Scandinavia has quote the reputation for the beauty of its countries, and rightly so. Sweden, one of the triad that comprises Scandinavia, is a gorgeous country. Its capital, Stockholm, has been in the spotlight recently, receiving several accolades including being recognized as one of the most connected cities in the world, and one of the five fastest growing European cities. Not hard to see why! It isn’t just the natural beauty of perfectly white clouds in a pristine blue sky and spotless blue oceans that strike the eye, but also the architecture and design that is so modern, clean and stylish.
Stockholm offers the avid traveler every opportunity to get acquainted with the city. A boat tour is a good option to hear the city’s history while enjoying the waters of Lake Malaren and the Baltic Sea. The National Museum affords a closer look at the country as does the Vasa Museum, which houses the glorious Vasa battleship, the pride of the Swedish imperial fleet. It sank on its maiden voyage so 95 percent of the ship was salvaged and is now at this location for the public to view. Opera Kallaren is great for a night out or even the National Theater. The King’s Palace is located on Gamla Stan, the old town, and you can view several personal belongings of the royal family as well as the changing of the guard daily. The palace is large, proof of the imperial living of the kings and queens of yore, so give yourself ample time to soak in the space.
Gamla Stan itself is like a living museum. You can enjoy local food, shopping and views of the river as you walk along. The Skansen open air museum on the island of Djurgarden is a huge draw for families. The oldest open air museum in the world, it is a large park with attractions from replicas of homes to a zoo to live performances. White monkeys, lemurs, meerkats, lynx, brown bears, moose, reindeer, wolverine, wolves, fox – the children will have a gala time. Junibacken is another venue children will love – it is a museum devoted to Swedish children’s literature and especially Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking.
Looking to add some Scandinavian style to your wardrobe? Ostermalm is where you should head. This is where the chic trendy labels and posh shops are located. Art, design, fashion rub shoulders here. Top European brands have outlets in this area so enjoy some retail therapy while you visit.
Hotel options are plenty but the Hotel Anno 1647 has that European touch to it which you might want to experience, especially if you are used to chain hotels. A stone pathway leads to the entrance and a swirling staircase gets you to your room. The location is fantastic – the hotel sits in busy Slussen on Sodermalm, right next to many restaurants and the Stockholm Museum as well as Erik’s Gondolen – a Stockholm landmark and award winning restaurant with romantic views of the harbour. Also Gamla Stan, the old town, is just minutes away.
What to eat? Swedes enjoy what they call Fika – coffee and pastry, and no matter where you turn you will find a vendor selling just that. Many places sell the combo for just 5 Euros, a worthy snack when you are out and about. Small and light sandwiches are also quite common – you will see the locals walking around eating those. For a more authentic dinner experience, Aifur Krog and Bar is highly recommended. Located in a little alleyway type setting in Gamla Stan, it might not look very promising from the outside but dare enter in and you will be transported to a different day. The interiors are decorated to resemble an old Viking castle with throws and furs everywhere. Dining is at a communal table with wide chairs and benches. Local delicacies such as mead (sweet wine) and lingonberries are served here. The Baltic salmon and the meat stew are fantastic. For the palate-adventurous, the meat tray featuring reindeer, deer, moose and other favored local meats might suffice.
The practicalities – Travel to Stockholm is easy, they are a well-connected country with multiple flights form main airports around the world. In Stockholm itself, moving around isn’t too difficult. Public transportation abounds, walking and biking are encouraged, and cars can be resorted to but where’s the charm there! Waterways are well used, if that’s to your liking. Everyone speaks English so don’t hesitate asking for directions. Credit cards and USD accepted everywhere. The hop-on hop-off buses are convenient for getting yourself around the main attraction areas. The Stockholm card gives you a discounted rate to all attractions and easy access so consider that for your next visit to Stockholm.