With its arresting redbrick façade and 100-meter tall bell tower topped with the Three Crowns of Sweden, the grandiose Stadshuset or Stockholm City Hall is one of the capital’s most impressive landmarks, looming over the waterfront of Kungsholmen. Dating back to 1923, the City Hall is the masterpiece of architect Ragnar Ostberg and a celebrated example of Swedish National Romanticism, now home to the city's principal government offices.
Open to visitors via guided tour, the grand interiors are equally magnificent, starting with the famous Blue Hall, equipped with a 10,000-pipe organ and the location of the annual Nobel Prize ceremony and banquet. Next up is the Council Chamber, designed to mimic a Viking Longship and decked out with Carl Malmsten furnishings, and the Golden Hall, where the elaborate wall mosaics shimmer with over 18 million pieces of gold leaf and colored glass.
An oasis of greenery linked by the Djurgårdsbron Bridge to mainland Stockholm, Djurgården is one of the archipelago’s most visited islands, stretching along the picturesque Djurgården Canal. Dominated by scenic parklands and former Royal hunting grounds, Djurgården is a haven for walkers, cyclists and picnickers, but the island is also home to some of Stockholm’s top museums and attractions.
The top attraction of Djurgården is Skansen, an open-air museum and zoo devoted to preserving Sweden’s native wildlife and traditional craftsmanship, with over 150 reconstructed 19th century buildings displaying everything from glass-blowing to baking. The neighboring Vasa Museum is another popular draw - the world’s only intact 17th-century warship, which famously sank on her maiden voyage and now houses an impressive naval museum. Additional highlights include Tivoli Grona Lund, Sweden’s oldest amusement park.
With a stream of new bars, restaurants and nightclubs springing up along the waterfront, the island of Södermalm, or ‘Söder’ as it’s known to locals, is quickly earning a reputation as one of Stockholm’s hippest districts, popular among the city’s younger residents. Entering Södermalm from Gamla Stan, the lively areas of Slussen and nearby Medborgarplatsen are the center of island life, interlinked by the principal shopping boulevard of Götgatan, and further south the affectionately nicknamed ‘SoFo’ district is know for its fashion boutiques, vintage stores and atmospheric cafés.
Although home to a cluster of museums, including the Stockholm City Museum, Södermalm has comparatively few tourist attractions and the scenic island is best known for its cliff-top lookouts and seafront promenades which offer dramatic views over the neighboring islands.
The history of the world’s most distinguished awards ceremony is the subject of Stockholm’s ever-evolving Nobel Museum, with fascinating exhibitions chartering some of history’s biggest milestones. Located in the Old Town of Gamla Stan, the museum opened in 2001 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the prestigious Nobel Prize, which has been awarded to pioneers in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace since 1901.
Visitors can’t help but be inspired by the exhibitions on award recipients and Stockholm-born inventor Alfred Nobel, whose unique vision led to the foundation of the prize, along with multi-media presentations of the Nobel Laureates’ achievements. Gain a deeper insight into famous honorees like Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Marie Curie, Niels Bohr and Henri Dunant, then go behind-the-scenes during the candidate selection process and the annual Nobel Banquet held across the water in the Stockholm City Hall.
Skansen is an open air museum and zoo in Stockholm, and was founded in the late 19th century by Artur Hazelius as a branch of the Nordic Museum. Its purpose is to show the different ways of life in of Sweden before the industrialization. After scouring the country, Hazelius bought around 150 houses and had them deconstructed and shipped to the site of the museum, where they were rebuilt to illustrate the spectrum of life in traditional Sweden. Only three of the buildings are not authentic, but they were scrupulously copied in full detail from historical models.
Skansen expanded tenfold since its inception, and now features various houses and workshops where you can experience traditional craftsmanship, such as butter making, weaving, shoemaking, and glass blowing. There is also a zoo containing a wide range of Nordic animals including the bison, brown bear, moose, gray seal, otter, red fox, reindeer, and wolverine.
As the opulent home of the Royal Swedish Opera and the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Royal Swedish Opera House (or Stockholm Opera House) has come a long way since its former incarnation as a tennis court. It was Swedish King Gustav III who founded the opera house in 1782, but just 10 years later the King was assassinated at a masquerade ball on-site, forcing the closure of the venue.
Fortunately, the historic Opera House was restored and reopened, with the present day building designed by architect Axel Anderberg in the late 19th century. Boasting a dramatic waterfront location opposite the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet), the striking neoclassical façade and spectacular Golden Foyer, make this one of Stockholm’s most celebrated designs, decorated with gold Carl Larsson stuccos, Vicke Andrén ceiling paintings, gigantic crystal chandeliers and a grandiose marble staircase.
Swedenâs oldest town nestles around Lake MÃ¤laren in the scenic, lakeland region of Lunda north of Stockholm. Nowadays a pretty town of brightly painted wooden townhouses, narrow streets, plenty of restaurants and low-key hotels, Sigtuna is crammed with classy souvenir shops and galleries along its meandering main street of Stora gatan. The township lies at the center of a region first populated in the late 10th century by Vikings, who have left behind their rich heritage here as well as in the surrounding towns and villages.
Sigtuna was the center of Christianity in medieval Sweden and it has seven churches clustered close together; now they are in various states of repair but the Viking inscriptions in the churchyards can still be clearly seen. Another evidence of Viking presence is in the townâs layout; despite the low-slung wooden buildings in the historic center being built in the 18th and 19th centuries, the original Viking grid-like plan is still adhered to.
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All ABBA, all the time. Stockholm’s ABBA Museum is an interactive space for fans of the Swedish pop group to dive deep into the band’s history and trivia. With plenty of the band’s costumes, gold records, memorabilia, and much more, the museum invites its visitors to experience the feeling of being ‘the fifth member of ABBA.’ Check yourself out in their stage costumes, sing with them at the Polar Studio, interact with holograms, and even go on stage with the band.
Some of the museum’s different interactive exhibits include Waterloo, where you’ll be transported back to 1974 Brighton; The Polar Studio, where you can get hands-on with the mixing desk; and Benny’s Piano, the self-playing piano that has some special tricks in store for you.
Also included in the ticket price are the exhibits: Swedish National Music Hall of Fame and The History of Swedish Popular Music.
One of the largest and least touristic of Stockholm’s many islands, Kungsholmen is a popular retreat for locals during the summer months, when its scenic walkways and waterfront restaurants offer a tranquil alternative to the lively shopping and nightlife districts of Södermalm or Gamla Stan.
The star attraction of Kungsholmen is the grand Stockholm City Hall, which famously hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremony, and visitors can not only tour the legendary building, but take in the views from its 100-meter tall bell tower. Other highlights include the scenic waterfront promenade of Norr Mälarstand, which stretches all the way to Rålambshovs Park, the central Scheelegatan, crammed with bars and restaurants, and the harbor by City Hall, from where boat cruises head out to explore the islands of the Stockholm archipelago.
Stockholm is a popular port of call and a key turnaround point for many European cruises. As a result, this cultural capital—home to some two million people—is well equipped to handle (and entertain) travelers. Visitors can go back in time on a tour of the historic streets of Gamla Stan, lounge in well-kept green spaces or wander the interesting shops that line the bustling waterfront. And while Stockholm has a reputation for being a pricy port, there are still good options for getting around on a budget.
Passengers docking in Frihamnen can walk to the ferry terminal from port, hail a taxi or hop aboard one of the nearby buses to reach more interesting parts of town. Those who arrive at Gamla Stan can easily access the city’s electric trolleys or explore on foot.
Built around the remnants of the capital’s 16th-century city walls and crammed with significant archaeological finds, the Museum of Medieval Stockholm (Stockholm’s Medeltidsmuseum) belies its small size with a series of fascinating permanent exhibitions. If you've ever wondered how Stockholmers lived in medieval times, this is the place to find out, with informative exhibitions and full-size replica buildings offering a unique glimpse into the Swedish Middle Ages.
Encompassing a series of reconstructed medieval buildings, the museum takes visitors on a tour through the lives of the city’s former inhabitants, with displays including everything from period clothing to historic shipping vessels. Stroll through the medieval market square, learn about popular beliefs at the local church and peek into workshops to see how craftsmen and traders earned a living, then step inside a medieval home or brave a trip to the gallows.
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