Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, surrounded by lakes and the Baltic Sea. It is a city of many sides, with long warm summer nights as well as dark cold days with frozen lakes. It is a perfect destination for a weekend trip, given its relative proximity to London and the overwhelming presence of English-speakers in the city. Given that it is also pretty expensive, you might not want more than a couple of days!
British Airways offer a decent schedule with a departure from Heathrow at 2005, making it perfect for an after-work trip. The arrival into Stockholm’s Arlanda airport is late, at 2335, and whilst you can take the train or bus into the city, just take a taxi and be done with it. I paid 675SEK, which is just over £60 and whilst it is very expensive, it only took 35 minutes and delivered us directly to the hotel, rather than having to faff around in an unfamiliar place. When coming out of Terminal 2, there are two lines of taxis. I think the ones on the right are out of town and the ones on the left are from Stockholm – go with one of these as I think they are cheaper; all over the city I saw taxis advertising a fixed fare of 470 – 545 SEK for the Arlanda run.
For the way back when time is less pressing, the train can be had for 350 SEK one way for two people if booked online, and the bus, which takes about 45 minutes is 99 SEK if booked online using their app.
There are loads of places to stay in the city centre, from grand old hotels to modern Hiltons. There are also plenty of the Nordic Chain Clarion which you don’t often see. The Story Hotel is an excellent choice and you can read my review here.
For lunch, go to the Saluhall, or covered food market. It is being housed in a temporary site across the road from the original to allow it to be refurbished. There is something for everyone here, but if fish is your thing, join the queue at Lisa Elmqvist for some delicious Scandinavian seafood. Most people just have something from the starter section of the menu – Herring 5-ways or the Salmon Gravalax are both highly recommended.
No trip to Sweden could be complete without Fika – the quintessential coffee and cake break in the mid-afternoon. Cinnamon buns and steaming coffee are the perfect pick-me-up after a day of traipsing around the city.
For dinner, book early. There are so many excellent restaurants in the city it is a foodie paradise, but this comes with the problem of getting a table. Luckily most are able to accept bookings online so it doesn’t matter if your Swedish isn’t up to much. Gro is a small 22-cover restaurant about a mile out of the main centre of the city. The food is sustainable and local, and the only option you have is to go for the meat or vegetarian menu. Everything was excellent, from the food and the wine, to the service and atmosphere. In keeping with the theme, it was not cheap, but compared to some of the other set menus on offer around the city, 1350 SEK for two was pretty reasonable.
There is so much to do in such a small period of time! The Vasa Museum, home of a 17th Century warship which lay at the bottom of the sea for 333 years is an impressive place to start your trip. The size and scale of the boat, and its unfortunate maiden voyage is mesmerising. Take headphones with you and you can turn your smartphone into a free audioguide by jumping onto the museums wifi. When you get there, use the automated ticket machines to pay your entry fee as it is much quicker than the ticket office.
Boat trips are an excellent way to see the city from a different perspective, and the Stromma boats run different tours from the main pier. The Bridges of Stockholm tour is 2 hours with a multi-lingual commentary that is perfect to see the sights whilst resting your feet.
The Nobel Museum is small, but full of interesting fact and objects about the person, the awards and the recipients. Unfortunately it was undergoing an exhibition change-over, so a reduced admission fee was in place to reflect the curtailed offering. They have free guided tours, so check the website to time your visit.
The Fotografiska is an exceptional collection of photographic art. The building houses 4 exhibition spaces which contained some interesting displays.
Arrive about 12noon and ask for the lunch package. For 100SEK more than the admission cost, you get a buffet lunch from their award-winning restaurant and seats by the window looking back towards the city.
Not everything is expensive in the city. The National Armoury Museum under the Royal Palace is free and contains artefacts from the last 500 years of the Swedish Royal Family as well as some coaches and carriages from the Royal Collection. The Parliament also offers free tours when not in session – English ones are available if you time it right so check their website.
All these museum, galleries and excursions are covered by the Stockholm Pass – decide what you want to see first to work out if it is better to get one before you arrive or just pay as you go.
Stockholm is a beautiful city that comes highly recommended. It Is one of those places that you need to see in the summer and winter to experience how different the same place can be in different seasons. Best space your visits out, though, as it is pricey and you will need time for your bank-balance to recover!