Date of visit: February 2015
Post written by Laura
Stockholm is Sweden’s capital city and I was fortunate to spend 3 nights there with my travel-buddy daughter Zoe. Stockholm is a short two hour flight from London so as UK residents it is for us an ideal city break.
Spread across 17 islands Stockholm is located on a spectacular archipelago making it one of Europe’s most scenic capital cities. Part of the sea was frozen and there was snow on the ground in February, however with its abundance of summer open air bars and restaurants a summer visit would most likely give you a totally different experience. Indeed, the wider area of Sweden covers around 30,000 islands and islets.
Gamla Stan (AKA the Old Town) consists of mediaeval buildings, narrow cobbled streets, restaurants, cafes, bars and is one of the best places to spend time while in Stockholm. We later enjoyed a delicious traditional Italian meal in one of the many rustic restaurants.
Having walked through Gamla Stan our next stop was for a birds eye view of the city in the Gondolen sky bar. The views of Stockholm were amazing particularly with the backdrop of a fabulous sunset and as today happened to coincide with my birthday we celebrated with cocktails.
Stockholm Royal Palace is also located in Gamla Stan and is the official residence of the Swedish monarch. According to our Eyewitness Travel Guide, the Royal Palace “contains 1,430 stunning rooms with priceless jewels and artifacts”.
Like most cities Stockholm has a prepaid card system for the use of public transport. You can buy a one, two, three or 7 day card which allows free travel using buses, trams, metro trains and some of the local ferries. Stockholm is also fairly compact so easy to explore on foot too.
Stockholm City Hall is one of the most popular tourist attractions and contains the offices of politicians and officials. Guided tours are sometimes available which includes a visit to the top of a 106 meter tall tower (although unfortunately this was closed when we visited).
The plaza in front of the City Hall offers great views of Stockholm’s skylines.
Using our 24 hour transport card we got the metro to Golben about six stops away from Centralen metro station. At Golben we saw the Ericsson Globe, the largest spherical building in the world where concerts and events are held.
We enquired about the skylift which takes you outside and to the top of the sphere but it was cloudy so we decided against it. We walked back through the shopping centre and got the metro back to Centralen.
Again, using our metro pass we took a ferry past Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s amusement park.
Above is somewhere near ‘SoFo‘ which according to Conde Nast is one of Stockholm’s up-and-coming areas. We wandered around for a while and had a drink in one of the bars before heading back to Gamla Stan for dinner. I’m not sure why but SoFo was quieter than I expected… for some reason, perhaps because I had also read that SoFo was the ‘happening place’, I was expecting Leicester Square…
There are many museums in Stockholm the most popular being the Vasa Museum which contains the 17th Century Vasa ship which sank in Stockholm in 1628 and lay on the sea bed for 333 years before being salvaged.
Another popular museum is the Abba museum which will probably be interesting for Abba fans.
We decided to visit the Historiska Museet as we were attracted by its textile exhibition. The textile exhibition, to be honest, was a little disappointing however the rest of the museum was interesting with a good deal of historical information on Sweden and the vikings.
Stockholm is also well known for its metro art (above and below) with many of its metro stations decorated in bright colours. VisitStockholm.com offers suggestions of some of those most worthy of visiting.
Flights, transfers and accommodation
We travelled from Stansted to Stockholm Skavsta airport with Ryanair. From this small airport we got the airport bus (Flygbussana) which was the equivalent of around £21.50 return and the journey through spectacular snowy scenery and Christmas trees took around 80 mins.
We stayed at the Best Western Hotel Bentleys for 3 nights, which we booked with Expedia. This was an ideal hotel, located on Drottninggatan, right in the centre on one of Stockholm’s main pedestrian streets. The rooms were small, however they surrounded a lovely atrium (below) where we had a fabulous breakfast each morning.
With its attractive historic old town and abundance of things to do we enjoyed our winter visit to Stockholm. As mentioned above I would love to visit again in the summer, starting with Stockholm and exploring more of what I imagine to be a beautiful country. In fact, I have grand ideas for a mega Scandinavian summer road trip through Norway, Sweden and Finland… one day…