Stockholm was our first stop on our Fall European Tour. I really do have a special place in my heart for Stockholm. It’s one of my favorite European cities. Why? Because it’s easy, it’s clean, there are a lot of things to do, and it’s beautiful. Stockholm is the first European city I ever visited, and I’ve had quite a few “firsts” in Sweden, for example; skiing, hot air ballooning, navigating a subway, and my first ExPat experience. So for us it was a no brainer to add Stockholm to our Fall European Tour. I’ve had a few people ask what they should do in Stockholm. Without giving them an exhaustive list, I would give the following recommendations.
*Please note that all the photos were taking during numerous other visits to Stockholm and were not taken during our Fall European Tour. I wanted to share the city at it’s best, which is during the summer.
Stockholm’s Old Town is a must. This is one of my favorite areas. Its cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques selling traditional Swedish clothing, candy and ice cream shops, cafes, souvenir stands, and even a 7-11. However, modernity does not take away from the feeling that you’ve immersed yourself in medieval history. Make sure to take the 36 steep steps down the narrowest alleyway in Stockholm – Mårten Trotzigs Gränd. If you stretch out your arms, you can touch the buildings on both sides.
This is a great city to just get out and meander around. It is an active city, and it’s easy to navigate. Whether summer or winter, you will find the locals out and about. Self-Guided walking tours can be broken down by district. I suggest the following districts;
Norrmalm: This is central Stockholm with its many shops, market squares, and the city’s cultural hub where Modern Stockholmmeets Old Stockholm.
Södermalm: If you’re a fan of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, then you definitely want to peruse around the neighborhood that Stieg Larsson brought to life. You could tie in a walking tour of Södermalm with a visit to Gamla Stan. The Stockholm City Museum conducts guided tours during the summer, or you can purchase the map and do your own self-guided tour.
Djurgården: The home to several of the city’s best museums, galleries, Gröna Lund (an amusement park), and Skansen (an open air museum). Like a calm oasis, this lush island is great for leisurely walks, and picnics.
Hot Air Balloon Ride:
If you really want to take in the beauty of this city, you must to take to the air. Simply put, this is an awesome experience. From the pre-flight preparations, to the celebratory champagne at the end of the ride, and the actual balloon ride in between; it’s all good. This is a must do experience. I recommend Far & Flyg, Sweden’s oldest and most experienced ballooning company. They even give you a cool diploma to commemorate the event at the end of the flight.
Metro Art Tour:
They call it the “World’s Longest Art Exhibition.” And, they may be right. Art first started appearing in the Metro stations in 1957, with the first station being T-Centralen. Today the metro features over 150 artists in more than 90 stations. The unknowing person may not even notice the art, but if you look, it’s everywhere from the engraved cement slabs in T-Centralen to the “UN Declaration of Human Rights”, tiled murals on the walls behind the tracks of Universitetet. A one hour tour is offered every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 3:00PM (in English) and it’s free with a valid metro ticket.
Ice Bar Stockholm:
The country that gives you the IceHotel has to have an IceBar. IceBar Stockholm is the first permanent IceBar. All of the clear ice that makes up the interior is from the Torne River in Sweden’s Lappland. Kept at -5°C (23℉) everything that can be made from ice, is ice; from the walls to the seats, to the drinking glasses
Over 30,000 islands make up Stockholm’s Archipelago. Starting in Stockholm, extending out to the Baltic, it’s the largest archipelago in the world. This is a excellent way to have a little bit of down time, and take in some of natures magnificence. Mother Nature truly is the greatest artist. Please note: this is a summer time activity.
Stockholm’s World Heritage Site: Skogskyrkogården
Skogskyrkogården is a cemetery, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the few cultural heritage sites from the twentieth century. Created between 1914 and 1940, its design has had a great influence on the design of cemeteries all over the world. Setting a cemetery in natural parkland and without “grave mounds” was unique for the time. More than 90,000 graves and 5 chapels on over 100 acres make up this sprawling site. Strolling around the landscape, and looking at a combination of art, architecture, and nature, I couldn’t help but feel reverence for its natural beauty, serenity, and as a place for deep contemplation.