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Sweden's Drottningholm Palace and its extensive gardens and park are among the best-preserved royal residences in Europe.
© Mikael Damkier / Shutterstock

Royal Domain of Drottningholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden
An island palace and gardens inspired by Versailles, this royal residence has changed according to the tastes of monarchs over the centuries. The renovations and shifting aesthetics have guided the magnificent grounds since King Johan III built the first castle here in the 16th century. The transformation showcases European architecture at its zenith.

The Royal Domain of Drottningholm stands on an island in Lake Mälar, in the Ekerö suburb of Stockholm. This magnificent homage to Swedish history and prosperity is a European treasure built by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder by commission from Queen Hedvig Eleonora. With its palace, beautifully preserved theatre (built in 1766), Chinese pavilion, and gardens, it is one of the finest examples of an 18th-century Northern European royal residence inspired by the Palace of Versailles.

There has been a park here since the palace’s inception, but the gardens themselves developed over time to match European styles and the tastes of different monarchs. There were three main stages of development. The oldest part of the garden was designed with the Baroque style, inspired by the French ideals of symmetry and order. In the middle of the 18th century, a more natural park was built around a Chinese pavilion and avenues of chestnut trees. And later in the 18th century, the English garden approach was taken, with expansive lawns and canals.

Viewing paths extend throughout the English garden and the Baroque garden, providing visitors with beautiful viewpoints and landscape vistas. – © Jonas Borg
Viewing paths extend throughout the English garden and the Baroque garden, providing visitors with beautiful viewpoints and landscape vistas. – © Jonas Borg

The Swedish Royal Family still resides in Drottningholm, but you are free to enter some of the most important parts of the building, including the reception halls. From the palace, the parterre stretches out, lined by rows of trees. Fountains in the middle lead to a construction of cascades and four carefully sculpted hedge groves. The Chinese Pavilion is framed by Swedish trees, creating a sense of wild romanticism. Paths wind their way through the areas with more natural landscapes. The palace and park may be near the centre of Stockholm, but the overwhelming sense here is of serenity and seclusion.

A Palace Preserved for Everyone

The Drottningholm Palace is the best-preserved royal castle built in the 1600s in Sweden. Its condition and excellent level of craftsmanship make it representative of all European architecture for the period. The combination of the exotic Chinese Pavilion, the Palace Theatre, and the magnificent gardens make a visit to Drottningholm a unique experience.

The Palace Theatre is particularly unique and worthy of a visit by theatre lovers. It is one of the few 18th century theatres in Europe that is still used as a theatre with its original stage machinery. It has a strong international reputation as a summer opera festival theatre, focused on works by Haydn, Handel, Gluck and Mozart, and an emphasis on authentic performance. It even features guest performances by the Royal Swedish Opera.

For today's visitors, it is important to be aware that the palace is still the King and Queen's permanent residence. The rooms in the southern wing are reserved for this purpose. The rest of the palace and grounds are open to the public all year round.


How to Get There

Drottningholm is 15 kilometres from Stockholm and easily accessible by car (ample parking available), taxi, and a combination of subway and bus.

Taking the Green subway line from Stockholm Central and, connecting with bus 176/177 at Brommaplan, takes you less than 30 minutes. During the summer, the best way to reach Drottningholm is by boat from the harbour at Stockholm City Hall. The Strömma boat leaves every hour and the trip takes less than an hour.

When to Visit

There is no bad season to visit Drottningholm. The gardens are always open and free of charge, every day of the year. From May to September, the floral experience and fountains are worth the visit alone. The Drottningholm Palace is open daily from May to September, Tuesday-Sunday in April and October, and weekends during the rest of the year.

The Chinese Pavilion and the Theatre are open from May to September. Drottningholm Palace may close fully or partly in conjunction with official receptions.

How to Visit

We recommend spending a full day in the Royal Domain of Drottningholm. Guided tours are available in multiple languages and a great way to learn more about the history and stories of this incredible site. On arrival, you can purchase the World Heritage ticket, which is the most comprehensive pass to help you enjoy your time in Drottningholm.

Don’t miss visiting the Drottningholm Palace, the Chinese Pavilion, Canton Street, the Theatre, and the Chapel. Relax and unwind as the royals do with a stroll through the three historical gardens. If you are pressed for time, we recommend taking a walk through the gardens and taking a guided Palace tour. There are two restaurants, cafes, and the gift shops offer a variety of locally sourced products.

Visit

Royal Domain of Drottningholm, Sweden

Hours

Drottningholm Palace is open year round, daily during the summer months and weekends during the rest of the year. Visit www.royalpalaces.se (https://www.kungligaslotten.se/english/royal-palaces-and-sites/drottningholm-palace.html) for opening hours and opening dates.

NOTE: Drottningholm Palace may close fully or partly in conjunction with official receptions of His Majesty the King.

Pricing

Tickets can be purchased at the palace entrance and at the visitor centre during the palaces opening hours, or online at www.royalpalaces.se (https://www.kungligaslotten.se/english/royal-palaces-and-sites/drottningholm-palace.html)