10 fantastic things you can do in Stockholm in 20 minutes (or less)

Want to make the most of even the shortest of stopovers in Sweden’s picturesque capital? What if we told you we’d come up with 10 things you can do in under 20 minutes? That’s right, buckle up for The Local’s whirlwind tour of Stockholm. Your time starts now!

10 fantastic things you can do in Stockholm in 20 minutes (or less)
Photo: tbtb/Depositphotos

It’s always difficult to see the best of a city when you’re running on a tight time schedule. Perhaps you have a quick stopover in Stockholm on the way to your next destination or maybe you just want to fit as many things into your schedule as possible?

Whatever the reason, Stockholm is packed full of 20-minute activities so you can get the most out of even a short visit to the capital.

Get to Stockholm in just 20 minutes with Arlanda Express

1. Get off to a speedy start

Photo: Transitpeople/Depositphotos 

There’s no faster way to get from Arlanda airport to Stockholm city centre than the Arlanda Express. With its luxurious air-conditioned coaches, WiFi and charging outlets, you’ll feel as recharged as your electronics by the time you reach Central Station.

2. See the whole city

Photo: kallerna/ Creative Commons

So you’ve reached Central Station in just 20 minutes, now make your way to SkyView, an attraction that promises you a view of the entire city in, you guessed it, 20 minutes.

SkyView ‘gondolas’ depart from the base of ‘Globen’, the world’s largest spherical building, every ten minutes. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t dreamed of scaling the outside of a giant 85 metre high golf ball-shaped building in a tiny glass pod and taking in panoramic views of one of Europe’s most picture-perfect cities? Well, here’s your chance. 

3. Get ferried around

Photo: Tove Freiij/Image Bank Sweden 

Hop on the ferry at Slussen in central Stockholm and take the scenic route to the recreational island of Djurgården. It’s a little slice of Swedish paradise near the city centre, where Stockholmers spend their summers picnicking, walking or visiting one of the many museums.

The journey takes just ten minutes in which time you’ll see spectacular views of Stockholm from the water; it’s one of the best ways to get a snapshot view of the ‘Venice of the North’. 

With SL’s period tickets, available from train stations and convenience stores, you get unlimited travel on buses, metro, trains and ferries for a period of 24 hours, 72 hours or 7 days. Single use tickets are also available.

Click here to buy Arlanda Express tickets

4. See Stockholm’s smallest island

Photo: Henrik Trygg/Image Bank Sweden

While you’re on the ferry to Djurgården, why not stop halfway at the tranquil island of Skeppsholmen? Also easily accessible by foot from Kungstädgården, this hidden gem may be small but it has a lot of character.

Home to the Modern Art Museum and the Architecture Museum, you can walk around the entire island in just 20 minutes while taking in beautiful views of Stockholm and Djurgården across Lake Mälaren.

5. Take a two-wheel tour

Photo: Werner Nystrand/Image Bank Sweden

Stockholm is one of Europe’s most cycle-friendly cities. Pick up a bike from a City Bikes station (there are 140 around the city) and plan your own two-wheel tour. 

Once you have a bike, Stockholm is your oyster and there are plenty of 20-minute routes you can take. Need some inspiration? Cycle from trendy Mariatorget on Södermalm to swish Östermalm for a spot of upmarket shopping or hop on your bike and go from hip Hornstull to glorious Vinterviken. The beautiful bay and adjoining park in southern Stockholm once belonged to Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, and there’s a beautiful garden cafe when you can fuel up before continuing your tour.

There’s plenty to see and do in Stockholm and luckily, it’s mostly all within cycling distance. All you have to do is plan your route and away you go!

6. Be a 20-minute tourist

Photo: JuliVasylegaBO/Depositphotos

Take a whirlwind tour of Stockholm’s sometimes-bloody history with a 20-minute walk through Gamla stan (the Old Town), which dates back to the mid-13th century. Head up the cobblestone streets until you come to Stor torget, the large public square in the centre of the Old Town (the one you see on all the postcards).

Here you can take in historical monuments, beautiful Swedish architecture and see the Nobel Museum. It’s also just a stone’s throw to the Royal Palace so make sure to drop by. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the changing of the guard! 

In a rush? Arlanda Express gets you to central Stockholm in just 20 minutes

7. Go to great heights

Photo: Matt Hope/The Local

Setting off from the waterfront at Slussen or Gamla stan, stroll up to nearby Katarinahissen (the Katarina lift). The old passenger elevator sits high above sea level at 48 metres and once connected Slussen to the heights of Södermalm. The lift itself is currently out of service (it’s due to open again in 2019), but you can still access the viewing point by taking the nearby stairs.

You may even have time for a quick drink at the summit’s bar, Gondolen with its awe-inspiring views high over Stockholm’s inner city islands. Check out the three-minute mark in the video to see our visit to Gondolen and find out what to expect.

8. Have your cake and eat it

Photo: Tove Freiij/Image Bank Sweden 

Fika is no ordinary coffee break. It’s an institution and a perfect excuse to spend 20 minutes chatting with a friend and telling yourself it’s okay to eat cake every day because the Swedes do too (the only difference being that they all work it off in the gym later that day).

For an authentic Swedish fika experience, check out Vete-Katten, a cafe with almost 100 years’ experience baking a huge variety of artisan cakes and traditional Swedish buns. If you’re after an updated version of the classic Swedish fika, head to Drop Coffee in the heart of Stockholm’s Södermalm area for an award-winning sustainable coffee experience.

9. Get hot and then cold

Photo: Helena Wahlman/Image Bank Sweden 

Think you might secretly be of brave, bold (and a little bonkers) Viking heritage or looking to become an honorary Swede? Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Take a quick sauna at Hellasgården, followed by an even quicker dip in the icy cold lake (temperature depending on the time of year!) for what promises to be one of the most authentic and refreshing experiences for intrepid travellers.

10. Eat your heart out

Photo: Bex Walton/Flickr

Wander through Östermalm’s Saluhall, a food hall packed with stalls selling gourmet goods, local cheeses, and fresh food. Here you can sample traditional Swedish delicacies: a feast for the eyes and the belly! 

At this trendy indoor market you can pick up all sorts of tasty treats, including meatballs, smoked meats and pickled fish. Experience all Swedish cuisine has to offer in one place. It’s a true Swedish smörgåsbord!

The original saluhall was built in the 1880s and is currently being renovated, but until it re-opens in summer 2019 you can stop by the temporary food hall which has been set up just across the road.

For further information on how you can get from the airport to the city centre in just 20 minutes and experience all Stockholm has to offer, check out Arlanda Express.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Arlanda Express.


‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”