Encircle Stockholm, Sweden

One travel guide is not enough to showcase all of Stockholm’s wonderful sites. After visiting Old Town (first guide), enjoy exploring these recommendations of what to see and do encircling Gamla stan.

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1 Royal Opera House in Stockholm, Sweden

This second guide starts where the first one left off. Stockholm’s first opera house was called Gustavianska Operahuset, named after Gustav III. The king commissioned it and then, tragically, was assassinated there in 1792. When the Gustavian Opera House was torn down about 100 years later, the current and very ornate Kungliga Operan replaced it in 1898. The Royal Opera House’s Neoclassical façade features Corinthian and Tuscan columns plus four statues symbolizing the arts.

Gustav Adolfs torg 2, 103 22 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Sankt Jacobs Kyrka in Stockholm, Sweden

A chapel was built near the site of Sankt Jacobs Kyrka in the early 14th century then demolished by King John III in 1580. Construction of the current Saint James’ Church began in 1588 and was expanded in 1630. After a fire in 1723, a middle tower was added in 1739 followed by the copper roof in 1910. The church’s namesake, Saint James the Great, is the patron saint of travelers.

Jakobs torg 5 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden

3 St. Eugenia Catholic Church in Stockholm, Sweden

You can easily walk by Kungsträdgården 12 in the Norrmalm neighborhood and consider it to be an office building. Not even the small gilded cross above the door suggests this is St. Eugenia Church, the oldest Catholic parish in Sweden. The premises were built in 1887. In 1962, the building was gifted to the church and was consecrated twenty years later.

Kungsträdgårdsgatan 12 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden

4 People Sunning in King’s Garden in Stockholm, Sweden

Spring in Scandinavia is often cold and wet for weeks at a time. It is a major event when the sky finally turns blue and the temperature soars. These locals celebrated the occasion by rolling up their sleeves and pants legs while basking in the sunshine at Charles XII Square in the King’s Garden.

Karl XII:s torg 1A 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden

5 King Charles XII Statue in Stockholm, Sweden

Charles XII was only 15 when he became the king of Sweden in 1697. This 1868 statue in King’s Garden shows him with a saber in one hand and pointing toward Russia with the other. The historical significance is that in 1700, a triple alliance of countries attacked Sweden during the Great Northern War. Charles XII defeated two of the enemies but failed twice to overpower Russia. The first time led to the king’s exile. He was killed during the second attempt in 1718.

Karl XII:s torg 1A 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden

6 Cheering High School Students in Stockholm, Sweden

These people are not cheering at a sporting event or concert. Instead, they are teenagers celebrating their last day of high school. The tradition occurs on a Friday in early June. The graduating students cram into dump trucks and dance to loud music while touring the streets of Stockholm. When you point a camera in their direction, you are bound to get plenty of waves, cheers and honking horns.

Strömgatan 4 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden

7 National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Sweden

Nationalmuseum was founded at the end of the 18th century. However, the art collection began two centuries earlier. This Renaissance style building on Blasieholmen peninsula opened in 1866. Inside are ornate halls exhibiting over a half million art objects dating from the Middle Ages up to the early 20th century.

Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden

8 The Wings Statue by Milles in Stockholm, Sweden

This 1911 statue is called Vingar or The Wings. The abstract bronze is part of the Moderna Musett collection of outdoor art yet is located in front of the Nationalmuseum facing the Strömkajen waterfront. The artist was Carl Milles. He was a gifted and famous 20th century sculptor from Sweden. His works can be found throughout Scandinavia and the U.S. The sculpture, also called Vingarna, portrays the Greek god Zeus and his love for a Trojan prince.

Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden

9 Skeppsholm Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden

Much of historic Stockholm is located on an archipelago of 14 islands. They are often connected by 19th century footbridges like Skeppsholmsbron. Encircling the islands are a network of channels and bays. They are all considered part of the Baltic Sea. The waterways accommodate vessels ranging in size from small pleasure boats, to tourist boats like the Safari Queen shown here, to enormous freighters and cruise ships. This is why Stockholm earned the nickname Venice of the North.

Skeppsholmsbron, 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden

10 Gilded Crown on Skeppsholm Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden

This gilded crown sits on the railing of a wrought-iron bridge called Skeppsholmsbron. Built in 1861, the Skeppsholm Bridge connects the Blasieholmen peninsula with the Skeppsholmen islet. Once a naval base, the island has been transformed into parks and a cultural center for museums. In the background is the channel called Ladugårds-landsviken. The buildings are along Stranvågen Boulevard.

Skeppsholmsbron 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden

11 Admiralty House on Skeppsholmen Island in Stockholm, Sweden

In 1650, the Admiralty House was built as part of the Swedish Naval Service Defense Council. Most of the pink structure was rebuilt in a Neoclassical style in 1846. The Admiralty House is located on the western shore of Skeppsholmen island.

Västra Brobänken 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden

12 Skeppsholmen Church now Eric Ericsonhallen in Stockholm, Sweden

In 1849, Skeppsholmen Church was built on the islet of the same name. It provided religious services to the Swedish Navy until they left the island in 1969. In 2009, the church became a concert hall called Eric Ericsonhallen. The English name is the Eric Ericson International Choral Centre.

Kyrkslingan 2 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden

13 Paradise Sculpture at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden

Moderna Museet has a large collection of contemporary and modern art. Featured pieces were painted by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. Curiously, there are 16 very large and colorful sculptures out front made from fiberglass, plastic and iron. “The Fantastic Paradise” was created in 1966 by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely for Montreal’s World Exposition. The statues were donated to the Stockholm Art Museum in 1971.

Moderna Museet Exercisplan 4, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden

14 Skating Pavilion on Kastellholmen in in Stockholm, Sweden

Immediately after crossing Kastellholmsbron from Skeppsholmen to Kastellholmen island, you will discover this small yet charming brick pavilion called Skridskopaviljongen. It was built in 1882 by the Royal Skating Club and Royal Swedish Yacht Club. The property served members of the social elite after they spent a day on the bay. Since the Skating Pavilion was totally restored with antique furnishings, the facility has been rented out by the Hotel Skeppsholmen for special events.

Kastellbacken 1 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden

15 The Citadel on Kastellholmen in Stockholm, Sweden

Located at the top of a hill on Kastellholmen islet is a classic red brick fortress called The Citadel. When Kastellet was built in 1848, the fort had nine cannons to help defend Stockholm against enemy ships. During World War II, it was fitted with anti-aircraft guns. By 1959, The Citadel was decommissioned. In the 1970s, the former military building was converted into offices. Finally, in 2007, this became the home of the Naval Officers’ Society.

Kastellet Stockholm Kastellbacken 1, 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden

16 Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden

This enormous building on Djurgården island looks like a palace or cathedral. It is Nordiska Museet. Nordic Museum houses a collection of 1.5 million artifacts from Nordic countries. The exhibits portray the lives and culture of urban and peasant people dating back to the 16th century. The extensive collection was started in 1872 by Arthur Hazelius.

Djurgårdsvägen 6-16, 115 93 Stockholm, Sweden

17 Grand Entrance of Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden

The Nordic Museum entrance is flanked by two stone obelisks. In the pediment over the door is a statue of Charles X Gustav. He was the king of Sweden from 1622 until 1660. Sitting above him is the likeness of King Gustav Vasa, the founding father of modern Sweden. If you can’t see the king very well, don’t worry. Inside is an enormous wooden statue of Gustav I that looks almost identical. It was carved in 1925 by Carl Milles.

Djurgårdsvägen 6-16, 115 93 Stockholm, Sweden

18 Band Member Face Cutouts at ABBA Museum in Stockholm, Sweden

In front of the ABBA Museum is a photo of the Swedish pop group members (left to right) Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus. Their faces have cutouts that allow tourists to replace their own for a photo op. The band was only active for ten years starting in 1972. Yet their music is still widely heard, especially in the stage production of “Mama Mia!” The museum of memorabilia opened in Stockholm in May of 2013.

Djurgårdsvägen 68 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden

19 Gröna Lund Amusement Park in Stockholm, Sweden

Welcome to Gröna Lund on Djurgården islet. The amusement park started in 1883. Adrenalin junkies will love the three tower rides. On the right is Katapulten (Shot N’ Drop Tower). On the left is Fritt Fall Tilt (Giant Drop) that reaches 3.5 G-force as you plummet 262 feet. Real daredevils love the Eclipse (Giant Wave Swinger) in the middle. You spin around a 26 foot chain from a height of 400 feet. Still not enough? Then, strap yourself into all seven of their rollercoasters. Have fun!

Lilla Allmänna Gränd, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden

20 Suit of Armor Sculpture in Stockholm, Sweden

You are back at the Royal Opera House where this travel guide began. At the base of a 1796 equestrian sculpture of Gustav II Adolf, in a square by the same name, is this suit of armor. It is a tribute to Gustavus Adolphus. He was the king of Sweden from 1611 to 1632. He was also legendary for his role as a general, commander and military innovator. The victories of Gustav II Adolf during the Thirty Years’ War led to the rise of the Swedish Empire.

Gustav Adolfs torg Stockholm, Sweden

21 Bank Building Allegory Sculptures in Stockholm, Sweden

My camera is always delighted when I find allegorical sculptures like these representing industry and shipping. I am often delighted again when I learn their history. Christian Eriksson used two models to create these nude sculptures. One was his wife. The other was a young priest named Nathan Söderblom. He went on to be a member of the Swedish Academy, the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize and an archbishop. Imagine his occasional embarrassment over his youthful indiscretion. This former Sundsvall Bank building in Stockholm was designed by the famous bank architect Gustaf Wickman in 1902.

Fredsgatan 4 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden

22 Bank Building Portal Sculptures in Stockholm, Sweden

At the turn of the 20th century, Skåne Enskilda Bank was the country’s largest. When management planned for a branch office in Stockholm, they wanted it to be on a grand scale reflecting their prestige. The best bank architect of the time was Gustav Wickman. He built an elaborate, red sandstone edifice at Drottninggatan 5. Above the portal are these amazing carvings by sculptor GF Nording. The man and woman are allegories for trade and navigation. Notice how they are embracing a ship’s bow. Since 1979, the building houses government offices and is managed by the National Property Board.

Drottninggatan 5 111 51 Stockholm, Sweden

23 Royal Art Academy in Stockholm, Sweden

In 1672, Governor Alex Carlsson Sparre built the Sparreska Palace in the Norrmalm district. It subsequently suffered two fires in 1693 and 1751. After an extensive renovation, the mansion was donated to what would become the Stockholm Royal Art Academy. The art school was an extension of the Royal University College of Fine Arts until 1978. The building underwent two additional expansions before reaching the present appearance.

Jakobsgatan 27C, 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden

24 Åhléns City Department Store in Stockholm, Sweden

Johan Petter Åhlén founded a humble business in 1899. The department store still bears his name. The chain has grown into one of Sweden’s largest retailers with 77 locations. This Åhléns City flagship is located in the Sergels Torg area, a popular shopping district. Nearby is the major competitor NK. The initials stand for Nordiska Kompaniet. Although shopping in a foreign country is always fun, be aware of MOMS. No, not your mother, but the hefty value-added tax imposed on most products and services in Sweden.

Klarabergsgatan 50, 111 21 Stockholm, Sweden

25 Waterfront View of City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden

This woman found an ideal spot along the Riddarfjärde waterfront to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the view of the Stockholm City Hall on the island of Kungsholmen in Lake Mälaren. The government office building was constructed from 1911 until 1923 using over eight million bricks. The gilded Three Crowns at the top of the 348 foot tower are a Swedish emblem and part of the country’s coat of arms.

Stockholms Stadshus Hantverkargatan 1, 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden

26 Colorful Buildings along Norr Mälarstrand in Stockholm, Sweden

Kungsholmen has seen several transformations. The island was first home to Franciscan monks in the 15th century. A period of industrialization started in the 18th century. Military structures were added during the 19th century. Kungsholmen radically changed again in the 1900s when a formal city plan was followed to construct the current housing. These colorful shoreline buildings hug Riddarfjärden bay. The tree-lined Norr Mälarstrand street also acts as a quay for mooring boats.

Norr mälarstrand 18, 112 41 Stockholm, Sweden

27 Church of Catherine Dome in Stockholm, Sweden

Katarina kyrka’s magnificent dome, spires and bright yellow color are clearly visible high on a hill in Södermalm from the shores of Strömmen, the waterway leading into central Stockholm. The namesake for the original Church of Catherine, which was built in the late 17th century, was the mother of King Charles X. The church has been destroyed twice by fires, first in 1723 and again in 1990. The current Baroque appearance was created in 1995.

Högbergsgatan 13, 116 20 Stockholm, Sweden

28 Couple Admire Photos at Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden

Housed along a quay of the Stadsgåden wharf in an old brick custom house is the Swedish Museum of Photography. Fotografiska features two floors of photo exhibits by contemporary photographers. This couple is admiring a wall of random and frankly bizarre photos pinned to a large wall.

Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45 Stockholm, Sweden

29 Lioness Photo by Nick Brandt at Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden

As a professional photographer, I was very excited to visit Fotografiska, the Swedish Museum of Photography. I was initially underwhelmed with the images displayed on the first floor. Luckily, I gave it a second chance by climbing the stairs. Wow! It was filled with enormous black and white prints of African animals like this lioness by Nick Brandt. He has created a trilogy of photography books showing wild animals in their native settings before they become extent. Spectacular and inspiring work!

Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45 Stockholm, Sweden