Uppsala is the fourth largest city in Sweden, situated just 31 minutes north of Stockholm by train. It is considered a university town as it has one of the oldest universities in Europe (Uppsala University, 1477) with a rich academic history. The most treasured landmarks of Uppsala happen to be Uppsala Castle and Uppsala Cathedral, among others. So, you can count on your one day in Uppsala to be an interesting one, that’s for sure!
What’s the best time to visit Uppsala?
As is true for all cities in Sweden, the best time to visit Uppsala is in the warm summer months. From May until August, the summer days are long (up to 20 hours of daylight), and the temperatures are moderate. Swedes and tourists are out in full force during this period after usually long and brutal winters. The longest day of the year is Midsummer, usually in the latter half of June, and is arguably the most celebrated holiday in the country.
A few facts about Uppsala:
– The Celsius temperature scale was invented in the city by the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius.
– Uppsala Cathedral is the final resting place of Gustav Vasa, the father of modern-day Sweden.
– Uppsala University is the oldest in all of Scandinavia (founded in 1477)
– The year’s Nobel Prize winners give their Nobel lectures at Uppsala University.
– The city boasts botanical gardens dedicated to the Swedish biologist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus, a scholar of Uppsala University.
– During the school year, students scream every night at 10 pm in the student-centric area of Flogsta. This is meant to relieve the stress of daily studying on and is described as the “Flogsta Scream”.
One Day in Uppsala Itinerary:
Breakfast at Café Linné
Café Linné is a great place to start for your first and most important meal of the day. The décor inside is especially cozy and they always have a large assortment of cakes available to try. They also serve breakfast all day during the week, so if this is your favorite meal regardless of the time, make sure you drop by.
This place has an abundance of green spaces, which is a common feature of all Swedish cities. The biggest is Stadsparken, located in the heart of Uppsala and along the Fyris river.
This is a common gathering place at all times of the day, especially when the weather is perfect. The grounds around this area are always incredibly well maintained.
Svandammen is a small lake close to Stadsparken that hosts a large flock of ducks. They seem to never go hungry as you can always find people feeding them no matter when you arrive. In the wintertime, this lake is converted into an ice-skating rink, free and open to the public!
This exhibition center is the Uppsala University Museum, featuring archaeological and medical artifacts reflecting research at the University over the centuries. It is most known for its Anatomical Theater, the second-oldest in the world, built back in the 1660s.
Lunch at Stationen
Literally translated as ‘The Station”, this restaurant/bar/café is located right on the train tracks of Uppsala Central Station. They have a great selection of food and outside tables, perfect for people watching during summer. On colder days, you can opt for a table in the back room, which is right next to the train tracks.
This small park area is situated right on the Fyris river and offers stunning panoramic views of the city skyline, with the main attraction being Uppsala Cathedral. This is perfect for any time of day, but is least populated during working hours and therefore more enjoyable.
Fika at Güntherska Hovkonditori & Schweizeri
A ‘fika’ is a Swedish institution. It is merely the act of grabbing coffee and taking a break with friends and/or colleagues, typically in the afternoons. Güntherska is hands down the best place in the city to partake in this daily tradition. This bakery has won countless awards for its food, from ice cream to cardamom buns (another Swedish pastry), to a salmon bagel and other Swedish treats.
It’s impossible to be in Uppsala for an hour without seeing this towering cathedral from afar. It is the resting place of Gustav Vasa, the father of modern Sweden. The Lutheran church is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala and was built in a French Gothic style starting in 1272.
It is the tallest church in all of Scandinavia, coming in at 118.7 meters tall. Carl Linnaeus’s final resting place is also within the cathedral, or ‘domkyrka’ as they say in Swedish.
Linneanum is situated just across from Uppsala Castle and features a well-manicured botanical garden. King Gustav III donated money to the University of Uppsala in 1787 for the building’s construction which functioned as an orangery at the time but is currently a Greenhouse.
The site is dedicated to the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus who got his higher education at the University. Walking along these grounds gives such a calming influence and there is so much to discover at this rather small site.
Dinner at 60 Kvadrat
This restaurant, as the name suggests, is 60 square meters and offers mostly Scandinavian-inspired dishes. The menu is small which allows the chef to focus on just a few dishes, perfecting each one. It is currently ranked the #1 restaurant in the city and is a stone’s throw away from the Fyris river.
Sunset at Uppsala Castle
How many castles have you seen in your life that are colored pink? There aren’t that many but one is Uppsala Castle. Located at the highest point in the city, the castle (or ‘slott’ in Swedish) was built in 1549. It has been the linchpin of Swedish policy that has propelled the country to the status of great European power; various declarations of war and royal abdications have been announced at this place. The castle was damaged by fire in 1702 and subsequently restored many years later. Special castle tours take you onto the roof of the castle, giving you a great bird-eye view over Uppsala (book in advance).
Drinks at Miss Voon
After a day of sightseeing in Uppsala, there is no better place for fancy cocktails than at Miss Voon, situated on the top floor of Elite Hotel Academia next to the train station. It is a posh, swanky place so dress up and take in the views of Uppsala as night descends upon the city.
Where to stay in Uppsala, Sweden?
Elite Hotel Academia
Suttungs gränd 6, 753 19 Uppsala
Elite Hotel Academia has a great rooftop bar from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city, but that’s just the beginning. Bright and modern rooms make sure you have a comfortable stay, and there’s an interesting Asian restaurant on the 11th floor of the building. The location is also great, close to the city center, plus the breakfast you get here is really tasty. All in all, you’ll love it here!
Radisson Blue Hotel Uppsala
Stationsgatan 4, 753 40 Uppsala
Another centrally located hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel Uppsala also offers plenty of excellent features to its guests. The breakfast they serve is absolutely amazing, with locally produced ingredients, and things like the sauna and the gym can be used from 6 AM to 11 PM. Everything looks amazing and the rooms are very comfortable, with a lot of natural light. Put on the complimentary slipper and relax!
Övre Slottsgatan 5, 753 10 Uppsala
Now, this is an interesting one. Akademihotellet dates back to 1930 and is very close to the main attractions, so it’s a great choice if you’re here to sightsee. The rooms are nice and functional, with some of them offering a great view of the cathedral. You can relax in a sauna or burn some energy in the hotel’s gym, and there’s a lovely park nearby, ideal for walks
Vandrarhem Uppsala Kungsangstorg
Kungsängstorg 6, 75320 Uppsala
If you’re backpacking through Uppsala or are just in need of affordable accommodation, Vandrarhem Uppsala Kungsangstorgis the place you want. It’s actually located in a 19th-century building, which is a unique bonus, but it also has a great kitchen and very helpful staff. It’s close to the city center, and on sunny days, you can enjoy the hostel’s furnished courtyard.
Day trips from Uppsala
If you’re staying in Uppsala for a while, you’ll be happy to know that you can make a lot of very interesting day trips from this lovely town. Here are some of the best choices you have!
The capital of Sweden and just a short train ride away from Uppsala. Situated across a 14-island archipelago, Stockholm is home to roughly ¼ of the Swedish population. From sights like the Royal Castle in Gamla Stan, viewpoints at Monteliusvägen and Skinnarviksberget, and museums like Fotografiska and the Vasamuseet, there is plenty to do during your one day in Stockholm that may leave you wanting to stay for more than just a day.
This Swedish castle built in the Baroque style is located on Lake Mälaren, situated between Stockholm and Uppsala. It was built in the mid-1600s and is currently a state-owned museum with a collection of paintings and old relics of the past. You can get there by boat departing from the Uppsala city center in the summertime.
You can tour this exquisite castle and enjoy its gardens and architecture while being guided by an actual member of the von Ehrenheim family which lives here and manages the property. How cool is that? Additionally, there are some great hiking places nearby, so this can actually be quite an active day out.
Sigtuna is known as Sweden’s first town and as such is quite an attraction for tourists. It’s just half an hour away from Uppsala, but it’s a great destination for a day trip because there is so much to see. Runestones, old churches, and fascinating ruins provide ample sightseeing opportunities, and the town itself is incredibly charming. An ideal place to just take it easy, buy some souvenirs and just explore at your own pace.
Extra tips for visiting Uppsala:
– The holiday of Valborg occurs on April 30th every year in Sweden. Uppsala, with its large student population, has one of the biggest celebrations in the country. Every year, groups of students (most studying engineering) are chosen to construct a rudimentary raft they must commandeer to row down the Fyris river with. Needless to say, this serves as excellent entertainment for those attending as most of the rafts seem to spontaneously disassemble in the course of minutes, much to everyone’s delight.
– Bandy is one of those sports that is native to Sweden. Think of it as a sport where the players wear gear similar to ice hockey, on a rink the size of a football field, trying to hit a small orange-colored ball, into nets the size of a car. Every year at Studenternas, the largest rink complex in Uppsala, the Bandy finals are played between the top two teams in Sweden. The event is outdoors and is quite the spectacle and quintessentially Swedish.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Chris is from Washington DC but currently calls Sweden his home. Since finishing his degrees in chemistry, he is often found in his natural laboratory habitat. From time to time, he tries to step away, switching fluorescent lights with golden hour in any country that will have him. A self-taught photographer and drone flyer, he enjoys sharing his travel experiences on his blog, hoping to help any others who are looking to find meaningful travel experiences.