Whether you associate Sweden with IKEA, ABBA, fashion or otherwise, there’s a veritable smörgåsbord of activities and sights to choose from in the capital of Stockholm. Its trend-setting, contemporary city centre contrasts and complements the old town of Gamla Stan, which looks as though it’s been plucked straight from a fairytale, and despite the 14 islands and 57 bridges in the city, Stockholm’s neighbourhoods are easily accessible by foot. But what are the highlights? We’ll try and walk you through it.
A good place to start an exploration of any city is to check out one of the most popular tourist hotspots, to get a feel for what the place is all about. In this case, Stockholm’s significant site is Stadshuset, or Stockholm City Hall, one of Sweden’s most famous buildings and one of the capital’s most popular tourist attractions, best known for hosting the Nobel Prize Banquet in its Blue Hall, as well as the Golden Hall, which is lined with 18 million gold mosaic tiles! You could even leave Stadshuset feeling a little smarter, with part of the guided tour allowing you to take a walk down the same stairs you would if you’d won a Nobel prize: just don’t trip.
If the grand architecture of the City Hall doesn’t quite do it for you, Stockholm offers visitors and locals the chance to see some of the best modern artwork around at the Moderna Museet, or the Museum of Modern Art. The gallery is located on an island called Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm, and features pieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois and Henri Matisse, to name just a few. In the same complex lies the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, a must-visit for anyone even remotely interested in the Swede penchant for groundbreaking design, and exhibits drawings, models, architecture and urban planning.
If you’d rather experience Swedish architecture and design first hand, then get out of the galleries and into a river boat for a look at the beauty and unique skyline of Stockholm from the water. There are various options if you choose to sightsee in this way, including hop-on hop-off boats, tours of specific features like the 57 bridges of the city, or the canals, or you could even hire a boat yourself and discover Stockholm by its waterways yourself.
After taking in so much of the culture of the capital, some traditional Swedish food would nearly complete a scout around Stockholm. It turns out that the strange food found in IKEA by the hotdogs is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Swedish cuisine, and while it may be foreign to our English tastebuds, what’s the fun in travelling without a little culinary adventure? The food market of Östermalms Saluhall was opened in the 1880s, and has counters and stalls offering traditional Swedish delicacies and cuisine, known as ‘husmanskos’, as well as many restaurants and cafes. While the main market is closed for renovation, it has been moved to the outside square so you won’t have to worry about missing out on mouthwatering morsels such as Surströmming (fermented herring), gravlax (cured salmon) and falukorv (smoked sausage).
And if you’re worried accompaniments to your Swedish spread, there’s no lack of opportunity for a drink in Stockholm. Some favourites with locals and tourists alike include Häktet Vänster, a cocktail bar made popular by word of mouth (you even have to ring a doorbell to get in, giving that impressive ‘exclusive club’ vibe), Café Opera (legendary wine bar and exclusive night club) and, we could not fail to mention, the ICEBAR. ICEBAR is the world’s first permanent ice bar located in Stockholm, with cocktails served in ice glasses, kids welcome and activities such as ice sculpting, you’re sure to have a super cool time (just don’t forget your coat).
More importantly, don’t forget your sunglasses. Whether it’s Mens Sunglasses or Womens Sunglasses you are looking for, be sure to opt for a polarised lens to stop the glare from that low sun. We think the perfect pair for a trip such as this are these Carrera Maverick Aviator Sunglasses.