Sigtuna – one of Sweden’s most charming towns

It’s no surprise Sigtuna’s busy. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in June and everyone’s come out to enjoy the beautiful weather. A short drive from Arlanda airport and an easy day trip from the Swedish capital Stockholm, it’s simple to incorporate Sigtuna into your summer holiday itinerary. Here are some of the best things to do in Sigtuna if you’re going to visit in summer.

Things to Do in Sigtuna: Sigtuna's lakeshore setting
Sigtuna’s lakeshore setting

Things to Do in Sigtuna

A lakeshore stroll

One of the best ways to get your bearings in Sigtuna is to take a stroll along the shore of Lake Mälaren. When Sigtuna was founded by King Erik Segersäll over a thousand years ago, you’d have been walking under water. The land here has risen about five metres since then and what was once submerged is now a popular hangout for picnics and a great place for the kids to burn off some energy.

Stora Gatan
Stora Gatan

The oldest street in town

Much of the old town retains the mediaeval street layout and running parallel to the waterfront is Stora Gatan. This quaint street is packed with wooden dwellings now home to an eclectic mix of shops and cafes. The tiny lanes running down to the waterfront have evocative names which translate as Noisy, Broad, Long and Crooked. The pavement tables at Cafe Valvet offer the perfect vantage point for people watching but for a piece of history head to Tant Brun’s for a coffee and cake in a tiny cobbled courtyard. It’s housed in one of the oldest wooden buildings in Sigtuna, dating from the 17th century. The town’s museum is also to be found on Stora Gatan and will reveal the secrets of the day to day lives of past residents, including the unsavoury habit of chucking rubbish into the street, covering it over with wooden planks and building on top.

Can you spot the runic stone?
Can you spot the runic stone?

Check out the runes

There are more runic stones in Sigtuna than anywhere else in Sweden, over forty scattered amongst the buildings in the heart of the old town. You could be forgiven for thinking that these ancient slabs were gravestones, especially as you’ll find some of them in the courtyards of the town’s churches. Some have even been incorporated into the walls of cottages. In fact, they’re memorial stones, inscribed with symbols and pictures. The tourist board on Stora Gatan can sort you out with a map and a code breaker.

Things to Do in Sigtuna: One of Sigtuna's many ruined churches
One of Sigtuna’s many ruined churches

No shortage of historic churches

There are several interesting churches in the centre, including the ruins of St Lar’s, St Per’s and St Olof’s, unsurprising given that Sigtuna was founded as the first Christian settlement in Sweden. They’re very photogenic and well worth a closer look. Mariakyrken is in a considerably better state of repair and still in use. It’s a 13th century brick Gothic style Lutheran delight. Don’t miss the fragrant smells of the nearby herb garden.

Have you tried any of the above-mentioned things to do in Sigtuna? Tell us about your visit in the comments below!

About JuliaHammond


Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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