On the east coast of Sweden, at the point where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea, lies Stockholm, built on fourteen islands.
Stockholm is one of the few cities where you are never far from a picturesque walk along the water’s edge, and there are plenty of trees, parks and green areas. It is probably for this reason, that Stockholm does not have the feeling of congestion that a lot of cities do, and Stockholm does not seem to have undergone the flight of the inner city population out to the suburbs – people still live within the city centre in attractive apartments.
Because Stockholm has cold winters, the best time to visit is in the summer, and if you are there for the longest day in late June, you will find that the Swedes really celebrate the summer solstice in style, staying up all night and having parties. Stockholm, being so far north, remains light all night in the midsummer, which is wonderful for going out in the evenings to socialise, or to enjoy “the nature”. Many people take to the skies, and in the summer evenings a profusion of colorful hot air balloons can be seen over the city, giving their passengers some magnificent aerial views over the whole of the city, and much of the archipelago.
If great vistas are what you are after then there is a wonderful view from the City Hall (Stadshuset) tower, which is open during the summer months. This is also the place where the highly sought after Nobel Prizes are presented.
Gamla Stan, the Old Town, is famous for its lovely historical buildings, narrow cobbled streets and interesting shops. And when you are tired of all that walking around a popular place to go for coffee and cake is the cafe known as GråMunken.
There is so much to see in Stockholm – not only are there magnificent old buildings, some exciting new ones, plus museums, cafes, shops and entertainment, but also you are never far from parks, woods and wonderful walks by the lake or the sea, where you can just enjoy “the nature”.
In addition to the Stadshuset, another place for great vistas is the Katarinahissen, which is a 38 metre high elevator at Slussen, the point where the lake and the sea meet. It has a viewing platform that gives you magnificent views over the city and the water.
If you like being outdoors and seeing animals, then an excellent place to visit is the park known as Skansen – here you can see creatures native to the region, such as elks, wolverines and grey owls. Here you can also see the some 150 old historical Swedish buildings that have been brought here from all across the country.
Located on the northwestern bank of the lovely Stockholm island of Djurgården, which has an abundance of parkland, can be found the Vaasa Museum, which provides a fascinating display of the old warship ‘Vaasa’ which sank in Stockholm harbour in 1628 and was raised in 1956. At 68m in length, 11.3m in width and 52m in height, this was probably the largest battleship of the time, but she was sunk by high winds just after setting out on her maiden voyage.
(literally “Queen Street”) is a pedestrianized main street which has a lot of major shops and department stores, such as Åhléns City. Just visiting some of these places, and seeing the beautiful candles, flowers, prints and wooden furniture on display, gives you a sense of Swedish aesthetics and feel for simple, but beautiful, interior design.
Close to Drottninggatan is Sergels Torg, a modern public square in the center of the city, not far from the Stockholms Central Station. Any demonstrations going on in this politically conscious city invariably start here, and nearby you can also find the vibrant Kulturhuset (House of Culture) which, as well as hosting exhibitions of photography, music, dance, art and design, also houses Stockholm City Theatre and a library.
Stockholm has an integrated and efficient transport system, with a commuter train, a subway, and bus services, all of which can be used on the same ticket. These are focussed upon the Central Station, and from here there are regular train services to other parts of the country.
With its beautiful location on islands, fine views, history and culture, Stockholm is a place not to be missed.