Visit Drottningholm Palace

There aren’t many royal palaces in the world you can visit where the king and queen live. But Drottningholm Palace in Sweden is one of them!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


“If you were to go and knock on that door,” one of the officials tells me, “the King might answer. That’s his study.”

I assume he is joking about the King answering, but not about where the door leads. That’s how close I am.

I wonder, if you were the king or queen of a country, would you let random visitors into your house?

Visit Drottningholm Palace

Clearly some don’t. You can’t normally go into Buckingham Palace in London, or Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, for instance.

Although they are extremely important landmarks, they are also the official residences and offices of the monarchs, and so it’s not surprising there’s a level of security that prevents tourists from popping in.

But it’s a bit different here in Sweden where the Royal Family seems happy to throw their doors open to anybody… including me.

If you want to save money on sightseeing in Stockholm, I recommend using the Go City Stockholm Pass, which includes entry to Drottningholm Palace.

In the centre of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, is the Royal Palace. This is the official residence of the King of Sweden and is open to the public.

Don’t be too surprised, though, because it’s not actually where the King Carl Gustav lives. The Royal Palace is just used these days for official functions.

In this story, I want to instead focus on Drottningholm Palace, which, in some ways, is more interesting.

Because this is where the King and his Queen actually live – and you get much more access than you would expect, even being able to walk up to the monarch’s study door!

History of Drottningholm Palace

I see Drottningholm Palace as I approach it by bus from the centre of Stockholm. It’s about 12 kilometres from the centre of the city, away from a lot of urban development, and almost feels as though it is in the countryside.

The main building is set on the edge of a lake that gives it even more of a sense of relaxing isolation. I can see why the royals prefer this as their actual residence.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

The first version of the palace was built here in 1580 but burnt down 80 years later. Construction of a new building began in 1662 and that’s the one we see today, albeit with many modifications over the centuries.

I walk in the front doors and up the grand marble with the statues of figures wrapped in robes looking down at me. I go into the first room – opulent but tasteless – and continue to the next.

In each of the rooms, history is on the walls, on the ceilings, in the artwork and the objects on display.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

The various Swedish leaders who have used this palace have each left their mark in some way. Hedvig Eleonora, Lovisa Ulrika and Gustav III in particular all contributed to the interior decoration of the reception rooms.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

This leads to a fair bit of variety throughout the different areas of Drottningholm Palace.

The Palace Library, for instance, glows in gold with chandeliers and shelves of old books. The Carl X Gustav Gallery, on the other hand, is a darker room with wall paintings depicting the King’s military career.

The Hall of State is used for official functions and has painted portraits of other European monarchs.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

Drottningholm Palace Gardens

From the western rooms of the palace, I can look out the windows and see the sprawling gardens stretching out into the distance.

These gardens are one of the main reasons that Drottningholm Palace has been added to the World Heritage List, with UNESCO saying “it is the finest example of an 18th-century northern European royal residence inspired by the Palace of Versailles”.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

I agree that the gardens are a masterpiece and you can’t visit the palace without also giving yourself a couple of hours to wander through and explore all the different areas it offers.

To understand the gardens, it’s helpful to break them up into three sections: the Baroque Garden, The Chinese Pavilion, and The English Garden.

The Baroque Garden is the closest to the palace and is a long avenue with box-hedges, a water feature, a central fountain, and ‘bosquets’ (which are French-styled plantations of trees).

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

To the south is the garden around the Chinese Pavilion. It is a more natural kind of park and shows the evolution of style from the formal Baroque layout to something with more space and fluidity.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

The Chinese Pavilion at the centre of it is an impressive building that was completed in 1769. It is full of luxury items brought to Sweden from China and is decorated using different Chinese styles.

At the time of construction and decoration, China was seen as an exotic and fascinating land and it was very trendy to have rooms decorated like this.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

In the north of the palace grounds is the most modern of the three areas, the English garden. It was commissioned in 1780 by King Gustav II who was a fan of the natural landscape gardens of contemporary England.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

It has two ponds with canals, islands, and bridges. Footpaths wind throughout the park and there’s an emphasis on the vistas that this design creates.

Visiting Drottningholm Palace

Drottningholm Palace is about 12 kilometres from central Stockholm so the first thing you need to think about is transport.

The easiest way to visit Drottningholm Palace is to drive, and there’s reasonably priced parking.

The cheapest option is to get the bus, or there are some boat cruises that will take you there by water.

If you’re feeling active and want to do something a bit special, you could even consider this kayaking trip to the palace!

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

When you get to Drottningholm Palace, there is an audioguide you can use for free on your phone (so bring headphones, if you’re keen to do that).

But if you would like a guide and would also like all the transport logistics covered, have a look at this day tour of Stockholm that includes the palace.

There are also a few other options here that include Drottningholm Palace:

A few other useful bits of visitor information:

  • Luggage is not permitted inside the palace and there are no lockers
  • Baby carriages are not permitted in the palace
  • Photography is allowed in the palace
  • In terms of accessibility, there are no lifts or ramps. There are a number of steps but there is a stair climber that can be pre-booked.

As I’ve mentioned, the gardens are as much a highlight as the main palace, and spots like the Chinese Pavilion deserve some attention.

In total, it’s easy to spend at least three hours visiting Drottningholm Palace. Any shorter than that and you’ll probably feel like you’re rushing through the gardens.

As I walk through it all, I wonder whether the current royals ever come out here for a walk. I assume they do – but perhaps when all the visitors have gone home for the day.

It’s nice of them to let us in so we can enjoy it for ourselves. I hope they are still able to do that too.

Where is Drottningholm Palace?

Drottningholm Palace is about 12 kilometres west of the centre of Stockholm. The official address is 178 02 Drottningholm, Sweden.
You can see it on a map here.

How do you get to Drottningholm Palace?

If you have a car, it’s easy to drive and park at the palace. It costs SEK 15 (US$1.40) an hour.
By public transport, take the metro to Brommaplan. From there, there are several buses that go to Drottningholm Palace, including the 177 and 176. The bus ride is less than 10 minutes.
To plan your trip on public transport, you can use the SL Trip Planner.

What time is Drottningholm Palace open?

The palace is open at different times throughout the year.
October to April: Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 – 16:00
May to September: Daily from 10:00 – 17:00
1, 7, 8, 31 December: 10:00 – 16:00

What is the Drottningholm Palace entrance fee?

The gardens are free to visit but you need a ticket to go inside the palace.
The palace costs SEK 160 (US$16.30) for an adult, SEK 140 for students, and SEK 80 (US$8.10) for children ages 7-17. Free entry for children until 6 years old.
There’s an additional charge to go inside the Chinese Pavilion.

Are there tours to Drottningholm Palace?

There’s a free audio guide that you can use on your smartphone.
Alternatively, there are 45-minute guided tours in English of the Reception Halls at 11:30 (daily from June to August; Saturdays & Sundays from September to May).
If you’re short on time, there’s this full-day guided tour in Stockholm that also includes a guided tour of Drottningholm Palace.

For more information, see the official website of Drottningholm Palace.

When you’re in Stockholm. you might also like to visit the city’s other World Heritage Site at the Skogskyrkogarden (the Woodlands Cemetery).

It’s obviously a completely different kind of site but there’s also some similarity in the way that nature and gardens have been used to create an emotional landscape.


It’s easy to visit the Woodland Cemetery from the centre of Stockholm, where you’ll find great accommodation options.


For a great budget option, the City Backpackers Hostel has a really fun atmosphere.


Cheap hotels are hard to find but I think Motel L is usually a good deal.


For a cool design hotel, Downtown Camper is a fantastic option.


And if you’re looking for a luxury room, I would suggest the Grand Hôtel.


This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

2 thoughts on “Visit Drottningholm Palace”

  1. Such a helpful post ! I’m headed to Sweden in a few weeks, and this is the best post I’ve read so far. It gives great detailed tips. Lovely photographs you shared with us.


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