“Why not go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” Mark Twain
Stockholm is known as one of the most inclusive and welcoming cities in the world. Its contemporary, urban appeal is balanced with centuries-old history and closeness to nature. As for the things to do in Stockholm, the list is endless.
Stockholm was officially founded in 1252 by the regent of Sweden, Birger Jarl. By the end of the 13th century, Stockholm had grown to become Sweden’s biggest city, serving as the country’s political centre and royal residence – one that was repeatedly besieged over the following centuries. King Gustav Vasa is forever celebrated for recapturing Stockholm in 1523, from the temporary rule of the King of Denmark.
Stockholm offers a smorgasbord of art and culture, from world-class museums and historically fascinating royal palaces, to niche galleries and intimate artist houses.
The city is easy to get around on foot or public transport, and its various districts have their own unique vibes – the island of Södermalm has a laid-back air, and is a draw for the creative set, while Östermalm is the picture of refined elegance. Nestling between these two areas, Norrmalm is a busy and vibrant downtown spot, and you’ll find the charming Old Town Gamla Stan south of Norrmalm.
Located on Sweden’s southeast coast, Stockholm weather changes according to four distinct seasons. Summers are warm – sometimes quite hot – and it rarely gets dark during the summer nights. The winters may be mild and rainy, in contrast also be cold and snowy. The hues of Autumn are spectacular in the city parks, and Spring is welcomed by locals, who are witnessed wrapped in blankets and sipping a drink, at outdoor restaurants and cafés. Spring and early Autumn can be nothing less than stunning. Stockholm is a very green coloured city, and seeing the city come to flourish in Spring time, is amazing. This is a beautiful time to walk around in parks, and into the city. Much of the city is made up of parks and greenspace. It’s not packed with tourists usually outside the main season, and one can still enjoy a hot chocolate thika or warm dish of meatballs or vegan meal, outdoors at a cafe. The early Autumn is just as beautiful, with the colour changes in nature. Often the weather is really temperate at this time of the year, chilly yet with clear skies. Some people actually like the Spring and Autumn more than the summers.
The top 3 activities to do/see in Stockholm:
See a Warship at the Vasa Museum
Welcoming 1.3 million guests per year, the Vasa Museum is one of the top Stockholm attractions. The gargantuan facility was built around the massive 17th century warship, which famously sank in the harbour on its maiden voyage, due to an engineering fail of epic proportions.
Despite going down, the heart of the city, the Vasa was not recovered for 300 years, but since it rested in clay for all that time it was nearly perfectly preserved, when it was finally brought to the surface.
Sip a cocktail at the subzero ICEBAR
It wouldn’t be a visit to Scandinavia without some sort of winter activity, regardless of what season it is, which is why a visit to the ICEBAR is literally one of the ‘cool’ things to do in Stockholm. It can be found in the Nordic C Hotel near the central train station, the icy lounge is open year-round and kept at -7 degrees celsius to preserve the intricately carved ice sculptures.
Ride the rails along an underground art gallery
You don’t have to head inside a museum to view incredible art installations in Stockholm in fact, it’s as simple as buying a ticket and riding the metro. Nearly 100 of the city’s underground subway stations make up what some call the ‘world’s longest art gallery,’ where artists have transformed otherwise drab, concrete terminals with vibrant sculptures, paintings and mosaics, each with a different theme.
The Swedish food can be some what interesting and unique in its flavours and textures.
Known as Köttbullar, there’s no Swedish food more famous around the world than Swedish meatballs, with their unique flavour and taste, they are a ‘must try’ when visiting Stockholm for meat eaters.
Probably one of the most notorious Swedish delicacies is Surströmming, fermented Baltic Sea herring, considered to be a famous delicacy in Sweden, is also known as one of the most pungent foods in the world!
In Sweden the coffee culture is so strong, that there’s a word called ‘Fika’ that actually means to have a coffee break. Coffee with a snack is an important part of the Swedish social culture.
Look out for another exciting virtual adventure next week.
Charlotte Fellows and Sarah McNaught
Researcher and Writer and Publishing Director