One-third water, one-third greenbelt, and
one-third city area, this city with a natural equilibrium was founded
in 1252, and has been Sweden's capital since 1436. Many of us know
about this city which home to the Nobel
Prize, as well as the famed annual jazz festival and
perennial smorgasbord, but there's even more to discover in Stockholm.
This is a contemporary, trendy, and sophisticated city, yet Stockholm
beckons in part because of its small-town feel.
A good place to start a visit to Stockholm
is in The
Old Town or Gamla Stan, a compact, pedestrian-friendly
island of cobblestone streets and colorful historic buildings. Here,
Royal Palace stands as a testament to Sweden's historic
position of great power in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Completed
in 1754, the Royal Palace has several areas open to the public:
the Hall of State; Royal Chapel; Gustavus III's Antique Museum;
the Treasury with the Royal Regalia and other jewels; and the Royal
Armory. The Honour Guard has been positioned at the palace since
1523. If you're near the courtyard around noon, pause for the changing
of the guard. Meander the narrow streets of Old Town, and browse
the boutiques, antique stores and local handicraft shops. Sweden
is known for its sleek and innovative designs, while its crystal
and glass art are legendary. Some stores and art galleries such
Kristall offer glassblowing demonstrations. along the
way, do try one of the restaurants or outdoor cafes where sipping
coffee is a national pastime.
Stockholm boasts 100 art galleries and 70
museums. You can learn about past laureates at the Nobel Museum,
temporarily located at the Stock Exchange building in the heart
of Old Town. The Nobel prizes have been awarded in Stockholm since
their inception in 1901. Inventor and industrialist Alfred
Nobel stipulated in his will that the interest of his
fortune should be distributed annually to those who have done the
greatest good for mankind in the fields of chemistry, literature,
medicine, peace, and physics. Also visit the stunning Blue
Hall in City Hall where the exclusive Nobel banquet
takes place. You can sample past menus at the Stadshuskallaren restaurant
in City Hall.
A must-see is the amazing Vasa
Museum built around the royal warship Vasa.
Intended for a major role in the Swedish navy, the Vasa embarked
on her maiden voyage in 1628, but unfortunately she capsized and
sank in the harbor. Attempts to raise the ship failed. Most of the
Vasa’s 64 guns were raised in 1664, but it wasn't until 1953
that Anders Franzen began his search for the ship. He located the
Vasa three years later, and after much exploration and digging,
the Vasa was lifted out of the deep after 333 years. Incredibly,
the ship was largely intact. Originally, the ornate Vasa took three
years to build and featured hundreds of gilded and painted sculptures.
Its hull is constructed from 1000 oak trees. Some say the Vasa’s
enormous size and masts, and heavy guns contributed to the sinking.
Opened in 1990, the Vasa Museum occupies the site of the former
When you take a break from sightseeing, stop
in Stockholm's “coolest” bar — the Icebar at the
Nordic Hotel. This is definitely a bar experience out of the ordinary.
You're given a thick, hooded parka and gloves before you go in.
Step up to the ice bar, and order a beverage (even orange juice)
that is served in ice glasses. Yes, the glasses really are made
out of ice — hence the need for the gloves.
Now it's time for the quintessential Swedish
smorgasbord at the historic Grand
Hotel's Veranda. You're even given a list of seven
tips on how to best enjoy the feast!
1. Think of the Swedish smorgasbord as a
four-to six-course meal.
2. Do not overload your plate. Make several trips to the buffet
instead and take a fresh plate each time.
3. Begin with the herring dishes traditionally accompanied with
hot potatoes. Then try a slice of sharp Swedish cheese, crisp bread
and a shot of aquavit with cold Scandinavian beer.
4. Next, sample the fish dishes, and try the Swedish specialty gravlax
(marinated salmon), and don't forget the mustard sauce with dill.
Try the smoked eel and salmon with a squeeze of lemon.
5. Then we suggest a variety of salads, egg dishes and cold cuts
of meat and poultry.
6. Now take your pick of the hot dishes — and remember to
take lingonberries with your homemade meatballs.
7. And finally, enjoy one of our famous desserts — the fruit
salad is always delicious. Why not complete the smorgasbord by having
a strong cup of coffee together with chilled traditional Swedish
Lapland: A Side Trip Worth
A trek to Lapland and the Arctic Circle is within your reach from
Stockholm. It's only an hour's flight (via a 737, not a small commuter
plane) to the charming and friendly town of Lulea, the gateway to
Lapland. The shallow Lulea archipelago of 700 islands is at the
top of the Gulf of Bothnia, which lies between Sweden and Finland.
With a wide pedestrian-only street, downtown
Lulea is an excellent place to find specially-made handcrafts from
local and regional artisans. Perhaps you'd like to sample the local
delicacies of bleak roe and reindeer meat. Or not.
During the summertime, Lulea offers visitors
the most hours of daylight. In fact, it barely gets dark. If you're
a golfer, you can play 24 hours a day at Rutvik, the most northerly
27-hole course in Sweden.
A short distance away, the World Heritage
Site of Gammelstad
Church Town remains a remarkable example of the traditional
church town of Northern Scandinavia. Of Sweden’s original
71 church towns, only 16 are left today. Gammelstad is the largest
and best preserved with 408 cottages and the stone church, which
was built in 1492. Farmers and their families converged here to
attend mass, court sessions and parish meetings. It also afforded
them the opportunity to meet people from other villages, so “courting
sessions” were not uncommon. The church town tradition lives
on, and a few times a year parishioners are invited for a church
Less than two hours from Lulea, you'll cross
the Arctic Circle into Lapland.
It can be rather exhilarating to stand underneath the gigantic sign
marking the official Arctic Circle. By the way, the region of Lapland
encompasses the far north part of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.
The indigenous people of Lapland are the Sami,
who were traditionally reindeer-herding nomads. Today the Sami’s
economy is based on reindeer farming, fishing, hunting, and handicrafts.
Not far from the Arctic Circle, the town of Jokkmokk
pays homage to the native people with the Sami Museum. The comprehensive
museum takes visitors through exhibit areas that are devoted to
every detail of Sami life — from the early settlers to elaborate
costumes that are still worn today.
The annual market in Jokkmokk, which has
been in operation for more than 400 years, still draws people in
to gather around, chat, buy, and sell. Even today, in this setting
of old traditions, deals are made with a firm handshake. Market
time is quite chilly, but the folks are warm and welcoming.
For more information, see www.lulea.se