Welcome to Stockholm, one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Stockholm is located on Sweden’s east coast, where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. The central parts of the city consist of fourteen islands that are continuous with the Stockholm archipelago which is made up of over 24,000 islands. Stockholm is a city of contrasts; water and islands, history and innovation, small town and big city, short winter days and long, light summer nights - with a dazzling array of impressions. Thanks to the city´s compact size, you can see and do most things in a short space of time - which makes it a perfect destination.
The city’s humble beginnings stretch back to the 13th century and Birger Jarl - generally accepted as the founder of the city. The city grew up around the Old Town, as Stockholm emerged as a key trading centre with influence all over the Baltic Sea region and further afield. The old medieval town known as ‘Gamla Stan’ has been very well preserved over the centuries and is the hub of the city with countless hotels, bars, restaurants and shops all prospering - as people in these historical streets have done for centuries.
Away from the charms of the Old Town, the modern city showcases the innovative design standards for which Sweden has become globally renowned. Stockholm is a thriving modern European city that exudes confidence in its strengths and abilities at all levels, be they financial, cultural, social or gastronomic.
Stockholm’s cultural history extends back to its Viking beginnings. The city was also the birthplace of Alfred Nobel, who instated the famous five prizes for peace, physics, chemistry, medicine and literature (economics was added by the Bank of Sweden in 1968).
Stockholm and its cultural scene is incredibly vibrant and eclectic. There is a constant and extremely wide stream of cultural productions being offered to the public in the Swedish capital, from art e exhibitions to dance and theatre performances to jazz and classical concerts and various literary events. While maintaining its cultural traditions, Stockholm has a very modern outlook, and there is a lot of interesting modern architecture around.
Vasamuseet (Vasa Museum)
One of Sweden’s most popular museums, the Vasa Museum enshrines the warship Vasa, sunk inside Stockholm harbour while on her maiden voyage in 1628.
Stadshuset (City Hall)
Voted by the Swedes as the country’s finest building, Stockholm’s City Hall was begun in 1911, to an art nouveau design by Ragnar Östberg. The building’s Blue Hall (which is actually red) is the venue for the annual Nobel Prize banquet.
Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace)
Situated in the heart of Stockholm, on the central island of Riddarholmen, the Royal Palace is the official residence of the monarchs of Sweden and the chief venue for official state events. The changing of the guard at the palace is as much of a spectacle in Stockholm as it is in London.
Historiska Museet (Museum of National Antiquities)
Sweden’s national historical museum, which traces the nation’s history from prehistoric times to the present day, is now graced by a spectacular Gold Room, housing the gold of the Viking chiefs. There is also one of the finest European collections of medieval painted wooden religious sculpture and church art on exhibition.
Strindbergsmuseet (Strindberg Museum)
Stockholm’s most famous cultural figure has his temple here. The Blå Tornet (Blue Tower) was August Strindberg’s last home, from 1908 until his death in 1912.
More information can be found at http://www.visitstockholm.com/en.
In recent years, Stockholm has become known as an exciting city for fashion and jewelry and is therefore a shopper’s paradise. The area around Biblioteksgatan has most major European fashion designers, while antique shops can be found around Odengatan. Open all day at Östermalmstorg, Östermalms Saluhall is arguably northern Europe’s loveliest covered food market.
The pick of Swedish glass is on hand at Nordiska Kristall, or the arts and crafts emporium Konsthantverkarna. Norrgavel and Nordiska Galleriet have a great selection of trendy home furnishings and Designtorget specialises in eclectic curiosities. Standard Swedish shopping hours are Monday to Friday 09.00-16.00 and Saturday 09.00-14.00. In Stockholm, however, many stores are open for longer and on Sunday. Visitors leaving the country may reclaim the standard VAT tariff.
Traditional Swedish home cooking cannot be compared with the sophistication of traditional French cuisine. It is simple and satisfying and based on what small farms could produce and keep fresh.
A traditional Swedish smörgåsbord consists of both hot and cold dishes. It is customary to begin with the cold fish dishes such as herring, salmon, eel etc. This is followed cold dishes, then hot dishes such as Swedish meatballs (köttbullar), and other specialties. The market for Smörgåsbords has significantly diminished and only very few restaurants serve them, except for Christmas.
If you try surströmming, or fermented Baltic herring, you will never forget it. No one is indifferent to surströmmming. You are either love it or hate it! Surströmmming is sold in cans, and on opening a strong, pungent smell is released which is the result of the fermentation process This method of preservation was invented long ago, when brining food was quite expensive due to the costs of salt. When fermentation was used, on the other hand, just enough salt was required to keep the fish from rotting. Surströmming is served with boiled potatoes and onions and often rolled into a slice of tunnbröd, a type of thin, flat unleavened bread.
Bread, pastry and coffee
Sweetness is a prominent characteristic of Swedish bread, although unsweetened types are available in most stores. If you want to spread something typically Swedish on a slice of bread, try messmör, which is a soft whey-cheese from the north of Sweden. When it comes to drinking coffee, Swedes rank second in the world (per capita). People usually drink coffee for breakfast, after lunch or during the numerous and religiously observed coffee breaks. There are also special coffee parties (kafferep). If you are invited to one, you can expect to find at least seven sorts of homemade buns and cakes.
In the last few decades influences from all over the world have enriched the Stockholm food culture resulting in an international array of exciting cuisines. Stockholm has established itself as one of Europe’s premier cities for creative food. You can eat well regardless of the type of cuisine you prefer from international gourmet to modern local eatery.
The city centre alone hosts an astonishing selection of large and small music venues and nightclubs for every taste. Södermalm, a large district just south of the city centre has, a young bohemian atmosphere. Neighbourhoods such as Vasastan and Kungsholmen have their own restaurant and entertainment scenes. The late evening summer sun in Stockholm seems to stretch on forever, while the long winter nights need to be filled with fun. The result is a city committed to its nightlife. Strong jazz traditions, funky bars and a lively club scene (often Spanish in flavour) ensure that every taste is catered for. The area around Stureplan is the most happening place in the city.