Sweden’s capital city needs little introduction. Its picturesque archipelago is full of some truly impressive sights - from the magnificence of the Royal Palace and the City Hall to the picture-postcard appearance the city’s old town (or Gamla Stan) and the fascinating Nobel Museum. But as stunning and memorable as these sights may be, what if you want to wander off the beaten track and visit some of the city’s more esoteric sights and sounds? Well, you’ll be richly rewarded for the effort. There’s striking art in the most unlikely of public spaces; sports and concert arenas that bring the solar system to life in the most unexpected of ways and even a classic video arcade that will transport gamers back to the glory days of coin-op fun. So read on for some of the non-touristy things to do in Stockholm, Sweden.
1. Check out the stunning Stockholm metro art
Art fans will love their visit to Stockholm - even if you never once set foot inside a museum. The underground metro system is a work of art in itself, and you’ll be able to experience it every time you use public transport to get about the city. Over 90 of the city’s 110 stations feature striking artworks, and some of the stations are home to truly spectacular art installations. Naturally, you can dip in and out of the various stations to suit your particular travel itinerary, but a good place to start might be Stockholm’s T-Centralen station. It not only features impressive art reliefs on the walls but is also a hub for the three different metro lines - meaning you’ll likely pass through it at some point, whichever line you happen to use.
Stockholm Metro Art
Address: 111 20 Stockholm, Sweden
Website: Stockholm Metro Art
2. Learn about the universe at Sweden Solar System
Get ready to blow your mind at the sheer vastness of space. As well as being the biggest spherical building in the world, the city’s Globe Arena also acts as the ‘sun’ in the Sweden Solar System - our planet’s largest scale model of the Solar System. To experience the full-scale model would necessitate a holiday experience in itself, what with such Oort cloud sentinels as Eris (in Umeå, 510km/317mi away) and Sedna (Luleå, 912km/567mi) lying in the far north. But the rocky innermost planets are within easy reach of Stockholm city centre. What’s more, the Globe Arena - or Ericsson Globe as it is currently known - is a destination in its own right, with the 110 meters (361 ft) diameter dome playing host to everything from concerts to ice hockey.
Sweden Solar System
Address: Ericsson Globe, Globentorget 2, Stockholm – Globen
Website: Sweden Solar System
3. Explore street art at Snösätra Wall of Fame
Once a run-down former industrial site, the Snösätra industriområde area has enjoyed a cultural renaissance of sorts in the past five years. Back in 2014, the landowners gave permission for the derelict walls to be decorated by graffiti artists - and the Snösätra Graffiti Wall of Fame was born. Today it is home to one of the continent’s biggest living exhibitions of graffiti art. Indeed, top international artists have created works on the site, and there’s even an ‘open wall’ where anyone can leave their artistic mark. Time your trip right and your visit may even coincide with an annual music and art festival.
Snösätra Wall of Fame
Address: Snösätragränd 1, 124 60 Högdalen, Stockholm
Website: Snösätra Wall of Fame
Opening hours: 24/7
4. Visit Sweden’s first nuclear reactor, Reaktor 1
Sweden’s nuclear dawn awaits visitors to the city’s Royal Institute of Technology campus at Valhallavägen. The site of the first nuclear reactor in the country, this former research reactor has long since been dismantled. But although the last reaction was almost 50 years ago, and the equipment removed, the hall in which the reactor sat is still there. Today it has a role as a creative campus space and workshop venue - its striking setting has even been used as the backdrop to music videos or as the setting for dance performances and Ted Talks. There are even occasional guided tours where you can experience it first-hand, should your trip happen to coincide with one.
Address: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Brinellvägen 8, 114 28 Stockholm, Sweden
Website: KTH Reaktor 1
5. Test your mettle by tackling the Marathon March
If you like watching feats of human endurance, then you’ll likely want to check out late June’s Marathon March if it happens to coincide with your trip. This unusual endurance ‘race’ sees competitors walk a steady speed of three miles every hour for as long as they are able to keep going (bar a number of agreed short breaks). Setting off near the Sjöhistoriska Museet (pictured) in downtown Stockholm, the route heads around Lake Mälaren and sees competitors walk until they fall behind, at which point they are eliminated from the contest. And with prize money of 20,000 SEK (2,200 USD) awaiting the victor, it has resulted in some mammoth times. Indeed, the record is a whopping 87 hours and 48 minutes!
The Marathon March
Address: Sjöhistoriska Museet, Stockholm
Website: The Marathon March
6. Check out the history of Stockholm at the Medieval Museum
Step back into the past during your trip with a visit to the Museum of Medieval Stockholm. Created around a number of centuries-old monuments which were excavated in the late 1970s, the museum, which sits north of the city’s Royal Palace, gives visitors the chance to experience what life may have been like in medieval Stockholm. It houses everything from workshops to brick houses and a harbour. It also hosts a range of exhibitions looking at the medieval period, as well as lectures.
Museum of Medieval Stockholm
Address: Strömparterren 3, 111 30 Stockholm
Website: Museum of Medieval Stockholm
Opening hours: Tue, Thu - Sun: 12pm - 5pm; Wed: 12pm - 8pm (closed on Mon)
7. Play a game at Hey STHLM
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Another trip down memory lane now, but one which will appeal to nostalgic gamers instead of historians. Hey STHLM is Stockholm’s classic arcade and is home to an impressive array of addictive games, including many rarely seen outside of Japan. Games range from shoot ‘em ups like Street Fighter IV, through puzzles and platformers, to multi-player racers and a number of classic light gun franchises like House of Dead. Traditionalists will also likely want to have a whirl on the many pinball machines on site including ones that inspired the Simpsons and Sopranos TV shows. What’s more, it’s open until the wee hours of the morning every day, so you’ll be able to slot in a visit around other sightseeing.
Address: Gyldéngatan 2, 113 27 Stockholm, Sweden
Website: Hey STHLM
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 5pm - 1am; Fri: 5pm - 3am; Sat: 3pm - 3am; Sun: 3pm - 1am
Price: Entry free
8. Visit the art museum, Färgfabriken
If contemporary art and architecture are passions of yours then you’ll want to check out the Färgfabriken museum. Located in a former paint factory, the museum has been running for almost a quarter of a century and showcases a range of exhibitions and cultural events, while its self-professed welcome for “everyone” has resulted in display space for local and international work that “might not find its natural place elsewhere”. Recent and upcoming exhibits have included open studios, culture nights, contemporary work from Bangladesh and film and sculpture from animator and artist Niki Lindroth von Bahr. It’s also located close to bus and tram routes, for ease of access, and there’s a cafe on site.
Address: Lövholmsbrinken 1, 117 43 Stockholm
Opening hours: Thu: 11am - 7pm; Fri: 11am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 11am - 5pm (closed from Mon - Wed)
Price: 70 SEK/7.53 USD (adults); 60 SEK/6.45 USD seniors and students; free for under 18s and cafe patrons only
Scandinavia is chock full of arboreal forests, and the area around Stockholm is no different. And, if you’re a fan of two wheels and a little pulse-pounding cycling action along with a myriad of forest tracks then this guided mountain bike tour will likely be right up your street. This roughly four-hour circular tour starts outside an office close to major roads and the Skarmarbrink tube station - making it easy to reach - and then heads into the countryside. The tour includes bike and safety equipment hire, as well as lunch and Swedish Fika as refreshments.
Mountain Biking Small-Group in Stockholm Forests
Duration: 4 hours
Stockholm’s intimate connection with the sea and water is evident to anyone who has visited the city and its interconnected islands. And, while you can experience its many delights and cultural highlights on foot, viewing this fine city from the water adds a unique dimension to your visit. This special two-hour kayak tour provides a special perspective from which to experience the city - accompanied by a guide who will relay the many stories and interesting nuggets associated with local landmarks.
Guided Kayak Tour in Central Stockholm
Duration: 2 hours
Unique experiences await
From water-borne kayak adventures to underground art that elevates a tube journey beyond mere public transport (see picture) there are plenty of unusual and memorable experiences waiting for you during a visit to Stockholm.
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