Best free things to do in Stockholm
Tuesday, 9 August 2022
Sweden’s capital is an elegant, sophisticated and stunning city that can be enjoyed on a budget. Stockholm is one of the most stylish cities in northern Europe and is made up of individually distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own style and personality.
Spread across 14 islands, the city boasts cutting-edge museums, both independent and luxurious shopping, gorgeous natural beauty and stunning architecture. Like with any city, there is much that you can enjoy without having to spend a penny. So to help you before your Baltic cruise holiday, we will guide you through the best free things to do in Stockholm.
Free walking tours
Stepping into a new city can be intimidating. There is always so much to see that you can often feel overwhelmed and get caught up running from place to place so you don’t miss out on the best sights. That’s why one of the best ways to discover a city is by taking a walking tour.
Stockholm’s streets are lined with buildings dedicated to its history and heritage, and a few hours with Free Tour Stockholm will help you to take in as much information and the amazing sights as possible. The tours can last up to 1.5 hours and guide you around some of the most interesting sites in the city including the royal palace, the smallest statue in Stockholm and some of the best views in Europe.
There are three tours to choose from and each has its own individual taste and style. The City Tour leads you around the main city area, the Söder Tour which takes you through the bohemian Södermalm, or the Old Town Tour where you can discover the original island of Stockholm, narrow alleyways and cobbled streets.
The story of Stockholm and Sweden is colourful, and the best way to learn about it is in the country’s most visited museums. Fortunately, the capital has a large number of museums which are completely free to visitors, covering everything from the history of its army to sport and Sweden’s natural history.
Sweden’s leading museum of art and design, the Nationalmuseum’s collection comprises of old paintings, drawings, sculptures and even graphic art and design. Recently renovated, it is an unmissable free attraction in Stockholm for any art and history lover.
The National Sports Museum, (Riksidrottsmuseet) in Stockholm showcases the legacy of sport in Sweden, with examples and exhibits from ancient times to the modern-day. Including records, prints, photographs, film, literature and objects, the museum’s collection stands at close to 5,000 items and 2,000 publications that document the highs and lows of Swedish sport.
Admission is free, so there is no excuse for you not to enjoy the exhibits or try the different sporting activities and challenges around the museum.
See the world’s longest art museum
It is said that the Stockholm subway is the world’s longest art exhibit, with 110 miles across 90 stations decorated. Mosaics, large paintings, installations, sculptures and engravings from more than 150 artists have livened up the subway system.
Peace, environment and women’s rights are all covered across the exhibits and if you’re thinking of checking them out, the Blue Line is a particularly good example of the beautiful work.
Stockholm Culture Festival
Thousands take to the streets on six consecutive days to celebrate culture, music, art and food at the Stockholm Culture Festival.
The celebration follows a theme each year and commences on the 15th of August, running until the 20th, which marks the end of the Swedish summer holidays. Across four stages you get to hear a wide collection of genres from gospel to rock, world and pop, as well as stand-up comedy, films and talks.
If you have younger people with you in Stockholm you can take them to the Family Festival, last year held on Norrbro for babies to 13-year-olds, or the “We are Sthlm” youth festival for teens aged 13-19. “We are Sthlm” is the largest youth festival of its kind in Europe, with live acts, obstacle courses, skateboard parks, workshops and much more.
The event has free admission, so anyone can fully immerse themselves in Sweden’s and Stockholm’s history and culture. The festival has been running since 2006 and often attracts more than 750,000 visitors – many of which were tourists.
Smaka på Stockholm
Smaka på Stockholm is the ultimate insight into the food of Sweden’s capital, and the country as a whole. The festival is an exhibition of the finest gastronomy across this part of Scandinavia in a friendly, summer-party like atmosphere.
Smaka på Stockholm (A Taste of Stockholm) is held between the 1-6 of June every year in the centre of the city and is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world.
Sweden, and Stockholm in particular, is very diverse and its gastronomy reflects that. Influences from around the world are celebrated at this festival, with restaurants, tasting sessions, food trucks and more all on show.
READ MORE: What to eat in the Norwegian Fjords
Stockholm Street Festival
The Stockholm Street Festival began in 2010 in a bid to raise awareness for the care of public spaces amongst the citizens and politicians of the city. Held between the 30th of June and 2nd July, it celebrates some of the most talented street performers that cover the traditional buskers to the new art of street performances. Elsewhere you can see street painters, 3D painters, musicians and dancers.
Market stalls are dotted around the festival offering a range of multi-ethnic foods and gives the whole event a real international atmosphere. Acts from Canada, France and Japan all join together for the same common cause in a crazy, carnival setting.
Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Stockholm is fortunate enough to have three World Heritage Sites within close proximity. These are areas that are considered to be invaluable to all of humanity and are both widely celebrated and passionately protected.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites are stunning and evocative in many ways, but Skogskyrkogården – The Woodland Cemetery – is among the finest. Fragile, emotive and ghostly in many respects, it is particularly beautiful at dawn and dusk when the silhouettes of the trees stand out from the pastel sky.
This masterpiece was a collaborative project from some of Sweden’s finest artists and architects who brilliantly coupled nature and architecture back in the early 1900s, it is even considered to be one of the most important creations of modern architecture. Open 24 hours throughout the year, there are few better places in Stockholm for a long walk and contemplation.
Known as Sweden’s first town, Birka can be found in the middle of Lake Mälaren, where there are still visible traces of the people who lived and died here.
Dating back to the mid-700 AD, Birka is believed to be the creation of the Swedish king, who sought to utilise the city’s position to take control of the northern Scandinavian trade. It was a thriving area and the heart of much of Sweden’s economic and political power and is heavily linked to the strong cultural ties to the Vikings in the area.
Sweden’s best-preserved royal palace and one of Stockholm’s most popular tourist attractions, Drottningholm Palace was constructed in the seventeenth century and remains the permanent residence of the royal family.
The palace includes magnificent salons from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century, as well as an idyllic park, Chinese pavilion and the best-preserved eighteenth-century theatre in Europe. Once more, it remains the only theatre that still uses the original stage machinery.
Listen to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Founded in 1902, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has been calling the Stockholm Concert Hall home since 1962. The orchestra holds over 100 concerts throughout the year and during the summer months, you can listen to them for free. In a long-standing tradition, the Royal Orchestra plays a free concert at Gärdet at the Maritime Museum.
Go and explore
Visiting a new city can be overwhelming. There is so much to see, do, try and taste that you may not know where to start. But that is exactly why you should allow yourself a couple of hours to just go out and explore.
Like with any city, Stockholm has something for everyone. There is something to catch the eye or spark your imagination in a city that is almost intimidating with its beauty and stature. You should never feel constrained or limited by the belief that Sweden’s capital is too expensive to enjoy. Instead, follow our advice and discover the best free things to do in Stockholm.
If this has given you the inspiration to visit the stunning city of Stockholm then make sure you take a look at our Baltic Treasures and St Petersburg cruise where the stunning capital is on the port list.
READ MORE: Why a cruise is an affordable way to see the world
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