Dotted with ancient rune stones from the Viking era and churches from the Middle Ages, this lakeside village is one of Sweden’s best preserved historic places.
Visit Sigtuna for half a day to admire its charming wooden houses in bright colors, to explore its lakeside park and crumbling ruins, to stumble upon its ancient rune stones and to sample its delicious Swedish cuisine.
They say Sweden begins in Sigtuna, because this is where the nation’s first capital was. However, it’s actually where the nation’s Christian history began. Stora Gatan, believed to be the oldest main street in the country, dates back to the 10th century, when King Erik the Victorious chose it as the location for a new settlement. The street’s Sigtuna Museum can teach you all about the early days of Christianity in the region.
The cobblestoned main street is lined with small artisan workshops, galleries, souvenir shops and cafés. It’s always packed with tourists, so come early in the day to avoid the crowds.
Stop at the visitor center to pick up a walking trail map of the town and surroundings. Follow the dots to find the crumbling stone ruins of St. Olaf’s, an early Christian church from the 12th century with a cemetery and dry well. St. Peter’s (St. Per) and St. Lawrence’s (St. Lars) are two other ruined medieval churches still left standing in town.
Hike up through the pine forest to the town’s picturesque belfry. The red wooden tower is a replica, because the original one from 1608 sadly burned down in 2016.
Loop back to Olofsgatan to visit the red-brick St. Mary’s Church (Mariakyrkan), the oldest church in Sweden still in use today. Rest by the lake in the nearby Sigtuna Stadspark or, if it’s cold and wet outside, find a local restaurant by the lake to enjoy a real Swedish smörgåsbord.
Located less than an hour north of Stockholm, you can easily visit Sigtuna in a day. Travel by boat, train or car or as part of a coach tour. To save time and money, you could rent a car in the capital, explore Sigtuna for half a day, drop in at the nearby Skokloster Castle in the afternoon, spend the night in atmospheric Uppsala and then drop the car off at Arlanda Airport the next morning before flying out.