The capital of Sweden (also known as the capital of Scandinavia) is made up of 14 islands, part of an archipelago totalling 30,000 islands from where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea.
The city's natural location in the archipelago allows visitors to enjoy wildlife and water activities as well as experience the interesting historical, cultural and shopping sights. Its central islands are criscrossed by waterways and connected by 57 bridges. There are 38 parks in the city and the European Commission named Stockholm as Europe’s first Green Capital.
Where to Stay
Stockholm has accommodation options to suit a range of budgets.
The Radisson SAS Royal Viking Hotel is ideally located a 15-minute walk from the town centre and two minutes from the metro at Central station.
Situated on the waterfront, the Grand Hotel offers opulence and luxury. It opened in 1874.
The Jumbo Jet Hostel at Arlanda Airport is a 25-room hostel, a ten-minute walk from the departure hall with beds from £22 per night. The hostel is ideal for guests with a very early flight the next day. In 2010 Stockholm will get over 1,000 new hotel rooms, new conference facilities and larger exhibition grounds.
The Smorgasboard originated in 18th century Sweden and literally means "sandwich table" or "bread and butter table". It came about from the upper class tradition of serving spirits and small appetizers to gentlemen before dinner. It is typically a four to six course meal of herring, potatoes, Swedish cheese, Gravalax (marinated salmon),salads, meat including meatballs and poultry, traditional desserts and fruit salad. This is washed down by snaps and beer.Try a traditional Smorgasboard on the on the Veranda at the Grand Hotel.
The Nordic Light Hotel serves brunch every Sunday and the Radisson SAS Royal Viking Hotel is home to the Stockholm Fisk (fish) Restaurant, where the day's local catch is served with Swedish flavours.
B.A.R is due to open in November 2009 and will be the third restaurant directed by chefs Henrik Norström and Peter Johansson (responsible for Stockholm gourmet experience LUX). Guests will be welcome to participate in the creation of their own meals at the ‘Ocean Grill’ style restaurant by stepping up to the fish tank or ice counter to choose among a variety of fresh fish, meat, seafood, seasonal vegetables and condiments.
For exclusive fashion and design go to the Östermalm district where most of the Swedish and brand stores can be found along with an antiques precinct, fine art, crafts and design. The H&M flagship store is located at Hangatanm and head to Södermalm (Söder means South) or the area South of Folkungatan (branded as SoFo) for bohemian quirky shops where you'll find new young fashion designers and second-hand stores.
Stockholm has the largest medieval city in Northern Europe dating back to the 13th century located at its centre. This is made up of two islands, Gamla Stan (the Old Town) and Riddarholmen. The historic Gamla Stan is home to the Royal Palace, several churches, narrow, picturesque streets and alleys with shops, restaurants, bars and cafés.
For children there’s the amusement park Gröna Lund at Royal Djurgården which used to be the king's garden. The Vasa Museum is also there. The Vasa is the world’s only surviving 17th century ship. Visitors can learn the story of how it was built, how it sunk and was raised and how it was preserved by Lake Mälaren. The Nordic Museum is also located in Djurgården.
Stockholm City Hall in Kungsholmen is a beautiful buliding dominated by its tower which can be climbed to see a panoramic view of the city. The Blue Hall is used for the Nobel Prize Banquet. The Nobel Prize was established by the Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel.
May 2010 will see the opening of a new photography museum Fotografiska in downtown Stora Tullhuset, near Stadsgård wharf. The Stockholm Skyview, will be inaugurated on in February 2010. Ride 85 meters in the SkyView which takes you up the outside of the Ericsson Globe - the largest spherical building in the world. www.skyviewstockholm.se
Stockholm has a lively and varied nightlife with pubs, cafe's and club-style restaurants for different tastes and ages. For the younger crowd, Vaastan, Kungsholmen and Södermalm are the places to be and the larger establishments can be found in the precinct around Kungstradgarden. The clubs are open until the early hours and the city has gained a worldwide reputation for live music. Stockholm is home to the world’s first permanent bar made of ice, the ABSOLUT ICEBAR STOCKHOLM in the Nordic Sea Hotel.
How to get there
Stockholm-Arlanda Airport is an international airport serving low-cost airlines and cargo operators. It is the largest airport in Sweden and is also one of three major hubs of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS). Stockholm-Skavsta Airport is Stockholm's second largest airport. Stockholm-Bromma Airport is the closest to the city.
SAS, Scandinavian Airlines fly to Stockholm Arlanda Airport from Heathrow and London City Airport. www.flysas.com
How to Get Around
The best way to experience the Stockholm archipelago is to travel by ferry from island to island.
Most of the city can be discovered on foot and there's a reliable public transport system of buses, underground and local trains covering the entire Stockholm region. The Stockhom Card (also offers free admission to museums and attractions) or SL's Tourist card allows unlimited travel.
The Arlanda Express is the fastest way to travel between Arlanda airport and the city in 20 minutes.
April - Walpurgis celebrates the end of winter with a traditional bonfire, parties and singing on the last day of the month
June - Midsummer festival which takes place in late June is the most important in Sweden. It is marked by Maypole dancing, herring, snaps and singing
August – the month for crayfish parties, with singing and snaps
December – the Nobel Prize Banquet at City Hall and the festival of light is celebrated on December 13 when children sing and carry candles to brighten up the dark winter morning
Location: Stockholm is located on Sweden's south-central east coast, where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea.
Time: GMT + 1 hour Language: Swedish (Swenska) is the official language of Sweden
Population: Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden with a population of 818,603 in the city, 1.25 million in the urban area (2005) and around 2 million in the metropolitan area.
Religion: Christianity is considered the official religion of Stockholm Telephone
Currency: The Krona, abbreviated to ‘kr’ and often informally referred to as the Swedish Crown
Passport/visa requirements: British nationals may enter Sweden with a passport, and no visa is necessary for passport-holders endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen, or British Subject for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
Flight time: Approximately two and a half hours from London
photos by Jill Sayles