Stockholm weekend.... sunshine, boat trips and a fantastic city break!
I visited Stockholm around 4 years ago in December and the short days and cold weather didn’t seem to agree with me but recognised the beauty of the city and wanted to get back and see it again. This time I went in June and have to say the long sunny days and very warm weather (around 25-27degrees each day) was perfect for me! Armed with my camera I spent 3 days walking around the amazing city taking in the art and atmosphere and realised this is an amazing spot for a weekend of relaxation.
As I had been before I knew the basics of where things are and had also done a lot of the attractions on the previous visit but knew that there is more to see and do especially in the warmer months. Last time I visited we did the ABBA museum which I would recommend even to those like me that aren’t huge ABBA fans as it was a fun and cheesy experience but also interesting to see what massive cultural impact they had on so many people. It’s easy to get to and a lot of the sightseeing bus companies offer packages that include entry.
Another place I’d recommend is Vasa museum - The Vasa was possibly Sweden’s most famous warship built way back in the 1600’s. It was billed as being not only the largest but also the ultimate and post powerful warships of its time. Unfortunately as with many things that are over hyped it can be a bit of a curse and only about a thousand metres into its maiden voyage the ship tipped to one side, took on too much water, and sank. For many years it lay on the sea bed until 1956 when the ship was rediscovered, salvaged and restoration began. In the present you can see this ship in the Vasa Museum and it is well worth a visit.
They offer 1 hour tours if you are short on time but there is plenty of information to take in and history to explore if you wish to spend a few hours taking in the atmosphere. Walking around the boat and seeing the detail, craftsmanship and size of the vessel is wonderful and on seeing it in person makes you realise why it is such a popular place for visitors. For more information about the museum and opening hours check out (https://www.vasamuseet.se/en)
Gamla Stan ....Stockholm old town is full of character and a central location and possibly the most busy spot in the city. The palace stands proudly at the entrance to the old town and the cobbled streets are home to restaurants and quirky shops for locals and tourists alike to take in and enjoy.
Stortorget is the oldest public square in central Stockholm. The square that is home to the Nobel laureate museum has beautiful buildings and bar/restaurants with outside seating that gives a real community atmosphere and is great for sitting and watching the world go by. When we visited in December this was home to the Christmas market so it is great to see that the square is a meeting spot all year round.
Gamla Stan is perfect for a stroll around and watching the world go by. It is a small island in the centre of Stockholm, connected by bridges. Gamla Stan was once the entire city of Stockholm before the expansion that you see today. It still is the heart of Stockholm but it has a cool vibe and as it is largely pedestrian only it’s a great place to take your camera and enjoy the architecture and narrow streets. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the city streets and shopping In the tourist and local stores that fill the area.
For me the whole of Gamla Stan is great for photography due to the quirky store fronts, busy squares and cafe bars with seating spread across the street. A great spot to grab a coffee or lunch with many cuisines on offer. Be sure to check out the ‘hairy pig deli’ for a delicious hotdog.... a real treat and a wonderful setting for a restaurant. (https://thehairypig.com/restaurant/)
Vaxholm and the Archipelago islands.... we went to Voxholm, a short ferry ride from the hotel at Nacka but if you are using the 3 day travel card you can get there using this if you catch the ferry to the city centre then a bus out to the islands.... ferry costs around 150SEK return so if on a budget the scenic route is recommended.
A Visit to the archipelago town of Vaxholm via ferry as part of your Stockholm adventures is fantastic if you want to see some history and character. The archipelago town has many well kept wooden houses built back in the last century and painted in the traditional and delicate pastel tones that is famous in the area and present throughout.
It was a Picturesque town and it was another warm day so perfect for a walk. Stunning houses along with restaurants shops and a beautiful art cafe all spotted whilst wandering around the harbour… a more relaxed atmosphere than Stockholm but still a warm and friendly welcome and fantastic Sunday stroll....perfect location and only a 45min ferry trip from the hotel port at Nacka. My hot pick for a pit stop would be a harbour cafe/art gallery called Roddarhuset Art Cafe that seems to promote local artists and also served amazing food and drinks that could be enjoyed at the harbour side. Be sure to take the short walk from the ferry port down to the cafe and reward yourself with a cake and coffee. (http://roddarhuset.se/cafe/) It was off the beaten track and at the end of a picturesque street with large beautiful houses to admire ( be sure to check out the cute letter boxes that all seem to be painted and personalised to add to the village charm to the whole place.
Ericsson Globe .....The Skyview attraction. A great spot to get an alternative perspective of Stockholm. Skyview is a unique attraction that transports you up to the top of the world’s largest spherical building, Ericsson Globe, a Stockholm landmark and event space that hosts ice hockey and concerts throughout the year and is also the venue that hosted the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. From the top which is approximately 130 metres (425 feet) above sea level, you´ll get a fantastic view encompassing all of Stockholm and the glass structure gives panoramic views. The two gondolas depart every 10 minutes, and the entire visit takes about 30minutes. It stops at the top to allow for enough time to see the sights and capture the views. Prior to the journey you are given the history of the area and how the works had been constructed as well as a safety guide. There is a café and souvenir shop opposite to Skyview as well as a shopping centre and it is easily located so you can travel to the venue via tube. I would advise to pre book your tickets and for more information check out the website (https://www.stockholmlive.com/skyview/om-skyview)
Art on the subway..... It is said that Stockholm’s subway system is one of a kind.
Since 1957 artists have played a key role when new stations have been built. And over time the metro’s older stations – planned and built without any art – have been spruced up with beautiful statues, murals, and installations. So if you like art, colour and alternative ways of spending a day in Stockholm then the metro is basically the thing for you and it’s like visiting the world’s longest art exhibition.
Here’s just a small sample of the beauty waiting to be discovered around the network both over and under ground.
T-Centralen - blue line....T-Centralen, the main station of Stockholm’s metro was the first station to feature artwork. The blue line-platform, quite literally is the blue platform with a striking blue and white walls with leaves, vines and flowers adorning the walls. It is said that “the blue platform” is hands down one of the public transport system’s most recognisable places and the artist was Per Olof Ultvedt. It was said that he created the art and picked the colours based on the calming affect that both nature and blue have on a persons mind.
To be fair to him, people did seem to slow the pace and take in the art work as walking through the station but it wasn’t rush hour and most of us had cameras so that could have been the reason for the slow pace. However I hope that the commuters do slow to take in the beauty of the station and appreciate the charm of the transport system.
Stadion - Red line......The rainbow station was simply stunning and the lighting and colours breathtaking. Every year Östermalms IP is the main festival area Stockholm Pride festival and so it is fitting, that the subway station, Stadion, which is very close by just so happens to have a rainbow painted against the bright blue of the station's cave walls to welcome people to the station and also to pride as the rainbow is a symbol represent the LGBT+ community and different colours are often associated with diversity. It is a striking image and the bright rainbow is popular spot for a photo and is well featured on Instagram and in the media. The history of the rainbow at the station was to bring light and brightness to one of the first cave stations in Stockholm and also to in homage to the stations close proximity to the Olympic stadium which hosted the games in 1912. The station’s artists were Åke Pallarp and Enno Hallek.
Thorildsplan - Green line.....Thorildsplan was discovered by accident as I went the wrong way on the subway and I must say it was worth the wrong trip as it was definitely one of my favourites and was a throw back to my childhood for sure! The station was built back in 1952, but the pixelated Nintendo style artwork by Lars Arrhenius was commissioned in 2008 is a more recent addition. Arrhenius was commissioned to create new art with the condition that it must feature tile work so it really is a perfect match! It is said that video game style was the source of inspiration and it runs through his whole station from the walk way up to the platform - with pixelated clouds, mushroom power-ups, and hearts....makes you want to dig out the old video games!
A free place to see is definitely the Stockholm public library which was designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, who is also known for his work on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Woodland cemetery. It is a stunning building and photography from the outside cannot match the wonder of the round main hall which has books in every Nordic language which you can wander around and capture images from all sides of the building. It has a white painted roof that was designed to look like clouds and frames the images perfectly. It is a light and quiet space to take some time out. Be sure to add it to your travel plans. ( https://www.visitstockholm.com/see--do/attractions/the-city-library/)
As well as my favourite places to see I need to mention the fabulous hotel I once again stayed at - the charming Hotel J .... located in Nacka a short journey from the heart of Stockholm that is accessible by car, bus or boat from the city centre and a quiet and peaceful area to unwind and relax after a busy day exploring.
Friendly staff, an honesty bar, plenty of seating in the lounge and gardens as well as 2 restaurants for meals and snacks gives the hotel plenty of plus points. The Scandinavian style decor adds to the atmosphere of the place and the views from the harbour and balcony of the passing boats and cruise liners gives a real holiday feel. It once again was a charming stay and although not as cheap as some of the hotels in the centre of town I couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else on my next visit. (https://hotels.com)
Travel card and travel methods..... we purchased a 3 day card which allowed us unlimited use of the metro, trains, buses, trams and any of the boats which advertised the SL card logo which took us out from our hotel to the city in around 30mins. It’s cost around 280SEK which was really good value as a single journey is charged at around 44SEK. We used the card each day and made travel really easy and worry free. It meant that we could hop on any form of transport especially when we had tickets booked for attractions that had been time specified. The transport system is easy to follow and seems to run like clockwork.
Stockholm's metro is probably the quickest way to get around the city and ideal in the colder months to beat the cold but as this was June I did the metro to see the art mainly although we had a 3 day travel card as we stayed out of town and the travel card is valid on buses, trams and the boats which was our mode of transportation back to the hotel after a day exploring and boat travel was relaxing and gave amazing views of Stockholm every time we travelled. (https://sl.se/en/fares--tickets/) Tickets can be purchased at ticket terminals, The Stockholm tourist centre, newsagent kiosks, or the Travel app. There is also the Stockholm pass for tourists which will give you access to museums and attractions so if your wanting to do all the sites it’s worth considering. (https://www.stockholmpass.com/)
Airport to Stockholm made simple.......If you arrive or depart Stockholm via the Arlanda Airport, a quick way to get to the city is via the Arlanda Express. This train departs every 15 minutes and it takes around 20 minutes to travel between the airport and the city centre. It cost around SEK 295 for adults and the central location makes onward travel to the hotels simple. It was very popular and easy to purchase tickets at the self service stations and locate the correct platform.
Enjoy your trip to Stockholm and share your favourite experiences so I can be sure to check them out next time I visit. I’m off to Gothenburg in December so any tips for area would also be gratefully received.
I love getting out and seeing what European countries offer in terms of culture and traditions and I love how clean and green Stockholm looks and feels, plus a bonus was how friendly and helpful the locals are. If you have a chance, you should discover what Stockholm has to offer.
Nick - The Thoughtful Traveller