Our first day in Stockholm was filled with amazing sights, some transportation frustration and some timing mistakes. Our second day was very similar! We had a filling breakfast and opted to walk to Gamla Stan rather than use public transportation. The walk along the water was about 2 miles. Stopping often to observe and take pictures, it took about 45 minutes.
This church was not on our radar at all and in fact we thought at first it was Storkyrkan Cathedral. We realized our mistake after entering. Fortunately, it was included on the Stockholm Pass and was worth the stop. The church was beautiful inside and was the Swedish monarch burial site for about 300 years. We spent some time exploring the different chapels and vaults. The church itself no longer has a congregation and is open as a museum. Tours are included with the Stockholm Pass, but we toured independently.
From Riddarholm it was a short walk to the Royal Palace. There are several sites to visit within the palace. We narrowed it down to the apartments, treasury and chapel.
We opted to tour without a guide so we could move at our own pace. The Royal Apartments were far and away the most ornate and “palace-y” royal rooms we’ve seen. I was very impressed by them. The girls thought the rooms were very beautiful, but I’m not sure how much interest this part generated. They were much more taken in by the Royal Treasury (crowns, scepters, etc.). The Royal Chapel was also beautiful and worth our quick stop to see it.
Our pictures in the palace are limited in amount and quality…
After the palace we made another stop to Cafe Sten Sture. The same waiters were there and they let the girls go to town decking out their desserts. I really recommend this unique, cozy cafe for a meal or quick coffee.
Our Cafe Sten Sture lunch revived us for our afternoon. We crossed the street to Storkyrkan Cathedral (also known as Stockholm Cathedral). Like Riddarholm, it’s one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm and is the oldest building in Gamla Stan. It used to be a Catholic Church, but is now Lutheran.
In addition to the beautiful stained glass and altar I was “wowed” by the statue/reliquary of St. George and the Dragon and the Sun Dog Painting. The painting (which is a seventeenth-century copy of a sixteenth-century painting) is the oldest known image of Stockholm. I am fascinated by images like this and the information they give about the past.
Shopping was next on our list. We purchased keepsakes we never knew we needed or wanted, like Swedish Dala horses. I picked up a few watercolors since I collect them.
Our almost day-ruining mistake
From Gamla Stan we debated on what to do next and decided on taking the Hop-on-Hop-Off bus to the Invisible Exhibition. From what our Stockholm Pass book said, we would be led by blind guides through the dark. It sounded like a unique experience. It seemed a little far way, but worth it, right?
The Hop-on-Hop-off routes don’t always run near the Invisible Exhibition. But there was a dashed line on the map leading to the port. This would take us very close. The dashed line indicated that the bus traveled there when there were cruise ships in port. Score! We’d met a couple that morning from a cruise ship.
We got on (after again struggling to tell the difference between our bus company and the competition) and after a few stops learned it would NOT be stopping at stop 13b. We got off at stop 14 and proceeded to walk about 25 minutes to the museum. Grrrrr. Fortunately, a bakery on the way fortified us with its delicious cinnamon buns.
We found the museum, entered excited, and learned there were no English-speaking guides that day. It turns out there was a small note to call about that in the Stockholm Pass book. I totally overlooked it and wasted about 2 hours of our precious time. My husband was not happy and the kids were done. We got lost, finally found the bus again, and rode it back to Gamla Stan.
After that we just wanted to call it a day. We picked up dinner from Noodlemama in the train station and my husband and the girls enjoyed a freezing dip at the Langholmen beach. Since it was such a nice night, we took a walk to a nearby park. The playground was amazing. We felt the day had redeemed itself a little.
So, our second day in Stockholm had some ups and downs. There were many bright spots, but we did not develop a greater love for Hop-on-Hop-off transportation. I think this is because it’s not really transportation so much as a way to see the city. Lesson learned!