Kirsty reports from Stockholm21.12.15 | Kirsty Taylor
UPDATE (September 2016) – You will soon be able to fly direct from Birmingham to Stockholm making the city even more accessible than before, contact us for details…
As featured in Journal Magazine, December 2015 Edition.
My first encounter with the beautiful capital city of Stockholm in Sweden took place several years ago during a stopover en-route to the world famous Icehotel, which is located 200km above the Arctic Circle in the north of the country. After a very quick overnight stay, I knew I had to return to explore more of what this captivating city had to offer.
The perfect opportunity arose when I was thinking of a suitable destination for myself and my ten year old daughter to visit for a girly three night break in August. I needed to choose wisely for the two of us – somewhere I could navigate my way around easily, where there were lots of things for us to see and do, and most importantly, I needed to feel safe and comfortable on my own with Freya in an unfamiliar city.
I decided Stockholm was the ideal destination for the two of us, so in August this year, we flew with Scandinavian Airlines (who I found to be very good) on the short two hour journey to Arlanda airport and made our way to the city centre by the super quick and extremely clean and comfortable Arlanda Express train – within twenty minutes we were in the heart of the city.
Stockholm is built across fourteen islands, so wherever you are in the city, you are never far away from water. The water here is so clean that you often see locals fishing for salmon and sea trout next to the Royal Palace and Parliament building. There are several districts, all very different in style, and I decided to spend our three nights based in the old town, otherwise known as Gamla Stan. Dating back to the 13th century, Gamla Stan has the most wonderful colourful buildings, and you can spend hours wandering around the very narrow medieval streets which are filled with shops, restaurants and bars. At night, Gamla Stan really comes alive, and the main square of Stortorget, which is one of the most photographed areas of Stockholm, is filled with musicians and various entertainers which all adds to the charm and atmosphere of this beautiful district.
One of the main reasons I chose Stockholm for a city break with my daughter, was for the abundance of museums and galleries appealing to all ages – there are over 100 art galleries and 80 museums to choose from. Most of the museums we visited were located in the picturesque district of Djurgarden – a beautiful green island with vast forests and lovely parks which are extremely popular with both locals and tourists alike. One of the most popular museums for people of all ages is the ABBA Museum – we had such fun here, and even got to sing along with ABBA on stage and make our very own video! It’s definitely worth a visit even if you are not a fan of the group.
A must for any families visiting Djurgarden is Skansen – the first open air museum in the world. Here you can learn about all aspects of Swedish history and culture and see how people in years gone by carried out their daily tasks. Skansen has one of the best zoo’s I have ever visited with a wide range of wild animals which are native to the area such as bears, wolverines and elks. The views from Skansen across to the city are stunning – I was quite envious of the location of the animals’ homes in the zoo! Other museums we visited included the world famous Vasa museum, the Nordic museum (one of my favourites including exhibitions on Sami culture, and Swedish fashion and design), and Aquaria Vattenmuseum.
Another of the main attractions on Djurgarden (and my daughters’ personal favourite) is Grona Lund, Sweden’s oldest amusement park. Open on selected days throughout the summer months, Grona Lund has a wonderful atmosphere in the evening with the most amazing views across to Gamla Stan, and it is also the venue for lots of rock and pop concerts.
Travelling around Stockholm is extremely easy. We managed to visit the majority of the city by foot, but we also used the tram on several occasions which ran frequently throughout the day and night. The metro, or underground, is an efficient way to travel, and it is has been called Stockholm’s longest art gallery, with over 90 stations being decorated with mosaics, sculptures and paintings. A great way to see as many sights as possible is to take a sightseeing bus or boat tour. We did both during our stay, and it was good to see Stockholm from both the land and water – it gave you a different perspective on the city. Both tours have audio commentary available giving valuable information on the history of each area visited. I think it’s a great idea to do a tour at the beginning of your stay in Stockholm, so that if you see an area you particularly like, you can go and visit it again in more depth at another time during your trip. If time allows, a day cruise around Stockholm’s archipelago consisting of over 30’000 islands is a must, and a photographers dream.
As with most cities, Stockholm is a shoppers’ paradise with each district having its own style. For high street brands, Drottninggatan is the place to be, or if you prefer designer labels, then upmarket Ostermalm is perfect. If you are looking for smaller boutiques, then Sodermalm has a wide variety of vintage and eclectic shops, and is known as the creative and trendy area of Stockholm.
Foodies will not be disappointed, as the city is full of restaurants catering for all taste buds and budgets. I particularly enjoyed a visit to Saluhall in chic Ostermalm which is a busy food market selling a wide range of fresh, seasonal produce. Freya and I enjoyed a hot chocolate and sweet Swedish treat here, and it was so nice to mix with the locals and sample various tastes of Sweden in an authentic environment.
In my opinion, Stockholm is the perfect destination for a city break for people of all ages. It’s extremely friendly, with a relaxed atmosphere and must surely be one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. You are never short of things to do and places to visit in Stockholm, and I hope to return again soon to discover even more of what this fantastic city has to offer.Browse Stockholm