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City of Islands - Stockholm

Updated: Jan 9, 2019

My fascination with Scandinavian culture started from when I was little, my grandfather – an architect born and raised in Mexico, designed and filled spaces with furniture inspired by Scandi architects and designers. The pop of colour, the aesthetics and the functionality always caught my attention. As I grew older, I started to read and learn about the Vikings, their mythology and the rich history of that region of the world.

We booked a mini weekend getaway to visit Stockholm in mid-September and stayed in a hotel in the central area of Östermalm. The weather was still a little warm, but it is recommended to take a raincoat as it can still rain a lot after their August rain season (the wettest month during the year) and turn a bit chilly. During the second half of June it barely ever gets dark in Stockholm during some weeks due to the midnight sun. In the city centre you will have easy access to public transportation like the subway - which is also known as the world’s longest art gallery, with the majority of its stations being adorned with paintings, sculptures and mosaics.

During our first night- due to limited time, we explored the areas nearby. We did our research and pinned a few bars and places to eat on our app and headed straight to the Norrmalm district and visited the 5EMANN bar located by the lobby of the quirky-chic Hobo Hotel where we had a couple of really good cocktails before heading for a little exploration walk and finally back to our hotel.

The next day we decided to skip breakfast, but, if you are not crazy like us, we recommend you to book a space ahead of your trip at Riche, located in the Östermalm area, is a Hip bistro with a Swedish/French menu & a quirky décor – seems to be THE place to visit for a nice weekend brunch as it is very popular with the locals.

We walked through Kungsträdgården until we arrived to the island of Gamla Stan - the Swedish capital is situated on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges. Gamla Stan is one of the best-preserved medieval city centres in Europe. A series of cobbled streets, baroque restaurants and beautiful churches, this is where the capital was founded back in 1252. Little did we know that this tiny island full of beautiful buildings, tiny restaurants and cosy alleyways hosted the highly recommended Nobelmuseet or Nobel Museum in the main square. Stockholm is the home of the Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature.

Following a delicious lunch consisting of traditional Swedish meatballs and pints of beers at Engelen, we went for a walk and decided to visit the Katarinahissen or Katarina Elevator located in the Katarina-Sofia district, from which you can capture beautiful views of the city of Stockholm. But be warned as the elevator has been closed and the viewpoint is only accessible by going up several flights of stairs, but it is truly worth it as you can see the beauty and contrast of architecture of the city.

After finishing exploring that area we crossed towards the island of Kungsholmen, home to the Stockholm City Hall - a beautiful red building located by the waterside, where the annual Nobel Prize ceremony is held in its banquet hall. We walked towards the Norr Mälarstrand waterfront promenade and decided to visit another hidden gem from our list of bars called Orangeriet, an easygoing waterside cafe/bar with a country-chic vibe & garden theme. The place had excellent service and we really enjoyed our time in the terrace by the waterfront. And, like I said before, Swedes like to party and we continued our night visiting bars around the Östermalm area until the early hours. You won’t be disappointed by the Stockholm nightlife at all.

On Sunday we decided to head towards Djurgården island- accessible by ferry from Gamla Stan and by foot from mainland Stockholm. The island is home of several museums. First we visited the iconic Nordiska Museet or Nordic Museum that has a vast collection of Swedish arts and crafts as well as an insight to Swedish festivities. Then the highly recommended Vasa Museum - listed as Sweden’s most visited attraction in 2017, features the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged that tragically sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The island is also home of Tivoli Grönalund - a seasonal amusement park with roller coasters & thrill rides, competitive games & live concerts; an aquarium ‘Aquaria Vattenmuseum’; the National History museum or Biologiska Museet, Skansen – an open air museum dedicated to Swedish history & a zoo with Nordic animals, plus bar/dining.

Don’t bother visiting the Viking museum advertised in Djurgården island, instead head to the Historiska museet or Swedish History Museum located in the Östermalm neighbourhood. It displays pieces from the Viking era and the Middle Ages, it is free of charge and is one of the best collections of Viking artefacts in the world.

With over 70 museums and several royal palaces, Stockholm is definitely worth a visit; your choice of a weekend city break, a long bank holiday, or probably splurge the cash and stay for a week and get to explore the beautiful lakes and countryside. Sweden is a country full of festivals and holidays and the Swedes like to celebrate every occasion, hence their use of the word lagom (pronounced: laaaw-gum) – with its virtue of moderation and balance; they like to balance their hard working culture by indulging and enjoying themselves.

By: Lily Sevs

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