Stockholm has an excellent public transportation network of commuter trains, subways, and buses, making it easy to get around the city and its suburbs. For trips on the city’s abundant waterways, there are passenger ferries and excursion boats into the archipelago on the Baltic Sea side and into Lake Mälaren. The city also has extensive rail, bus, and air links to destinations throughout Sweden and beyond.
No one knows exactly when people first settled the place now known as Stockholm, but the city was first mentioned in writing in 1252 in documents signed by the regent Birger Jarl and his son, King Valdemar. Walking through Gamla Stan is like walking through Swedish history.
Built on 14 islands at the junction of the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren, Stockholm is beautiful no matter how you look at it, but one of the best ways to get a feel for the city’s intricate maze of islands and waterways is to head to one of the viewing towers or scenic viewpoints where you can look down on Stockholm from above. Here are some of the best places to get a bird’s-eye view of the “Venice of the North.”
Water dominates Stockholm, making a boat excursion a great way to get a feel for the city, which has been dubbed the Venice of the North. A wide range of guided boat tours is available both within Stockholm and to places nearby, and there are also countless opportunities to get out on the water for independent exploration.
Located on an island in Lake Mälaren west of Stockholm, Drottningholm Palace is a stunning example of a royal residence inspired by the Palace of Versailles in France. Its cultural heritage value is so outstanding that the Royal Domain of Drottningholm – the palace and its associated buildings and grounds – has been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1991.
Scandinavia’s most popular museum, the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, will be closed March 18 through April 30, 2013, for remodeling. The museum houses the impressively preserved royal warship Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961.
Have you ever wanted to sleep on an airplane without being strapped into an uncomfortable seat and fighting an armrest war with the stranger next to you? If so, you’ll find your opportunity at Jumbo Stay, a converted jet parked at the entrance to Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport.
“Stieg Larsson has transformed Stockholm for many of us,” says Elisabeth Daude, my guide on the Millennium walking tour, an intimate look at Stockholm’s Södermalm district as seen through the eyes of one of Sweden’s biggest cultural sensations of all time.
The moment that dancing queens, Mamma Mia! fans, and other ABBA aficionados around the world have been waiting for is finally coming. The long-delayed ABBA museum will open at last in Stockholm on May 7, 2013.
Some of Stockholm’s most imposing churches are located on the island of Södermalm south of Gamla Stan. Since much of Södermalm consists of a ridge rising above the rest of Stockholm, these churches are visible from many parts of the city and often command sweeping views.
Sweden’s largest railway station, Stockholm Central, sits at the western end of Stockholm’s downtown shopping district, with its main entrance on Vasagatan. From here, trains depart for major cities and towns throughout Sweden. The Arlanda Express train leaves Stockholms Central four to six times an hour and takes just 20 minutes to the airport.
Stockholm’s three surviving market halls – Hötorgshallen, Östermalms Saluhall, and Söderhallarna – are filled with colorful and enticing foods from around the world. For locals, these markets are popular places to buy the raw materials for home-cooked meals, but visitors can also enjoy a wander through these enticing emporia, where you’ll also find a variety of cafés and restaurants serving up specialty meals and snacks.
Gaze out from any viewpoint overlooking Stockholm, and you’ll notice the spires and cupolas soaring above the surrounding rooftops. Stockholm has a wealth of churches dating from various periods in the city’s history. The oldest of these provide a fascinating journey into the past and are, logically enough, located in the Old Town.
Every December the world’s eyes turn to Stockholm for the awarding of the Nobel Prizes, an experience that must surely rank among the highlights of the winners’ professional lives. However, if — like most of us — you’re unlikely ever to win a Nobel Prize of your own, you can still act like a winner and visit the various locations associated with the prizes.