WeSwap product manager Olivia has just returned from her first trip to Stockholm. She kindly brought us back a whole load of tips – as well as duty-free Toblerone – but before we hear Liv’s insights, some reasoning behind Scandinavia’s recent surge in popularity with travellers.
- Budget flights to northern Europe’s main cities are more common and therefore much cheaper.
- Thanks to ongoing price wars between online travel agents – and the emergence of brands like Airbnb – holiday accommodation is cheaper than ever.
In short, day-to-day costs in Scandinavia are still high but thanks to the above, a journey to the far north is no longer the bank-breaker it once was.
Olivia in Stockholm
If you are on the market for a mini break or just looking for somewhere a little bit different to get away from it all, I would seriously recommend a trip to Stockholm.
Widely considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals, there is plenty to do to satisfy all interests and if you’re a foodie like me, I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Where to wander
To get an initial feel for the place, you should start your visit in the old town, Gamla Stan. This was where it all began in 1252 and it remains to this day, the nucleus of the city.
Be sure to find Mårten Trotzigs alley, it’s only 90cm wide at its narrowest point, so save lunch for afterwards!
Next, wind your way through the cobbled streets to Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm (excellent for an Instagram snap, as can be seen below!).
Stortorget’s a great spot for a quick bite if you’re lucky enough to secure a table on the square . It’s also where you’ll find the Nobel Museum. Alfred Nobel (as in, Nobel Prize) lived in this city. An inspiring visit.
The Royal Palace, the official residence of the King of Sweden, is a grand building on the outskirts of the Gamla Stan area and incredibly, it’s open to the public.
A ticket includes a snoop around the Royal Apartments, the Treasury and the Tre Kronor Museum, each of which you’re allowed to enter within seven days of purchase, so don’t worry if your feet get sore!
For those looking to stretch their Kronor further, for only fraction more (around £2.50) you can buy a combination ticket that also allows access to the Riddarholmen Church, one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm and the official burial site of the Swedish royals since the 17th century.
Alternatively, if you’re really looking to save those pennies, check out the changing of the guard in the Palace’s courtyard – it’s completely free but get there early to ensure the best view!
A walk through Kungsträdgården (“King’s Garden”) provides a unique insight into life in Stockholm. A large park just a stone’s throw away from the Palace, it is one of the most popular meeting spots in the city.
As well as these cherry blossoms in autumn, you’ll find teenagers skateboarding, locals picnicking and plenty of cafes to top up your caffeine levels. Kungsträdgården is the ideal spot to relax under a tree with that book you’ve been eager to start, or if you’re a fan of live music, make sure you wander through the park’s centre.
During the summer, you’ll find hoards of violinists congregated around the big stage, warming up in groups or performing to small crowds.
If it’s spectacular birds-eye panoramic views you’re after, Stockholm has a few options available. The SkyView will take you right up to the top of the iconic Ericsson Globe for a cost of around £13.
Alternatively, to enjoy the view with a meal, the Gondolen restaurant is suspended above the entrance to Stockholm’s port. It offers highly rated traditional Swedish fare, although it does come with a fairly hefty price tag.
If you’d rather have a dose of adrenalin with your view, The Katapulten at Stockholm’s theme park (Gröna Lund) might allow you a quick glimpse over the city before plummeting you fifty-five metres to the ground!
The cheapest option, however, is to climb The City Hall Tower at a cost of less than £5. At 106 metres tall, most visitors take the stairs from the bottom to top but there is a lift to carry you halfway should you need it.
We wouldn’t want to ruin the view now would we! Remember, the more steps you do the more meatballs you’ll earn!
There are a great variety of museums in Stockholm, most of which are located on the Djurgården Island. The ABBA museum is fun and interactive, and regardless of how much you love or hate ‘Waterloo’, you’ll definitely find yourself singing along by the end of the visit.
Skansen open-air museum is situated just around the corner and is an interesting, if slightly bizarre way to spend an afternoon. It starts with a walk around historical buildings including shops and homes and ends with a zoo containing Scandinavian animals. You will find yourself chatting to a milkmaid one minute and a cooing at a brown bear the next.
If you’ve only got the budget or the time to do one museum, do not miss the Vasa Museum. The Vasa ship capsized in 1628 and remained submerged for 333 years before being pulled from the seabed and moved to the museum. It is an awe-inspiring sight to see such an enormous, well-preserved piece of human history and you can get remarkably close considering its fragility.
There are hundreds of items that were recovered with the boat on display, including fragments of clothing, eating and drinking utensils and even weapons. Plus, there is an exhibit on the people who died as the boat sank and their skeletons have been pieced back together for those who can stomach having a look.
Finally, it’s worth saying, if you enjoy seafood, Stockholm gets a big thumbs up. There are plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from. Highlights include the family run Restaurant Rakan – look at those prawns.
or for something a little bit pricier, Stockholm Fisk. Don’t forget to try lingonberries with either fish or meatballs before you go either, the combo is a bit of a revelation!
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