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Sweden's Royal Residence: Exploring the Majesty of Drottningholm Palace

Updated: May 26

Summary: Drottningholm Palace is a 16th Century palace, located approximately 40 minutes outside of Stockholm, Sweden. This popular day trip includes a guided tour of portions of the Palace's state rooms, but not all, as this remains the current residence of Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and queen Silvia. Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic out in the Palace's expansive gardens. Afterwards, if you have time, return to Stockholm like we did to visit the Viking Museum, a fun/interactive museum dedicated to Sweden's rich Viking history.

[This blog is part of a 4-days in Sweden series, which is part of our 15-days in Northern Europe trip].

Getting there. Public transportation from Stockholm is mostly a piece of cake. The only part we got slightly tripped up on is at the end of this 40 minute journey. First, take the green metro line (T-bana) to Brommaplan. Upon arriving, exit the train station and locate the #301 or #312 bus on the street right outside the station. The bus will drop you off right out front of the palace. The same journey is done in reverse order when you return to Stockholm.

Drottningholm Palace, Built for a Queen. This UNESCO World Heritage site was built in the 16th Century by John III of Sweden for his queen, Catherine Jagiellon. Prior to her marriage to John III, Catherine was a Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth princess. She married late in life (as measured in those times), at the age of 36. This was after years of multiple marriage proposals and potential suitors had attempted to negotiate for her hand in marriage. Some of the more well-known suitors included Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible and Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria. Early in their marriage, John III's brother, King Eric XIV, declared war, and the two, John III and Catherine, ended up in imprisoned for four years until the brothers later reconciled. For never failing to leave John's side in prison, even when given an opportunity by Ivan the Terrible's continued advances, John rewarded Catherine for her loyalty by granting Catherine significant political influence through the remainder of their reign. Today, King Carl XVI Gustaf and queen Silvia of Sweden have lived at the Palace since 1981. The Royal Guard, photos below, keep close watch of the grounds.

Palace Tour. To beat the summer crowds, we were one of the first tourists that morning. Upon arrival we made our way to the ticket booth to purchase an English guided tour. Tickets can also be purchased in advance which may be helpful during high season. This 45 minute tour covers certain State rooms of the palace.

Palace Grounds. For us, the highlight of the day was taking a self-guided walk of the Palace grounds. Upon exiting the main Palace building, walk through the gilded gates to the Palace's Baroque Gardens.

Here is a short video of the Palace Church and entry to the Baroque Gardens.

English Gardens. Next, walk over to Gustav III of Sweden's English Gardens. This pleasant walk has bridges over canals and ponds filled with beautiful birds, including the Swans, an old symbol of royalty.

Chinese Pavilion. Separate tickets are needed to enter this 18th Century addition to the Palace grounds. When the current building was completed in 1769, Chinese architecture was "all the rage." While interesting, if you're short on cash, we advise to skip the interior.

Back to Stockholm to hang with the Vikings. After the enjoying our packed lunch on the Palace grounds, we made our way back to Stockholm. At this point in our trip we were a little tired of traditional museums, so we walked past the Nordic Museum (first photo below), and went to see the Viking Museum instead. Here, entertaining guided tours - in costume- run every hour from 11:30 to 3:30. This interactive museum can be viewed in its entirety in about 90 minutes, and even includes a little "ride."

Dinner out. For something different, we went to Ichiro Ramen before heading back to the AirBnB to rest of for our next adventure.

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