From the moment I got here I was immediately surprised by the amount of water everywhere.
That’s going to sound ridiculously ignorant but somehow the fact that Stockholm is spread across 14 islands just never made it to my attention.
The result of this though makes for a really good looking city.
As a Scandinavian country almost everyone speaks English so it’s very easy to get around.
People are very friendly and so healthy, as I walked past this area pictured below during lunch time I kid you not – every person that was eating, was eating a salad!
I only had a couple days here and I knew that it wasn’t going to be near enough but it was a decent amount of time to get to see some highlights still, especially since the weather was so kind! Here’s a few things I got up to here.
Now there’s an Ice Bar in most cities these days, but I figure if you’re going to visit one it might as well be at the first permanent one ever created in the world right?
At a chilly -5 degrees you’re given a thick jacket and gloves to wear but you can still feel the cold pretty significantly, especially when you walk in with light clothing on since it’s the middle of summer outside!
The drinks even come in glasses made of ice and the whole experience is pretty cool (couldn’t resist the pun).
Stockholm’s City Hall is the location for the Nobel Peace Prize banquet each year and I can see why it’s the site for such an event.
My group had a guided tour of the building which was really great and the highlight for me was when we were led into a room covered in a gold mosaic.
The entire building is quite lovely though and there’s a great amount of detail to many of the City Hall’s rooms. In fact, the building itself is not even a 100 years old which is quite surprising.
From here I chose to start the rest of my day with a visit to Gamla Stan, which was easily one of my favourite parts of the city that I got to and is essentially the Old Town of Stockholm.
It’s a great location to check out some stores and spend a few hours after having a laid back meal, simply meandering its streets.
Buildings just around the corner from the palace
Not too far away from the centre of Gamla Stan you can easily walk to the Royal Palace where the King of Sweden resides and watch the changing of the guard.
I’d recommend getting there early since it gets super crowded very quickly.
The best part which I wasn’t expecting was that some of the guard played their instruments on horse back – so awesome!
The Vasa Museum (which houses a fully intact 17th century ship) is one of the most visited sites in Scandinavia however after getting superbly lost for a good chunk of the day with a couple of my friends I only had time to make it to one museum.
So I chose not the Vasa but another cultural gem which is nearby – the ABBA Museum.
The most touristy photo I have ever taken
It is basically the story of the band from its inception to its break up and includes a variety of displays including their costumes, reproductions of their studio and mementos of everything from band concert tees to ABBA dolls.
My parents have so many records of ABBA since they were huge in Australia during the 1970s and I listened to them countlessly when I was younger. I really enjoyed being able to relive some of their music here, it brought back a few memories!
You can even sing along with ABBA’s holographic counterparts in a staged video at the very end of the self guided tour. It was so cheesy I had to do it.
As I mentioned, my friends and I got pretty epically lost for some time.
A building. Location, unknown due to lack of directional sense
However, it wasn’t a complete waste (it never truly is when a city is as pretty as Stockholm anyway!) since we stumbled across a market not too far off the main shopping area of town which had some neat knick knacks.
I didn’t actually visit the Stadsbibliotek since I only found out how amazing the public library of Stockholm is after visiting which is such a shame, but thought I would share it all the same in the hope that someone else might find this tip useful.
Fair enough going to a library might not be how you want to spend some of your vacation time, but when you see how perfectly round the main reading room is and the fact that the bookshelves are from ceiling to floor on each level, it makes for a really impressive sight of colourful books in all directions you look!
All to soon it seemed it was time to leave Stockholm behind and head on the overnight ferry to Helsinki.
I’ll certainly be back to see more of this beautiful city one day though!