Visit Sweden

Sweden's official website for tourism and travel information

Rosersberg Palace, Stockholm
Photo: Raphael Stecksén/Kungliga Hovstaterna

Things to do

Tour the Swedish palaces and royal sites – a journey through history

Sweden’s royal palaces and breath-taking sites provide visitors with a fascinating insight into Swedish history and the life of the monarchy through the ages.

With a king on the throne for over a thousand years, the Swedish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world. In the Middle Ages, Sweden was divided into two kingdoms – Svea, occupying the central section of the country; and Göta, covering the southern parts. At this stage of its history, Sweden enjoyed a relatively high status as a regional power. This partly explains why there are so many medieval and renaissance castles and royal sites dotted around Stockholm and its surrounding areas.

Each of these stunning sites has its own distinctive architectural profile and interior décor, reflecting stylistic shifts as well as the personal tastes of the kings and queens who spent time in these magnificent castles and sites.

The palaces of today’s Swedish Royal Family – a study in Renaissance and Baroque architecture

King Carl XVI Gustaf, who’s reigned in Sweden since 1973, and his Queen Silvia divide their time between two castles of great historical significance – The Royal Palace of Stockholm and Drottningholm Palace. 

The Royal Palace of Stockholm is one of the largest castles in Europe. Located in the Old Town within the city centre of Stockholm, this imposing palace is the official residence of the king – although it’s used primarily as the monarchs’ workplace and setting for grand receptions. And what an impressive venue it is. Italian Baroque in style, the master architect behind it – Nicodemus Tessin the Younger – modelled it on a Roman palace. 

Drottningholm, meanwhile, is distinctly French renaissance in appearance, mirroring the European architecture style of the late 17th century. Built for Queen Hedvig Eleonora and completed in 1699, this UNESCO's World Heritage site is the best-preserved palace in Sweden. 

Tessin’s father – Nicodemus Tessin the Elder – is the man behind the design of this beautiful palace, which the Swedish monarchs have called home since 1981.

Spend an unforgettable day at Drottningholm Palace 

Drottningholm Palace makes for an ideal day trip. This peaceful dream destination is located on Lovön island, some 10 kilometres west of Stockholm and within easy reach of the city by boat, car or public transport. 

As the main home of the King and Queen of Sweden, the rooms in the southern wing of the palace are private, but the rest – including the magnificent grounds – are open to the public all year round. There are several historically significant features to explore. 

Of particular cultural note is the Drottningholm Palace Theatre – the best-preserved 18th century theatre in Europe. It is the only theatre in the world that still uses the original stage machinery. Witness the historic machinery in action during the summer months, when performances are put on, along with guided tours. 

Drottningholm PalaceDrottningholm stands on an island in Lake Mälaren just outside Stockholm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Drottningholm is the private residence of the King and Queen of Sweden. Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Read more

Drottningholm Palace’s Chinese Pavilion – a “real fairy tale palace” 

Nestling at the far end of the Drottningholm Palace Park – which justifies a visit in its own right – is the Chinese Pavilion. This ornate summer palace was offered as a birthday gift to Queen Lovisa Ulrika from King Adolf Fredrik in July 1753. The King managed to keep the construction of his very special birthday present a secret, taking the Queen by surprise. Setting eyes on it for the first time, she described it as a “real fairy-tale palace – the most beautiful building imaginable.” The fact that it was Chinese in style would have impressed the Queen – all things oriental were very much in vogue at the time. 

When stepping inside this unique building, you’ll find Chinese-inspired Swedish Rococo furniture as well as antique Chinese objects and decorative elements – including original Chinese silk and paper wall coverings.

Chinese Pavilion at DrottningholmChinese Pavilion at Drottningholm. Photo: Raphael Stecksén

Read more

Three to see (in a day) – The Royal Palace, Riddarholmen’s Church and The Royal Stables 

The Royal Palace of Stockholm is mighty both in terms of size and experience. For those eager to boost their regal exposure, a visit to this multi-museum monument can be combined with nearby royal attractions, including Riddarholmen’s Church and The Royal Stables.

Riddarholmen’s Church is Stockholm's only preserved medieval abbey, and it’s the final resting place of the Swedish monarchs. With the exception of Queen Christina, all succeeding rulers of Sweden – from Gustav II Adolf (d. 1632) to Gustaf V (d. 1950) – are buried here, alongside a few kings from the Middle Ages, including Magnus Ladulås and Karl Knutson Bonde (d. 1470). The church is open during the summer and autumn seasons, with an annual programme of concerts. 

Bear in mind that many of the Swedish palaces have on-site churches and chapels, so keep an eye out for these, whichever castle you’ve decided to visit. 

Another important part of royal life in Stockholm is The Royal Stables. These are located centrally on Väpnargatan 1 in the upmarket district of Östermalm, in the northern part of town. These historic stables date back to medieval times, when King Gustav Vasa reigned. Horse and carriage are still used for state visits and on major occasions such as the opening of Parliament. Visitors are welcome all year round for guided tours.

The Royal Stables, StockholmThe Royal Stables have been located in Östermalm, Stockholm, for over a century. The stables are open for visitors all-year-round. Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén/Kungliga Hovstaterna

The Royal Chapel, StockholmThe impressive interior of the Royal Chapel in Stockholm was completed in the 18th century. Photo: Alexis Daflos/Kungliga hovstaterna

Read more

Explore Stockholm’s green, urban oasis Royal Djurgården and its resident Rosendal Palace

Known as Stockholm’s “green lung,” Royal Djurgården is the world’s first national urban park. Ever since King Karl Knutsson acquired this extensive stretch of land in the 15th century, Djurgården has been administered by the monarchy.

Forming a 10-kilometre arc around the city, the varied terrain encompasses meadows, marshes, lakes and hills dotted with centuries-old oak trees. Creatures of all kinds thrive here, and you’re likely to come across deer, foxes, hares and rare bird species. For non-wildlife enthusiasts, Djurgården is home to major national attractions such as The Nordic Museum, Gröna Lund funfair and Skansen open-air museum.

Last but not least – you’ll also find Rosendal Palace in this lush wonderland. Designed by Swedish architect Fredrik Blom, the palace was completed in 1827 for Karl XIV Johan, and designed in Swedish Empire style, also known as Karl Johan style. Visitors are invited to explore this idyllic stately home, which was mainly used as a summer retreat, during the warmer months when guided tours are given.

Autumn in StockholmView of Stockholm during autumn time. Photo: Jeppe Wikström/mediabank.visitstockholm.com

View over DjurgårdenDjurgården is a part of the Royal National Citypark also known as The Ecopark. It is the first national citypark in the world and it includes 27 km2 of nature and cultural values. Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Canal of DjurgårdenDjurgården has been an oasis for leisure and recreation since Queen Kristinas days. Today it is one of Stockholms main attractions.Djurgården is a part of the Royal National Citypark also known as The Ecopark. It is the first national citypark in the world and it includes 27 km2 of nature and cultural values. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

Read more

Gustav III’s Pavilion – a fine example of Neo-Classicism

Gustav III’s Pavilion is hailed as a Swedish art history gem. Located within the beautiful Haga Park in Solna, a little north of Stockholm’s city centre, it’s considered one of the finest examples of European Neo-Classicism of the late 18th century. 

Created by architect Olof Tempelman – with detailed input from King Gustav III himself – the pavilion features interiors by Louis Masreliez, one of the era’s most influential interior designers.

Sadly, Gustav III only got to enjoy his cherished retreat for a few years. Setting off from the pavilion for a masquerade ball held at the Royal Swedish Opera, he was assassinated in March 1792.

The pavilion is open for guided tours in summer. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the idyllic Haga Park, which forms part of one of the world’s first Royal National City Parks. Designed in English landscape style, this lush haven houses a lake and a number of compelling buildings, such as the Chinese Pavilion, the Haga Echo Temple and the Turkish Kiosk. .  You’ll get here easily from Stockholm city centre by public transport or bicycle.

Gustav III’s Pavilion, StockholmGustav III's Pavilion is located in the Haga park, north of Stockholm city. Photo: Gomer Swahn/Kungliga Hovstaterna

Interior of Gustav III’s Pavilion, StockholmGustav III's Pavilion is located in the Haga park, north of Stockholm city. Photo: Gomer Swahn/Kungliga Hovstaterna

Read more