Stockholm City Guide
It's hardly surprising that Stockholm is called the Venice of the North. Sprawled over 14 islands connected by 60 bridges, this is a city with stunning heritage, rich culture and fabulous art. Lavish royal residences and period houses make it charmingly traditional but at the same time, modern shopping outlets and trendy nightclubs prove that it's also a trendsetting metropolis. Add to all of this the crystal waters of the Baltic sea and the numerous urban parks, and you get a destination that is just as cool as its fashion-conscious population.
Historic Stockholm – a hub of light art and culture
In the oldest part of Stockholm, the historic Gamla Stan quarter, the rich heritage of the city is evident on every corner. Stroll the cobbled alleys lined with beautifully-kept period buildings and you will come across lovely little cafes and small shops selling handicrafts, jewellery and apparel. Some of the city's major historical landmarks are also located here.
Among the most impressive sites is the Kungliga Slottet Royal residence. This Italianate-style 18th-century palace is open to the public, so you are welcome to explore more than 600 rooms – it's quite a feat to see it all. Storkyrkan, the Gothic-style Lutheran church where many royal ceremonies are held are also worth a visit.
Stockholm offers an abundance of exciting venues to culture vultures. The National Museum holds a treasure trove of artwork accumulated by the Swedish royal family. You can learn about the life of the Vikings and the medieval Swedes at the Swedish History Museum, whose artefacts document the times from the stone age to the Middle Ages.
The Nordic Museum, on the other hand, looks at later eras with a collection dedicated to art and design from the 16th century onward. With more than 9 million exhibits on display, this museum could take you days to explore, especially in colder weather. The collection contains all sorts of objects – traditional clothes, jewellery, furniture, artwork, and more.
One of the most popular venues in Stockholm, however, remains the Vasa museum. The highlight of this maritime museum is a 16th-century sunken tall ship that was salvaged from the sea by underwater archaeologists in the mid-20th century. The fully restored ship is on display inside the museum with many seafaring artefacts including statues and cannons.
Another highly popular attraction, the City Hall of Stockholm is known for its magnificent ceremonial halls. The Council's chamber is quite striking with its elaborate wooden ceiling designed in a Viking style. The annual Nobel Prize award ceremony, which was founded by Swedish scientist and inventor Alfred Nobel, is held in the blue hall. The City Hall can be visited on a guided tour only and if you are game for a climb up its tower, you will be rewarded with excellent views of the city.
Modern Stockholm – a city of innovation and fashion
While steeped in history, Stockholm is also a centre of innovation and the place where many of the country's leading brands have been born. Names like Ikea, Volvo, H&M, and even Skype probably come to mind but there is so much more to this city. Browse the local stores and you will find an abundance of native fashion and design labels standing out with a typical Nordic minimalism and cool chic. Simply put, Stockholm is perfect for shopping. You can take your pick from diverse outlets, such as independent boutiques, luxe stores and rustic outdoor markets. Best of all, many shopping areas are pedestrianised, so you can explore them easily without the stress of dodging traffic.
The Bibliotekstan pedestrian area in Östermalm is the most exclusive shopping destination in the city. Flagship stores of international luxe brands like Ralph Lauren and Prada, as well as leading local boutiques are all located on this fashionable Avenue and in the surrounding area. The Östermalm district itself is a fashionable part of town popular with the young, creative and artistic citizens of Stockholm. Explore streets lined with elegant residential buildings, pop into modern art galleries and museums, and after dark, dive into one of the many nightclubs.
The Södermalm neighbourhood, which has a more relaxed and chilled out vibe, is also a great place for shopping, dining and entertaining. At night-time, you can take your pick from bars, nightclubs and dining outlets while at daytime you can browse fashion and apparel from Swedish and foreign brands. Södermalm also has one more advantage over other areas – numerous points with spectacular views of the city.
Some of these include the Fjällgatan clifftop terrace and the Monteliusvägen waterfront walkway. A little on the wild side, the Skinnarviksberget cliffs, which are a favourite picnic and outdoor party spot for locals, also offer beautiful views. Spending a few moments in this serene place and taking a look at the entire city is a perfect way to wrap up a visit to Stockholm.