One of the most beautiful and culturally rich Scandinavian destinations, Stockholm attracts millions of visitors each year looking to experience Sweden's largest city. A key aspect to the admirable charm is its coastal location where the Baltic Sea and Lake Malaren divide it into fourteen separate islands. Gorgeous architecture, innovative museums, incredible restaurants, prominent seasons and friendly inhabitants are just some of the things to expect from this swanky metropolis in northern Europe. When planning a trip to Stockholm, there are certain things to keep in mind for a smooth and well prepared visit.
Stockholm is a year round destination with each season offering a fresh perspective. In the summer the city comes alive with people sitting on patios, swimming in the sea, lounging in the parks and making the most of the warmth. However, when winter approaches the city transforms as the snow begins to blanket the streets and buildings creating an entirely new ambiance to behold. You may pick the time to visit based on your favorite season, vacation time, or costs, but another way to choose is by attending one of Stockholm's many annual events. Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmassoafton) marks the end of spring with bonfires and choirs. The summer has a slew of events including the Stockholm Early Music Festival. In autumn there is the Stockholm International Film Festival and in the winter the city hosts festive Christmas markets.
There are four airports near Stockholm so that is something to keep in mind upon arrival and departure. The fastest way to get into the city center from Arlanda Airport is by the Arlanda Express. You can reach the city center in just twenty minutes and use the free Wi-Fi onboard while you wait, but this comes at a cost of 450 SEK (US$63). A more affordable alternative to the express is taking the bus that operates between the airport and the city terminal. The 45-minute journey is made up for by the price, 99SEK (US$14) roundtrip. There's also a commuter train option that involves a transfer. Stockholm Bromma Airport and Stockholm Skavsta Airport are similarly connected by bus though Bromma is only a twenty minute journey and Skavsta is well over an hour. Stockholm Vasteras Airport is the farthest and is connected to the city center via an hour and half bus ride.
One of the highlight attractions in Stockholm is visiting the Stockholm Archipelago consisting of an impressive 30,000 islands. While the number of islands of this year-round attraction is quite remarkable to say the least, it can also make choosing and planning a bit overwhelming. For a quick and painless overview experience, just take a simple round trip ferry ride through the archipelago. It will stop at various ports where you can decide to disembark or stay on and admire the views from the boat as it returns to the city center.
For a more organized experience, it is best to tackle the Stockholm Archipelago based on what sort of activity you want to do. For dining, check out well regarded restaurants on Fjaderholmarna, Grinda and Varmdo. Vaxholm, Norrtalje, and Varmdo offer a historical experience of former fortifications, ancient monuments, and Viking burial grounds. Gustavsberg is the spot for modern art and artisan workshops. Uto and Fjadlang are good for hiking paths among many other activities. Wildlife observers should head to Soderarm for seals and eagles or to Landsort for the bird observatory. The list of activities on the archipelago is nearly as long as the number of islands with cycling, diving, fishing or staying overnight at various spots. The best place to start tackling it is to decide the activities that interest you and narrow down the islands to create a fantastic individualized itinerary.
Stockholm's culinary scene is on the rise and aiming to be on par with the other internationally diverse metropolis dining cultures around the world. One of the best ways to make the most out of your Swedish dining experience in Stockholm is to combine it with a cultural one. The Stockholm Royal Opera house also houses Operakallaren, a restaurant with casual and fine dining whose name dates back to 1787. Theres an outdoor terrace where guests can dine while admiring great views of the sprawling city and coastline.
Sturehof is a restaurant on the south side of the city that specializes in seafood. The restaurant goes beyond gastronomy and dives into other artistic expressions by housing art exhibitions, concerts and performances. Malarpaviljongen is a seasonal restaurant and bar literally located on the water in a sort of pier and barge fashion. When going for the seafood scene in Stockholm, many also check out Ostermalms Saluhall, a popular fish market. At the back of the market lies Lisa Ahlqvist, a great lunch-only spot for fresh, if not pricey, seafood.
What aspect of Stockholm seems most exciting to you?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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