The Top 12 Free Things To Do In Stockholm
There’s no denying that visiting Stockholm is quite pricey compared to other European cities, and it’s for good reasons. But a visit to the Swedish capital doesn’t have to break your bank account. Instead of a taxi, you can take public transportation, which is efficient, safe, and relatively cheap. There are also a number of free walking tours that allow you to see the major sights, learn about Swedish history, and get your questions answered by local experts.
Additionally, you’ll find numerous free things to do in Stockholm that require nothing but your time and undivided attention. From free museums and art galleries to free events, concerts, and festivals in and around the city, the sky is the only limit to what you can do here. Once you’ve dropped your bags off with Bounce luggage storage, you can see the main attractions and family-friendly activities in Stockholm that are completely free. And hands-free too!
Tour around Gamla Stan, the Old Town Stockholm
Start your journey with a free walking tour of the historic Old Town. The original city center of Stockholm, Gamla Stan, is surrounded by the islets of Riddarholmen, Helgeandsholmen, and Stromsburg. Here, you will witness how Europe’s largest medieval city center is preserved from as back as 1252 and explore the historical buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Besides discovering this town’s fascinating history, you can use the colorful structures or the Swedish Royal Palace as a fantastic backdrop for a souvenir photo. There are also free guided tours of the Parliament you can join.
The city of Stockholm used to refer only to the old town of Gamla Stan. But as the city expanded, the surrounding suburban areas were eventually included. If you really want to see the heart of Stockholm, then taking a stroll down Gamla Stan will definitely be worth it. If you are not sure where to stay in Stockholm, this is a recommended neighborhood. Read about other places to stay here.
Get lost in Stockholm’s oldest square
Also located in Gamla Stan, Stortorget is not only the oldest but also the city's main square. Make sure to bring your camera as you’ll like want to capture the vibrant and colorful townhouses on the west side of the square. There’s also an 18th-century fountain that is sure to catch your eyes, surrounded by cobblestones.
Stortorget is undoubtedly the focal point of the Old Town. It’s a great spot to catch up with friends and watch people, as it continues to receive hoards of tourists every day. In the summer, it serves as a host to open-air concerts and festivities. When the cold winter comes, it also comes alive with the Christmas market and lights glowing around the square.
Watch the changing of the guard ceremony
The Changing of the Guard ceremony is an event you don’t want to miss when visiting Stockholm. While it’s usually only the children who get free entry to the Royal Palace, anyone can watch the Royal Guards ceremony for free. It is held every day in summer, from April to August or May to September.
The ceremony lasts for forty minutes, often starting at 12:15 pm on the weekdays in the outer courtyard of the Royal Palace and at 1:15 pm on Sundays. It includes a military parade and marching band or a ceremony with horses. It’s fascinating to see, so make sure you head to the area in the summer and be there early to get a good spot.
Get free entry to the Modern Art Museum
Visiting the Modern Art Museum, a prominent modern and contemporary art museum in Europe, is one of the best free things to do in Stockholm for art lovers. It offers free admission to the Moderna Museet Collection and many of its temporary exhibitions. These include some of the world’s finest contemporary and modern art, international and Swedish collections, as well as masterpieces by the remarkable artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Even if you’re only accompanying your art enthusiast friend, you’ll also fall in love with the magnificent displays and art pieces in the gallery. The building is another excellent sight designed by a notable Spanish architect, Rafael Moneo. It is also close to other free attractions and museums, including the National Museum.
Moderna Museet usually takes admission for its temporary exhibitions, like Björn Lövin. But every Thursday since June 9, the exhibition has been open to everyone for free, allowing guests to enter Björn Lövin’s world of art.
Explore the Royal National City Park
Established in 1995, the Royal National City Park stretches across the Swedish municipalities of Stockholm, Solna, and Lidingo. This is the green oasis for everyone looking for a quick timeout from the hustle and bustle of the city. Within the Royal National City Park, you’ll be captivated by the ancient forest and open land.
Entry to the national city park is free, making it one of the best free things to do in Stockholm. It’s a perfect destination to relax and feel the beauty of nature. There are also excellent restaurants to check out, like the Lilla Hasselbacken and Vikingaliv’s restaurant. Moreover, world-class hotels such as the Hasselbacken, Villa Kalhagen, and the Pop House are only a few minutes away for those looking for a place to stay.
Bike around the island of Djurgården
Djurgården is a captivating island in central Stockholm. It used to serve as the Game Park of the Swedish Royal Family and is now home to many of the city’s amusement parks, art galleries, and museums. These include the Nobel Prize Museum, the ABBA Museum, Gröna Lund, the Vasa Museum, The Nordic Museum, the open-air museum and zoo, Skansen, and many more.
Apart from featuring Stockholm’s famous tourist attractions, Djurgården also offers ideal grounds for peaceful picnics and exploration by foot or on bikes. While some prefer a free walking tour around its extensive stretches of parkland, a bike ride allows you to see more of the island and cycle even further.
Follow the coast to Blockhusudden and Hundudden and discover lush greens, beautiful forests, meadows full of colorful blooms, and even grazing horses. There are bike routes you can follow and see more of the area.
See the Rosendals Garden
Opening daily from 11 am to 4 pm, the Rosendals Garden is a market garden that has captivated both local and international tourists for almost four decades now. It is one of the popular go-to venues for people all over Sweden, particularly for social gatherings like weddings. Thanks to the garden’s lush setting, Rosendals Garden is a venue for sustainability, growth, and, of course, enjoyment.
Besides viewing the beautiful flowers and various botanical plants on display, Rosendals Garden has its own cafe. Their farm shop is where people can buy and collect their favorite succulents and vegetables. So if you plan to snack while exploring, you won’t be disappointed in spending your day here. Relax here while planning your evening. With much to do at night in Stockholm, you'll be happy you had the rest.
Hang out at Kungsträdgården
No matter what time of the year you visit, Kungsträdgården remains a favorite destination among tourists and locals. Nestled in the center of Stockholm, Sweden, this gorgeous outdoor setting is a multi-use event venue and park in the heart of the city. It features a bronze statue, a fountain, generous staircases, and long wooden benches where you can chill and relax.
Many people often call Kungsträdgården the park for all seasons. During summer, it hosts an array of events, including open-air festivals and free concerts. In the spring, you’ll be amazed at the stunning cherry trees blooming in the northern area of the park.
And if you come in winter, it turns into an ice skating rink where you see residents and tourists of all ages ice skating for hours. It is free and open to everyone, so you’ll see it comes alive even in the freezing season.
Discover Swedish history at the museum
The Swedish History Museum or Historiska Museet is one of the cultural attractions in Stockholm that offers free admission for all. It is easily accessible, only a short distance from Karlaplan subway station, giving you a glimpse into the country’s lively and lengthy history. Here, you’ll learn about the dramatic life stories, love, celebration, triumph, struggles, and daily life from the past to the present day.
The museum boasts an outstanding collection of ten million historical objects and artifacts that span 10,000 years. These include treasures from the Viking age, armor, Madonnas, relics, and many more. It offers a fascinating journey of discovery told through the exhibitions, guided tours, and inspiring lectures.
If you visit Stockholm with your kids, there are also child-friendly adventures they will enjoy. During weekends and school holidays, the museum organizes workshops for them with accompanying adults. In summer, the courtyard is packed with interactive activities, crafts, and games for everyone of all ages and interests.
With crystal water virtually everywhere in the city, you can’t come here and not bask in the sun and go swimming in the middle of town. One of the beloved beaches in northern Stockholm is Ängbybadet. It became a public beach in 1936 and is now widely known due to its excellent water quality. It has a small coffee and ice cream shop and a changing room.
Another swimming area you can check out is located in the lush mountain park Tantolunden. It has wide walkways and is dominated by a lot of vegetation and trees. It’s one of the popular swimming areas on the island, with close proximity to restaurants and trendy cafes. There is also an outdoor gym, ball fields, and a playground.
Marvel at the book collection at the Stockholm Public Library
Whether you’re an avid reader or not, you’ll be amused at the seemingly endless collection of books at the Stockholm Public Library (Stadsbiblioteket). It is the largest public library in the country, which holds over half a million books in more than a hundred languages. It’s an inspiring place to study and work and no doubt one of the top free things you should go to in Stockholm.
The library was designed by world-renowned architect Gunna Asplund. It is a perfect example of the Swedish Grace style and has been recognized as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Anyone will love the building façade, but once you enter, you’ll realize that it’s an even more spectacular sight inside, with a glorious panorama of literature covering the cylindrical walls.
You probably won’t stick around for long, but it’s still a real masterpiece worth exploring. Who knows, it might inspire you to build your own library at home!
See inside the world’s longest art museum
Who would’ve thought that a subway would be the longest art gallery in the world? Well, this Scandinavian city made it happen, with Stockholm’s Metro featuring works by over 150 artists. Over the years, the city commissioned some of the country’s most heralded artists to create art, making the 110-kilometer underground stations a place of artistic beauty. So if you can’t afford the expensive admission fee of art museums and galleries, take a trip to the station and admire the works of some of the greatest artists in Sweden.
In the summer, Stockholm Public Transport regularly schedules free guided art tours in the subway. You can start at Stockholm Central Station, where you’ll see beautiful artworks as you pass through. You’ll hear from knowledgeable art guides who will explain the impressive collection of artwork, architecture, sculpture, and artists behind the masterpiece of the subway system.
The best fun, completely free
Along with proper planning and preparing yourself mentally and physically, traveling can require a lot of money, especially if you’re flying out of the country. Even if you’re only going out of town, you need to ensure you have enough means to cover your accommodation, food, transportation (read our guide How to Get Around Stockholm for stress-free travel), and other expenses. But with tons of free things to do in Stockholm, budget-friendly travelers can still visit and explore the city comfortably.