Stockholm is scattered across 14 islands in Lake Mälaren and is virtually surrounded by water and killer views. With its grandiose stucco walled buildings coloured with vibrant vanilla, red and orange coating, Sweden´s capital is blessed with grace and charm that blends superbly with the a unique coastal presence. Rich in cultural history and a modern eye for futuristic design, Stockholm is in a class of its own and is one of the must-visit city´s in Europe.
With its 700 year old history nowhere presents a better picture of Stockholm than the cobblestones and winding arteries of Old Town, Gamla Stan. Admire the elegance of the Royal Palace and the awe-inspiring architecture of present-felt gothic churches and the glittering City Hall which presents the Nobel Prize ceremony. The cosmopolitan ambience throws up an assortment of urban cafes and stylish restaurants serving up delicious international and local recipes. In fact, in recent years, Sweden´s capital is developing a name for itself as one of the finest culinary centres of the world.
Design and fashion
For decades, Sweden has had a glowing reputation for cutting-edge design and its fashion is not far behind in the quality stakes. If you love labels you will love Stockholm for its array of unique designer boutiques and fashion friendly high-street shops. For independent labels and international brands head for Ostermalm, or if you are looking for vintage or retro you are sure to have some luck in the bohemian shops of funky Sodermalm.
Of the island archipelago, Sodermalm is the most artistic and grunge. Graced by high waterfront hills and historic townhouses the creative community has stamped its influence here with a string of urban shops, imaginative cafes and independent contemporary art galleries tucked into narrow side streets. Fans of Steig Larsson´s Millennium Trilogy have the opportunity to go on the Millennium Tour.
Swedish Royal Family
The Swedish Royal family don´t get as much press covering as the more illustrious European royals, but the regal presence is more than felt in Stockholm. Built on the foundation of a medieval castle is the Royal Palace where you can witness the changing of the guards and just round the corner is The Royal Chapel where the crown Princess Victoria was wed in 2010.
To get the most out of Stockholm´s visitor attractions it is worth investing in a Stockholm a la carte which gives you prepaid access to over 80 museums and venues including the Royal Palace. It also gets you around on public transport for no extra cost.
The Boats of Stockholm
As you can imagine boats are an essential mode of transport in the archipelago of Stockholm, but the cities most famous ship is retired – well actually revived. The 69m long royal warship, the Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was painstakingly salvaged in 1961 and reassembled. She now currently stands proudly in her own custom-designed museum that was constructed at the turn of the Millennium the ship and the forensically reconstructed faces of the ill-fated crew that perished with her.
Although there are around 24,000 islands that make up the archipelago of Stockholm, only 150 of them are inhabited and visitor´s to Sweden´s capital are urged to take a steam boat or ferry to explore them. You can even hop onto a boat or pontoon that host a bar and join the friendly and relaxed locals in a beer as you are shipped from one stunning view to another. Ferries leave from the Blasieholmen peninsula.
If you are on a short-break and pressed for time, you can get a true taste of Sweden in Skansen which is a miniature version of the country and has more than 150 traditional and original buildings that were transported here bit by bit and reconstructed. You will also find traditional shops with home-made goods such as cakes, pastries and other food stuff together with urban ware made by potters and glassblowers who you can watch at work.
Stockholm has regular ferries each day and is a major ferry port in its own right. Destinations served include Helsinki (Finland), Riga (Latvia) and Tallinn (Estonia), prices and bookings can be accessed at http://www.channelferries.co.uk/
Stockholm also has a grand reputation for its pulsating nightlife and there are many world-class nightclubs attracting some of the world´s best DJ´s. It is very much a rock and pop city and there is an active underground music scene with live bands playing every night. For something more upmarket head for one of Stockholm´s exclusive VIP bars.
Stockholm is an impressive Scandinavian City well worth a visit. Its historic charm and architecture combined with its cultural diversity and love of all things boating make it an ideal location to visit for either a weekend break or even a week’s stay.