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Did you know Swedes have a specific word for “let’s catch up over a cup of coffee and possibly some pastries”? It’s called fika. We think that’s a pretty cool fact - sadly, that can’t be considered an attraction in itself. How about exploring one of the many beautiful islands that are part of the archipelago that is Stockholm, then? What about the pristine architecture, the many city beaches, lush royal parks and palaces, countless museums, and extra long summer days? Truth is, the Capital of Scandinavia is the place to go - after all, it is known as the “Venice of the North”.
Gamla Stan, as the locals refer to the Old Town, is like stepping into another century. It’s filled with boutique shops, restaurants, cafés and attractions. It’s the perfect place to get that medieval, soulful European feel. There are no cars, as they probably wouldn’t fit through the tiny, cobblestone streets. The town is protected by stone walls, which definitely gives it an extra charm. It is also the perfect spot to buy souvenirs and to visit The Nobel Museum, which is located in Gamla Stan.
Certainly not many European capitals can advertise swimming possibilities, so brownie points for you, Stockholm! Because of its archipelago location, much like Sydney, the Swedish capital features a remarkable array of beaches to bask on. The water is also really clean and clear - right in the midst of town! A few examples are Fjäderholmarnas bad (Stockholm’s nearest archipelago island), Smedsuddsbadet in Rålambshov Park (perfect for families as it has shower and toilet amenities), Långholmens bad and Oxhålsbadet, a remarkable beach that features three jetties, large grass lawn and toilets.
A bit of royal history and knowledge can be fun! Pay a visit to the King of Sweden’s official abode, dating from the 18th century. Located by the water's edge near Gamla Stan is The Royal Palace, this is the official residence of the King of Sweden. The palace is one of the largest in Europe, featuring 600 rooms and five museums. Dating from the 18th century, make sure you see Queen Kristina's silver throne, the Museum of Antiquities, the Armoury, the Tre Kronor (Three Crowns) Museum and Treasury. You can also witness the daily changing of the guard.
If you’re up for a bit more exploring, why not visit the King’s back garden? Kungsträdgården is an urban park located behind the royal palace - very popular due to its alluring cherry blossom-lined boulevard and central location. The Royal Swedish Opera House is also nearby.
This beautiful park makes the perfect spot for long, relaxing summer walks and picnics. But walking is not all you can do: think forest trails (which you can rent bikes for), a kayaking session or even an amusement park adventure at the popular Gröna Lund. Located in the heart of the city, Djurgården brings many tourists and residents together. It is surrounded by cafes, hotels and restaurants. The island is easily-accessible by foot, ferry or bus.
Even though Norrmalm used to be considered as a poorer area of Stockholm, things are going pretty well for the neighbourhood nowadays. Shop for designer boutiques and Scandinavian fashion (such as H&M) along Biblioteksgatan and even walk a red carpet there at Christmas time! It also features bustling nightlife, such as pubs, cafes and nightclubs.
The best way to explore a new place or city when travelling is by walking it, and this is particularly true when it comes to Drottninggatan (Queen Street) in central Stockholm. The long street, filled with shops, restaurants and cafes, stretches all the way from Norrmalm to Vasastaden. Bear in mind that the majority of the tiny streets surrounding Queen Street are pedestrian only, so don’t even think about driving.
Take part in Sweden’s incredible art and style with a visit to Fotografiska, Stockholm's contemporary photography museum that sits in a premium location, overlooking the water. Although relatively new, the gallery has made a name for itself as one of the must-go artsy spots in the capital. You’ll most likely see names that you’ll recognise - including Patrick Demarchelier and Annie Lebowitz, amongst other Swedish artists. But art appreciation is not everything: Fotografiska also features an award-winning restaurant, The Bistro, as well as high-quality live and club music throughout the year - just in case you want to get your groove on.
Stockholm is certainly a must-do city when travelling through Europe. Often times overlooked because of its distance from the rest of Europe, Stockholm is truly an elegant, unforgettable place to visit. The locals are friendly, the food is mouth-watering and the city itself offers a range of unparalleled attractions; such as swimming in the midst of the city, visiting the Kings Park and many others.
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