As a watery city of 14 islands, Stockholm has multiple cruise terminals. There are three major docks for international operators: Värtahamnen and Frihamnen in the northeast and Stadsgården in the middle of town. Thankfully, most tourist attractions in this Swedish city are situated in the compact and pedestrian-friendly downtown. This half-day guide covers the best of them.
Comprising as many as 14 islands, Sweden's capital looks like a floating oasis — Photo courtesy of Jeppe Wikstrom / VisitStockholm.com
Start your day with a visit to the world's only remaining medieval warship Vasa, located on the tree-lined island Djurgården. The huge and magnificent vessel, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was excavated in Stockholm in 1961, stands 64-meter-long, 53-meter-tall and carries nearly 500 painstakingly carved wooden sculptures. It is almost fully intact, as some 95% of the components are original.
The Vasa Museum is reported to be the most visited museum in the whole Scandinavia. Head over as early as possible to avoid throngs of visitors.
Cruise travelers disembarking at Värtahamnen and Frihamnen can take bus no. 76 and get off at Stockholm Djurgårdsbron. If you're starting from Stadsgården, then hop on a local ferry from Slussen wharf and get off at Djurgården.
Warship Vasa features extremely delicate Medieval carvings — Photo courtesy of Staffan Eliasson / VisitStockholm.com
If you prefer music to history, then opt for the newly opened ABBA Museum. The museum uses various modern technologies to tell the stories of the four members from pre-ABBA time to the present. A must-do is to jump on the stage and perform "Dancing Queen" or "Mamma Mia" with the band virtually through a hologram.
This attraction is also on Djurgården, and takes about a 10-minute walk from Vasa.
The key to a memorable trip in Stockholm is to find vantage points which provide great views. After whetting the appetite at Stockholm's hottest or newest museum, enjoy a pleasant stroll along Östermalm's waterfront, Strandvägen.
This is one of the best places for waterside wandering, where you have the green Djurgården on one side and bright yet elegant architecture of Östermalm on the other. At the end of Strandvägen, there is a beautiful park to walk through called Kungsträdgården, or King's Garden.
Stunning cherry blossoms bloom at Kungstradgarden — Photo courtesy of Henrik Trygg / VisitStockholm.com
After your walk, head down to the Kungsträdgården subway station. Stockholm's subway, or tunnelbana, is famous for its artful stations. Kungsträdgården is one of the most outstanding among all, featuring abstract ceiling paintings and an installation mimicking an ancient Greek archaeological site. Take the subway to The Old Town, or Gamla Stan.
Traditional Swedish meal
Once in Gamla Stan, order a traditional Swedish meal at restaurant Den Gyldene Freden on Österlånggatan. Set in a restored historic house, this is an established historic diner. Its kitchen has been producing traditional Nordic fare since 1722.
Historic streets and buildings
After stuffing yourself with regional staples - meatballs or herrings - explore the cobblestone streets and winding alleyways of Gamla Stan, one of the prettiest and best preserved Medieval towns in Europe. This is the earliest part of Stockholm, formed in the thirteenth century. Every building has a story to tell.
Skeppsbron provides a good vista towards Gamla Stan's grand structures — Photo courtesy of Staffan Eliasson / VisitStockholm.com
The Royal Palace deserves a visit. It is at the northeast corner of the island and houses nine museums from the Royal Apartments to the Crowned Jewel. Or try to squeeze through the 80-centimeter-wide Mårten Trotzigs Gränd at the south tip of Gamla Stan, which is the narrowest street in Stockholm.
Nobel and "fika"
Packed with narrow and colorful stone buildings, Stortorget Square is the center of The Old Town and probably the most photographed part of the city. Round up your trip here. Either pop inside the Nobel Museum to learn more about the renowned Swedish academic award, or take a coffee break, called a "fika," like the culture does. Drink a cup at the café Chokladkoppen.
From Chokladkoppen, it's about 20 minutes back to Värtahamnen or about 30 minutes back to Frihamnen by bus no. 76. If you're heading to Stadsgården, then it's only a 15-minute walk.