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Long Weekend in Stockholm Next Spring

My wife and I are planning a long weekend in Stockholm next spring. Our flights and hotel are booked (both cancellable/refundable). A very rough itinerary is sketched out below. I've pre-ordered Rick's Stockholm guide (the latest version comes out in a month), but I'd appreciate any feedback. We've traveled quite a bit in Europe, but never before in Sweden.

Arrive at ARN at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday. We'll plan to take the FlixBus or Flygbus to the city center (these appear to be significantly cheaper than the express train, without taking all that much longer). We are staying at the Story Hotel Riddargatan (which includes a full breakfast). We'd like to do one low-key thing this afternoon (like visiting a museum), followed by walking around and dinner. I understand that best case scenario is that we are in the city by 2:30 or 3:00, and we are planning to be flexible here given that this is a travel day. We've been to Europe many times and we have always been "productive" on our first day there, even coming off a redeye.

Between Sunday and Monday, we'd like to do one full day in Stockholm and at least a partial day trip to Uppsala (which looks like a relatively short train ride away from the Stockholm central train station). It appears more things are closed in Uppsala on Monday than Sunday (like the Uppland Museum), so my thought was to go to Uppsala Sunday morning, come back to Stockholm in the afternoon, and then spend the rest of Sunday afternoon/evening and all day Monday in Stockholm. I'm aware of our time constraints, but Uppsala looks particularly accessible and interesting to me, so we'd really like to get there.

We depart ARN at 1:40 p.m. on Tuesday. I was hoping we'd have time for one more thing (relatively close to our hotel) that morning, before taking a bus late morning back to the airport. It may be that the "one more thing" is simply walking around the city more, which is totally fine if nothing is open early enough for another museum/etc. But if anyone has an idea on something that opens or starts up early enough (like 8:30 or 9:00), I'd be all ears.

Our must-dos are the Vasa Museum and Skansen (which both appear to be a short walk from our hotel), as well as just walking around and exploring the city. I think we'd like to get out into the archipelago a little bit, but I am concerned, given our time constraints, about doing a 3 or 4 hour tour. Are shorter tours available? Or if not, maybe we can take a commuter ferry to another island for a little while? For those who have been there, is Drottningholm Palace worthwhile (again, given our time constraints)? Having been to Versailles, Schonnbrunn, and some other royal palaces, I just don't know if we are better served staying in Stockholm proper.

Again, other than the flights and hotel, everything is preliminary. Any advice or suggestions would be great. Thank you in advance.

Posted by
2282 posts

Arrive at ARN at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday. We'll plan to take the
FlixBus or Flygbus to the city center (these appear to be
significantly cheaper than the express train, without taking all that
much longer).

They do not take that much longer on paper, but that depends on the traffic situation. However, around lunch time on a Saturday traffic will probably be light. My recommendation would be Flygbussarna though. They cost a bit more but are more frequent.

Between Sunday and Monday, we'd like to do one full day in Stockholm
and at least a partial day trip to Uppsala (which looks like a
relatively short train ride away from the Stockholm central train
station).

It is, 30-40 minutes by train.

It appears more things are closed in Uppsala on Monday than Sunday
(like the Uppland Museum), so my thought was to go to Uppsala Sunday
morning, come back to Stockholm in the afternoon, and then spend the
rest of Sunday afternoon/evening and all day Monday in Stockholm. I'm
aware of our time constraints, but Uppsala looks particularly
accessible and interesting to me, so we'd really like to get there.

The Uppland museum is closed on mondays. However, if you want to visit the cathedral it is used for mass on Sundays (usually 11-12) so you need to check what times it is open for visitors. Just make sure you have time for some fika, the cafés in Uppsala are in my opinion far better than the ones in Stockholm.

It may be that the "one more thing" is simply walking around the city
more, which is totally fine if nothing is open early enough for
another museum/etc. But if anyone has an idea on something that opens
or starts up early enough (like 8:30 or 9:00), I'd be all ears.

I can't think of any museum in the area that opens that early. But just walking around the city is not a bad idea, especially along the water.

I think we'd like to get out into the archipelago a little bit, but I
am concerned, given our time constraints, about doing a 3 or 4 hour
tour. Are shorter tours available? Or if not, maybe we can take a
commuter ferry to another island for a little while?

There are many options. If you want to get a taste of the archipelago the short ride to Fjäderholmarna can be an option. I can also recommend a ride on the Djurgården-Slussen ferry, for the views of Stockholm from the water. For a longer trip, there are regular ferries to all over the archipelago operated by Waxholmsbolaget (according to Wikipedia the largest ferry network in the world with over 300 ports of call). Vaxholm is a popular destination about an hour from central Stockholm.

Posted by
1189 posts

We enjoyed Drottningholm (the palace, gardens and the ferry to and back) but due to your time constraints I would skip it especially since you have been to other royal palaces. By explore the city, I assume you mean Gamla Stan which is very picturesque. I would suggest getting to the Vasa museum as early as it opens as the line to get in will be very long later in the morning and the museum will get very crowded. I would also suggest visiting the City Hall where the Nobel prizes are awarded.

Posted by
6755 posts

Swedish friends recommended we take the ferry out to Fjäderholmarna for lunch which we enjoyed. It is a public transport not expensive.
Drottingham Castle- the trip there by boat across the lake was lovely and the grounds are beautiful. The royal family lives there. If you are short on time, skip going inside. The RT by boat was a highlight for us.
And another vote for the City Hall tour!

We skipped Skansen as we had just toured a similar site in Oslo.

Posted by
3241 posts

It’s only 15 minutes by train from ARN to Uppsala so could you do this visit on arrival? The whole ARN commuter rail access situation is quite convoluted. Since they want to steer you to the expensive airport express train they add on about a $14 platform access charge to the commuter rail going toward Stockholm. I’m not sure if this charge applies northbound? If it doesn’t then you can get to Uppsala and then to Stockholm on the commuter rail system quickly and cheaply. You’d have to check bags at the station in Uppsala.

Posted by
2282 posts

The fee is for using the station, no matter where you are going. So unfortunately the train to Uppsala is also quite expensive. But there are frequent buses from Arlanda to Uppsala if you want to start there.

Posted by
1202 posts

Besides spending time in the Gamla Stan (old town) I would not go to Stockholm without seeing its archipelago.

Posted by
386 posts

Thank you all very much for the information and suggestions. We'll make a point of seeing the archipelago in some fashion, and thanks for the suggestion on Fjäderholmarna.

I'd looked into going straight to Uppsala from Arlanda too, but for a few reasons, we are going to head right to Stockholm. And thanks for the tip on the Flygbussarna over the Flixbus - we'll go with the former.

We've been to a Skansen-like museum in Denmark (the Funen Village in Odense) and really enjoyed it, so we'd like to see Skansen (plus Rick says it's the best).

My wife is interested in Drottningholm, so we are going to just have to think about what we want to prioritize.

For the morning we depart, it appears that the first City Hall tour is at 10:00, lasts about 45 minutes, and is right near the train station. So I think we can pull that off as a way to do something interesting on our last day.

Thank you all again.

Posted by
2755 posts

You don't say what 'spring' means to you. I loved Skansen, but I was there about 2 weeks before midsummer and all the programs had not opened up yet. It was fine for me, but for guide information, it would be lacking. I spent more time with my camera and just getting a feel for the different areas of Sweden. So, if your spring is latish-mid May to mid June, then you will get something out of it. If your spring is April...maybe not so much? (I don't know.) I found a big difference in tourists between May 21st and June 5th, FYI, There is so much on just Gamla Stan and Sodermalm, to say nothing about the other islands that make up Stockholm, IMO, that 1 1/2 days barely touches the surface. I don't think you are doing Stockholm justice, but we all travel differently. I do suggest you get another Sweden book in addition to Rick Steves so that more is covered. RS picks and chooses so does limit your knowledge a bit, but he's great for logistics.

Posted by
3241 posts

I would pass on the archipelago on such a short visit. Those of us from New England or the Upper Midwest are already familiar with this kind of landscape with small, rocky islands covered with trees and surrounded by lots of water.

Posted by
2282 posts

If your wife is interested in Drottningholm it seems like a good idea to go there. But avoid the boat tours they are pretty slow, if scenic. The metro will save you a bit of time.

Regarding Uppsala, there is a pretty good article on Wikivoyage: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Uppsala If you like reading I can recommend a stop at Uppsala English Bookshop, a great place to find something to read.

Posted by
6755 posts

I second the recommendation to take a boat out to Fjäderholmarna! We went out there for lunch. It isn’t a tour, just taking a ferry or boat from city center Stockholm out there. A very scenic ride. Our Swedish friends told us we should include it and we were so glad we did. The City Hall guided tour is recommended, very interesting, surprising.
We skipped Skansen as we had just visited a similar historic village in Oslo. But we could see inside it from our hotel.