Stockholm is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and offers a ton of things to do, but there are also some great day trips that can be enjoyed from the Swedish capital. After you’ve had your fill of its many green spaces, world-class attractions, shopping and dining, embark on a road trip, hop on a ferry or catch a short flight. Any one of these destinations are well-worth your time and may even be the highlight of your time in Sweden.
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Gotland is located off the southeast coast of Sweden, just 125 miles from Stockholm followed by a ferry ride. For a day trip, you might want to catch the inexpensive 40-minute flight to make the most out of the time you have. The largest island in the Baltic, it’s renowned for its long sandy beaches and also offers dense forest filled with scenic trails for hiking and biking. Enjoy exploring the sparkling lakes, unique rock formations and even magnificent caves with stalactites and stalagmites. The medieval walled town of Visby is the main settlement, home to all sorts of ruins – as a former Viking site, items from the Viking Age are regularly uncovered here.
Just east of the capital city, the Stockholm Archipelago is made up of over 30,000 islands, islets and skerries, of which only about 1,000 are inhabited. It makes an easy excursion for a couple of hours, a full day or longer, accessible year-round from central Stockholm via historic white boats, some of which date back over a century and are still steam-powered yet well-preserved. Once there, it’s a great place for kayaking with beautiful yet different views from each island, along with lots of hidden coves to explore. There are scenic trails for hiking and a rich Viking history to delve into to as well. The island of Vaxholm was home to the Vikings and hosts rune stones and burial grounds.
Uppsala is just 44 miles north of Stockholm and has a fantastic Old Town, castle and magnificent cathedral with its the spires rising up to the sky against a backdrop of the River Fyris. There are three museums within the 16th-century castle which was the site of multiple major events in history like the Sture murders. In the mid-17th-century, several noblemen were butchered at the behest of King Erik XIV who’d accused them of treason and their clothing can be viewed at Uppsala Cathedral. There are also impressive burial mounds dating to the 6th-century and a museum where you can learn about human sacrifices and the legend of the Svea kings.
Sweden’s “second city” can easily be reached for a day trip by catching a cheap, less than one-hour flight. It’s less expensive than Stockholm and easier to get around too. Check out the impressive architecture and numerous pretty gardens and parks like Slottsskogen Park, Kiellers Park, and the Gothenburg Botanical Gardens. Browse the art galleries and unique museums like natural history museum, and enjoy fantastic dining options that include plenty of fresh local seafood.
The multi-cultural city of Malmo is located just over the Oresund Bridge from Copenhagen and was part of Denmark until the mid-17th-century. It’s also easily reachable with just a short flight from Stockholm, and you might have time to explore the Danish capital too. The squares in Malmo’s Old Town are especially photogenic, while its castle that was once the seat of Danish Kings, now hosts the Natural History Museum and Museum of Art as well as a renowned aquarium. Folkets Park is the oldest public park in the world – an amusement park, it features rides, a market, animals and a large grassy area with ponds for relaxing.
Taby and the Jarlabanke Rune Stones
The Jarlabanke Rune Stones and Jarlabanke Causeway are located just north of Stockholm in Taby and are considered a must-visit for Viking history buffs who can learn how their rule shaped the lay of the land. Earl Jarlabanke was one of the most infamous Viking rulers, and while he was said to have abused his power for his own gain, he created the incredible Jarlabanke Bridge. Here you can view the ancient rune stones at its entrance as well as learn about how Viking bridge building and road construction transformed the world in which they lived.
Less than an hour northwest of Stockholm is the town of Sigtuna, the oldest in Sweden. King Erik the Victorious chose the location for the town back in 970, creating a whole new era in Swedish history. Here you can take a trip back in time to marvel at ancient ruins, including the must-visit ruins of St. Olof Church, castles, medieval churches and rune stones from the Viking Era. The Sigtuna Museum tells the story of Sigtuna from the Stone Age through today, including the age of the first seal hunters, the founding of the town as well as the history of local trade and daily life of the residents.
The third largest freshwater lake in Sweden, Lake Malar is one of its crown jewels and it’s only about 55 miles northwest of Stockholm. It has a sandy beach that offers the ideal place to relax and enjoy in the water during the summer, as well as miles and miles of trails along the wooded shoreline for hiking and biking.
There are multiple flights daily to the Finnish capital of Helsinki that makes it ideal for a day trip from Stockholm. Enjoy the unique blend of art nouveau, Scandinavian and modernist architecture and experience the Old Town Market Square, the epicenter of life in the city where vendors sell fresh fish and Finnish items like handmade jewelry, wooden mugs, reindeer horns and hides. Check out the National Museum, the works at Kiasma, the most popular art gallery in Helsinki, and before flying back in the evening be sure to capture a photo of its most iconic landmark, the red Uspenski Cathedral.