Stockholm is a city where it’s easy (and safe) to get out there, walk around and explore solo. 360-degree panoramic views, lush gardens, little islands – Stockholm has everything to offer and more. Let me start you off with my top 5 things to see during your stay, which will undoubtedly leave you wanting more and rushing to your laptop to book your next trip before you’ve even finished your first taste of Sweden’s capital.
Although the island of Skeppsholmen is not far from Norrmalm’s busy Gustav Adolfs torg and Strömgatan, once you step across the little bridge it feels like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. This isle is proof that good things come in small packages – it’s a little piece of peace and quiet, the perfect place to roam or simply read a book by the water. Although home to the Moderna Museet which proves a draw for many tourists, Skeppsholmen retains the feel of a secret local hideaway at the heart of Stockholm’s centre. Wander around this leafy locale surrounded by water and marvel at the views it offers of the rest of the capital. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the summer months, then make sure to head over to the Matholmen streetfood market for some delicious fare (more on that in Eat: Stockholm). When you’ve had your fill of tranquility, then hop on the ferry – which you can use your public transport ticket for – and head towards Slussen or Djurgårdsfärjan to continue your day.
Nestled next to the Stockholm’s old town Gamla Stan, is the islet of Riddarholmen. Although it may be outshined by its bigger and better neighbour, Riddarholmen is definitely worth a detour – if only to experience the stunning panorama from the Evert Taubes Terrass, which comprises the Riddarfjärden bay and Stockholm’s city hall or ‘Stadshuset’.
3. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SWEDEN AND HUMLEGÅRDEN
When visiting a place, the question continually in the discerning tourists mind is: “Where do the locals go?” Well, in Stockholm, for lunch or on a sunny afternoon many in the Östermalm neighbourhood head to the Humlegården – a luscious park which wraps around the impressive National Library of Sweden. It may be neighbours with one of Stockholm’s hottest night owls spots Stureplan, but that’s certainly not evident during the day, when the only thing to be heard while lounging around in the shade is the sound of yourself nibbling on a cinnamon bun or salad (not much difference there) that you picked up on the way.
4. KUNGSTRÄDGÅRDEN, BERZELII PARK AND NORRMALMSTORG
If you haven’t had your fill of picturesque places by now, then the city centre Norrmalm should be your next stop. One of Stockholm’s busiest areas in terms of traffic, Norrmalm may seem an unlikely place to pause, but there are several places that will certainly tempt you to do so.
The first of these is Kungsträdgården – an extensive tree-lined space which shows off stunning cherry blossoms in spring and boasts an ice-rink during the cold winter months. This is the one place in Stockholm that feels distinctly un-Scandinavian, and wouldn’t look out of place in Paris with it’s outdoor cafés and art galleries. If wishing to bring along a picnic to enjoy, then luckily Hötorgshallen –an impressive food hall – is just a short walk away.
Berzelii park, across from Norrmalmstorg is also worth a look – it’s a pint-sized piece of green, but a pretty one
And then there’s Norrmalmstorg itself – an impressive square with an inviting restaurant/bar at its centre.
5. HAMMARBY SJÖSTAD
I already raved about Hammarby Sjöstad in Sleep: Stockholm, but this area is so pleasant and so under the radar that it deserves more than one mention. It’s not a ‘must-see’ during a short first visit, but it’s definitely worth going to if you have more time. Undergoing development, this once run-down area of Stockholm had been injected with some life (and money) in the last ten years. Now it’s a (slightly out-of-town) watery heaven to wander around with a lake, a canal and endless quays to sit on and watch the world go by. It has some pretty good looking restaurants, bistros and cafés too – Spoon Nautica near to the ferry stop appears a more than inviting place to grab a drink and take five. It could be critiqued as being somewhat soulless with its seemingly perfect and unsprawling residential design, but this is down to the fact that it is somewhat of an eco-architectural project by the city to put sustainable development ideas in to practice. That said though, with famous neighbours such as Södermalm, I have a sneaky feeling that Hammarby Sjöstad is the one to watch – over time it’s sure to have some of the trendy hipster influence trickle in, as people move further afield in search of the next district to set some trends.