Flying in over the vast watery archipelago surrounding Stockholm, I wondered why Sweden was not on my radar earlier.
Water is certainly a feature of anyone’s stay in this beautiful city, as ferries and sightseeing boats slide gracefully under its fifty bridges, affording views of its ochred buildings, churches, palaces, and even funfairs, hugging the cliffs and coastline.
Medieval Gamla Stan, Old Town, is a must. Here, in the 13th century, Stockholm was founded and it is one of the best preserved medieval city centres in Europe. Strolling its cobbled streets, painted in terracottas and ochres reminiscent of southern Europe, there are many temptations- craft and design shops, pubs and restaurants. Here too you will find the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, the Riddarholmen and the Nobel Museum, as well as Mårten Trotsig’s alley, only 90 centimetres wide in parts.
Rooftop hiking, safely harnessed, is another great way to explore the skyline. Not for the faint-hearted or vertigo sufferers, and I passed on this one, but more here.
Swedish/Scandinavian design is renowned – it’s not just Ikea, Absolut Vodka and the Dala Horse – so factor in some time to locate some cool design stores, as well as the big department stores such as the iconic NK on Hamngaten. I loved the graphic folkart textiles, glassware and kitchen utensils in funky designs and colours.
Great fish and seafood is of course to be expected. I loved the bustle at the B.A.R bistro with its uncomplicated, delicious fresh food and lively ambiance. And for a truly great gastronomic experience there’s Mathias Dahlgren’s Michelin starred restaurant at the Grand Hôtel – unforgettable.
An unexpected aspect of Stockholm was the variety of architecture, particularly early and mid -20th century buildings, such as the City Hall, a foremost example of the National Romantic style and reminiscent of buildings in Venice. There’s plenty to keep architecture buffs or keen photographers happy here.
I had heard about the garden of an artist Prince, Waldemarsrudde, and a taxi ride took us to the bucolic setting along the water’s edge. As we made our way along the path through the woodland, deer stumbled into our path amidst banks of woodland flowers and cow parsley.
Prins Eugen left his home to the State and it is now a popular Art museum; the gardens and setting are lovely too with interesting sculptures thoughtfully placed
and benches arranged to make the most of the view.
It is true that Stockholm can be an expensive city to visit, but it is beautiful, accessible, stylish and surrounded by forests and water. It is one of The great capital cities of Europe.
This was my first time to Sweden, indeed to Scandinavia.
I feel sure it won’t be my last.