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.


IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images