Stockholm is the capital of Sweden in Northern Europe. The city is located on Lake Mälaren, which is Sweden’s third largest lake that leads into the Baltic Sea. Stockholm is an archipelago that is made up of 14 islands, and findings date people living in the area as far back as the ice age in around 8,000 BCE. The first settlement of the old town was built during the Viking era around 1,000AD, creating the beginning of the trade routes through Scandinavia and the Baltic and North Sea.
One thing you must be careful of when flying to Stockholm is picking your airport, as some are far from the city centre:
· Bromma Stockholm airport – 9km (15 minutes’ drive)
· Stockholm Arlanda Airport – 41km (20 minute train)
· Stockholm Skavsta Airport – 106km (Just over an hour drive)
· Stockholm Västerås – 103km (Just over an hour drive)
I arrived at Stockholm Västerås and there was only one bus into Stockholm every hour, so make sure you check!
There are several ways of getting around Stockholm. The underground is the most efficient way, with a one-way ticket costing 44 SEK (£3.60 – 2020). If you are in the city for a weekend you can also get a 24 or 72 hour passes. You can also catch buses or boats through the archipelago.
Gamla Stan is one of the oldest and most preserved old towns in all of Europe, dating back to the founding of the city in 1252. Located on the island of Södermalm, this area is filled with old merchant houses and Stortorget square, which was the site of the Stockholm bloodbath were the Danish king killed Swedish noblemen in 1520.
Storkyrkan, translated into “The Great Church” (Stockholm Cathedral), is located on the island. This cathedral dates back to 1279 and was built in a brick Gothic style. A lot of the cathedral’s interior dates from the 1400s. The most famous item is St George and the Dragon carved in oak. Admission costs 40 SEK (£3.20).
Right by Storkyrkan is the Royal Palace. This is the official residence of the royal family (King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia), however they actually live at Drottningholm Palace which is located out on Lovön island, west of Stockholm. Costing 160 SEK (£13.15), the palace is in the Baroque style and is one of the largest palaces in the world with 600 rooms.
Your ticket gives you access to several museums, including an exhibition of Royal Armour and some of the royal apartments.
The island has many other churches and museums scattered, with many impressive buildings. You can spend several hours walking around on the island. From Riddarholmen and the Riddarholmen Church, to the Nobel Museum and House of Nobility there is something to see for everyone.
One thing that some people love visiting in Stockholm is the Abba Museum. Back in 1974 ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden (it’s first ever win) with their hit song “Waterloo”. They became so famous worldwide that Stockholm decided to open a museum to their lives and careers. Costing 250 SEK (£20.55) this is a great experience, if a little on the pricy side.
Another important museum to visit in Stockholm is the Vasa Museum. Located on the island of Djurgården, the Vasa museum is a maritime museum displaying the 17th century Vasa ship that capsized and sank in Stockholm in 1628 and has been salvaged and preserved.
Tickets will cost you 150 SEK (£12.30) and you get to see the salvaged ship from different levels, and each level goes into the history of the ship, the people that worked on it and why it was built. The majority of the ship is in good condition, however there are sections that have been restored, which is expected for a wooden ship that sat at the bottom of the sea for 333 years.
Being an archipelago, you will be walking across several bridges and along the waterfront most of the time in Stockholm. This is an amazing sight to see, with many small boats anchored around a majority of the islands.
Skansen is an open-air museum and is recorded as one of the oldest. Located on the island of Djurgården, it opened in 1891 and outlines the different walks of life in Sweden before the rise of the Industrial era. The museum showcases traditional customs from around the country, as well as having an area dedicated to Scandinavian animals. A ticket costs 140 SEK (£11.50).
A piece of architecture you can’t miss while in Stockholm (and it’s free – yay) is City Hall. It has a spire that sits 106 meters high, was built in the Nordic National Romantic style and opened in 1923. It is right by the river so you can get a great scenic picture of it.
Stockholm has many parks across the city for you to visit. The most central, and great place to relax and people watch, is Kungsträdgården. It has cafes within it, hosts music events in summer and in winter an ice rink is put up. Many sculptures can be found in Kungsträdgården and it certainly is a great place to stroll through.
I did mention Drottningholm Palace earlier on, and you can go out and visit for a half-day trip on your visit to Stockholm. Only available during the May to September it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, built in the 16th century, and it has some stunning gardens and architecture. Unfortunately, I did not visit Stockholm while it was open, so I need to go back to explore the palace. Tickets cost 290 SEK (£23.80) and give you access to the Palace, the Chinese pavilion and the theatre.
I will finish up by talking about Swedish food. Now most of us think, MEATBALLS because we all have had meatballs at Ikea, However there are quite a few other things you should try. As you may have noticed things are pricy in Stockholm, and with food it is no different – but certainly worth it.
I tried Ruggmunk, which is a potato pancake fried in butter and served with fried pork. It is perfect to have in winter to warm you up. Being on the Baltic sea and an archipelago fish is always on the menu, along with Knäckebröd, which is a really crispy bread. Everyone knows of a Smörgåsbord, which you can easily find in restaurants across the city. There are plenty more dishes but one final dish I had that was delicious was Elk. Yep Elk.
Stockholm is also a city with plenty more to see. There are so many other museums you can visit on your stay, but it’s the beauty of the city scattered all around the water that really caught my attention and made me fall in love with this city. I certainly want to go back, but next time during the warmer summer months.