Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and at the same time the largest city in the country. Geographically, Stockholm is very interesting because it is located on 14 islands connected by bridges. That’s why Stockholm is also called the Venice of the North. The city possesses several attractions that make Stockholm extremely suitable for a city break. You will find numerous museums, cozy restaurants and cafes, several hip neighborhoods and beautiful architecture. And not only in summer, because in winter, and with luck with a little snow, the city is also very atmospheric. We went for New Year’s Eve and definitely found it to be a must. The days may be short, but the lights, the cozy old town, and the location actually made the trip unique.
Gamla Stan is also known as the old town of Stockholm with hardly any cozy streets, beautiful buildings and squares from the 13th century when the city was built. From Gamla Stan, Kungliga Slottet, the royal palace, and the Storkyrkan, the cathedral, can be visited on foot. You can visit part of the royal palace and also see the crown jewels in the basement. Currently, due to the pandemic, the palace is closed; however, the royal gardens are open all year, all day. For reopening and prices of the palace, keep an eye on the official website. A walk through the old town alone is worthwhile, as the streets and bridges give you different vistas every time. Also walk to Stockholm’s narrowest alley, Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, which is less than a meter wide at its narrowest point.
Your walk through Gamla Stan will naturally bring you to the Stadshuset, Stockholm’s City Hall. The city hall has a tall tower 106 meters high that you can climb. City Hall is momehteally closed due to the pandemic. Climbing the tower is also not possible now. Normally this can be done between May and September and you pay about €8.00 per person. If you don’t just want a view from the tower, we recommend walking across the water through Gamla Stan to Skijbarbiksberget. The route is a bit steep uphill, but then you have a great view of the city. If you go a little later in the afternoon, depending on the season, you have a chance to be treated to beautiful colors in the sky in the last hour before sunset as well. These complete the picture.
On the water
Since Stockholm is surrounded by water, it’s extra fun to see the city from that vantage point as well. Most boats leave from Strömkajen near Gamla Stan so nice and central. The boat takes you past many parts of the city and you also sail to other islands and only see how vast the city really is. There is a wide choice of boat trips you can do from a one hour 2 hour tour of the city and canals themselves to a trip to the surrounding islands that can fill a day(s). In this, prices vary depending on the tour you choose.
Of Stockholm’s many museums, the Vasa Museum on the Djurgården peninsula is probably the best known. Not very surprising when you realize that this museum revolves around the warship Vasa, which was built in the 17th century, sank almost immediately after being launched, and then lay on the seabed for over 300 years before being salvaged. The special feature is that the ship is in excellent condition and is almost completely intact and original. And one would like to keep it that way. Therefore, a constant temperature of between 18 °C – 20 °C is maintained in the museum. Note that this can feel fresh in the summer, keep that in mind. The museum has even more to see than just the ship Vasa, including several changing exhibitions about the period of the Vasa. Currently, due to the pandemic, the Vasamuseet is closed. When it opens again, probably, the opening hours are from 10:00 – 17:00 and you pay about €17.00 per person. You get to the museum by walking from the center to the Djurgården peninsula in 20 minutes, and then you can see the masts of the Vasa poking through the roof from afar. By public transport is also possible, get off at Karlaplaneb metro station then walk another 10 minutes or get off the bus at stop 67. There are few parking spaces for the car, keep that in mind.
Östermalm, is the modern, business district of Stockholm where you’ll find mostly large shopping streets and malls with well-known big brands. Beware, the city is not cheap. You can watch your budget by consciously choosing where to sleep and eat. Södermalm, the south island, is the largest island and also the hippest and most fun. On the border with Gamla Stan you will find many artists, vintage and second-hand stores and hip restaurants and cafes. You will also find several parks in this part of the city and you have a beautiful view of the rest of the city because Södermalm is slightly elevated.
From & to the center
You can get to Stockholm by car from the Netherlands, but we wouldn’t recommend going back and forth for a weekend. Then combine the city with a vacation, as the distance is quite far. You can easily get to Stockholm by plane, with a good train connection from the airport to the city center. The train, the Arlanda Express, takes 20 minutes and costs €27.50 for a one-way trip and €52.10 for a return. Buy your ticket at the ticket machine, because if you buy your ticket on the train it will cost 50 kroner (small €5.00) more.Stockholm itself contains an extensive public transport system with metro, bus and streetcar lines. Many sights can also be covered on foot, as the distances are not great in the city. From the train station, you can transfer to the metro in no time, as the main metro station, T-Centralen, is below the main train station, Stockholm Central. If you have some time to spare with changing trains, admire the underground stations, which several are like works of art, such as the Kungsträdgården subway station. Tickets for the subway are purchased at the stations. You can buy single tickets, but it’s more economical to buy a ticket that can be recharged, SL Access-short, if you expect to travel a lot. It costs €1.90 per person and one way tickets then cost €3.00. If you use public transport a lot, you can also choose a 24-hour ticket for €12.00 or 72-hour ticket for €25.00.