In central Stockholm, on Gamla Stan – the old city, you can visit the Royal Palace. Since several years, however, this is no longer the place where the royal couple lives. The Royal Palace is now used mainly for official occasions. You can also visit their home, Drottningholm Slott. This castle is just outside the city, on Lovön Island in Lake Mälaren, and can be reached by land or by boat. We chose a day trip with Strömma Kanalbolaget.
Drottningholm Castle was the summer residence of the Swedish court during the 18th century. The castle dates from 1580. In 1661 the Swedish royal Hedvig Eleonora bought the castle. That same year there was a fire that completely destroyed the castle. Hedvig Eleonora rebuilt the castle and lived there until 1715.
Later, the crown princess Louisa Ulrika received the royal palace as a wedding present. She renovated the interior and also rebuilt the Drottningholm theater. Along with her husband Adolf Frederick she lived in the castle during their reign. In 1777 Louisa Ulrika sold the building to the Swedish state. Her son Gustav III used the castle as a summer residence. The next generations didn’t use the castle that much and even neglected it.
Nevertheless, the palace could be visited for the first time in the early 1800s and the park was opened for the public. In 1846 King Oscar I began with the first renovation works of the castle. Oscar II went on with the refreshments, but both Oscars got a lot of criticism because they modernized the castle instead of renovating it. In 1907, Gustav V restored the castle in its original style. The works lasted 4 years!
Since 1981, the present royal family lives in Drottningholm Slott. 10 years later, the palace, as the first one in Sweden, was given a place on the list of UNESCO heritage. In addition to the king and queen, Prince Carl-Philip and his wife Princess Sofia also live with their family on the estate. The Crown Princess Victoria lives with her family in Haga Castle.
The porcelain room
Even before you enter the castle, you can already take a look at the porcelain room (on the left, before you take the main entrance to the castle). King Oscar II built this room to show off his porcelain.
Personally, I found the library one of the most beautiful rooms of Drottningholm Castle. It was Hedvig Eleonora who designed this space to accommodate her large collection of books.
Also not to be missed is Hedvig Eleonora’s State Bedchamber where you see her bed. Still, they never slept in this room. They lived (as the king and queen do today) in the southern wing of the palace.
The garden of Drottningholm Castle is gigantic. There is a baroque garden and an English garden. There is a large park with ponds and there are even several smaller islands in those ponds and lakes.
In the garden you will also find the castle theater, the Chinese pavilion and the castle chapel. The Chinese Pavilion was a birthday present of King Adolf Frederick to his wife Lovisa Ulrika. The castle theater is the oldest theater in the world that is still in use. It dates back to 1764. During the summer months, various ballet and opera performances are held.
We wondered in advance if you could eat something nearby. In addition to the visitor center where you can buy tickets (we had a Stockholm Card where Drottningholm Slott + the boat trip were included and did not have to wait for tickets), there are also (very clean and spacious) toilets and a restaurant with large terrace. You can go there for lunch or fika.
We had a tasteful dish with warm smoked salmon, a delicious, fresh dressing and steamed potatoes. It can be quite busy here. It is therefore advisable to leave for Drottningholm Castle early on. We were there around 10:30 and did about an hour and a half to visit the castle. So we were relatively early in the restaurant for lunch. Later it was more difficult to get a spot on the terrace.
We had a Stockholm Card which included a day trip to Drottningholm with a boat trip. The boats leave at Stadshuskajen on Kungsholmen. The boat trip takes about an hour and shows you Södermalm and Kungsholmen from the water.
You also pass Långholmen, a green island where you can find Sweden’s largest prison, until 1975. Now it is a hostel so you can stay in this old prison.
The boat passes by Lilla Essingen and Stora Essingen as well In Stora Essingen, the beautiful villas with their own jetty dug up. Something to remember if I ever win the lottery!
Getting to Drottningholmen over land?
Don’t want to go by boat? You can also reach Drottningholmen over land. Take the metro to Bromma and get on a bus. For the timetable: SJ. You can also easily reach Drottningholmen by car. The bike is also an option. There is a good cycle route leaving Stockholm city center (follow the Drottningholm signage).
Tip for those who want to visit Drottningholm Castle with children: you can do a quiz in the palace.
For opening hours, entrance fees and other practical information you can visit the website of Drottningholm Slott.