Skip to main content
Aerial view of houses and a road next to lake Mälaren during the summer.
Sigtuna, Uppland
Sigtuna is the world's most runestone dense place and is beautifully situated next to lake Mälaren.
Photo credit: Oscar Söderlund/Destination Sigtuna

Sigtuna – discover a thousand years of history in Sweden's oldest town

One for the history maven, Sigtuna is Sweden's first-ever town, replete with the country's oldest pedestrian street and the highest number of runestones globally. Close to Stockholm, it makes for an ideal day trip – but is equally deserving of a longer stay.

Hugging the shores of Lake Mälaren, Sigtuna is the old Swedish capital – and it has plenty of culture and history to show for it. Founded in AD 980 by Erik the Victorious, it boasts a remarkably well-preserved main street – 'Stora Gatan' – which still runs along its original route. The town's Viking heritage is everywhere to be seen; Sigtuna is the most runestone-rich destination in the world – and you'll also get to discover several historically significant churches and ruins.

Read more about the Vikings in our article on their history.

With its varied natural terrain spanning meadows, forests and coastlines, it's also ideal as a summer destination for outdoor enthusiasts, though it is a charming place to visit year-round. Hiking, biking, swimming and boating are all within easy reach, and there are ten nature reserves to discover in the surroundings of this gem of a town, located less than 40 minutes’ drive from Stockholm.

1 / 5

Stora gatan, Sigtuna

The street layout of Sigtuna has remained mostly unchanged for a thousand years. When you walk along Stora Gatan, you are actually walking three meters above the original main street.

Photo: Nathalie Constantin / Destination Sigtuna

/ 5
Woman in an orange dress with two small children walking through Sigtuna city center on a sunny summer day.

Stora gatan, Sigtuna

Photo: Nathalie Constantin / Destination Sigtuna

Aerial view over the ruins of St. Olof Church and St. Mary's Church in Sigtuna.

St Olof Church Ruin, Sigtuna

Photo: Oscar Söderlund / Destination Sigtuna

St. Mary's Church in Sigtuna on a sunny day.

St. Mary's Church, Sigtuna

Photo: Björn Leijon / Destination Sigtuna

View of Rosersberg Palace with trees in the foreground and on the sides, and a green lawn in front of the palace.

Rosersberg Palace, Sigtuna

Photo: Linus Hallberg / Destination Sigtuna

Sigtuna's book kiosk is a converted old telephone booth now serving as a small mini-library.

Book kiosk, Sigtuna

Photo: Destination Sigtuna

Lap up the rich history and culture of Sigtuna

A little like an outdoor museum, Sigtuna is studded with relics and monuments, each giving a glimpse into the town's fascinating history and varying architectural styles through the centuries. The town centre's quaint cobblestone streets won't disappoint anyone hoping to find souvenir shops in Sigtuna, though it's more likely you've come here to marvel at its historical riches.

As for the must-see landmarks, St Mary's Church is an excellent place to start. Built by the Dominican order as a convent church, this 13th-century edifice is constructed entirely of bricks in a transitional style, landing somewhere between Romanesque and Gothic. Wander a bit further south, and you'll soon find yourself in Stora Torget square, peering at its crowning 18th-century glory – the most diminutive town hall in Sweden, possibly even in Europe.

To get an overarching grasp of Sigtuna's long history, don't miss the centrally located Sigtuna Museum and its compelling exhibitions and displays. Here, you can also access a map – full of intriguing information – leading you to Sigtuna's many rune stones, most of which date back to the second half of the 11th century.

A hop and a skip from the town centre, you'll find a trio of medieval church ruins – St. Peter's, St. Lawrence's and St. Olof's, each with a fascinating story to tell. There are also five castles waiting to be discovered. The baroque 17th-century Skokloster Castle is a sight to behold in its elevated lakeside position. Rosersberg Palace, one of Sweden's ten royal palaces, is equally enchanting, and so too the medieval gem Wenngarn Castle. Add to that the fairytale-like Skånelaholm Castle and the 18th-century Steninge Castle, and you could easily plan a palace -hopping day trip filled with regal history and nature in the form of elegantly landscaped castle grounds.

Something of a cultural oasis, The Sigtuna Foundation has attracted famous writers, academics and creatives since it was founded in 1917. Its rich events programme covers anything from art exhibitions and concerts to author gatherings. You can even eat and sleep in this welcoming environment inspired by Italian monasteries.

1 / 4

Kayak, Sigtuna

During summer, you’ll discover numerous activities to enjoy on Lake Mälaren, including kayaking.

Photo: Frida Lenholm / Destination Sigtuna

/ 4
Family kayaking together in two kayaks on Lake Mälaren in the summertime.

Kayak, Sigtuna

Photo: Frida Lenholm / Destination Sigtuna

View of Wenngarn Castle on a sunny day, surrounded by lush green bushes, trees, and grass.

Wenngarn Castle, Sigtuna

Photo: Oscar Söderlund / Destination Sigtuna

Restaurant Båthuset overlooking Lake Mälaren on a sunny day.

Båthuset, Sigtuna

Photo: Oscar Söderlund / Destination Sigtuna

Red wooden houses with stone foundations and thatched roofs, wheel tracks in the grass, and green trees and bushes.

Viby by, Sigtuna

Photo: Oscar Söderlund / Destination Sigtuna

Sigtuna's smörgåsbord of outdoor activities

The varied nature on Sigtuna's doorstep, coupled with its scenic lakeside setting, invites you to embark on almost any type of outdoor adventure, be it hiking, biking, bird watching, forest bathing, swimming, or canoeing.

There are a number of places to swim along the shores of Lake Mälaren. Steningebadet and Sjudargårdsbadet – to mention only two – are both well-equipped with piers, shower facilities and the like.

Hiking trails are plentiful, and the Ingegerd Trail is perhaps the region's most famous. In its 110-kilometre entirety, this pilgrimage route stretches from Stockholm Cathedral via Sigtuna’s St Mary's Church – and a wealth of other cultural highlights – all the way to Uppsala Cathedral.

For a shorter hike, consider the 7.5-kilometre Steninge Valley Trail, which runs from Märsta to Steninge Beach via Sköndal Forest and Steningedalen nature reserves. Wenngarnsstigen Trail is another charming option. This easy 3.5-kilometre trail starts at Wenngarn Castle and continues via Askarehage Nature Reserve. Meanwhile, Sigtuna Marina is perfect for anyone fancying a casual stroll, particularly the Sigtuna boardwalk, which runs alongside a good stretch of the lake.

Sigtuna's culinary identity and notable dining spots

When in Sigtuna, one expects history to seep through every aspect, 'fika' break included. One of Sweden's oldest cafés, the much-loved Tant Brun Kaffestuga, is housed in what is believed to be a 17th wooden building, the oldest of its kind in Sigtuna. On offer is a variety of sandwiches made from home-baked bread, along with Swedish classics such as cinnamon buns.

You'll even be able to dine in a castle setting courtesy of Steninge Bruk restaurant, housed in the Steninge Castle grounds. The menu focuses on grilled dishes made from seasonal ingredients and its weekend buffet, replete with a brimming selection of desserts, is another highlight.

Båthuset Krog & Bar, meanwhile, is a floating restaurant set directly atop the Ångbåtsbryggan steamboat jetty. It offers sweeping views across Sigtunafjärden and dishes prepared with sustainability in mind.

Fine dining option Restaurang 1909 is the resident restaurant of the five-star hotel 1909 Sigtuna Stadshotell. With a menu focused on Swedish classics prepared using locally sourced, in-season ingredients, it'll give your tastebuds a lift to match the cultural buzz that your Sigtuna adventure has undoubtedly provided.

Practical information before your trip to Sigtuna