Stockholm is the capital of cool. Everything about the place oozes quality, efficiency and history. Build on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges, there are few better places to spend 24 hours when the summer sun is shining. In fact you can almost spend your whole 24 hours bathed in sunlight at Midsummer, when the Swedes party like there is no tomorrow. A typical Midsummer features different kinds of pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives. This is often washed down with cold, spiced schnapps and every time the glasses are refilled, singing breaks out anew. Certainly an event not to be missed.
But everyday life in Stockholm is a little less rowdy. Stockholm is an outdoor city, with people happy to walk and cycle around the city. The pace of life is perfect for the long summer days, although that quickens during the cold, dark winter months when it is all about being inside in front of the open fire.
The Arlanda Express is the fastest and most efficient way into the City Centre from the main airport. Return fares are 490SEK although on Monday to Thursday’s are are deals if more than one person is travelling. Taxi’s from the airport also offer deals of 470SEK one way to anywhere in the city centre. There are local, cheaper trains but these often include a change on the way. For those flying with Ryanair to “Stockholm” you will either end up in Vasteras or Skavsta, both well over 90 minutes away from the city although there is a bus that meets incoming flights.
Most visitors will find themselves at some point in Gamla Stan, the oldest part of the city having been founded in 1252, consisting of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. It is the perfect way to lose a couple of hours of your day, stopping off for a drink overlooking the waterways. For an overview of the city you can either head down to the Skyview, a unique lift that travels up the outside of the Ericsson Globe, the world’s largest spherical building (T-Bana station Globen) or Kantin Monteo which looks like a crane but is a viewing platform and a restaurant, overlooking the harbour.
Another island worth visiting is Djurgården, which is where you will find Skansen, the outdoor historical museum that traces life through the ages in the city. Almost opposite Skansen is where you will find the massive Vasa Museum, housing the war ship of the same name that sank a few hundred metres into its maiden voyage in 1628. Also on the island is Gröna Lund, the much-loved amusement park. Ferries ply the route from here to Gamla Stan giving you a great view of the city.
A good spot to spend a couple of hours brushing up on history is the Nobel Museum in Stadshuset, that charts the history of the Nobel prize and its winners. The main shopping street is Hamngatan where the major brands can be found. You wont find many bargains here though. Prices in Sweden are around 20-50% higher than in the UK.
Putting aside the cost, although with the £ getting stronger day by day against the Swedish Kroner it is not as bad as it was, eating out in Stockholm is a pure joy. There are so many places to choose from, ranging from a budget eatery that is still a firm favourite of Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, Restaurang Hubertus in Hollandargatan with its chalkboard menu to the superb Kott och Fiskbaren in Gamla Brogatan where you choose your steaks by the cut and weight as well as a craft beer list as long as your arm. If your tastes are more from home then the Queens Head in Tegnergatan should be on your agenda. Offering a menu of beers, superb burgers and an ambiance that reminds you of being in a Berni Inn from the 1980’s, it is one of the most popular places of a weekend, although its a fair way out of the action. There are also a number of sausage vans in and around the city that offer cheap eats.
Other decent bars to head to include Monks American Bar in Sveavägen and the Flying Dog in Vasagatan, opposite the Clarion hotel although any craft beer fans will surely head for the Brew Dog bar in Kungsholmen. There is also the Ice Bar, located within the Nordic C hotel, a stone’s throw from the exit of the Arlanda Express. Be warned though – it is not a cheap experience at 195 SEK (about £18) for a visit and one drink.
There is a range of hotels as you would expect – all of the major brands are represented in the city centre. However, for something very different then look no further than the airport where you can stay in a decommissioned jumbo jet. Jumbo Stay offers you the opportunity to bed down in the cockpit, galley and even an engine in this unique hotel. Whilst it is a trek into the city centre, you cannot miss an opportunity to stay in such a unique environment.