Day trip tips outside Stockholm

Uppsala Cathedral

Uppsala Cathedral is the largest and tallest cathedral and one of the most impressive religious buildings in Scandinavia. Originally built in the 13th century under Roman Catholicism and used for coronations of the Swedish monarch, since the Protestant Reformation, it has been controlled by the Lutheran Church of Sweden. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of Sweden. The construction of the cathedral ...
Founded: 1287-1435 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala Castle

Uppsala Castle is a 16th century royal castle in the historical city of Uppsala. Throughout much of its early history, the castle played a major role in the history of Sweden. It was built during the time Sweden was on its way to become a great power in Europe. King Gustav Vasa began construction of Uppsala Castle in 1549. Kings Erik XIV, John III and Charles IX all remodeled and expanded the citadel into a representativ ...
Founded: 1549 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Sigtuna Museum

Sigtuna Museum exhibits the history of Sigtuna, Sweden's oldest medieval city. The museum is located on the site where the first royal palace was built in the late 900’s AD. The museum dates back to 1916 and the current museum has been built in the 1960s with new showrooms, reception and storage. The permanent exhibition displays Sigtuna's earliest history. Although the museum is active in many areas the archaeologi ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Wik Castle

Wik Castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Sweden. The first owner was Israel And in the end of 13th century. The current magnificent castle with seven floors was built in the late 15th century. The massive walls and moats made the stronghold impregnable. During the Middle Ages, the castle was one of the sturdiest strongholds in the Mälaren Valley, and Gustav Wasa once besieged Wik Castle for over a ...
Founded: ca. 1450 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala University Botanical Garden

The Uppsala University Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Sweden. It was founded in 1655 by Olof Rudbeck the elder, professor of medicine. The garden was used for teaching students botany and pharmacy. By the end of the century, more than 1 800 species were grown in the garden, many of them for the first time in Sweden. Olof Rudbecks´ botanical garden was largely destroyed by a fire in 1702. The univ ...
Founded: 1655 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Gamla Uppsala Church

The stone church of Gamla Uppsala, built over the pagan temple, dates from the early 12th century. Due to fire and renovations, the present church is only a remnant of the original cathedral. Before the arrival of Christianity in Sweden, Gamla Uppsala was the seat of Swedish kings and a ceremonial site known all over northern Europe. The settlement was home to royal palaces, a royal burial ground, and a great pagan tem ...
Founded: ca. 1164 | Location: Gamla Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden

Birka

During the Viking Age, Birka was an important trading center. The archaeological sites of Birka and Hovgården, on the neighbouring island of Adelsö, make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking Scandinavia and their influence on the subsequent history of Europe. Generally regarded as Sweden's oldest town, Birka (along with Hovgården) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site ...
Founded: ca. 750 AD | Location: Adelsö, Sweden

Skokloster Castle

Skokloster Castle was built in the Baroque style between 1654 and 1676 by the wealthy military commander and count Carl Gustaf Wrangel. The castle was designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. When Wrangel died, the castle passed into the hands of the Brahe family, and then, after 1930, became the property of the von Essens. In 1967 the castle and its contents were sold by the family to the Swedish government; sin ...
Founded: 1654-1676 | Location: Skokloster, Sweden

Ulriksdal Palace

Ulriksdal Palace is a royal palace situated on the banks of the Edsviken in the National City Park. It was originally called Jakobsdal after its owner Jacob De la Gardie, who had it built by architect Hans Jacob Kristler in 1643-1645 as a country retreat. He later passed on to his son, Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, from whom it was purchased in 1669 by Queen Hedvig Eleonora. The present design is mainly the work of archite ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Vaxholm Castle

Vaxholm Castle was originally constructed by Gustav Vasa in 1544 to defend Stockholm against shipborne attacks from the east, but most of the current structure dates from 1833-1863. The stretch of water below the building was formerly the main sea route to Stockholm. Thus, the fortress was strategically situated to defend the city from naval attacks. The castle was attacked by the Danes in 1612 and the Russian navy in 171 ...
Founded: 1544, 1833-1863 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Gripsholm Castle

Gripsholm Castle is regarded as one of Sweden's finest historical monuments. A fortress was built at the location around 1380 by Bo Jonsson Grip, and belonged to his family until the confiscation of mansions and castles by King Gustav I in 1526. The King tore it down, and built a fortified castle with circular corner towers and a wall, for defensive purposes. Of the original medieval fortress, only the façade of a ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Mariefred, Sweden

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church (Mariakyrkan) is the oldest still used building in Sigtuna. The brick-made church was constructed in the mid-13th century and inaugurated in 1247. It was, however, completed probably in 1255, when the archbishop Jarler was buried there. The church was enlarged and sacristy added in the 1280’s. Due the Reformation King Gustav Vasa ordered to demolish the adjacent abbey in 1530 and St. Mary's became ...
Founded: 1230-1255 | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Drottningholm Palace

The Drottningholm Palace is the private residence of the Swedish royal family. It was originally built in the late 16th century. It served as a residence of the Swedish royal court for most of the 18th century. Apart from being the private residence of the Swedish royal family, the palace is a popular tourist attraction. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mainly because of its Theatre (an opera house located at the ...
Founded: 1662 | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

The Royal Mounds

The Royal mounds (Kungshögarna) is the name for the three large barrows which are located in Gamla (Old) Uppsala. According to ancient mythology and folklore, it would be the three gods Thor, Odin and Freyr lying in Kungshögarna. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were speculated to hold the remains of three kings of the legendary House of Ynglings and where thus known by the names Aun's Mound, Adil's Mound an ...
Founded: 400-500 AD | Location: Gamla Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden

Hovgården

Hovgården is an archaeological site on the Lake Mälaren island of Adelsö. During the Viking Age, the centre of the prospering Mälaren Valley was the settlement Birka, founded in the mid-8th century and abandoned in the late 10th century and located on the island Björkö just south of Adelsö. Hovgården is believed to have been the site from where kings and chieftains ruled the area. ...
Founded: ca. 100-1520 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

St. Peter's Church Ruins

St. Peter's Church have been probably built in two phases during the 12th century.The eastern part with chancel, transept and central tower were erected first during the late 1100's, while the nave and the present west tower were added later. According the tradition the church was used as a bishop’s cathedral until 1130 when the bishop's seat was moved to Gamla Uppsala. The another legend believes the church has be ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Helgö

The island of Helgö is probably best known for a major archaeological area. The old trading town on Helgö began to emerge around the year 200 AD, 500 years before the well-known Birka. The first archaeological excavaton in 1954 found not only remains of the early settlement, but also a workshop area that became of international interest. Among the finds were a small Buddha statuette from North India and a christening s ...
Founded: 200 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Tullgarn Palace

Tullgarn Palace is a royal summer palace built in the 1720s. The palace offers a mixture of rococo, Gustavian and Victorian styles. The interior design is regarded as one of Sweden"s finest. In 1719, the old Renaissance castle from the late 16th century was demolished. The newly appointed Privy Councillor Magnus Julius De la Gardie commissioned architect Joseph Gabriel Destain to design the present palace, built in ...
Founded: 1720s | Location: Vagnhärad, Sweden

Vaksala Runestone

The Vaksala Runestone is one of the approximately forty runestones made by the runemaster Öpir, who signed this inscription and was active in the late 11th and early 12th century in Uppland. This runestone style is characterized by slim and stylized animals that are interwoven into tight patterns. The animal heads are typically seen in profile with slender almond-shaped eyes and upwardly curled appendages on the nose ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.