Spread over 14 islands at the edge of the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
If you want to enjoy Scandinavian style set against a backdrop of elegant architecture and stunning sea views, then Stockholm is the place to go.
Lesley Ellen has picked out the best 10 things to do in this classy European city.
1. Take a boat trip
A boat trip is a must for the best views of Stockholm. And there’s quite a variety to pick from: you can jump on a hop-on hop-off boat, take a trip under the bridges or a tour of the canals, or just hire a rowing boat or canoe and go at your own pace. Or you can take a trip out into the Archipelago where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the 30,000 islands where many Stockholmers have summer houses.
Want to see even more islands? Click the image below for a guide to Europe’s secret isles.
2. Visit the Vasa Museum
Setting out on her maiden voyage in 1628, the enormous Vasa warship sank in the middle of Stockholm just a few hundred yards from where she was built. The ship was salvaged in 1961 and has been magnificently restored. As you enter the Vasa Museum, you can’t fail to be struck by the size and beauty of the Vasa, and the accompanying exhibitions give a haunting insight into the lives of the people who embarked on her first and final voyage.
3. Stroll around Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan (‘The Old Town’) is where Stockholm began life in the 13th century. Situated on the tiny island of Stadsholmen, Gamla Stan’s medieval squares and narrow cobbled streets provide hours of exploration opportunities and are teeming with souvenir shops, bars and restaurants. Make sure you look out for Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, the narrowest street in Stockholm, which is only 90 cm wide at its narrowest point. Gamla Stan is also home to attractions such as the Nobel Museum and Royal Palace.
4. Visit the Royal Palace
With over 600 rooms, making it one of the largest palaces in Europe, this is the official residence of the King of Sweden. Although confusingly he doesn’t actually live here – he resides outside Stockholm in his private residence, Drottningholm Palace, and the Royal Palace functions more as a sort of… well, massive royal office. Built during the 18th century, the Royal Palace houses five museums as well the Royal Armoury, which features an impressive display of armour, costumes and carriages. Try to time your visit to coincide with the changing of the guard for a colourful display of Swedish pomp and ceremony.
For more amazing homes around the world, click on the image below.
5. Climb the tower at City Hall
If you have a head for heights, it’s worth going to the top of the 106 metre tall tower of the City Hall for a panoramic view of Stockholm. With its gilded three crowns – the Swedish national coat of arms – the tower is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city. With your feet back on firm ground, take a guided tour of the red-brick building to get a glimpse of the impressive interior, including the Blue Hall, where the Nobel banquet is held, and the Golden Hall, which is covered in 18 million gold mosaic tiles.
6. Try some Swedish produce at Östermalms Saluhall
Opened in 1888, the Saluhall market retains many of its original features, including intricate carvings in the dark wood that separates its stalls and restaurants. In this food lovers’ paradise you can sample the best of Swedish produce, including all kinds of seafood, meats such as elk and moose, bread, pastries and chocolates. With Jamie Oliver naming it as one of his favourite places in Stockholm, you really have to go and try it for yourself.
7. Go back in time at Skansen
Visit the world’s first outdoor museum and see what life used to be like in Sweden’s towns and farmsteads. Set in a large park with over 150 buildings – the oldest of which dates back to the 14th century – Skansen lets you experience how people lived in times gone by. Children love this museum, where actors dressed in historical costumes show you around the farm settlements and the town quarter with its glassworks, pottery and shoe-maker’s house. You can watch demonstrations of traditional crafts and, as an added bonus, the park is home to a zoo featuring mainly Scandinavian animals, including brown bears, wolves, lynx and elks.
And if animals are your thing, click on the image below to see the world’s weirdest animals.
8. Check out Stockholm’s design credentials
Stockholm is the perfect place to check out the best of past and contemporary Swedish design. Whether you visit the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, the Nordiska Museet, which displays the development of house interiors over the centuries, or the National Museum’s design collections, you’ll be inspired to purchase a piece for your home in one of the many interior design shops around the city.
9. Go shopping
Most of Stockholm’s shopping is concentrated in the central Normmalm and Östermalm districts, where you’ll find international Swedish brands alongside lesser known ones. Whatever you’re looking for – high-street labels, high-end fashion, interior design, antiques, Scandinavian craft or food items – you’ll find it somewhere in Stockholm. Former tennis star Bjorn Borg even has his own shops selling lingerie and men’s underwear – perhaps not your typical souvenirs, but certainly ones that will provoke interest back home.
10. Be a ‘Dancing Queen’ at ABBA The Museum
No visit to Stockholm would be complete without a visit to ABBA The Museum, where you’re invited to experience what it would feel like to be the fifth member of the band. As well as viewing lots of ABBA memorabilia, you’ll be transported back to the 70s, where you can sing along with holograms of the group, strut your stuff on the dancefloor and see what you look like in digital versions of their costumes, from precarious platform shoes to spangly jumpsuits. And you can record it all to watch at home later just by scanning your ticket. Cringeworthy maybe, but lots of fun.