Stockholm is famous for its palaces, grand houses and other decorated buildings along the city's many quays. These buildings were built as the city expanded, for the royals, nobles, businesspeople and other powerful people of its time; some of them for government agencies or companies. They can be visited roughly chronological, beginning at Riddarholmen, walking along the quays of Gamla stan, through Norrmalm and further along Strandvägen in Östermalm and to Djurgården.
This is mainly a showcase of Stockholm's architecture, representing several historical styles.
In Swedish, the words slott (from German Schloss) is used for a rural (sometimes fortified) building for a king or a local ruler. Palats (from French palace) is used for palace-styled townhouses. Neither word has a fixed definition.
The palaces in Stockholm are used for various purposes today: museums, conference sites, offices or private residences. Access to the public varies; all palaces can at least be seen up close.
- 1 Riddarholmen Church (Riddarholmskyrkan), ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00. Riddarholm is the ancient core of Stockholm and this is the city's oldest building - though no longer the oldest church, as it's nowadays simply a museum. Built as an abbey in the late 14th century. Many Swedish monarchs are buried here, including Gustavus Adolphus (Gustav II Adolf) and Charles XII (Karl XII). But what about Nelson Mandela, Lord Mountbatten, Chiang Kai-shek and other notables? - no, their plaques are here as "Knights of the Order of Seraphim", a Swedish heraldic society. Adults 50 kr, students and children 25 kr.
- 1 The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset). The building for sessions of the noble estate. Most of the nobility's privileges were abolished in 1866. In 2003, Sweden's nobility became a private organization, with the last token privileges were abolished (such as the King's obligation to resolve kidnapping of noblemen abroad). The building has plenty of statues, enough for a separate tour.
- 2 Sager House (Sagerska huset). Stockholm used to have many private palaces; this 1900 neo-Renaissance building was the last one, until widow Vera Sager, the last inhabitant, died in 1988. The 1986 assassination of Olof Palme had called for increased security; the goverment bought the property, and since 1995, it is the Prime Minister's official residence. Not open to the public.
Skeppsbron (literally The Ship Bridge) was Stockholm's main harbour during the Age of Sail. The buildings on the waterfront were commissioned by the merchants, affectionally called Skeppsbroadeln, ("the Skeppsbron Nobility") though not legally nobles.
- 1 Zum Franziskaner ("Zum"), Skeppsbron 44. A German-themed restaurant tracing its history from the Hanseatic period, allegedly founded in 1471, in its current location since 1906.
- 3 Södra Bankohuset (Southern Bank House), Järntorget 84. The city's official iron weighing house was located here until 1662. It was replaced by the current building, Riksens Ständers Bank, later Sveriges Riksbank, the world's oldest surviving central bank. Sweden's currency used to be daler (same word root as dollar; as the crown had copper mines, they minted enormous copper coins, which could weigh up to 20 kg (44 lb). Since 2018, the building hosts a video game studio. Though Stockholm's main export commodities have changed from hardware to software, Järntorget still has many restaurants and taverns.
- 2 Brasserie Le Rouge, Brunnsgränd 2. A French-style luxury diner.
- 1 First Hotel Reisen, Skeppsbron 12, ☏ . Large 4-star hotel on east waterfront. Rates from 2284 kr.
- 4 Royal Palace today (Kungliga Slottet). The Royal Palace remains the monarch's official residence, but King Carl XVI Gustaf, reigning since 1973, lives in Drottningholm in Ekerö. His motto is För Sverige i tiden ("For Sweden, with the times"); as an avid environmentalist, he had solar panels installed on the palace roof. A 1980 reform gave gender-neutral succession to the throne, making Princess Victoria, born in 1977, the heir apparent. Most of the palace is open to the public, unless being used for a state ceremony. Entrance ticket includes The Royal Apartments, the Tre Kronor Museum, the Treasury, and Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities. Since 2011, a restoration of the Palace's exterior is under way, scheduled to finish in the 2030s.
- 1 [dead link] The Royal Swedish Opera (Operan) (T-Centralen). This 1898 building, stages classical operas in original language or Swedish, as well as classical ballets and concerts. The first opera house was built in 1782, commissioned by King Gustav III; 10 years later he was assassinated at a masquerade ball in the same building (which was torn down in 1892). The Opera House offers daily guided tours in English. Strömterrassen is a café with an astounding view of the Royal Palace. Within the same building is Operakällaren and Café Opera (see below).
- 3 Grand Hôtel, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8. A Grand Old Hotel opened in 1874 overlooking the Royal Palace, and the usual accommodation for visiting heads of state, Nobel laureates and pop stars, who can usually walk around the neighbourhood without being too disturbed by fans. The first Nobel Prize ceremonies were held here, and room No 702 is the astounding Nobel Room, where the literature prize winners stay overnight. The restaurant gives an excellent Swedish smörgåsbord, one of the very few establishments in Scandinavia that still does so. The piano bar is a delightful end-of-the-evening place to get a sophisticated drink.
- 5 Survey Office (Lantmäteristyrelsens hus). Built in 1642 as a leisure palace for Queen Kristina. From 1688 to 1975 it was headquarters to the National Survey Agency.
- 6 Tändstickspalatset (Matchstick Palace). A Swedish Grace office building commissioned by Swedish "matchstick king" Ivar Kreuger. The prodigious Kreuger earnt a Master of Engineering degree at age 20, and made his first wealth as a skyscraper engineer in New York City. From the 1910s, he acquired matchstick factories around the world, finally controlling 75 per cent of global production. In the Roaring Twenties, he gave low-interest loans to governments such as France and Germany, in exchange for matchstick monopoly. He co-founded the Swedish film industry, mingled with Hollywood stars, and became a world celebrity himself, with the Matchstick Palace finished in 1928. The success story ended with the 1929 Wall Street crash, leading Kreuger to a liquidity crisis which he never resolved. His death (seemingly to his own hand) in 1932 was followed by company bankruptcy, which hit Sweden's economy hard, while already in the middle of the Great Depression. The building had state-of-the-art technology for its time, with electric elevators, central heating, and decorations by Sweden's greatest artists at the time. Limited opportunities for visiting.
- 2 Radisson Blu Strand Hotel, Nybrokajen 9. Founded in 1912, previously owned by the Swedish Freemason Order, this waterfront hotel is a prominent example of Swedish architecture.
- 4 Hallwyll Museum (Hallwyllska Museet), Hamngatan 4. This urban palace was built in 1898 for Walther och Wilhelmina von Hallwyl, collectors of art and antiques from around the world. Since 1938 it is a museum. While some rooms have a historic or geographic theme, the building is a showcase of upper-class life of the early 20th century.
Strandvägen was built in the 19th century, with residences of the rising capitalist class.
- 5 Royal Dramatic Theatre (Dramaten), Nybroplan. Sweden's national theatre, built in Wienerjugend (art nouveau) style in 1908. The building has rich ornaments in gold and marble, and a row of sculptures, with a bust of playwright August Strindberg (1849-1912) whose play Master Olof inaugurated the building. A statue of actress Margaretha Krook (1925-2001) represents the theatre's later history. The building has a restaurant.
- 1 Svenskt Tenn, Strandvägen 5 (T Östermalmstorg), ☏ . M-F 10:00–18:00, Sa 10:00–15:00. A well known store for high-quality Swedish design.
Djurgården was a royal park; since the 19th century it has hosted museums and exhibitions.
- 2 Nordiska Museet (The Nordic Museum), Djurgårdsvägen 6-16 (On Djurgården, next to Djurgården bridge. Bus 44, 69 and 76. Tram from Sergels Torg.), ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00 year round; Sep-May: also W 10:00-20:00. A museum of cultural history from 1520 to our days, in an impressive 1907 cathedral-like building on Djurgården. Exhibitions focus on Swedish handicraft, customs and traditions. 100 kr (everyone over 18). Free admission Sep–May Tue 13:00–17:00.
- 3 Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet), Galärvarvsvägen 14, ☏ . Jun-Aug: daily 08:30-18:00, Sep-May: 10:00-17:00 (W 10:00-20:00). This museum displays the Vasa, an original warship built for the Thirty Years War which sank in Stockholm Harbour on its maiden voyage in 1628, during the heyday of Swedish Empire. Salvaged in 1961, the ship is almost wholly preserved, and is the only one of its kind and quality in the world. A must-see, especially since it is uncertain whether current methods of preservation will be able to maintain her condition in years to come. There are adequate lifts to enable travellers with motion disabilities to see all levels of the ship. The museum contains several side exhibitions: full-scale models of the people whose bodies were found in the ship hulk, as well as wooden sculptures, the world's oldest preserved sail, and other salvaged objects. Adults 110 kr, students 80 kr, children up to 17 free.
- 4 Abba The Museum, Djurgårdsvägen 68, ☏ . Mid-Jan to May, Sep to mid-Dec: M Tu F-Su 10:00-18:00, W Th 10:00-20:00; Jun to Aug: daily 09:00-20:00; 10:00-18:00; mid-Dec to Dec 21: daily 10:00-18:00. A museum of the Swedish pop band ABBA: their spectacular costumes, gold records and original items. In the same building you’ll find Pop House Hotel with 49 stylishly decorated hotel rooms and Pop House Hotel Food & Bar. It has a gift shop. Adult 260 kr (250 okr online), student/senior 185 okr online, child (7-15) 95 kr.
- 5 Vikingaliv, Djurgårdsvägen 48. A Viking museum opened in 2017. The main attraction is Ragnfrids saga, an 11-minute ride through dioramas depicting a Viking adventure. The ride is a bit scary; children should be at least 7 years old, and accompanied by an adult. There is also an exhibition with replicas of Viking objects. Good for visitors who want a short introduction to the Vikings and are not bothered by the cover charge or the absence of genuine artifacts. See Vikings and the Old Norse for more real-life Viking experiences. 159 kr for adults, 139 kr for seniors and students.
- 6 Spirits Museum (Spritmuseum), Djurgårdsvägen 38. Displays the history of alcoholic beverages in Sweden with heavy drinking, heavy government control, and heavy taxation. The museum also contains the Absolut Art Collection, containing advertising for Absolut Vodka by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and others.
- 7 Liljevalchs ([ˈliljəˈvalks]), Djurgårdsvägen 60. A contemporary art hall, in business since 1916.
- 8 Waldemarsudde ([valdəmaʂˈɵdə]), Prins Eugens Väg 6, ☏ . F-W 11:00-17:00, Th 11:00-20:00. Prince Eugen (1865-1947), son of King Oscar II, was a revered artistic painter, and an avid art collector. His palace is now a museum housing his enormous art collection spanning the 1880-1940 period.
- 9 Thiel Gallery (Thielska Galleriet), Sjötullsbacken 8. An art gallery at the eastern edge of Djurgården, reached by bus 67.