tons of unique and interactive museums that are actually fun to visit. And what’s even better, these three are all on the same island of Djurgården and within super close walking distance of each other!
Cost: ~$16 per person
The Vasa is the most “historic” of today’s museums, but it’s pretty unique, let me tell you. The centerpiece of the Vasa is, well, the Vasa! It’s a gigantic ship that sank in 1628 after about only 20 minutes on the water (true story). It remained underwater for over 300 years before being brought back up and displayed with approximately 98% of its original condition! It was only in use for about 20 minutes, after all. The big ship is the main attraction, but there many floors of exhibits that surround the ship too.
ABBA the Museum
Cost: ~$27 per person
Do. Not. Miss. This. Museum! The ABBA Museum will put you in such a good mood and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be an ABBA superfan to have a good time! The museum is colorful, musical, and interactive. There are so many different things you can do, between taking quizzes, recording your own version of an ABBA song, and even dancing on stage with the members of the band! All you need to do is scan your ticket at each of these activities, and its saved, for you to access later from a computer/phone and keep forever!
Tip: The Pop House hotel and bar/restaurant is connected to the museum and yes, of course it is ABBA themed. Stop in to the bar for a drink before heading down to the exhibits. They have their very own Pop House Lager, which is quite good!
Cost: ~$29 per person (includes a tasting tray)
The Spritmuseum is an interesting combination of museum, art exhibition, restaurant, and bar. At its core, the Spritmuseum is all about the history of alcohol, spirits, and drinking culture in Sweden! And similar to the ABBA Museum, its pretty interactive too. They have rooms that simulate what it’s like to be drunk and hungover, and you can even use your sense of smell to guess which kind of spirit is which! In addition to this, they have rotating exhibitions about food and drink too.
One of the cool food exhibits at Spritmuseum
You can purchase an admission ticket without a tasting tray, but I think the tasting tray is definitely worth trying – especially here! Choose between a tray of different flavored Absolut vodkas or the “traditional” tray, including 3 Aquavits and an Arrack Punsch. You can order a basket of bread and butter for around $4, and trust me, it really helps these spirits go down.
The Traditional tasting tray at Spritmuseum
Dinner at Brinken
We found this place online and decided to head over on a whim. But unfortunately for us, they were booked for the rest of the night. And man, was I really hoping to try this place. So let this be a lesson to everybody to PLAN AHEAD. Especially when you’re a vegetarian in Stockholm.
The thing about this place is that it’s traditional Swedish food, located in Gamla Stan, has a rustic, yet modern and clean design, AND it has MULTIPLE vegetarian options. Which is kind of a big deal. You can get vegan meatballs, mushroom-filled potato dumplings, or if you’d rather stick with a classic, they offer a veggie burger too. Do not miss this hidden gem you guys! But make sure you make a reservation! You can do that here.
Drinks at Aifur
This is without a doubt the most tourist-y thing you’ll do on the whole trip, but its actually really fun. Aifur is a Viking-themed restaurant and bar in Gamla Stan, so its very expensive, and again, very touristy. However, they have hardly any vegetarian options (we’re pretending to be Vikings here, so I get it) so I don’t think it’s a great option for dinner. They do have a bar though, which actually overlooks the dining room so you can still be part of the fun! All of the diners are announced into the restaurant in true Viking fashion and they have live music almost every night, so you can imagine the lively, rowdy atmosphere.
As far as drinks go, I’d recommend trying the mead! It’s an alcoholic beverage most similar to beer or even cider, but it’s made with honey. They have lots of different options and it’s authentic! However if you’re vegan or you don’t do honey, they’ve got plenty of options for beer, wine, and cider too. Grab a drink or two, (or three) and revel in the medieval festivities.
Day 4: Shopping Around Norrmalm
Points of Interest: Stockholm City Hall, Drottninggatan, Mood Stockholm
Where to Eat: Espresso House, Omnipollos Hatt
This is a pretty laidback day, with a lot of leisurely walking and taking in a part of the city we haven’t really explored yet – Kungsholmen and Norrmalm. This is also the perfect day to do some shopping (or window-shopping) as we’ll walk through one of Stockholm’s best shopping streets and a funky indoor shopping mall.
Stockholm City Hall is located on the island of Kungsholmen, and still pretty central and easy to walk to. pretty centrally within the city center, and it’s offers a great view of the city. You can take a tour if you wish to, or you can simply walk around the courtyard and the grounds that extend to the waterfront.
Look at how beautiful this view is!
Some of you may already be familiar with Espresso House, but we were not! Espresso House is a Nordic coffeehouse chain, similar to a Starbucks here in the United States. They’re all over the city, and we decided on our last day that it was finally time to check out what all the hype was about. Its the perfect afternoon spot to grab some coffee and an easy lunch. They have a surprising selection of pre-made veggie options, that average around $6 – not bad!
Lunch at Espresso House
Shopping on Drottninggatan
The name of this street is a handful, huh? Drottninggatan is a really prominent pedestrian street in Norrmalm that’s lined with shopping. You can find major Swedish brands like H&M, and others you may not have heard of like Weekday and Acne Studios. Yes, Acne Studios is actually a clothing brand, as strange as it sounds. It’s fun to pop in and out of these different stores, regardless of your intentions to purchase anything. Plus, it’ll give you a great sense of the Swedes’ fashion sense!
Mood is an indoor shopping mall that is just, really cool. It contains both stores and restaurants, and everything in there is like an art exhibit. All of the restaurants have a unique and vibrant theme and you can find sitting areas throughout that have artistic looks to them too. If you happen to pass by it or if you’re a serious shopaholic, I’d recommend popping in, though I wouldn’t make a special trip just to visit. It’s really cool, but it is essentially just more shopping.
How cool does this bar look?
At some point, you’ll want to make your way back over to Södermalm for dinner at this local beer and pizza joint. This place is similar in vibe to Mikkeller Bar in that its a local hangout with a fun, relaxed vibe. They have a wide variety of brick-oven pizzas to choose from, some of which are vegetarian and even vegan! The menu is entirely in Swedish, so we just decided to choose one that was marked as vegetarian and it did not disappoint. Ours came topped with colorful heirloom tomatoes, arugula, feta, and even almonds! I’d never had almonds on pizza before, but it was a game-changer for sure.
And there you have it! Four days of exploring and eating your way through Stockholm’s rich history and culture. Do you think this itinerary does a good job of blending tourist attractions with the contemporary and modern culture of Stockholm? Let me know in the comments!