Stockholm is one of Europe's truly beautiful capitals. This
amazing city was created by a society that cares about people and
provides for their welfare and their pleasure, resulting in wonderful
conditions for the visitor to enjoy. Scandinavians believe in quality of
life and are generally considered to have the world's highest
standard of living. Stockholm offers a magical blend of efficiency and
beauty, romance and skill all working together to make your visit
extremely rewarding. It is modern, yet has some of Europe's
best-preserved historic neighborhoods, with an atmospheric mix of
ancient cobbled alleys, 17th century buildings and contemporary shops.
Something special is happening here.
You can easily keep busy and have fun in Stockholm for two days. The
most worthwhile activities are: walk the Old Town (of course), take a
boat ride around some of the city's 14 islands, visit the
reconstructed historic village of Skansen, tour the world's
largest occupied Royal Palace, visit the three best museums, check out
the modern downtown and shop along the great pedestrian promenade of
Drottninggatan. You'll love it!
will want to spend a lot of time exploring the quirky streets of Gamla
Stan, the old town, where our hotel is located. This is the site of the
medieval city center and is the number one most interesting place in
town. Wandering the Gamla Stan is the prime reason for coming to
Stockholm, so have a good look around. They just don't build
cities like this any more.
narrow twisting cobbled streets of Gamla Stan are lined with superbly
preserved old buildings which contain some very modern stores, so you
can enjoy the historic experience while shopping! In fact this
neighborhood has been a place for commerce since the 12th century, when
it was first settled as a trading center. Most of the handsome buildings
you see now were built of brick and stone in the 17th century when
Sweden was one of the greatest powers in Europe.
Nearby is the
Drottningholm Palace, which is the largest occupied royal palace in the
world. Arrive in the courtyard well before noon for a good position to
see the spectacular Changing of the Guards. The highly decorated palace
interior is typical of what you find throughout Europe's
extravagant royal mansions.
main event in Gamla Stan is to walk along the fascinating shopping lane,
the Vasterlanggatan, but you will also enjoy a wander into the little
side alleys, exploring past centuries frozen in stone. It is much
quieter here away from the shopping throngs and there is an abundance of
small pleasures to be found in the details of buildings, gardens and
older shop fronts. There is so much rich atmosphere to absorb in Gamla
Stan we will lead you back for another few hours on the final day.
When hunger strikes you could find no better choice in Gamla Stan
than the series of ancient restaurants behind the 13th-century
Storkyrkan Cathedral on Skomakargatan. If the weather is mild you can
sit outdoors, or better yet, have a traditional meal in their medieval
barrel-vaulted cellars which were storerooms four hundred years ago.
This you must see, even if you are merely passing by looking for a
restroom. Here you really step down in time as you venture below street
level. Alternatively, pick from the charming outdoor restaurants that
line the Stortorget main square of the Gamla Stan, overlooking the
historic Bourse stock market. This is the only part of town where stores
remain open late, so you will have plenty of time for browsing and
shopping until dropping.
start our second day in Stockholm with two outstanding history museums
that you would really enjoy -- the Vasa and the Nordic. You will
want to see the 17th century wooden warship, the Vasa, briefly the
world's largest battleship until it tragically sunk on its maiden
voyage in 1628. It was top-heavy with hundreds of wooden statues. You
can see them all, because the massive ship was rescued from the deep
twenty years ago and put on display here, with many related nautical
artifacts, and friendly knowledgeable guides who lead frequent tours of
the exhibit. It looks brand new. When you are finished here walk one
block over to the Nordic Museum, the largest collection of Scandinavian
artifacts in the world. They have tons of history on display, including
folk art, handicrafts, furniture, table-settings, clothing, interiors
and special exhibits.
finish these two museums take a five minute tram ride to Skansen, the
world's first, and still the best, outdoor museum.
Sweden-in-a-nutshell, this vast park features about 150 houses and
farmsteads that have been collected from all over the country and
brought together in an exquisite living exhibit. For many of you this
transplanted chunk of old-fashioned life will be the main highlight of
Stockholm. Most of the houses are open only from 11:00am until 5:00pm,
so we don't want to get here when the park gates open at 10:00am.
Arrive at mid-day and recharge your batteries with lunch at one of the
many eateries in the park or just outside the gates.
Skansen's buildings date from the 18th, 19th and 20th
centuries, and show how people in different social classes lived, worked
and were housed. There are costumed local guides dressed in historic
outfits ready to explain the story of each display and tell you about
life as it used to be lived in the house you are visiting. You will also
find animals in the farmyard, and a naturalistic zoo with bears, bison,
elk, wolves and reindeer. Later you can enjoy a charming folk dance
performance with live music and skilled traditional dancers.
You will want to see some of the modern downtown and visit the fine art
museum, eat in a stylish cafÃ©, walk the main shopping street back
to the Gamla Stan in the afternoon and stay there through the evening.
The center of downtown has some interesting streets and squares
around it, so have a brief look as you walk past heading for the nicest
shopping blocks of Hamngatan where you began your tour at the
information office. If you want to peek inside NK go ahead, but
it's just another big department store. For more posh shops walk
another two blocks to Birger Jarlsgatan and take a left up to
Ostermalmstorg if you would like to grab some take-out, or just look at
the Sluhallen food market. Then we walk to the very pretty park called
Kungstragarden which is the outdoor living room of the city. Here you
will find locals relaxing, kids playing, fountains gushing, statues
standing and flowers blooming.
Passing through the gardens we pop out the other end by the
waterfront near the National Museum, which holds the country's
main collection of fine arts, including a sprinkling of Old Masters and
Impressionists. It is a good museum, definitely worthwhile for the art
lover. After the museum, enjoy some refreshments in the opulent Grand
Hotel, or perhaps enjoy their fabulous smorgasbord buffet featuring a
dozen kinds of fresh herring. Another nearby restaurant is the very
famous Operakallaren in the Opera House. It's now an art deco
masterpiece, first opened in the 18th century and noted for a
smorgasbord lunch and heavy crowds, so it's better to arrive at a
non-peak time. Upstairs you will find the equally beautiful Opera
CafÃ©, also busy at lunch and dinner.
pedestrian shopping street of Drottninggatan is a major attraction, and
runs all the way through town, filled mostly with locals out for a
stroll - a perfect spot for people-watching. Here you will find several
side streets that are also worth exploring in this shopping center of
town. Make your way south along this lane heading back towards the Gamla
Stan. You will pass over a canal and through two triumphal arches at the
back of the Parliament, where you can take a brief detour if you want
another glimpse back into the past. The Museum of Medieval Times,
underneath the Parliament, recreates the atmosphere of old Stockholm
including a section of the city wall and many artifacts from the Viking
you walk back along the shopping route you will discover this same
narrow pedestrian alley continues as the main commercial spine of the
Old Town that you were on your first day. It totals nearly a mile of
shopping nirvana. It is great to be back in this enchanted neighborhood,
the best part of Stockholm. Street musicians will entertain as you
stroll along. Things to buy include the famous Swedish crystal and
related glassware, wooden toys, silverware, handicrafts and anything
that shows Swedish design. Non-shoppers can wander into little side
alleys to explore four centuries of ancient buildings. The more you
stroll around Stockholm, the more you'll appreciate how much
variety of architecture there is to enjoy.
If you can find any spare hours between our suggestions, hop another
boat for the Under the Bridges two-hour tour if you
enjoyed the water first time around. It's especially nice towards
sunset. Venturing further afield, there are many palaces and homes
devoted to Sweden's monarchs scattered throughout suburbia,
connected with a multitude of parks, walking paths and bicycle trails.
You can walk everywhere in this civilized place, or utilize the
efficient public transit bus and subway system to really cover some
extra ground. The Swedes are friendly and most of them speak English, so
it is worth your effort to say hello.
From Stockholm we fly to St. Petersburg, Russia.