Some capital cities are slightly more under the radar than others, and unfairly so. Stockholm is one of them; it has everything Paris or London has but without oppressive over-population and stifling volumes of traffic.
Hakan Groth recommends Stockholm
And for a city, it offers an almost unrivalled array of open space. Spreading across 14 islands, with more than 50 bridges, the city sits on a unique, Baltic Sea archipelago.
As befitting a major European city, there are myriad attractions and things to do, including more than 50 museums. Summer is obviously the best time to visit but the winters can also be enchanting, with flaky snow on the ground, cobalt-blue skies and crisp, cold (but very fresh) air.
As Sweden’s capital and largest city, Stockholm is both family-friendly and vibrant.
Here, you will find cutting-edge fashion and stylish shops in the Östermalm area, as well as vintage stores, eclectic art galleries and antique shops in ultra-cool Södermalm. There are many restaurants serving traditional Swedish food, such as leverpalt (dumplings with liver), stekt strömming (fried herring), and the seafood, particularly the shrimp and lobster, is especially good. Strolling around the picturesque Gamla Stan (Old Town) area, with its ochre-coloured medieval houses, cobbled streets and delightful cafés, must be on your To Do list.
To get there, Emirates offer flights from Muscat via Dubai. British Airways also offers flights from Muscat via London.
My favourite place- Drottningholm Palace Theatre, for the experience of seeing an opera or ballet in a uniquely preserved theatre that has been untouched since 1766, when it was built. It offers a magical evening you will never forget. Book for tickets online well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Highlights- From the end of the Gamla Stan area, take a ferry at Slussen over to the island of Djugården, where the grown-ups can enjoy the museums; and the kids, the expansive and lush parkland areas. At Skansen, the world’s first open-air museum, you can do both at the same time. More than 150 historical buildings and farms from all over the country were transported here. It’s a wonderful showcase of the country’s heritage, with many activities for all the family. It also has a zoo, with reindeers, elks, lynxes, wolves and bears. Prins Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, also on Djurgården, is one of the city’s most popular art museums. The former 19th-century prince’s home, it boasts a unique collection of mostly Scandinavian art from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. You’ll also find the Gröna Lund amusement park in Djurgården, with more than 30 attractions, and it also stages concerts in the evenings.
On Kungsholmen island, take a boat from Stockholm City Hall to Drottningholm to see the Royal Palace, the Palace Theatre, the Chinese Pavilion and the elegant gardens. You can also have a delicious lunch onboard. If the weather is fine, sit outside and take in the many charming lakeside houses. Don’t forget the delicious waffles at the Chinese Pavilion’s café. You’ll want seconds, with endless cups of coffee!
Lowlights- Taxi fares are quite high. You can download Uber for use here but it doesn’t offer much of a price difference. I recommend cab companies such as Taxi Stockholm, Taxi Kurir or Taxi 020 with meters and fixed fares to the airport.
Souvenirs- Gamla Stan is full of shops selling tasteful (and not so tasteful) souvenirs. Make sure you visit the Royal Palace gift shop. For finer items such as Swedish crystal from Orrefors and Kosta Boda, visit the department stores Åhléns and Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), as well as the interiors store Svenskt Tenn.
Where to stay- Hotel Esplanade AB is a reasonably priced boutique hotel overlooking the water in the heart of Stockholm and within walking distance to most attractions. A cheaper alternative also in the heart of town is the old-fashioned Hotel Ornskold. If luxury is your thing, stay at the Grand Hotel directly across the water from the Royal Palace.
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1. Explore the wonderful Gamla Stan then cross the bridge to Södermalm, where you’ll find a funky, bohemian side of Stockholm with great food, cafes and shops
2. Visit the Royal Palace and see the state apartments and the crown jewels
3. Visit the Vasa Museum, and see the Vasa Warship that sank on its launch in 1628 and was salvaged after 333 years. It’s the most visited museum in Scandinavia
4. Visit ABBA The Museum, an interactive experience like no other, befitting the pop legends
5. Take a boat to Drottningholm for a magical day of exploring