Splendid Stockholm

Splendid Stockholm

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What to do and see
No matter what your age, interests, or the time of year, you are bound to find something that piques your interest in this city. Visit the past, or look at some great architectural structures, stroll in the park, explore the museums and pick up some mementoes, or get lost in the active and lively night life the city offers.

Stained glass window at St. Gertrude's church in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

Stained glass window at St. Gertrude's church in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

If history interests you then the old city Gamla Stan is the place for you. The oldest building in the city, the 13th century Riddarholmskyrkan, is a sight to behold. The Stockholm Palace and next to it the Storkyrkan Cathedral which is the Episcopal seat of the Bishop in the country are must visits.

The royal palace is the official Swedish royal residence dating as far back as 1754 is one of the most glorious palaces in Europe. Many of its staterooms are open to the public for viewing. The changing of the guard ceremony that takes place every evening in front of the palace competes with the one at Buckingham Palace.

To the east of Gamla Stan is the forested island of Djurgården which literally means deer park. This island has some of the city’s main attractions. It is crammed with museums, restaurants and open green spaces. In olden days this was a hunting ground for the royals. Now visitors can browse for souvenirs in the Handarbetets Vanner (the handicraft center), visit art galleries and Gröna Lund amusement park, explore the country’s past at the Skansen open-air museum where you can churn butter and learn folk dancing, and meet the local wildlife at the zoo. Also on the island is the Junibacken fairy-tale fun centre, the National Museum of Cultural History and the Vasa Museum featuring a fully restored 17th-century galleon raised from Stockholm harbor.

Stockholm is one of the most crowded museum-towns in the world where over nine million people visit its museums every year. Stockholm has over 100 art galleries and 75 museums, which is the greatest concentration of galleries and museums in one place in the world.

Viking Figurine

Viking Figurine

The Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts is the most renowned national museum and has Sweden’s largest collection of art—16,000 paintings and 30,000 objects of art handicraft. The collection dates as far back as the days of Gustav Vasa in the 16th century, and has since been expanded with works by artists such as Rembrandt, Antoine Watteau, Alexander Roslin, Anders Zorn, Johan Tobias Sergel, Carl Larsson, Carl Fredrik Hill and Ernst Josephson among many others. Moderna Museet or the Museum of Modern Art has works by foremost modern artists such as Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The Nobelmuseet will give you all the information about the Nobel Prizes, and the Tekniska museet or the Museum of Science and Technology are all part of the extensive list of museums offered here.

The Museum of National Antiquities has a vast collection of archeological treasures and presents Sweden’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. The collection includes an impressive collection of gold objects recovered from the tombs and treasure caches of the Vikings. The museum’s most prized possession is a splendid gold reliquary, set with precious stones, which contained the skull of Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia from the Middle Ages

If you love architecture, then again, you are in the right place. Grand buildings such as the Drottningholm Palace and the Riddarholm church are captivating, and so are the urban planning and structures which are among the most advanced in the world. The distinctive City hall, or the Stadshuset, is the city’s main landmark. Built in 1923 and situated on Kungsholmmen, or King’s Island, has become known for being the host to the Nobel Prize Banquet every year. The magnificent Golden Hall’s walls are covered with handmade mosaics and the council chamber has a vaulted ceiling resembling an inverted Viking longboat, reminding the visitor of the country’s Viking tradition of using overturned vessels as shelter in winter.

Whether you love to read or not, the Stockholm Public Library is a place not to be missed. Built in 1928 and designed by the famous Swedish architect Erik Gunnar Asplund, the interior of the cupola-shaped building will leave you spellbound. Three floors of bookshelves covering 360 degrees of a circular wall, capped by a high dome houses a variety of books in many languages.

In 1928, the Vasa, a highly decorated warship sailed from Stockholm on her maiden voyage and sank. It was discovered three centuries later, and is now the world’s only preserved 17th century ship. Paying homage to this ship is the cleverly designed Vasamuseet which allows you to view the ship from six levels.

And finally when the sun goes down, that’s the time to hit one of the many trendy nightclubs and dance the night away, refreshing yourself for another day of exploring the many wonders of the city.

What to eat
When visiting the capital, don’t miss out on the great spread of local fare…from steaks to fresh seafood, try everything.

One of the more well-known restaurants in the city is Sturehof also called ‘Stockholm’s living room’. It is renowned for its fish and shellfish, but also serves up some delicious Swedish home cooking from egg and anchovy sandwiches to grilled turbot with browned butter and horseradish or fried salt brisket of beef with roasted red beetroot and goat cheese sauce.

Rated as one of the world’s most beautiful dining rooms with a fantastic view of the Royal Palace, Operakällaren offers an array of international dishes and huge wine list. And don’t miss one of the oldest restaurants in the city, Kaffegillet. Hiding in a  14th century cellar, it makes you feel you have just entered the past. Its pickled herring, plank steak, salmon pudding, reindeer with blackcurrant jelly and waffles with cloudberry jam are some dishes that it swears by.

Although permitted outdoors, smoking is banned in restaurants, pubs and bars.

Where to stay
There are many staying options for backpackers that are very reasonably priced and with their high standards, you will not be disappointed. On the higher side there are hotels such as the Grand Hotel overlooking the royal palace, Hilton Slussen, and Sheraton Stockholm hotel overlooking the City hall, the old city and the Lake Mälaren.

Sweden decided to not adopt the Euro as its currency. The currency unit here is 100 ore to 1 Swedish krona.

Stockholm has a very active cultural life, with art museums, and architectural marvels. Its calendar of events is always full. The Stockholm marathon takes place in June. Then in July the Stockholm Pride, the largest Pride event in the Nordic countries, ends with a parade of about 30,000 people attended by over 350,000 people. The city also hosts one of the country’s oldest festivals, the Stockholm Jazz Festival which takes place every August. And on December 10, the Nobel Banquet takes place at the City Hall.

One Swedish tradition that you must try out is first roasting yourself in a sauna and then directly plunging into a freezing cold water body. It might sound like a maniacal  thing to do, but bathers feel much invigorated after this experience.

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