Stockholm takes the cake when it comes to beautiful cities. Located on 14 islands, the Swedish capital is filled with both medieval buildings and innovative contemporary architecture. One-third of the area within the city limits is made up of water, while another third comprises parks and woodlands. As a result, Stockholm is one of Europe’s healthiest cities and a great place in which to spend time. An overview of the top attractions in Stockholm:
When is a museum not a museum? When it’s ABBA The Museum. ABBA The Museum is, instead, a permanent exhibition in the Swedish Music Hall of Fame. ABBA is a Swedish pop group that gained worldwide fame much like the British Beatles did a few years earlier, also giving us standards like “Dancing Queen” and “Knowing me, knowing you.” The musical “Mamma Mia!’ is based on their songs. The exhibition contains their costumes and interactive exhibits where you can belt out their songs or wear their costumes digitally. ABBA disbanded 30 years ago, but their legacy lives on.
An artistic couple, painter Olga Milles and her husband, sculptor Carl Milles, gave Stockholm their home Millesgarden, now an art museum and sculpture garden, and the place where they’re buried. Filled with great paintings and magnificent sculptures, the home itself is a work of art with terraces, stairways, fountains and lush gardens. The site also contains an open-air studio built to accommodate Carl Milles’ breathing problems created by sculpting dust. All this beauty is located on Lidingo island just 20 minutes away from downtown Stockholm.
If you travel to eat, then put Ostermalm Saluhall at the top of your bucket list. The late 19th century food hall is filled with food – lots of it: fresh produce and seafood, baked goods, meat and other tasty items. You can put together the fixin’s for a picnic or pig out on Swedish seafood and other classic dishes or everyday food called husmanskost at one of the many restaurants. The historic building is undergoing renovation until 2018, with businesses moved to temporary quarters nearby.
Kungliga Slottet is the official residence of the Swedish royal family though its only used for official ceremonies and open to the public. With more than 600 rooms on seven floors, it is one Europe’s largest palaces. Nothing cozy about this place! Designed in the early 18th century and modeled after a Roman palace, the palace houses the royal family’s work space, halls for state functions and the Royal Court of Sweden. The palace also is home to three museums: Treasury, a museum of antiquities and the Kroner Museum, named for an earlier medieval palace.
Build in 1891, the world’s oldest open air museum, Skansen, is a good place to learn more about Sweden. It houses Stockholm’s only zoo, which features animals native to Sweden. You’ll also find a traditional pre-industrial mini-Sweden, with 150 farms and buildings relocated from other parts of the country. You’ll see costumed staff demonstrating crafts and other facets of 19th century life. Located on pretty Djurgarden island, it’s where many traditional Swedish festivals, such as Lucia and Midsummer, are celebrated. Enjoy, too, the views of Stockholm from here.
Sweden has several palaces, but Drottningholm Palace is where the royal family lives. Located on Lovon island, the name of this late 16th century palace means “queen’s islet.” The original palace burned in 1661 but was rebuilt. It was used as a summer residence for a couple of centuries, but fell into disuse and decay in the 19th century. It has since been modernized and restored. Palace grounds include a 1736 church used by locals the last Sunday of every month and an eclectic mix of gardens dating back to the 17th century. The gardens are the main tourist attraction here.
Stadshuset (City Hall) is more than just government offices. It’s one of Stockholm’s major tourist attractions. It’s home to an upscale restaurant, Stadshuskällaren, and is where the Nobel Prize banquet takes place. As far as history buildings go, it’s not, having been constructed in the late 20th century. City hall is made several halls, including the Blue Hall, home to Scandinavia’s largest organ with 10,270 pipes, and the Golden Hall with its 18 million mosaic tiles that depict Swedish history. Visitor access to the hall is by guided tour.
Whether you’re looking to stroll in the forest or visit museums, Djurgarden island in central Stockholm is the place to go. The island, accessible by foot, ferry or bus, attracts more than 10 million people annually who come to relax at this most popular tourist attraction in Stockholm. Djurgarden is home to the amusement park Grona Lund, yacht harbors, meadows, forests, walking trails, the world’s oldest open-air museum Skansen and historic buildings including Rosendal Palace.
The Vasa was an early 17th century war ship that, like the Titanic, sunk on its maiden voyage. After 300 years on the ocean floor, the ship was salvaged to become the only 17th century almost-intact sailing ship ever preserved. Today it stars in the Vasa Museum, a maritime museum that is the most visited museum in Scandinavia. The museum building itself is unique; 384 architects submitted designs, with the winning one featuring a copper roof with stylized masts the height of Vasa’s. The Vasa can be viewed from six levels. Other exhibits center on Sweden’s maritime history and include four other ships.
Stockholm’s Old Town is situated on the island Stadsholmen. Officially named Staden mellan broama, which means “the town between the bridges,” it’s known informally as Gamla Stan. The medieval Old Town is filled with cobblestone streets and North German architecture. It is home to the large square Stortorget, site of a bloody massacre in 1520. Historic buildings include the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral and Den glyden freden, a restaurant in business since 1722. The Nobel Museum also is located in Gamla Stan.