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.

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Why are fewer British tourists visiting Spain this year?

Almost 800,000 fewer UK holidaymakers have visited Spain in 2023 when compared to 2019. What’s behind this big drop?

Why are fewer British tourists visiting Spain this year?

Spain welcomed 12.2 million UK tourists between January and July 2023, 6 percent less when compared to the same period in 2019, according to data released on Monday by Spanish tourism association Turespaña.

This represents a decrease of 793,260 British holidaymakers for Spain so far this year.

Conversely, the number of Italian (+8 percent), Irish (+15.3 percent), Portuguese (+24.8 percent), Dutch (+4 percent) and French tourists (+5 percent) visiting España in 2023 are all above the rates in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. 

German holidaymakers are together with their British counterparts the two main nationalities showing less interest in coming to Spanish shores.

Britons still represent the biggest tourist group that comes to Spain, but it’s undergoing a slump, with another recent study by Caixabank Research suggesting numbers fell particularly in June 2023 (-12.5 percent of the usual rate). 

READ ALSO: Spain fully booked for summer despite most expensive holiday prices ever

So are some Britons falling out of love with Spain? Are there clear reasons why a holiday on the Spanish coast is on fewer British holiday itineraries?

According to Caixabank Research’s report, the main reasons are “the poor macroeconomic performance of the United Kingdom, the sharp rise in rates and the weakness of the pound”.

This is evidenced in the results of a survey by British market research company Savanta, which found that one in six Britons are not going on a summer holiday this year due to the UK’s cost-of-living crisis.

Practically everything, everywhere has become more expensive, and that includes holidays in Spain: hotel stays are up 44 percent, eating out is 13 percent pricier, and flights are 40 percent more on average. 

READ ALSO: How much more expensive is it to holiday in Spain this summer?

Caixabank stressed that another reason for the drop in British holidaymakers heading to Spain is that those who can afford a holiday abroad are choosing “more competitive markets” such as Turkey, Greece and Portugal. 

And there’s no doubt that the insufferably hot summer that Spain is having, with four heatwaves so far, has also dissuaded many holidaymakers from Blighty from overcooking in the Spanish sun. 

With headlines such as “This area of Spain could become too hot for tourists” or “tourists say it’s too hot to see any sights” featuring in the UK press, budding British holidaymakers are all too aware of the suffocating weather conditions Spain and other Mediterranean countries are enduring. 

Other UK outlets have urged travellers to try out the cooler Spanish north rather than the usual piping hot Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol destinations.

Another UK poll by InsureandGo found that 71 percent of the 2,000+ British respondents thought that parts of Europe such as Spain, Greece and Turkey will be too hot to visit over summer by 2027.

There’s further concern that the introduction in 2024 of the new (and delayed) ETIAS visa for non-EU visitors, which of course now also applies to UK nationals, could further compel British tourists to choose countries to holiday in rather than Spain.

READ MORE: Will British tourists need to pay for a visa waiver to enter Spain?

However, a drop in the number of British holidaymakers may not be all that bad for Spain, even though they did spend over €17 billion on their Spanish vacations in 2022. 

Towns, cities and islands across the country have been grappling with the problem of overtourism and the consequences it has on everything from quality of life for locals to rent prices. 

READ ALSO: ‘Beach closed’ – Fake signs put up in Spain’s Mallorca to dissuade tourists

The overcrowded nature of Spain’s beaches and most beautiful holiday hotspots appears to be one of the reasons why Germans are visiting Spain in far fewer numbers. A recent report in the country’s most read magazine Stern asked “if the dream is over” in their beloved Mallorca.

Spanish authorities are also seeking to overhaul the cheaper holiday package-driven model that dominates many resorts, which includes moving away from the boozy antics of young British and other European revellers.

Fewer tourists who spend more are what Spain is theoretically now looking for, and the rise in American, Japanese and European tourists other than Brits signify less of a dependence on the British market, one which tends to maintain the country’s tourism status quo for better or for worse.