One Day in Stockholm from a Cruise Ship: An Itinerary That Works

Are you spending one day in Stockholm on a cruise and are wondering what to see? As the so-called Venice of the North has a rich history and countless cultural treasures, you’ll need to make some tough choices.

I faced the same challenge and compiled a Stockholm 1-day itinerary to make the most of my time ashore. In this article, I’ll share this with you along with essential practical tips, including how to get from the cruise terminal.

rover with boats and buildings on bank seen during one day in stockholm

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How I Visited Stockholm on a Cruise

Stockholm was the 6th port of call on my 2-week cruise along the Baltic Sea:

  • Cruise operatorCelebrity Cruises
  • Cruise ship: Celebrity Silhouette
  • Time in port: 8 am – 5 pm

Cruising to Stockholm is worth it solely for the sensational approach.

A steady hand from the captain is needed as, over three hours, the ship navigates the archipelago of 24,000 islands that stretch 80 km east of the city. It’s worth setting your alarm clock to sit on your balcony to take in the view, a mixture of barren rocks circled by seabirds and islets populated by brightly painted wooden summer homes.

white houses with red roofs on forested shoreline of stockholm's archipelago
The approach to Stockholm through its archipelago is spectacular

Language – Swedish. English is widely spoken.

Currency – Swedish Krone (SEK). However, cards are widely accepted, even as payment for small purchases such as a cup of coffee. Therefore, I did not bother getting local currency and used my card instead.

Tipping – A gratuity is often added to your bill. However, if a service charge is not included in your bill, a 5 – 10% tip is customary.

Stockholm is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Fill your face at breakfast on the cruise ship before setting out for the day.

Getting around Stockholm – Stockholm has an excellent integrated public transport system. Many of the main tourist sights are clustered around Gamla Stan.

A 1-day Stockholm Itinerary: Self-Guided Walking Tour + Map)

I’ll level with you You won’t be able to see all of Stockholm in a day. However, this itinerary will help you seek out the best bits during your limited time ashore.

Here’s a map with a suggested route to set you on your way. If you find it easier, you can use it as a Stockholm self-guided walking tour. Simply click here or on the image for an interactive map and walking directions between the stops.

This Stockholm itinerary starts at the Abba Museum and ends at the Royal Palace, covering a total distance of 3 miles (5 km). However, if you want to save time, or give your feet a rest, you can take a tram between Djurgården and Kungsträdgården.

map with things to see in Stockholm in one day
Stockholm self-guided walking tour. Map Data @ 2024 Google

MORNING

Mama Mia! Spend your morning in Stockholm by reliving the Swedish fab foursome’s glory days through this fun and interactive museum.

The first part of the Abba Museum, dedicated to the Mama Mia films, is a little underwhelming. Here you will find props from the films, costumes and testimonies from the cast.

Descending to the main exhibition, you get the real deal.

Learn about Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid’s professional lives before they became an acronym of the first letters of their first names. Watch Abba winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Concert with Waterloo.

A vast collection of their extraordinary costumes is on display in the museum, as are some of their many gold and platinum discs and album covers from across the globe.

stage costumes of the group abba on dummies displayed at the abba museum the first stop on a 1 day stockholm itinerary

If you are a film buff, you will love the interview with the renowned Swedish director Lasse Hallström. Before achieving international acclaim with movies such as My Life as a Dog and The Cider House Rules, he cut his teeth directing almost all of Abba’s videos as well as Abba: The Movie in 1977.

Abba was one of the pioneers of pop videos. Despite a small budget, Hallström put together compelling, and iconic, videos.

The Abba Museum is tremendously interactive.

You can become the fifth member of Abba by performing on stage with Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid, virtually try on their costumes and re-mix their tracks. By scanning your ticket on the adjacent scanner, your visit will be saved for 30 days.

display of abba albums and discs in abba museum stockholm
  • The Abba Museum is at Djurgårdsvägen 68
  • To get to the Abba Museum from Frihamnen cruise terminal, take bus #76 to Djergården from where it is a 10-minute walk.
  • The museum is also served by hop-on-hop-off buses.
  • The Abba Museum is cashless; only cards are accepted. Small lockers and a cloakroom are available (free).
  • To beat the crowds, visit the Abba Museum early in your day in Stockholm

The Abba Museum is located on the royal island of Djurgården, which is well worth exploring further if time permits. It is home to the expansive Kungliga Park, which occupies the eastern half of the island.

Alternatively, pay a visit to Skansen. This is the world’s oldest open-air museum and showcases how Swedish people lived before the Industrial Revolution.

Skansen is also the world’s only open-air museum with wild animals and is home to Nordic wildlife, rare breeds, pets and exotic creatures.

If the weather is not kind to you on the day of your Stockholm cruise stop, I recommend the Vasa Museum. Named after its chief occupant, a 17th-century ship that capsized and sank in Stockholm, this is the most visited museum in Scandinavia.

river with boats and lined with buildings

When you have finished exploring Djurgården, walk or take the tram #7 light rail to Kungsträdgården.

AFTERNOON

In fine weather, the lovely Kungsträdgården is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. Alternatively, refuel in one of its cafes.

Originally the kitchen garden for the Royal Palace, this pretty, narrow garden is home to the impressive Fountain of Molin, cast in bronze and surrounded by willow trees from the 19th Century. In springtime, Kungsträdgården is a riot of colour thanks to the 63 Japanese cherry blossom trees planted there in 1998.

If you have just one day in Stockholm, you should not miss Gamla Stan. It was the most alluring historic city centre that I visited on this cruise, even beating the gorgeous Tallinn.

The best thing that you can do is to allow yourself to get lost in the old town’s tangle of narrow, cobblestoned streets. My suggestion is to make your way first to Stortorget, Gamla Stan’s oldest square.

people sitting on benches in a cobblestoned square with gabled houses in stockholm
Stotorget

Stortorget has been the beating heart of Gamla Stan since the Middle Ages and is where the 1520 Stockholm Bloodbath – the mass execution of Swedish nobles by the Danish king Christan II –  took place. Today, it is an achingly picturesque cobblestoned square that is flanked by beautiful ochre-coloured patrician houses.

When you have finished admiring Gamla Stan just go wherever your feet take you. Keep your eyes peeled for Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, Stockholm’s narrowest lane.

people walking along narrow street with church steeple in distance
Gamla Stan, Stockholm

I didn’t have time to take a tour of Sweden’s baroque Royal Palace but did enjoy admiring it from the outside.

people walking across larke courtyard bordered by swedish royal palace buildings
Royal Palace, the outer courtyard

If you want to switch things around a bit in your Stockholm itinerary, the changing of the guards takes place daily at 11.45 am in the outer courtyard. You do not need a ticket for the royal palace to watch it.

Check out the official website for further information.

Recommended tours of Stockholm

With a little planning, it’s easy to independently see the best that Stockholm has to offer in one day from a cruise ship. But perhaps you want someone else to take care of the arrangements or you want to benefit from the knowledge of a local guide?

If so, why not pre-book a day tour? Other travellers have highly rated these excursions and you can cancel your booking without penalty up to 24 hours before the start of the activity.

Stockholm Old Town Walking Tour – a 90-minute walking tour of Gamla Stan

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

Private Tour of Stockholm with a Local – if you prefer a more personalised experience

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

Stockholm Sightseeing Tour by Segway – enjoy a 2-hour tour of Stockholm on a Segway

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

narrow cobblestone street lined with old ochre coloured buildings in stockholm old town

How to Get to Central Stockholm from the Frihamnen Cruise Terminal

Stockholm has two major cruise terminals: Frihamnen and the more central Stadsgården. Some ships may also park up at Nynashamn, 36 miles south of Stockholm, and smaller ones may dock at Skeppsbron right in the centre of town.

Celebrity Silhouette berthed at Frihamnen.

It will take you around an hour to walk from Frihamnen to Gamla Stan. Unless you want to walk off some of those extra calories consumed onboard, this is probably not a feasible option.

Pick up the frequent bus #76 from outside the cruise terminal. This will bring you to Djurgården in 10 minutes (handy for the museums including the Abba Museum) and Gamla Stan in 15 – 20 minutes.

I recommend buying a day ticket to get the best out of your time in Stockholm which I bought from the shop in the cruise terminal. Note that this is NOT the tourist visitor card Stockholm Pass which also grants you access to museums, sights, attractions and boat trips.

Here is useful information on travel within Stockholm.

When I visited Stockholm on a cruise, a local tour operator provided a shuttle service, running every 20 minutes.

Yes. Ubiquitous hop-on-hop-off (HOHO) buses are available.

They come in two different favours.

Red Sightseeing buses

These open-top double-decker buses serve 22 stops. The duration of the entire route is 1.5 hours and buses are timetabled to arrive every 10 – 20 mins in peak season.

Green HOHO buses and boat

If you want to explore Stockholm by bus and boat, this is your best bet.

Their open-top double-decker buses serve 20 stops. The duration of the entire route is 60 minutes and the frequency of buses depends on the month of the year.

narrow cobblestone street lined with old ochre coloured buildings in stockholm old town and church bell tower

Is the Go Stockholm Pass Worth Buying?

The Go Stockholm Pass gives you free entry to over 50 of the city’s attractions, free bus and boat tours and a guidebook thrown in for good measure.

During my day in Stockholm, I knew that I wanted to visit the Abba Museum, which is not covered by the Stockholm Pass, and walk around the Old Town, for which I wouldn’t need admission to any of the city’s attractions. Therefore, it would not have been of value to me.

However, depending on what you plan to do in Stockholm, you might arrive at a different conclusion. Think about where you might be able to visit and how much individual tickets and transport will cost compared with the cost of the Stockholm Pass.


Have a fabulous time in Stockholm!

I loved my day in Stockholm and was utterly seduced by its setting and its medieval old town. With its Baltic Sea archipelago, Stockholm boasts the most spectacular approach of any port that I have visited on a cruise, from the Western Caribbean to Norway’s fjords.

Although one day in Stockholm isn’t enough to it justice, don’t let this deter you from making the most of your visit. Whilst you will need to accept that you can’t do it all, it is possible to explore much of Stockholm before your cruise ship sets sail.

Packing a good guidebook to allow you to explore the ports of call on a Baltic Sea cruise independently is a wise move. I can recommend the excellent Lonely Planet Cruise Ports Scandinavia & Northern Europe that I used on this cruise.

If you have found this itinerary helpful, take a look at my guides to the other ports of call on this cruise:

Finally, if you are a cruise rookie, I also have advice on choosing your first cruise and the best cruise cabins, including single cabins for solo cruisers.

Happy travels!

cruise packing checklist cold climate
bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.