I have 5 full days for Oslo and Stockholm. Who gets 3 days and who gets 2 days? My wife and I like all sights but can only take a limited amount of cathedrals and art galleries.
Neither city is particularly known for cathedrals or art galleries. Both are smallish but have excellent public transportation. Both are expensive but Oslo is more so. Both cities get multiple cruise ships per day.
Oslo pros: prettier setting, located on broad fjord surrounded by low mountains. Museums are small so take no more than 1 hour each. Lively mix of the old and very new, but limited "old world" architectural districts.
Oslo cons: expensive, attractions are not really world class.
Stockholm pros: museums are larger with more sophistication, old part of the city very fun to walk around (but very touristy).
Stockholm cons: quite disjointed in the center, complicated and time consuming to get from one main tourist area to another (surprising since public transportation is normally so good) due to geography with water everywhere and limited ferries. For example from the north end of Gamla Stan to the Vasa Museum takes about a half hour and lots of walking + tram (or lots of walking + ferry), even though it's less than a mile away.
Thanks so much for your comments. That is exactly what I wanted...an overview...not a whole list of things to see. Greatly appreciated. Larry
Of the two, Stockholm deserves a bit more time. But if you are looking for cathedrals, none of the cities have an impressive one. But I'm not sure I agree with the previous poster that it is time consuming to get from one area to another in Stockholm. The metro is fast and efficient and runs frequently (but is usually crowded during rush hour). And going from the northern end of Gamla stan to the Vasa museum takes 15-20 minutes with public transport. But, if you decide to walk instead of taking the bus, it will of course take longer. But yes, the water divides the city a bit and it is very much split into a northern half and a southern half with limited connections between the two (four road bridges + a few ferries and railway/metro).
I know I chose an extreme example, but buses don’t serve Gamla Stan. At least away from the west edge where the busy street is.
It’s a substantial walk from Gamla Stan up to the Strand where the tram runs, then the tram stop is a ways from the museum. Backtracking to the metro doesn’t make sense. There’s a hop on hop off ferry that runs to the Vasa pier from Gamla Stan but it requires you buy their day pass.
Normally getting around town to train stations and ordinary commuting is very fast by public transportation.
We did 2 full days for Oslo then 3 for Stockholm, but then spent 2 of the Stockholm days on trips out of the city.
Though half the size of Stockholm we found Oslo much livelier and more festive— I wonder if that is a typical observation.
Buses do serve Gamla stan, some along the western edge, some along the eastern. (No buses on the narrow medieval streets of course).
It's curious to me that Tom_MN mentioned distances between things to see as a con for Stockholm but not for Oslo. Many of the best museums in Oslo are on Bygdøy (per Wikipedia):
- Kon-Tiki Museum (Kon-Tiki Museet) – houses exhibits from the expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl
- Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum) – an open-air museum with buildings, relocated from towns and rural districts
- Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) – houses the Oseberg ship, Gokstad ship and Tune ship
- Norwegian Maritime Museum (Norsk Maritimt Museum) – exhibits on coast culture and maritime history
- Fram Museum (Frammuseet) – site of the ship Fram used by Roald Amundsen
You need to take a ferry or bus to get there and back, and not all of these are within walking distance of each other. In addition Frogner Park, site of the fabulous sculpture garden of Gustav Vigeland, is a bus-ride away from the center.
If you are set on visiting both Oslo and Stockholm over five days, I go with 2 and 3 respectively. I had three full days in Oslo and felt it was adequate. I had four full days in Stockholm and wished I'd had one more.
Kon-Tiki Museum (Kon-Tiki Museet) , Norwegian Museum of Cultural
History (Norsk Folkemuseum) , Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) ,
Norwegian Maritime Museum (Norsk Maritimt Museum) , Fram Museum
You need to take a ferry or bus to get there and back, and not all of
these are within walking distance of each other.
The Bygdøy attractions noted are (in my opinion) very walkable. We rode Bus 30 from central Oslo (Bus 30 stop is a 5 minute walk from the Oslo S train station), a 22 minute ride to the Folk Museum.
The Viking Ship museum is a 5 minute (400 meter) walk from the Folk Museum, the Kon-Tiki a 20 minute (1.6 km = 1 mile) walk from the Viking Ship. Or you could wait for the Bus 30 (every 10 minutes) for a short bus ride to the Kon-Tiki. The Maritime and Fram (my favorite) are right next to the Kon-Tiki.
My return suggestion is to take the boat from the dock next to the Fram Musem to the City Hall pier 3: https://www.visitoslo.com/en/product/?TLp=181623&BYgdoYfergene-boat-to-the-museums
The return boat to Pier 3 takes you to the Aker Brugge shopping complex with multiple reasturant, cafes and food options or just walking around looking at the harbor:
Note that the Oslo Pass can be a bargain with Bus 30 and the boat ride included in the Oslo Pass in addition to all the museums.
BTW the Frogner Park (Gustav Vigeland sculptures) is free. To get to the Frogner Park from the Oslo S train station, take the T1 or the T2 Metro to the Majorstuen stop, a 6 minute ride, then a 10 minute 850 meter walk to the Cafe (Kafe Vigeland) at the enterance to the park.
A note about Oslo: the cost of the Bygdøy ferry is nearly the same one way or round trip, so it costs more to bus there then ferry back, then to just take the ferry each way. Unless you buy the pass.
I just found that going between Stockholm's two greatest attractions, Gamla Stan and the Vasa Museum, was unexpectedly time consuming, although as Badger points out there is a 2 bus method we missed (but I'll bet it still takes a half hour). Also unlike Oslo where everything comes together in the middle and it's a party along Karl Johans gate, in Stockholm the tourists hang out in Gamle Stan (an island) esp on Stora Nygatan and the locals stay in their own areas of the city either north or south.
If I were traveling from Gamla Stan to the Vasa Museum, I’d either take the Djurgårds ferry which stops very close to the museum or I’d take the tunnelbana to Karlaplan and switch to the bus. Either trip probably takes 20 minutes which I really don’t think is much for a city.
To answer your original question, I would spend more time in Stockholm.
There is a bus stop close to the Royal Palace, from there you take the bus to Nybroplan where you change to the tram to Djurgården and the Vasa museum. How long it takes depends on how long you have to wait for the tram at Nybroplan, but 13-17 minutes according to sl.se
From the southern part of Gamla stan, I would take the ferry, partly because it gives you a great view of Stockholm from the water.
This is a tangent to the topic but since it does involve the 2 main attractions in Stockholm:
Using the ferry (45 minutes):
From Stortorget to the ferry, 600 m or 10 minutes walk (because as a tourist you will not know the shortest 7 minute way)
Ferry is at least 25 minutes with waiting, loading, crossing, and unloading
Ferry pier to Vasa Museum 850 m also 10 minutes walk
Using the t-bana (45 minutes):
Stortorget to the t-bana tracks 10 minutes
t-bana with transfer to Kungsträdgården, 12 minutes
walk to tram (not easy to find!) 8 minutes
tram to Nordic museum (slow, another 10 minutes)
walk around Nordic Museum to Vasa Museum, 6 minutes
If the bus actually stops at the Vasa Museum and not the Nordic Museum then that would be the fastest way and could conceivably be 20 minutes, but you would have to transfer at bus stops at stray downtown street corners.
Using bus (16 minutes):
From Stortorget to the bus stop, 350 m or a 3 min walk.
Bus to Djurgårdsbron: 8 min.
Walk from Djurgårdsbron to the museum: 450 m or 5 min.
Using the bus and tram (22 minutes):
From Stortorget to the bus stop, 350 m or a 3 min walk.
Bus to Nybroplan: 5 min.
Waiting for the tram: 5 min (varies)
Tram to Vasamuseet: 6 min.
Walk from Djurgårdsbron to the museum: 300 m or 3 min.
Even if you are a slow walker, it can be done in less than 30 minutes.
Wow! Thanks for all the great information concerning transportation in Stockholm. I plan to print it out and work it into my daily itinerary for the city. Incidentally, I have decided on 3 days for Stockholm and 2 for Oslo. Thanks to all who helped me arrive at this decision.
Stockholm is my home town and for sure I gotta say 3 days goes to Stockholm and two for Oslo (why not even 4-1 in this fight? ;)..
Stockholm is absolutely one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe and with all the water in the city, one great tip to see the city in a different way is to go on a sightseeing trip by boat. Not very original but hey, you only have 2-3 days. Skip churches and art and go straight to history, since Stockholm is loaded with it. Obviously go to the "Old Town" in Swedish "Gamla Stan", which is a bit of a tourist trap but a huge must if its the first time visiting. You also find some more info about Scandinavia and what to see or do in english on: Visiting Scandinavia , And also visit the part o Stockholm called "Djurgården" where you have atleat two great museums- The Vasa Museum being top 1 in my opinion. So, take a sightseeing boat in the morning which takes a couple of hours I think, then either go to the Old Town or Djurgården as your second stop.
Day 2 do what you didn't have time to do on day 1. If your into museums, Stockholm has a plethora to choose from. My personal favourites are: The Vasa Museum, The Medieval Museum and The Swedish Museum of Natural History with its IMAX Cosmonova that shows documentaries on a huuuge screen. Are you an ABBA fan? There's a great museum about them too. oh I could go on and on............and the restaurant oh the restaurants..never mind..
Safe travels and enjoy your stay in Sweden (and in Oslo).
Larry, rather than use any directions here, I would recommend using the trip planner on the SL site:
It will give you the fastest options for the time you are traveling usung the points you are traveling between. Odds are you won’t be going from Stortorget to the Vasa Museum unless your hotel is right there.
Laura, great suggestion. I will follow this. larry
That is without a a doubt the best way to get around Stockholm. Buy a 3 day SL-card each and use the journeyplanner on sl.se. They also have great maps of the network on their website.