Stockholm the “Venice of the North” is a city on water surrounded by hundreds of smaller islands. It would be hard to find any other capital city that has such easy access to clean water and beautiful countryside. While the climate may be as capricious as that in the UK, once a high pressure system arrives over the Scandinavian landmass, it tends to stay giving summer temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius.
1) Gamla stan
Stockholm was founded as the Gamla stan (which means ‘old town’) in 1252 and is one of the most famous attractions in Stockholm. Stortorget in Gamla stan is the oldest square in Stockholm. In the center of the old town is the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet) where the changing of the guard takes place every day at 12:15. The Royal Palace is one of the largest palaces in the world, with over 600 rooms.
2) Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum or Vasamuset houses the oldest and world famous warship is the Vasa. Visitors can easily spend the whole day in the Vasa museum. The Vasa is a famous 69 metre war ship which sank in 1628 before it went on its maiden voyage. More than 95% of the ship is original and has been fully restored in the museum.
3) City Hall
The Stockholm City Hall which is located on Kungsholmen is where the Noble Prize giving ceremony takes place. Opened in 1923, there guided tours in English and Swedish all year round (and in other languages in the summer). Visitors can climb the City Hall to get amazing views of Stockholm and the outlying islands, they are not allowed to walk around without being on a guided tour, which costs just under 100 SEK, or about $15.
4) Gröna Lund
Sweden’s oldest amusement park, built in 1883, is located on Djurgarden island and has over 30 attractions. It is also a popular venue for concerts in the summer. The park has 7 roller coasters and the world’s highest Free Fall.
The oldest open air museum in the world and the Stockholm zoo is located in Skansen. In the winter, there is a fantastic Christmas market with a traditional Swedish julbord (Christmas buffet). Skansen is great for a family day out, there is a children’s zoo and also a museum where visitors can learn about traditional Swedish crafts and traditions.
A park on the island next to Strandvagen, is home to Skansen and Gröna Lund. It is a popular tourist destination, attracting 10 million people a year. It is a relaxing and peaceful park, now part of the National city park and is a great place to come for family/friend picnics. It is right in the heart of Stockholm, but feels as if you are deep in the countryside as there is very little development on the island.
Known as Feather island (in English), this is one of the closest archipelagos to Stockholm, just 30 minutes by boat. There is a lively artistic center with potteries, blacksmiths and glass makers on the car free island. Children can also take part in the workshops, making their own pots. There are three stops in Stockholm to the island – Slussen, Nybroviken and Stromkajen and the boat departs hourly from April to mid September.
August is the month for cultural festivals in Stockholm. There are over 500 events from music to comedy. The cultural festival took place the 16th and 21st of August last year and this year was between the 14th and the 18th. I just caught the tail end of it when I visited earlier this month.
Ostermalm is the most exclusive area of Stockholm, with Strandvägen being the most expensive street in the city. Before the redevelopment of the area in the 1800s, it was a slum where the poor lived. There are many shops, bars and restaurants to visit in Ostermalm, with the Saluhall a wonderful indoor market open every day except Sunday. Here you can buy fresh fruit, cheese, chocolates, meat and fish and have breakfast/lunch in one of the many cafes.
This is now a trendy area which was originally where the working class lived. It is filled with small boutiques, cafes and restaurants. It has become so popular in recent years, that there are now 100,000 people live on the island making it one of the most densely populated areas of Scandanavia and it is now very difficult to find a place to live on the island.
Stockholm is a beautiful city on the water, which has many attractions for tourists, in summer and in winter. The best time to visit is around midsummer when there are several festivals and the weather is generally good, or before Christmas, when there are unique Christmas markets to visit and winter traditions to enjoy.