Enjoy a brainy break: An academic’s guide to Stockholm

For some, December is the month best known for festive celebrations. In Stockholm, it’s the month where a select handful of the world’s most revered academics gather for the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet.

Enjoy a brainy break: An academic’s guide to Stockholm
Photo: Ericson

But the fun doesn’t stop once the gourmet dinner has been served. Stockholm is a city with plenty to satisfy visitors who have even the most discerning of intellectual tastes.

Together with Visit Stockholm and Visit Sweden – which have recently launched custom city guides for high-profile guests and visitors based on their interests and reason for travelling – The Local presents a selection of the city’s most highbrow sights. 

Stockholm City Hall

The Nobel Prize banquet. Photo: Wikstrom

Your name may not be on the guestlist for this year’s banquet, but you can still admire the grand Blue Hall where it’s held every year. Take a guided tour of one of Stockholm’s most recognisable landmarks and walk the same halls as some of recent history’s brightest minds. 

Designed by the architect Ragnar Östberg and built between 1911 to 1923, Stockholm City Hall is an imposing feat of modern architecture. Its 106-meter tall tower, topped with a spire featuring three golden crowns, is to Stockholm’s cityscape what the Empire State Building is to New York City’s. The tower is only open during the summer months but you can tour the rest of the City Hall year round.

Click here to see Visit Stockholm's custom guides

Nobel Prize Museum

The Nobel Prize Museum. Photo: Eliasson

As the hometown of Alfred Nobel himself, and the city where the Nobel Prizes are annually awarded, it’s no wonder that Nobel is an ever-present theme across the city. The Nobel Prize Museum on Stortorget in Stockholm’s Old Town is a shrine to courage, creativity and perseverance. Conceptualised around the Nobel Prize’s combination of fields – natural sciences, literature, and peace – the exhibitions in the small museum introduce you to freedom fighters, writers and scientists who have, over the course of the last hundred or so years, been recognised for their outstanding contributions to mankind.

Stop for some brainfood in the bistro and flip over your chair before you leave — each one has been autographed by a Nobel Laureate who has visited the museum.


Vinterviken. Photo: Creative Commons

Continue your Nobel tour at Vinterviken, a now-pretty park on a plot of land once owned by the famed Swedish chemist. Alfred Nobel established his research laboratory and factory on the then-industrial area south of the city in the 1860s and spent much of the following decades working there, testing dynamite and carrying out other dangerous experiments. Today, you can still see the testing tunnels as well as the housing where factory workers lived. No longer an industrial testing ground, Vinterviken is now a picturesque park next to a sprawling bay in the Mälaren lake.

The City Library

City Library. Photo: Lipka

Bibliophiles will need a moment to catch their breath when they first step into the magnificent Stockholm City Library. Listed by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, the building was designed by world-famous architect Gunnar Asplund in the ‘Swedish Grace’ neoclassical style. 

If the exterior – a geometric cube encasing an enormous cylinder – isn’t impressive enough, you’ll be blown away by the rotunda, the enormous round book hall housed within. Some 40,000 books line the wooden shelves and a large Orrefors glass chandelier – a gift from the Norstedts – hangs from the 24-metre high ceiling. 

Royal Coin Cabinet

If you’re a fan of all things financial, you’ll strike gold at Stockholm’s Royal Coin Cabinet. Dedicated to the history of money, finance and economy, it’s one of Sweden’s oldest collections, dating back to the 1570s. There are 650,000 objects from around the world, representing different periods throughout history. The collection is currently in the process of being relocated to the same building as the Swedish History Museum and will be on display again in late 2020.

Click here to see Visit Stockholm's custom guides

Bergius Botanic Garden

Bergius Botanic Garden. Photo: Creative Commons

Stockholm is a city perfect for people with all academic inclinations, whether you’re interested in economics, literature or plant diversity. The Bergius Botanic Garden at Brunnsviken, an inlet of the Baltic Sea in the National City Park, is a fountain of botanical knowledge owned and managed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Stockholm University. For obvious reasons, the gardens are best visited whilst in bloom but exotic plants continue to thrive year-round in the Victoria House and Edvard Anderson Conservatory. 

The Sweden Solar System

Ericsson Globe. Photo: Ericson

Most of us will never get the chance to travel in space but don’t let that stop you from exploring the solar system. The Sweden Solar System (SSS) is the world’s largest model of our planetary system on a scale of 1:20 million. The Ericsson Globe, the world’s largest spherical building, represents the sun, and you can find replicas of the inner planets in and around the outskirts of the city. Marvel at Mercury during your visit to Stockholm City Museum in Slussen, visit Venus at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and spot Jupiter as you hop on the plane home at Arlanda airport.

Visit Stockholm recently launched custom city guides for well-known visitors and tourists. Click here for the chance to have your very own city guide created by those who know Stockholm best.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Visit Sweden and Visit Stockholm.


Sweden launches bid to become world’s top tourism destination by 2030

Forget the pyramids, the canals of Venice or the Eiffel Tower – the Swedish government has presented a plan to make Sweden the world's most attractive tourism destination by 2030 – but it's not yet clear how.

Sweden launches bid to become world's top tourism destination by 2030
Many tourists are attracted to Sweden because of its nature. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In a press conference on Monday, Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan outlined the new strategy, which aims to make Sweden “the world’s most sustainable and attractive tourism destination built on innovation” by 2030.

Baylan referred to Sweden as a country which “is usually ranked as one of the world’s most innovative countries”, which he argued can “create value for the tourism industry”.

According to Baylan, the strategy builds on “sustainability’s three dimensions – it has to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable”. The strategy will also “tie into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030”, he said.

Topics covered by the new tourism strategy include the climate impact of tourism, equality and inclusion in the tourism industry and the importance of preserving shared resources such as national parks and sustainable nature tourism such as fishing and hunting.

The press release highlights the importance of natural tourism, explaining that the pandemic has led to people visiting natural and cultural environments “to a greater extent than before”, increasing wear and tear to natural areas.

DISCOVER SWEDEN: The Local’s guide to Sweden’s top destinations and hidden gems

Tourism is an important industry for Sweden, providing employment in both urban and rural areas, as well as generating wealth – before the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry represented on average 2.7 percent of Sweden’s GDP per year. The tourism industry also employs a high amount of people from foreign backgrounds – making up over a third (34 percent) of all employees in the industry.

During the pandemic, overnight stays declined in almost every Swedish municipality, with the biggest declines seen in Sweden’s larger cities and border municipalitites.

The government’s plans also include a focus on jobs and skill development, so that workers have the right qualifications for the industry – this reflects issues currently faced by the restaurant and hotel industry in finding skilled workers in the wake of the pandemic. 

There are currently no details as to how the government will achieve this strategy, or indeed how it will measure success. But Sweden is aiming high if it wants to be the world’s most attractive tourist destination by 2030. In 2019, it was ranked the 54th top tourist destination in the world by the UN World Tourism Organisation.