Where did I go: Stockholm, Sweden
When did I go: May 2014
A couple of years ago, I spent a long weekend in in Stockholm. It was beautifully sunny and I came away with some great memories. This photo diary looks at some of the places I visited during my time there.
The Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum is no doubt the number one tourist attraction in Stockholm. It houses the restored Vasa ship, which sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The ship was commissioned by King of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus in 1626 as part of the Swedish military expansion. Upon completion, she was one of the most powerful ships in the world. However, there were serious problems with the structure of the ship and as a result, it was unstable. On her maiden voyage, she sank in the harbor, after sailing just 1300m. The wreck was rediscovered in the 1950s and the salvage of the ship was completed in 1961. The Vasa Museum today tells you the story of the ship, how (and why) it sank, its rediscovery, salvage and restoration.
Gamla Stan (meaning “Old Town” in Swedish) is the oldest part of Stockholm. The area dates back to the 13th century and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets and old fashioned, and very beautiful architecture. It is also the most touristy area of Stockholm, full of souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. There are also a number of hotels, but accommodation is expensive in this part of town. Nevertheless, it is a must visit part of Stockholm and wandering around its narrow streets is a great way to spend a day.
Interesting Fact: Gamla Stan ranks at number 99 on Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist – best 500 places on the planet.
The new town of Stockholm is not a single area as such, but a sprawling urban mass. Built around the inner, old town as the city developed and became larger, it is full of markets, shopping districts, parks, hotels, restaurants, office and residential buildings. The area is prime real estate and property prices are very high here.
The Royal Palace of Stockholm is the official residence of the King and Queen of Sweden. It is located in Gamla Stan and dates back to the 13th century. It has been developed and remodeled over the centuries, and today it is a modern, working royal palace. It is open year round to visitors (except for state occasions).
Inside, you can see the royal apartments, the royal chapel, the treasury with the crown regalia, the Tre Kronor Museum that tells the story of the medieval history of the palace and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities.
Photographs inside the castle are not allowed, so I only have photos from outside to share. I was also lucky enough to see the changing of the guard, which takes place daily at 1215.
Stockholm Ice Bar
The Stockholm Ice Bar is the one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited, literally! It is the World’s first permanent bar made of ice. Located in the centre of town, it is part of the Nordic C Hotel, and is maintained at 7 degrees Celsius all year.
The entry ticket includes a fur-lined poncho, gloves and one free drink, served in a glass made of ice.
The bar counter is made of ice, and so are seats, tables and walls. The seats are covered in reindeer skin, so it isn’t too cold when you sit down.
Tip: Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes if you are visiting the ice bar during spring or summer. Although the provide a poncho and gloves, they don’t provide you with shoes or socks. And if you wear slippers or sandals (like I did) you will have to leave pretty soon as your feet start to freeze up!
Stockholm City Hall
The Stockholm City Hall is home of the municipal council. It is a very iconic building and one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. It is also the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet held on 10th of December each year. To visit the inside of the city hall you need to book a guided tour. I unfortunately didn’t have time for the guided tour so it is on my list of things to do next time I visit Stockholm.
Fjäderholmarna and Smörgåsbord Dinner
Fjäderholmarna is the closest archipelago island to the city of Stockholm. It is a 30 minute boat ride from the Stockholm waterfront and home to a number of restaurants, bars, craft shops and a museum. In the summer, you can also take a dip in the water and sun bathe.
At one of the restaurants, we tried a traditional Swedish seafood Smörgåsbord for dinner. A Smörgåsbord is a hot and cold buffet. In this case, it comprised of almost entirely, fish.
The Globe, (or in Swedish, Globen) is an indoor arena located in Stockholm Globe City, in the Johanneshov district of Stockholm. It is the largest hemispherical building on Earth, with a diameter of 110 metres. Shaped like a large white ball, it has a seating capacity of 16,000 spectators.
You can ride to the top of the Globe in a pod (very similar to the London Eye pods). Once at the top, you get some great panoramic views.
Personally, I was not over-enamoured by this attraction. For one thing, it is a long way out of Stockholm town centre, so it takes a while to get there. Secondly, although the views at the top are good, unless you know the city very well, it is quite difficult to make out the different buildings and what you are seeing.
One of my favourite things about the Stockholm is the waterfront. For starters, it is everywhere. Stockholm is built on a series of interconnecting islands, so you don’t have to look far if you like water. The water front is full of walking trails, bike trails and parks. Or if you prefer to sit still, there’s plenty of cafes and bars to sit by and enjoy the many different ships, boats and ferries passing by.
Stockholm is a beautiful modern city with a rich history. I would definitely be coming back. When I do come back, this is my list of things to do:
- Spend a day in Djurgarden, one of the most beautiful parks in Stockholm
- Visit the Abba Museum
- Explore the archipelago around Stockholm
- Take a guided tour of the city hall