The Importance of Planning & Research: Stockholm

I think we got Stockholm wrong. I wish we could have a do-over.

We had too much fun at Skolgården. So much fun that we actually, kind of, forgot that we had planned to spend a couple of days in Stockholm before heading to Amsterdam. We did barely any research and, when we arrived in the city, we simply did not know what to do or where to go.

Stockholm fountain

Typically we spend our first day in a city just walking around and getting a feel for the place. Unfortunately, since we allowed ourselves only two-and-a-half days in Stockholm, we really should have had a more solid plan. Stockholm is a bigger city than we had expected and I really think that we short-changed our experience. Not to mention that we were coming off a really great volunteer experience and were already missing our new friends back at Skolgården.

Stockholm is not as expensive as Oslo, but it’s still pretty expensive, especially if you’re traveling on a budget. So, we weren’t interested in eating at one of the many restaurants or cafes, and after seeing the buildings and architecture of Old Town, we weren’t sure about what else to do. So, we just kept wandering around, hoping to find something fun or interesting. But nothing really came up. (Although, Old Town is lovely and a walk around that neighborhood is a worthy way to spend the afternoon.)

Stockholm from up high

We probably enjoyed our long walk around Djurgården the most. We were so surrounded by nature that we almost forgot that we were in a city at all. It’s rather peaceful. And the views of the Stockholm harbor are stunning.

Djurgården is also home to the Vasa Museum – a maritime museum that displays the only almost fully intact 17th century warship. At the time, the king of Sweden demanded too much of his engineers for this ship, consequently the ship was terribly off balance and sank before she even left the harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628. The story is just so ridiculous that we really felt compelled to visit the museum and see the infamous ship. Sadly, due to bad planning, we arrived just as the museum was closing. And with no extra time to spare, we never made it back.

Stockholm castle gates

Maybe because it was a bit expensive or maybe because we weren’t sure where to go other than the Old Town and Djurgården, but we just weren’t very impressed by Stockholm. I think it’s one of those cities that’s great to live in, but maybe not the best for tourists. I could see the potential, but I felt like we ran out of things to do. Then again, we were probably not looking in the right places.

Ballon lights and square Stockholm

Okay, just to end it on a high note, we did, accidentally, do one thing right. Apparently if you take the underground to the airport, they charge about $10 per person in order to just exit the metro and enter the airport. As the man at the shop explained, if you take the bus to the airport, they don’t charge that extra, sneaky fee.

Hopefully someone can learn from our mistake. Do your due diligence. Do a bit of research. Make a plan. Don’t just wander around and expect something incredible to happen. If you do, the highlight of your trip might just be saving $20 at the bus stop.

I think this video accurately sums up our experience in Stockholm.

Click here to see more photos of our time in Stockholm on our Flickr page.


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