Arlanda is the busiest airport in Sweden, and the main international gateway to the country. It is one of two airports at Stockholm (the other is Bromma, close to the city centre), and is a busy hub for airlines such as SAS, Norwegian, Skyways, Next Jet and Golden Air.
In addition to these, all major European carriers fly here a number of times per day, plus airlines from the USA, Russia and Asia. Highlights include a daily Thai 747, Qatar A330, Continental/United 757, Delta 757, Rossiya and Aeroflot flights from Russia, and lots of traffic to Eastern Europe and neighbouring Finland, Estonia and Latvia.
Arlanda has three runways – 01L/19R, 01R/19L, 08/26.
I recently spent a couple of days at Arlanda, so got a good sense of the best spots at the airport for watching aircraft. Here are some suggestions:
Runway in use varies a lot depending on the wind, and seems to change at different times of day depending on traffic. Busiest for departures was 19R, whilst landings were mainly on 19L and 26 during my visit.
This purpose-built hut is on a rocky outcrop overlooking the airfield. It is fantastic when aircraft are landing on 19L as they fly past you very close. They’ll also taxi a few metres away from you a lot of the time. From this spot you can also see aircraft on the 08/26 runway, and most of the storage area. It is alongside the two preserved Caravelle aircraft.
A road leads past the end of runway 26. You can reach it by going past the Spotting Hut, and then turning left after the lake. Just before the end of the runway is a small track and parking area on the right. This place is great for photographing 26 arrivals, but you won’t see anything else.
Sky City is a modern, glass-fronted food court and shopping area between Terminals 4 and 5. It is open to non-passengers and has views across a number of stands, and across to runway 01R/19L. You will see about 90% of movements from here if conditions are right. There is a mezzanine seating area which is both comfortable and has great views!
The small domestic pier of Terminal 3 is open to anyone to access. You can use it to note aircraft parked on the domestic stands, and also on the cargo ramp and remote parking stands.
If you’re flying out of Terminal 5, you have a lot of options for viewing aircraft. The terminal has three piers, so you will have to do some walking to see all aircraft. Large windows front all gate areas. Going to the end of the piers is best if you want to see action on runways 01R/19L and 08/26.
As mentioned earlier, there are Caravelles to see at Arlanda. Two are parked next to the Spotting Hut (easy to photograph). One is parked outside the fire station alongside runway 01R/19L (with its nose missing). You can see it from the spotting hut, but can’t get close enough for photos. The final example is on the fire dump alongside runway 01L/19R. You can see it on the right side of the aircraft when taxying for 19R departures.
I stayed at both the Radisson Blu and the Jumbo Hostel (see post here) on my visit. Both had acceptable views of aircraft movements when runway use permitted. Both also gave free wireless internet access, so this made tying up movements easy with Flightradar24 on.
The best, but most expensive, hotel for views is the Radisson Sky City, situated inside the terminal building and looking out on Terminal 4 and part of 5, plus runway 01L/19R.
Another option is the Ibis, which apparently has some distant views.
- Stockholm Arlanda’s website lists departures and arrivals up to two days in advance, so you can plan what you want to see.
- Food and drink is very expensive in Sweden. I found the small newsagent/convenience stores in Sky City and Terminal 4 to be the best value
- Hire car company offices are located in the car parks (next to Radisson Blu hotel). Take the free bus 17 to get there. This is also a good way of getting around if you’re staying on sit.
- Speed limits in Sweden are much slower than elsewhere, and speeding is heavily policed. Don’t risk it.
- I was occasionally able to pick up free internet in the mezzanine seating area of Sky City.