No matter the time of year, I always have a wonderful time in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. This forward-looking city is firmly rooted in tradition.
Stockholm is the largest city in Sweden, comprised of 14 islands. It is strategically located where the country’s third largest lake, Lake Malaren, flows into the Baltic Sea. The airy capital was settled about 8000 years ago but the site was abandoned as the weather became colder. Stockholm was resettled during the Viking period of the Middle Ages. Jarl Birger Magnusson, who consolidated Sweden and Finland, fortified the city and named it in 1187. Stockholm is home to the Swedish Royal Family as well as the birthplace of Alfred Nobel, father of the Nobel Prize. Swedes are known for their style and practicality. So, it is little wonder that Sweden is where Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943. I am certain that every reader has at least one item from IKEA in her home!
The Royal Palace is an impressive sight
Stockholm is a compact city, so you can cover a lot of ground on foot when the weather is good. Here are some “must-see” sites:
- The Royal Palace in Gamla Stan (Old Town) – this is a good place to start your explorations of Stockholm. It has four museums and over 600 rooms. It is also the seat of government, so check opening times.
- Stockholm Concert Hall – open all year round with plenty of different events scheduled each week. This is also the location of the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in December.
- The ABBA Museum – located on the fun entertainment island of Djurgarden, stop here to remember your favourite songs!
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Time at the ABBA Museum!
- The Vasa Museum – also located on Djurgarden, the museum houses a tall sailing ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. It has been salvaged and it is a fantastic relic of the golden era of sailing ships!
Gamla Stan: Insta Perfect!
- Kungstradgarden – a beautiful and historical park located in Central Stockholm. This is the perfect place for a fika; the local term for having a coffee and a pastry with friends. There are ice-skating rinks in the winter and concerts in the summer.
- Centralbadet – this relaxing spa and Swedish bath house, designed by the famous architect Wilhelm Klemming, has everything you might want for a lazy day; from yoga to an in-house bar, and includes a complimentary meal. This is a marvellous opportunity to try the 1,000 year old Nordic sauna tradition!
- pro-tip: When you are exploring Gamla Stan (the Old Town), check out Marten Trotzigs Grand, an ancient and super-narrow cobble stone street. This is a fabulous spot for an Instagram photo!
Due to its island geography, Airports serving Stockholm aren’t very close to the city. There is a small domestic airport just eight kilometres (5 miles) from town but you’re unlikely to use it. Stockholm Arlanda is the largest airport in Sweden but it is 40 kilometres (25 miles) from downtown.
The Stockholm Metro is beautifully decorated
Pro-tip: When taking the public transportation, plan extra time to enjoy the murals throughout the subway stations. The artwork is beautiful and offers a nice break from the bustle.
Hotels in Stockholm are numerous and, unlike most Scandinavian cities, fit about any budget and comfort level. I like the First Hotel Reisen. Conveniently located in central Stockholm and neighbouring the Royal Palace, this luxurious hotel offers brilliant views of Lake Malaren and Old Town. Hotel Sven Vintappare is also cool! Tucked into a 17th Century building, its lavish Gustavian-style interior is warm and welcoming. Finally for a trendy and relaxed experience, I enjoy the Hobo Hotel. This boutique property is bright and comfortable with a fun atmosphere.
Swedish Meatballs are a yummy treat
When you’re ready for a cocktail, head over to Pharmarium, housed in the city’s first pharmacy. This concept bar offers a sociable atmosphere on weekdays and DJ-produced music on the weekends. Stop by Himlen for excellent views over the city! Located on the 26th floor, the panoramic views are beautiful, especially at sunset. Morfar Ginko, with its industrial-chic décor, is fun for a few drinks and is surrounded by shops and art galleries.
Stockholm offers the best in cool Nordic fashions. Embellish your wardrobe with practical knits that will remind you of adventures in the Swedish capital! Of course, it’s Absolut-ly mandatory to bring home Swedish Vodka, known as brannvin (literally “burn-wine”).
Enjoy exciting Stockholm any time of the year!