Top 5 Places to go Outside of Stockholm

by Stefan Johnsson

As far as many tourists to Sweden are concerned, Stockholm is the first thing to come to mind. The capital city is one of the best places to study abroad in Sweden, and has many attractions and history to easily fill your days off while studying abroad. But what about beyond Stockholm? You don’t need to go far outside of its borders to experience a change of pace and scenery. All you need to know, is where to look.

The ancient runestones north of Stockholm tell stories of men and honor to the old Viking gods.
The ancient runestones north of Stockholm tell stories of men and honor to the old Viking gods. Photo by Stefan Johnsson

1. Skokloster Slott – Hint: it’s a castle

Literally Shoe Monastery Caste, it is located about 50 miles from Stockholm and is one of the oldest museums in Europe. It started out as a monastery and was later rebuilt as a castle in the 17th century and has sat almost untouched ever since. It was intended as a place to show off for guests. The castle was not built to defend against invading armies, nor was it liveable during the winters as the castle is unable hold heat. The best part? Karl Wrangler and the subsequent owners collected items from across the world and from battles across Europe and stored them in the castle! The nearly untouched collections are full of antiques from across the globe and has remained a must see site in Sweden. 

2. Uppsala 

Just an hour north of Stockholm, Uppsala is home to the oldest University in Sweden, the University of Uppsala. It was established in 1477 and holds endless history. Famous Nobel laureates have graduated from it as well as Anders Celsius (Celsius degree system) and Carolus Linnaeus (who helped to categorize living organisms). Make sure you visit the botanical gardens, The University Park, and the Gustavianum Museum.

View of Uppsala, Sweden

3. Road Trip to Viking Runes 

If you have the chance to go out and explore with a car, drive yourself to the many runestones in the area. It is the perfect road trip if you want to explore the countryside outside of Stockholm. There are many sites and each runestone will have a translation to show what the writing included. Most translations are in Swedish, so bring a Swedish friend! The runes depict stories of men and honor to the old Viking gods and later when Sweden became Christianized, the stones began to include pictures of crosses and other Christian symbols. 

4. Island Hopping

The best thing about being in the Stockholm area is that wheels aren’t your only option. Stockholm is actually located near 30,000 islands! A boat ride will give you time to see what Sweden has to offer from the perspective of water. Many Swedes enjoy buying a cabin or house close to the lakes and rivers in Sweden. Make sure you befriend a Swede or two and stay at their lake or river house. If you don’t, there are still plenty of hostels and cabins to stay at while enjoying the scenery. It’s also a great chance to hike the islands, see places that have inspired others, and just enjoy a nice dip into the fresh water.

Lake Mälaren

Lake Mälaren

5. Lake Mälaren

Just west of Stockholm you will find the third largest lake in Sweden. This lake has historical significance and will take visitors on a trip into the Viking past. Two islands within the lake hold the old Viking cities of Birka and Hovgården which are famous UNESCO World heritage sites. Seeing these ruins will allow you to get a taste of Swedish history and know where and how the Vikings lived in Sweden as they terrorized Europe. 

Drottningholm (Queen’s island) is located on the east side of the lake. It houses some great gardens and architecture that is hard to beat within Scandinavia. Besides looking at the other mansions and parks around the area, do some hiking and camping – Sweden’s wondrous outdoors stand out from the rest of the world. 

Exploration is one of the most important things to do while studying abroad.

Stockholm and its outlying places have much to offer besides those places listed above; it all depends on the time of year. Other sites and places to visit while studying abroad in Sweden include: the Walloon ironworks in the north, the porcelain town of Gustavsberg to the east and to the south, and the port city of Nynäshamn.