I think from now on, l will continue to keep my expectations low or non-existent with regards to new places that we visit. It has served me well with Copenhagen among other places. I am pretty sure that expecting too much made me feel kind of blah about Amsterdam, a city everyone rages about. Here are a few ways Stockholm absolutely surprised and delighted us during our ten day trip.
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Our trip to Stockholm was for a blogger conference which went swimmingly. This was the second year of attendance. Last year, it was held in Lloret de Mar. When l heard Stockholm was the destination for 2016, l knew we had to attend, not just for the amazing networking with others in the industry, but it was also a place we had never visited, and were eager to. These are some things to know before visiting Stockholm.
Getting to Stockholm Sweden:
Stockholm, being the capital of Sweden, has a pretty big international airport. Plenty of the airlines serve the city. These include Swiss Air, Lufthansa and Iberia. Within Europe, there are also low budget, no frills airlines that cater to the budget travelers. Getting from Stockholm airport to the center is easy to too. The Arlanda express train will bring you directly from the airport in roughly 20 minutes and it departs every 15 minutes for most of the day. The train station is directly under the arrival terminal so it’s easy to find.
Stockholm Surprises In Size
Okay. Admittedly, l had no idea how big Stockholm was. I thought it would be the size of Copenhagen. This Swedish capital is also the most populous of all Nordic countries. There are over 925,000 people in the city and another 3.5 million spread out in the urban and metropolitan areas. The city is made up of fourteen islands. Located in the southwest of Sweden, at the mouth of Lake Malaren, the Baltic Sea and the Stockholm archipelago. Looking down below as the plane landed, you really get an idea of how immense the city is.
Surprise: Stockholm is Beautiful
The beauty of Stockholm city is stupendous! As we took pictures, the one thing we kept saying over and over was that it was impossible to take a bad picture of Stockholm. We had wonderful weather, perfect for t-shirts. We also had many hours of sunshine, with the sun rising about 3.30AM and not setting till 10PM or thereabouts. We visited some of the most gorgeous places. I always recommend stopping by the Stockholm visitor center to get a Stockholm city map. It will definitely help you navigate the city better.
Stockholm Sweden Travel Guide: (What to see, eat & where to stay).
What to see in Stockholm: (must visit places in Stockholm)
Sightseeing in Stockholm will delight you. It is a vast place with unique feels to the different areas. Here are just a few things that we were able to do as part of our Stockholm itinerary.
Stockholm City Hall:
Stockholm city hall is where the Nobel Peace Prize dinner occurs yearly. Truly one of the most beautiful places l have ever stepped in. The Gold Room in these pictures don’t do it justice at all. Over 19 million pieces of mosaic tiles decorate the room. It is famous for the annual ball that takes place following the Nobel Banquet. Floor to ceiling measures 144 feet. It just feels majestic and was by far my favorite room on the mandatory tour. It is one of the biggest Stockholm tourist attractions and it’s worth seeing.
Nordic Museum Stockholm:
Located on the island named Djurgarden. It houses Swedish cultural history from early to contemporary era. The beauty starts from the outside. The building itself is outstanding. Looks more befitting a cathedral, not a museum. We enjoyed touring it, easily spending over five hours discovering clothing, food and fashion of the past. No visit to Stockholm is complete without seeing this from the lines :-).
Stockholm Surprise: Greenery in Stockholm Parks
Did you know Stockholm was voted the European Green Capital in 2010? Neither did l, so don’t feel bad :-) . You don’t have to go far to be one with nature. Giant parks and clean, fresh air makes for family and pet friendly environment . I would say of course that the sunshine and high temperatures we enjoyed definitely had a lot to do with it l’m sure. It would have probably been a different story in the winter time when it is super cold.
Gamla Stan: (Things to do in Gamla Stan)
This is the old center of Stockholm. A very hip and vibrant place filled with shops, lots of restaurants and cafes. It is a great place to people watch while sipping cocktails. I am pretty sure that area is the biggest attraction in Stockholm for sure. While in Gamla Stan, you can:
- Visit the Stockholm Cathedral
- Visit the Nobel Museum
- Visit the Royal Palace with over 600 rooms and Royal Armory
- Visit Marten Trotzigs alley, the narrowest alley in Gamla Stan at just 90 centimeters wide!
- Visit Riddarholmen church, the royal church for burials that was originally a monastery.
- Stortorget, the main square that is the oldest, going as far back as the 14th century. Lots of people, lots of cafes and extremely pretty.
Stockholm Vasa Museum:
A maritime museum. It houses the almost intact 17th century warship that sank on her very first voyage in 1628. It is the most visited museum in all of Scandinavia and the view of the salvaged ship is memorable. It is a 64 gun vessel and it must have looked pretty menacing in the water. It’s hard not to think of Pirates of the Caribbean when you see it up close.
ABBA Museum Stockholm – A must see in Stockholm for any ABBA fan!:
Mama Mia!!!! Yes, this is the home of the superstar group. We were lucky enough to visit the amazing ABBA museum (goodie bag gift). Growing up listening to their music, it was nice to see all the various awards and accolades they have received over time. It was also kind of cool going down memory lane with the costumes and interactive audio and video areas. I highly recommend visiting the museum. It was much better than l thought it would be. I just wish l had actually gotten on stage “with them” :-) . What is your favorite ABBA song? Mine is “Does your mother know” and Federico loves “Fernando” (lyrics replaced with some football goalie god of his. He actually thought the original song was by their football team.. :-) ). I would definitely recommend this as one of the places to see in Stockholm. So much fun!
Drottingholm Palace Stockholm:
Official residence of the royal family. We took a tour of it and you can read all about it in this related post.
Stockholm Surprise: What to eat in Stockholm
I, for some reason thought we had taken many more pictures of food during our visit, but it turns out, we really didn’t. Part of the reason was because we both like the same food, especially salmon which we ate a lot of. It would have been ridiculous taking the same pictures. One thing that l completely forgot to take a picture of was our lunch of Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce which is what they fed us on the second day of the conference. It was absolutely amazing, and l think Federico must have eaten like 50 by himself :-) !!! My favorite dish by far was a cold poached salmon. On the whole, we felt food prices in Stockholm at restaurants were very pricey. More so than in Copenhagen which surprised us. A return visit is unlikely in the near future, way too much money.
Stockholm Surprise: Warmth of the people
We met so many wonderful and warm people during our visit. It started right from our arrival where we needed help navigating the gigantic airport. The staff were so helpful with directions from our terminal (2) to the International terminal (5). We took the regional train into the city instead of the Arlanda Express (took that for the return journey). Within two minutes of waiting for the train, we had struck up a conversation with an 18 year old girl who was just getting off her shift. By the time she got off the train 20 minutes later, it was hugs all around :-). We had interesting conversations with people on the other trains, one who actually got off on our stop to make sure we found our hotel before walking back to the station. Wow indeed! We saw some of the happiest, well adjusted and helpful people ever. Every place has its underbelly, but we were spared that, which leaves you with an outstanding impression of the city.
Interesting Lodgings and where to stay in Stockholm
During my online search for accommodation in Stockholm, the amazing National Geographic photographer named Lola Akinmade-Akerstrom, a resident of Stockholm told me of these boat hotels, or botels as they are commonly referred to. These are basically refurbished old boats and sea vehicles given a new life as hotels. We chose to stay on one almost right across from the city hall called the Loginn Hotel. It was quite an interesting experience. The cabins are tiny, barely big enough for one, never mind two :-). Every move had to be calculated. It was nice for one night, but only one! We enjoyed the porthole view of Stockholm and the rooftop deck that was obviously a hangout for locals as well as tourists. Every single cabin was booked, obviously something of interest to everyone, but l did notice our closest neighbors only stayed one night too. It was an okay price of $60. No frills and they threw in breakfast as well. We actually enjoyed it. The best part was the awesome view from the deck bar.
Our next hotel was the Generator Hostel in the central station area. We chose this place because it was only a short walk to the conference center. It was also new and hip and had all the bells and whistles. It was our first time at a hostel. We paid for a private room and it was a lovely one. Great flooring, and the bathroom was outstanding. I also liked the color scheme. What l did not like however was the fact that they do not make up your room daily. We thought the first day was an oversight and said nothing.
The next day Federico stormed down to complain, only to be told that the room was made up every 5th day!!! Really?? That shocked us. We got a 2 towels l guess because we had a private room. Everyone else had to rent them according to the sign in the room. We were paying $90 a night and l expected more for that money!!! :-) . There was no TV in the room either. I’m pretty sure it will be our last time of staying in a hostel :-) . We like a bit of pampering. I didn’t see people gathering together to share stories either like everyone says, just a bunch of people on their cell phones and in their own worlds. There were plenty of families and all ages.. young to old. I think at this stage in our lives, we are not hostel materials, no matter how hip it is. We will stick to hotels for now.
If you want a bit of pampering at a top notch hotel just a bit outside the city, we can definitely recommend the Djuronaset Hotel reviewed here.
Stockholm Biggest Surprise: Cost
I thought Amsterdam or London was one of the priciest places we had ever visited. I kind of figured Stockholm would be about the same, price wise. Wrong! It was more expensive than Amsterdam and Japan even. First l thought we were judging too harshly coming from Seville, but on talking with some other attendees, we saw that everyone felt the same. It was impossible to eat a lunch for two that was less than $30, and l am talking about a kebab, fries and soda each!!! ;-) .
Tips for visiting Stockholm:
- Bring plenty of money! No joke, it is quite an expensive place. You can save some by staying at a hostel, but even they are pricey. I remember the taxi was 1 crown per second, so basically 10 cents per second. It adds up quick! :-)
- Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking in Stockholm.
- Even in summer, I recommend bringing a light jacket, especially if you’re not used to the cold.
- Don’t forget your camera. Stockholm is picturesque
Stockholm is an absolutely amazing city. There is a lot to do and see and this is a little tip of the iceberg travel guide. These are just a few ways in which Stockholm surprises you. We were there for 10 days and barely scratched the surface.
Have you ever been to Stockholm? If yes, what were some of your favorite things to do in Stockholm? If not, does it look inviting from the post. Would you like to check out some of the wonderful surprises yourself?