It’s beautiful summer time in Stockholm, you’ve got your flight in the evening and want to make the most of your time, doing the best Stockholm sightseeing. I recommend getting up early and taking a Royal Stockholm walk. Ready? We are starting from the central railway station. Actually you decide where to go, left or right. OK, if you want to see the interiors of the Stockholm City Hall where the great Nobel banquet is held, and get up the tower for city views from above, then you’d better go right first. You can get the tickets only in person and only on the very same day. Ticket offices are open from 9am. The number of tickets is quite limited and at certain times you can actually visit both places as part of a group. I’m crossing my fingers for you. If you’re ready to settle for admiring the city and the exterior of the Town Hall from the ground level, then my advice would be to go left and see the Royal Palace first. It’s open from 8.30 am in July and August, untypically early for Stockholm, for you to get the most out of your precious time. OK let’s start. I have chosen the second option. Facing the water, go a little bit further and then turn left to reach the Riksbron arch bridge.
You must be already feeling important since you are crossing the State/National Bridge. The name is derived from the bridge's proximity to several buildings of national importance, including the Parliament and the Prime Minister's Office.
Go through the arches of the Parliament building complex to reach the Slottskajen street, and you’ll see the Royal Palace in front of you.
The Royal Palace of Stockholm
Let’s take a stroll around it turning left, then right and right again, getting a roundabout view of the grand building. The construction of this baroque Palace started in the early 18th century and was completed in 1754. It was designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin and resembles a Roman palace.
Seven floors contain more than 600 rooms. The Palace is the official home of the Swedish Monarchy, although the Royal Family doesn’t actually live here. It contains offices and is used for State affairs and official guest accommodations. We have reached the western facade with a monumental entrance. Go in, turn left and get upstairs to visit the Royal apartments.
We enter straight into the Hall of State used for official celebrations. The Hall is dominated by the Silver Chair, a gift to Queen Christina before her coronation in 1650.
Take your time to admire the well-preserved interiors of the Palace providing a historical insight into the lives of its monarchs. Here you can visit Gustav III's state bedchamber, Oskar II's study and the most recently decorated exhibit – King Carl Gustaf's Jubilee Room.
If you have extra time, there are three more museums you can visit: the Treasury with the regalia, the Tre Kronor Museum that portrays the Palace’s medieval history, and Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities.
You can also have your Royal coffee at a cafe in the yard of the Palace.
Then we are ready for our next Royal destination, the Riddarholmen Church. When you go out trough the gate you see on your left and you will be back onSlottskajen street, look to the left, and you’ll see a special spire of the church at a walking distance. Let’s go!
On your way you can admire the Riddarhuset. Built in the 1640s in Dutch Baroque, it is considered to be Stockholm's most beautiful building.
The Riddarholmen Church
It’s the final resting place of Swedish kings and Stockholm's only preserved medieval monastery church. You are lucky to be visiting in the summer because it’s only open in summer and autumn. The church is one of Stockholm’s oldest buildings, with parts of its imposing structure built in 1270 and completed around 1300.
As you get closer, you immediately notice the Bernadotte Chapel with its beautifully ornate decoration. The chapel was built in the late 19th century for the present royal dynasty of Sweden, the Bernadotte family.
Let’s go in! The church is striking, simple and magnificent at the same time.
Amongst the royals found here are Karl Knutsson Bonde, Gustav II Adolf, Adolf Fredrik, Gustaf III, Gustav IV Adolf and Karl XIII. Some of their tombs and burial chambers are open to the public, whilst others are closed. The only former monarch not buried at the Riddarholm Church up to the mid-twentieth century was Queen Christina.
The Karolinian Burial Vault was completed at the end of the 17th century. Coffins are all of the best quality and the highest artistic value.
The coffin of Charles XI (1655-1697). He has sometimes been described in Sweden as the greatest of all the Swedish kings.
The black marble sarcophagus of Charles XII (1682-1718).
OK, it’s time for our third royal destination of today, the Stockholm City Hall. You may ask why I call it Royal. I’ll explain a bit later. Go back in the direction of the Royal Palace and turn to the Vasa Bridge this time. You can admire the silhouette of the City Hall from the bridge, with its spire featuring the golden Three Crowns, one of the most famous silhouettes in Stockholm.
The City Hall
The City Hall was designed in a national romanticism style by architect Ragnar Östberg. It was built from eight million bricks, containing session halls for government officials and splendid assembly rooms with unique works of art. The great Nobel banquet is held here on December 10 each year. After dining in the Blue Hall, Nobel Prize laureates, royalty and guests dance in the Golden Hall, with its 18 million gold mosaic tiles.
The City Hall is open to the public through guided tours only. They are held daily in Swedish and English, at certain hours. During summer months the tours are also available in several other languages, and you can climb up the tower and enjoy a fantastic view over the city.
If you didn’t manage to buy the tickets, there is still much to see from the outside. Admire the inner yard of the City Hall and the view of the city from the bank.
Then take a look at a gold-plated cenotaph of Birger Jarl at the base of the tower. The original intention was to move his remains there, but it was never done. Birger Jarl (1200-1266) was a Swedish statesman, Jarl of Sweden and a member of the House of Bjelbo. He played a major role in the consolidation of Sweden. Additionally, he is thought to be the founder of Stockholm. Birger used the Latin title of Dux Sweorum which means Duke of Sweden in English. And here is the answer to why the City Hall can be called royal: in Sweden, members of medieval royal families, such as the House of Stenkil and House of Bjelbo, held the title of ‘jarl’ before accession to the throne. Since the early 12th century, there usually was only one holder of the title at a time, second only to the King of Sweden.
Admire the statues on the grounds of the City Hall.
There is one that especially caught my attention, and I want to show it to you. Let’s get back to the street and approach the northwest corner of the building. See the statue of a little golden girl. It’s Aurora by Marcus Lövblad. It was a gift of Stockholm guild associations to the City Hall inauguration in 1923. In Roman mythology, Aurora renews herself every morning and flies across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun. The sculpture is designed in the style of putto statues, a chubby, usually male child, mostly nude and sometimes winged. In the Baroque period, puttoes came to represent the omnipresence of God. They were also believed to influence human lives.
This is the end of our Royal Stockholm walk. I hope you’ll catch your flight on time. Good luck! Stockholm and Sweden are also beautiful in winter. Read more about visiting in winter in Allison's Green post clicking this link. Have you been to Stockholm? What are your Royal experiences? Please share in the comments section!
The Royal Palace of Stockholm
1 July–31 August: Daily 08:30–17:00
1 September–14 September: Daily 10:00–17:00
15 September–13 May: Tuesday–Sunday 10:00–16:00
14 May–30 June: Daily 10:00–17:00
The Royal Apartments may close fully or partly in conjunction with official receptions of His Majesty The King.
The Riddarholm Church
It is open to the public during the summer and autumn. It can also be viewed year round at concerts, Order of the Seraphim bell ringings or by special arrangement.
3–13 May: Tuesday–Sunday 10.00–16.00
14 May–14 September: Daily 10:00–17:00
14 September–November: Saturday–Sunday 10.00–16.00
December–2 May: closed
City Hall tower
A maximum of 30 tickets are sold for each visit, since a maximum number of 30 people are allowed in the Tower at the same time. It is not possible to pre-book a visit to the Tower, and you can only buy tickets on the day of the visit. When the ticket office at the entrance of tower opens at 09.00, you can buy tickets to any of the visits during the day, so please plan your visit ahead.
Visitors are welcome to join public tours. Tickets are purchased at the City Hall on the day of the visit; tickets cannot be pre-booked or purchased online. In July and Tours in English are available daily from 9.00 to 16.00 every half an hour.
Interested to see more of Scandinavia? See what are travel bloggers recommendations for the region.
- Published by Anita on August 14, 2016
- Traveled July 2016
Author: Anita Sāne
About the author
Anita is a part-time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman from Latvia, traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner planning and executing her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her also on Instagram and Pinterest.