Stockholm City Guide
Stockholm, the Swedish capital city is the largest city in Scandinavia that is spread over an archipelago of fourteen islands. This city dates back to medieval times and is an immensely popular vacation destination that offers a plethora of attractions like museums, green spaces, excellent shopping options, great restaurants and an exciting nightlife scene that carries on until the wee hours especially during the long, never–ending balmy days of the Scandinavian summer.
Where to stay in Stockholm
Most visitors on a vacation to Stockholm choose to stay in the city’s quaint Gamla Stan district that dates back to the 13th Century and encompasses the magnificent Royal Palace, which once was the abode of Swedish Monarchs. The quaint Gamla Stan area features cobble stone streets, narrow alleys, ancient ornately decorated homes and some of the city’s most expensive luxury hotels.
The Normalm area of Stockholm is located north of the Old Town and is its ‘downtown’ and it hosts most of the mid-range and family-friendly hotels in the city. Normalm is also a convenient area for sight-seeing expeditions in Stockholm as it affords easy access to attractions like the island of Djurgården, offers various entertainment options like the Skansen open air museum and zoo and the Gröna Lund amusement park.
Central Station Hotels
The area around Stockholm’s Central Station hosts some of the most affordable hotels in the city: popular with backpackers and budget travelers.
The Ostermalm area of Stockholm is one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the city and is home to embassies, churches and museums. Also located here is Stockholm’s famed Saluhall market that offers fantastic bars, restaurants and stalls that retail goodies from all over the world.
Places to see in Stockholm
The island of Djurgården, which is located near the city center of Stockholm, hosts most of the city’s main attractions. The verdant island, which was once a royal hunting ground today offers an assortment of attractions that include Gröna Lund, Sweden’s oldest amusement park, Skansen, an open air museum that offers an insight into old-world Sweden and also has a zoo, Junibacken an entertainment center, the National Museum of Cultural history and the Vasa Museum that features 17th century Royal warship Vasa that capsized and sank on its maiden voyage in the Stockholm harbor in 1628.
Royal Palace and Gamla Stan
The Royal Palace is one of the largest and most impressive palaces in Europe. This baroque palace, which was built on the site of a medieval castle, dates back to 1754 and was once the abode of Swedish royalty (the Swedish royal family no longer live here and their home is now at Drottningholm, private villa which has been upgraded to a palace).
The Royal Palace at Gamla Stan, however, is open to the public for viewing. It offers most of its 608 staterooms to the public like the Hall of the State, the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry, Gustav III museum of Antiquities and the Royal Chapel. The palace also hosts a changing of the guard ceremony on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays; akin to the one conducted outside Buckingham Palace and is definitely worth taking in on any trip to Stockholm.
The Gamla Stan or Old Town of Stockholm within which the Royal Palace is located contains a treasure trove of sights like the Storkyrkan Cathedral and several 17th century buildings some of which host some of the best restaurants and bars in Stockholm.
Stockholm’s City Hall (Stadshuset) is one of its most prominent attractions for it is here that annual Nobel Prize giving ceremony and banquet is held. This rather ordinary, low key red brick building, which is adorned with three gold crowns is located on Kungsholmen (King's Island) and dates back to 1923.
The building’s non-descript façade however contains a rather grand art nouveau interior, which includes an opulent council chamber adorned with a vaulted ceiling believed to resemble an inverted Viking longboat as reference to the country’s Viking heritage. The star attraction of the City Hall is its glorious Golden Hall and is covered in handmade mosaics.
Museum of National Antiquities
The Museum of National Antiquities offers artifacts and treasures from the age of the Vikings though its prized display dates back to the Middle Ages and takes the form of a gold reliquary embellished with precious stones which once contained the remains of Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia.
Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art)
This museum is located on the island of Skeppsholmen and was commissioned in 1958. It is housed in a former drill house. The Museum of Modern Art is considered to host one of the finest collections of modern art in Europe and offers a permanent collection includes artworks by greats like Andy Warhol, Picasso and others.
Stockholm’s Nordic Museum offers a valuable insight into its rich cultural heritage and offers displays of period costumes, textiles, tools of the Swedish fishing trade, photographs and 16th century furniture.
The Stockholm National Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world, which is also Sweden’s largest museum of art. The permanent collection of the museum features nearly 600,000 works of art, all of which are not on display at any given time. The museum’s spectacular collection includes Dutch paintings from the 17th century, 18th century French paintings, Russian icons and works by masters like El Greco, Rubens, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Manet, Rodin, Van Gogh and many more. If you are lover of the arts you cannot afford to miss out on the wonders of the National Museum on your visit to Stockholm.
Best time to visit Stockholm
Stockholm is bestowed with a moderate climate that is characterized by rather mild temperatures in both winter and summer. Winter temperatures in Stockholm generally register between 19F and 36F (-7C to 2C) and the city receives much snow fall especially during the months of January to March.
Average summer temperatures in Stockholm tend to range from 68F and 77F (20C to 25C). These temperatures are considered to be ideal for walking and sight-seeing and it is no wonder then that the summer months are peak tourist months in Stockholm.
Getting around in Stockholm
Stockholm is served by its Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport, which is located 28 miles (45 km) to the north of Stockholm. This airport welcomes seventy low cost and full service airlines from all parts of the world and this makes getting to Stockholm relatively easy. In fact Fare Buzz periodically often offers attractive flight deals to Stockholm so if you are in the market for cheap air tickets to Stockholm do connect with Fare Buzz on Facebook and Twitter to get advance information of these deals.
Stockholm boasts of an excellent public transport networks, which consists of buses, an underground network, ferries and surface trains that are operated by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL). The city is also equipped with numerous taxis, which can be hailed on the street or ordered on the phone. Transport from the airport to the city center is offered by express trains like the Arlanda Express, commuter and long distance trains and airport coaches and buses.
Some visitors prefer to rent a car for the duration of their vacations in Stockholm so they can explore the city and its outskirts at their leisure. If you plan to hire a car, for your Stockholm sojourn, you would do well as to contact Fare Buzz before you leave for the Swedish capital, for Fare Buzz offers affordable and well priced car rentals for Stockholm which can be reserved via its regular booking platforms. Parking is relatively easy to find in Stockholm as the city is equipped with many parking garages and even offers street parking at marked spaces in the city.
Where to shop in Stockholm
Stockholm’s main shopping area is centered on its city center. The area of Drottninggatan leading onto Hamngatan, constitutes this main shopping district of the city. This retail hub plays host to various department stores like Nordiska Kompaniet, a bastion of high-end retail offering various upmarket Scandinavian brands like Gant, J. Lindeberg Fillipa K. Acne and Tiger amongst others.
Also located here are various other department stores like PUB (the oldest department store in Stockholm) and Åhléns Stockholm City, a one stop shop that caters to every shopping need. Aside from these department stores, the area also hosts various outlets of mass market retail like Zara and H&M. Gallerian located within downtown Stockholm, is the city’s first mall which hosts 80 stores along with an assortment of cafes and restaurants.
Birger Jarlsgatan is the city’s power-shopping boulevard littered with stores of luxe brands like Gucci, Orrefors/Kosta Boda, Georg Jensen, Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and so forth.
Non-European Union residents can avail of tax-free shopping privileges for goods that they intended to take with them outside Sweden. Refunds range from 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent for every purchase over SEK 200 made in shops, which sport the Global Refund sign.
After you have made your purchase at a Global Refund store, simply ask for and fill up the refund form. On leaving the country present the form with receipts attached to the customs officials at the airport. They may ask to inspect the merchandise, while they validate your Global Refund Check. You can then collect the refund in cash at the Cash Refund Office or then receive it by check or as a refund to your credit card.
Where to eat in Stockholm
Packed with restaurants serving food from across the globe, Stockholm is a great place to dine out. Yet amongst all the international eats on offer, you will also be served the best of Swedish cuisine often in contemporary forms. Swedish cuisine largely features much game, fish and shell fish along with a host of fresh produce and popular native Swedish ingredients like pickled herring, lingonberries and salmon.
If you are in the mood for classic Swedish cuisine do try restaurants like Den Gyldene Freden in Stockholm’s Old Town area, Sollidens restaurang at the Skansen Open-Air Museum and Operakällarens bakficka, a café known for its open sandwiches.
Moreover, Stockholm’s restaurants aim to cater to all budgets and listed below are some popular haunts Boqueria, Speceriet and Tradition (budget dining), Bar Nombre, Chez Betty and Ekstedt (mid-range restaurants) and Esperanto, Gastrologik and Frantzen/Lindeberg (luxe dining).
Nightlife in Stockholm
Stockholm boasts of an extremely vibrant nightlife scene. The city’s many bars, dance clubs, cocktail lounges, jazz clubs are scattered all over the city in areas like Stureplan, Östermalm and Sodermalm. Popular nightlife haunts in Stockholm currently include establishments like Spy Bar, Hotellet, Fasching, Patricia(a party boat that hosts many bars and is a favored nightlife spot in the summers ), Café Opera, Absolut Icebar and Casino Cosmopol.