There’s Sweden’s oldest pedestrian street here in Sigtuna, Viking Runestones, a lakefront, and a great café lifestyle. What’s not to love about the city of 9,000 people that was founded in 980 A.D by Erik the Victorious? Sigtuna is a great place to visit on a day trip from Stockholm to explore Viking culture and historic Sweden. It’s also a lovely place to come and chill out on the lakeshore too. Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Sigtuna.
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The 9 Best Things to Do In Sigtuna, Sweden
Sigtuna was founded in 980 A.D., by King Erik the Victorious as the first true city of Sweden. The city is on Lake Mälaren, the other end of which you’ll find in Stockholm where it ends with the Slussen (water locks) that protect it from the Baltic Sea. The city has a population of 9,000 people, but you’ll hardly notice them. You’ll want to visit Sigtuna during the week if you can, this is a popular weekend destination and it’s very close to Stockholm and easy to reach both by car and by public transport too.
1. Walk Along Sweden’s Oldest Pedestrian Street in Sigtuna
The primary attraction here in Sigtuna is a street. It’s actually the oldest street in Sweden. And it still follows the same route that it did when the city was founded in 980 A.D. Stora Gatan has been the main street in Sigtuna since the Middle Ages. And it’s gloriously pretty. And lined with cafes and shops, from a supermarket to souvenir stores, many of which are still wooden-framed buildings decorated in pastel colors.
Despite being by the side of Lake Malaren, all the houses in Sigtuna face the main street, Stora Gatan, rather than the lakeshore, indicating that it was the street that was more important than the lake. Erik the Victorious, a master diplomat, divided the land along Stora Gatan into plots and gave them to influential people, who built houses, and who drew others in. As time went on Sigtuna became the capital and merchants and travelers visited – evidenced by items found under the road from the Byzantine Empire, Asia, and the old Russian Empire. Today there are lovely café’s, shops and it’s all rather picturesque.
The road that runs parallel to Stora Gatan is the Procession Road, it was built for religious processions in the 12th century, and it’s where you’ll find the ruins of some of Sigtuna’s churches.
2. See Sigtuna’s, City Hall
Sigtuna’s City Hall dates from 1737, when the mayor of Sigtuna, Eric Kihlman decided that it was time for a new City Hall to be built. He designed it himself and the building that you see today was completed in 1744. A fire devastated much of the town the day after it was opened, although the City Hall was spared.
It is Sweden’s smallest City Hall. It’s pretty on the outside, and you can visit the inside when Sigtuna’s City Museum is open. It is still used by the town council, and there are two rooms in the City Hall, one which is used for meetings and a police room, which held two cells until the 1930s.
3. Explore the Lakeshore in Sigtuna
Lake Mälaren is the third-largest freshwater lake in Sweden (after Lake Vänern and Lake Vättern), it has an area of 1,140 km2 and ends at the Slussen (water locks) in Stockholm, )which you’ll discover in our 2 days in Stockholm Itinerary) where it empties into the Baltic Sea. The lakeshore here in Sigtuna is glorious.
There’s a boardwalk along part of it, some beach areas, and some great spots for enjoying the summer sunshine. Take a walk and enjoy the peace and quiet.
4. Find the Runestones in Sigtuna
The erection of memorial runestones began in Denmark in 960 A.D. and it spread to both Norway and Sweden. Over the next 200 years, thousands of memorial runestones were erected in the country. These runestones aren’t gravestones in the traditional sense, but more a memorial, dedicated to the memory of the deceased and the person remembering them.
There are 170 runestones in the Sigtuna municipality and more than 20 are right here in the center. So many that the Sigtuna tourist office put together a runestone walk. You can pick up a map at the tourist office, or download the information leaflet here.
5. Visit the City Museum in Sigtuna
The history of the city and the local areas, as well as a lot of content about Lake Malaren can be found at Sigtuna’s City museum.
There are medieval artifacts and memorabilia and of course information on the runestones too. You can also gain access to the city hall via the museum here.
- Address of Sigtuna City Museum: Stora Gatan 55, 193 30 Sigtuna, Sweden
- Opening hours of Sigtuna City Museum: Daily (closed Monday) 12:00 until 16:00
- Entrance Fee for Sigtuna City Museum: Adults, 20 SEK, Children/Seniors 10SEK
6. Stop by Sigtuna’s BokKiosk / Phone Box
In the same way that most public phone boxes have been decommissioned in the UK, it happened in Sweden too. Sigtuna’s residents turned their delightful little phone box into the BokKiosk, a library that’s open 24/7.
We didn’t spot any books in English, but I’m sure if your Swedish is good enough you can swap out a book.
7. See Sigtuna’s Churches
During the Middle Ages Sigtuna became known as a place of worship and for its Christian churches. Most are now in ruins, those of note are the ruins of St Lars, St Pers, St Marys and St Olofs. St Per’s was the first cathedral in Sweden, but St Olofs is probably the most atmospheric of the ruins. I’ve marked the churches on our map of things to do in Sigtuna.
Mariakyrkan (St Marys) is the oldest brick building in Sigtuna and was originally a Dominican friars abbey, consecrated in 1247.
8. Play Adventure Viking Golf in Sigtuna (in the Summer)
Sigtuna’s Adventure Golf is found towards the lakeshore, and it’s here you can put your wits and skills against the likes of runestone holes, Viking ship holes, and miniatures of Swedish buildings.
It’s great fun for folks of all ages! There are up-to-date opening times and prices here.
9. Eat Seafood in Sigtuna
In a city that has so many cafes and restaurants you absolutely should have lunch here, especially if you visit Sigtuna in the summer months. The city is on the lakeshore and is known for its seafood. Café Vavet gets great reviews, and I can heartily recommend the lunch specials and outdoor seating area at Strandvillan’s Café. The Rak Salat (shrimp salad) and Salmon and potato baked pie were fabulous and the café was doing a roaring trade in ice creams too.
Map of the Best Things to do in Sigtuna
You can see the full map of the best things to see and do in Sigtuna here.
How to Get to Sigtuna
Sigtuna, just 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the north of Stockholm is easy to reach from Stockholm.
Take the Train and Bus to Sigtuna from Stockholm
On public transport, if you have a valid public transit ticket, then you can take a commuter train from Stockholm Central to Marsta Station. From Marsta station take bus 570 or 575 towards Sigtuna.
Driving to Sigtuna
If you’re driving from Stockholm, then it’s just a 45 minute ride, assuming no traffic, and depending on where you are in Stockholm. The easiest route is straight up the E4 road. Just put the details into Google and it will take you right there.
We actually drove here from Skavsta Airport where we’d picked up our rental car, and then we headed off back towards Stockholm to take a ferry from Stockholm to Turku in Finland (read our review of the Stockholm to Turku ferry here) and to begin our Nordic Roadtrip in earnest!
Parking in Sigtuna
Parking is free in Sigtuna for either 2 hours or 4 hours. There’s parking along the lakeshore and also in the parking lots around town. You simply need a parking disc. Change the time on it to the time that you arrived and leave it on the dashboard of the car. If your rental car doesn’t have a disk provided with it (they usually do), then you can get a parking disc at the tourist information offices in Sigtuna. You can read my guide to renting a car in Sweden here.
You’ll find the tourist office along Stora Gatan, along from the ICA store, just follow the signs for information. Sigtuna’s tourist information is a green building with a dragon over the door. It takes about 3 minutes to walk there from the start of the pedestrianized street.
How long to spend in Sigtuna
Sigtuna is easy to explore in half a day, depending on the museums that you want to see. But this lovely ancient city, which was founded in 980 A.D. is mesmerizing (and if you come on a quiet day when there are no day trippers from Stockholm, then you might never want to leave)
Travel Tips for Sweden
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Final Words on the 9 Best Things to Do in Sigtuna
The tiny, but ancient city of Sigtuna is an absolute delight. Located on the lakeside, of Lake Malaren, but oriented around the main (and equally ancient) street of Stora Gatan, there are runestones, church ruins, and incredibly picturesque pastel-coloured wooden painted buildings. Do come, whether it’s on a day trip from Stockholm, or if you come for longer, it’s glorious.
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