When it comes to travelling in Sweden, Stockholm is a good first step for planning out your adventures. One of the aspects that makes Stockholm such a great hub for day trips is that it is set on an archipelago with nearly 30,000 different islands and inlets. A good portion of these are uninhabited but also have thriving communities and historical sites that are worth visiting. Its location in Europe also makes it easily reachable to other cities, like Helsinki, the capital of Finland. There are many different choices to pick from for short excursions, but here is our pick for the absolute must-visit destinations which are easily reachable from Stockholm.
The first stop we would recommend worth checking out is the city of Uppsala. Founded in the 15th century, this location is the fourth largest city in Sweden and is known for its university, as well as its museums. Have a walk through the hallowed halls that many students study in, and visit the nearby castle and botanical gardens. After walking through the city and visiting the different attractions - ideally finishing at the Gamla Uppsala Museum - go down to the cathedral and then follow the Pilgrim’s Walk, which is a six-kilometre trail that leads you to the Viking burial mounds in Old Uppsala.
Though Uppsala is a picturesque location to visit year-round, one of the best times to visit is the Valborg celebration, or Walpurgis Eve in English. While this is an event that is celebrated throughout many European countries, Uppsala has a unique way of celebrating, with people constructing floats weeks beforehand and then racing them down the Fyris River. Each float has a different theme, whether it be a speeder from Star Wars or a local student society promoting their club. The only thing stopping participants is their imagination!
Where to Stay
Budget - Foundry Hotel Apartments
This hotel offers apartments which are suitable for solo travellers and families with cheap options, the building itself is just a short walk away from the city park in Uppsala.
Mid-Range - Grand Hotell Hörnan
Set in an early 20th-century building, this hotel is right in the middle of Uppsala, and is a stone’s throw away from the station. Some of these rooms have a private balcony which offers beautiful views of the city.
Luxury - Elite Hotel Academia
The deluxe rooms at this hotel offer the most comfort of any hotel in Uppsala, with a gym, sauna, and minibar in each room as well as a rooftop bar.
On the eastern outskirts of Stockholm, is one of Sweden’s best-preserved castles. Built in the 15th century, Drottningholm Palace is a medieval landmark of the country’s past, constructed in the architectural style typical of European castles during this period. A UNESCO world heritage site, most of the palace and surrounding gardens are open to the public. That is, except for the southern wing. These rooms are still used as living quarters for the king and queen of Sweden.
You’ll need a couple of hours at least here, not just to investigate the palace’s interior but also the stunning surrounding gardens, which are split into three sections. There’s the Baroque Garden, the closest one to the palace, lined with box hedges, the Chinese Pavilion to the south is a diversion from the baroque style that some of the grounds are styled in, and then the most modern section to the north is the English gardens. Entrance is ticketed, but with the Go-City pass, you can visit the Palace as well as 45 other attractions within Stockholm and the nearby area, including other locations on our itinerary.
Where to Stay
Budget - ApartDirect Sundbyberg
Located in between the Drottningholm Palace and Stockholm, the basement apartments at this complex offer a cheap but pleasant stay just North of the capital city.
Mid-Range - Biz Apartment Bromma
Closer to Drottningholm Palace than Sundbyberg, these comfortable apartments are not only within walking distance of this attraction but also Bromma Stockholm airport.
Luxury - Best Western Plus Grow Hotel
Though this accommodation is the furthest away from Drottningholm Palace, it provides the most pleasant stay, with a fitness centre, sauna, parking access, airport shuttles and room-service
Outside of Stockholm, closer to Arlanda Airport, is one of Sweden’s oldest settlements. Sigtuna was established by King Erik the Victorious in the tenth century, and though Stockholm is the modern capital of the country, Sigtuna was once the seat of power in Sweden. Much of this town represents a significant landmark in Sweden’s history, lined with traditional wooden houses and old streets. While Stora Gatan may be reminiscent of many other streets within historical districts throughout the country, it is actually the oldest in Sweden.
There is plenty to do in the town and its surrounding area. St Mary’s Church sits in the town centre, but there are also the nearby ruins of St. Olaf’s church, St. Lawrence’s and St. Peter’s. After you’re done exploring, you can sit down at one of Sigtuna’s coffee shops and enjoy some fika, ideally one with a view of the nearby Lake Mälaren. Depending on the season, go out on the lake for a spot of kayaking or ice skating!
Where to Stay
Budget - Hotell Kristina
One of the cheapest places to stay in Sigtuna is the single room at this family-owned hotel, but cheap doesn’t mean bad, as breakfast is included in the price, and you get free parking as well.
Mid-Range - 1909 Sigtuna Stads Hotell
Built in 1909, this hotel offers a lovely stay in the centre of this historic town, with the double room offering a view of the beach and the hotel restaurant being in the top 20 of those throughout Sweden.
Luxury - Sigtunastiftelsen Hotell & Konferens
Also built at the start of the 1900s, this hotel has provides plenty of creature comforts, including free parking, traditional Swedish cuisine, as well as views of the lake and sea.
Our next stop is another UNESCO world heritage site on the island of Björkö (translating into Birch Island) to the west of Stockholm. In Sweden’s history, the settlement of Birka was a trading outpost during the time of the Vikings, first established in 750 AD and abandoned around the same time that Sigtuna became a town. Nowadays, it is a must-visit destination to learn about Sweden’s origins as a nation.
There are many events that run throughout the year, obviously with Viking and archaeological theming. If you want a souvenir of a different kind, this location plays host to the Birka Historical Tattoo Fest, where historical, Nordic, Celtic, and Baltic tattoo artists come together every year, turning Birka into a trading centre but of a different kind to when it was first founded. There aren’t any places to stay on the island of Björkö itself. However, it is easy to reach by boat from Stockholm.
Any settlement constructed by a body of water needs to have defences against any shipborne threats, and this is especially the case for Sweden. Due to its geography, ship fleets are one of the most likely way for Stockholm to be threatened. One of the fortresses to be built for the purpose of protecting Stockholm is Vaxholm Fortress. Connected to the town of Vaxholm by the electric-powered Kastellet ferry, which is about an hour away by bus from Stockholm, the history of this fortress starts in the 16th century.
After many changes, the current fortress now stands as the largest museum within the Stockholm archipelago, housing artefacts from Sweden’s military history, as well as some period furnishings. Its opening times are varied, so have a look at their website and keep an eye on the dates before you visit.
Where to Stay
Budget - Bogesund Slottsvandrarhem, Vaxholm
If you decide to skip out on public transport and drive to Vaxholm, this location is ideal. With free parking and family rooms, this accommodation is just the place to stay for a venture to Vaxholm.
Mid Range - Biz Apartment Gärdet, Stockholm
On the outskirts of Stockholm, these apartments are a good halfway point between Vaxholm and the capital and include parking should you decide to drive out to Vaxholm fortress.
If you’re going to stay in Stockholm, you might as well do it in style at the local Raddison Blu Hotel. This also offers parking, with a few additional comforts.
Another lovely spot for would-be boaters and the setting for Viveca Sten’s Sandhamn Murder series, Sandhamn is one of the outermost islands within the Stockholm archipelago and a great spot to visit. Less than a hundred people live here year-round, and it’s only reachable by ferry With white sandy beaches as well as the rocky shores, which are a trademark of these islands, it’s no wonder the high season here is when the temperatures start rising.
Though best visited in the summer season, it is also worth checking out when the tourists aren’t around, when this town reverts to a more relaxed state. If you’re looking for a place to eat, check out Sandhamns Värdshus, which has been trading for a very long time. Whether you want a bustling summer day or an adventure in winter, Sandhamn is an ideal day excursion. Check out their website for things to do while visiting.
Where to Stay
Mid-Range - Missionshuset Bed & Breakfast
Stay in a traditional Swedish cottage at a reasonable price. Though it’s shared accommodation, you can usually have the place to yourself in the off season.
Luxury - Sandhamn Seglarhotell
As well as providing a quality stay on Sandhamn, this hotel additionally offers a fitness centre, hot tub and sauna to make your stay that much more enjoyable.
There are many places on Lake Mälaren, and the town of Marefred, along with the towering Gripsholm Castle, is one of them. This town is an idyllic place to enjoy some time off, even among local Swedes - the actor Dolph Lundgren has a summer home here. From here, you can travel to other locations on the lake aboard the steamer Mariefred, including the previously mentioned Birka.
Another attraction worth checking out from here if you have a particularly sweet tooth is doing the Cake tour at the nearby Taxinge Castle, where you can sample around 60 different kinds of cake! Alternatively, you can do the same trip overland on the historic steam train, or vary it up and do both.
Where to Stay
Budget - Almnäs Park Hotel, Södertälje
A lot of the accommodation in Mariefred is closer to the mid-range or luxury price mark, so even though this is a bit of a drive away, this hotel is ideal if you wish to travel on a budget.
Mid Range - Röda Magasinet, Mariefred
This 19th-century guest house is the perfect place to act as a base in Mariefred. As well as offering you a place to stay, they offer you free bicycles during your stay and have free parking if you’re travelling by car.
To the north of Mariefred, this bed and breakfast provides an excellent stay throughout your visit to the area, with free parking and family rooms.
Prepare for an early start and a potentially late finish with this destination because we are going south to Malmö. It’ll take five hours to reach Malmö from Stockholm, but it’ll be worth it to see this city on the south coast of Sweden. With architecture that ranges from that typical of Sweden’s medieval past to more contemporary buildings, Malmö is deserving of its own adventure if you have the time.
There are many attractions worth visiting within the city of Malmo, but one of the most iconic sites is the Øresund Bridge, which connects Sweden to Denmark via Copenhagen. It’s a symbol of the region, and has appeared throughout different media projects, including The Bridge, a crime thriller where Danish and Swedish police work together to investigate a murder that has occurred on the bridge.
Where to Stay
Budget - HOTEL N Hostel Malmö City
One of the cheapest places to stay within Malmö, this accommodation is within walking distance of many of Malmö’s attractions and is a great way to meet fellow travellers in Sweden.
Mid Range - Best Western Hotel Royal
With breakfast included in the price and a nearby restaurant, this hotel is a perfect location to act as a hub for your travels throughout Malmö.
Luxury - UNITY Malmö
This modern hotel offers private apartments within Malmö city centre, with the superior studio being the height of luxury in this establishment.
As with Malmö, if you have the opportunity, more time is required to visit the island of Gotland. However, it is doable for a day trip and is easily reachable from Stockholm, with the quickest flights taking less than an hour and the average ferry crossings taking around three hours (Nynashamn to Visby). Gotland is the largest island in the Baltic Sea. Its main city, Visby, is a UNESCO world heritage site, with its city walls offering panoramic views of the surrounding sea.
Gotland also offers a snapshot of the geographical and cultural history of the island at the Gotlands Museum. There is something here for everybody, whether you want to see more historical reminders of the Vikings or enjoy more modern recreation in the art galleries. This is a great destination to visit year round, with blossoming colours in spring, major events and bustling business in the summer, autumn being described as the best season to visit by the locals and Christmas markets and tranquillity in winter.
Where to Stay
Budget - Nissevikens Stugby, Havdem
If you want a quiet place to plan out the rest of your trip throughout Gotland, this renovated chalet is the perfect place to stay on a budget.
Mid Range - Teatergalleriet B&B, Stenkyrka
This bed and breakfast offers a quirky stay on the island, offering tents instead of rooms, with free parking and breakfast included in the price.
Though a trek away from Visby, the journey is worth it as this modern hotel will provide an extraordinary stay during your time in southern Gotland.
One of the many different communities worth visiting within the Stockholm archipelago is the town of Saltsjöbaden. Located to the southeast of Stockholm on the Baltic Sea coast, it’s about half an hour away on the Saltsjöbanan train line.
An ideal location to visit in the summer, this is a town that takes things slower than Stockholm, with gorgeous beaches and a harbour where locals and tourists alike go out boating. You don’t need to take a packed lunch with you, as there are many different restaurants which you can pop into and sample the local cuisine - unless you’re planning to hike in the area.
Where to Stay
Budget - Notholmen, Tyresö
This accommodation is not in Saltsjöbaden, but in one of its neighbouring towns. If you’re travelling on a budget, this pet-friendly accommodation is an ideal place to stay.
A twenty-minute drive north of Saltsjöbaden, this property offers free parking and offers free bicycles too, if you cycle throughout the area.
Luxury - Vår Gård Saltsjöbaden, Saltsjöbaden
Finally, on Saltsjöbaden itself, this hotel offers private suites with all the comforts of luxurious living, including a private beach, a sauna and a gourmet restaurant.
Our final stop on this itinerary is actually the closest archipelago island to Stockholm city. Fjäderholmarna is actually made up of several smaller islands, with Fjäderholmarna being the main island. It used to be an area known for shipbuilding and naval activities, but now it is a great location for both domestic and international tourism. As with many of the different inhabited islands, there is a unique slice of Swedish culture to be experienced here, with major events taking place throughout the year and being the perfect escape from urban life.
There is loads to do here, from different artisanal craftsmen that create jewellery, glassware and ceramics, scenic walks along rocky coasts where you can go for a dip in the Baltic Sea, and even the first microbrewery in Stockholm's archipelago, Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri. Here, people can sample locally brewed beer, and there is a restaurant on the property that sells traditional Swedish food, making it a perfect place to cater to your every whim. The islands are too small for any hotels, but they are close enough to Stockholm that you don’t have to worry about a place to stay.