The Stockholm syndrome is defined as having feelings of affection by a victim toward a captor. After spending New Year’s in Stockholm we can honestly say we suffer from this syndrome for Stockholm truly captivated us.
Stockholm is not just Sweden’s capital city but also its cultural, media, political, and economic center. It is built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges and is on the central coast of eastern Sweden.
Stockholm’s cobbled streets lead you to a myriad of adventures and beautiful sites. Every corner, every bridge has a story to tell to visitors from all over the globe.
Our first morning started in Gamla Stan one of the best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe. Baroque restaurants, a series of narrow picturesque streets and beautiful churches Gamla Stan is where the Stockholm was founded in 1252. While in Gamla Stan we definitely recommend you pay a visit to the German Church or Tyska kyrkan in Swedish. Baroque interior, large windows, ten-meter tall altar. wine cellars of the original guild building under the current marble floor make of this church a Stockholm Must-See spot on your map.
We visited this incredible city during winter time which means we needed to use sunlight wisely since Stockholm’s shortest day offers a mere six hours of light. If you are a museum person Stockholm has more than 70 museums covering an eclectic mix of topics and attractions and showcasing the city’s heritage in all its glory.
Our favorite: The Vasa Museum. The Vasa is the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world and a unique art treasure. More than 95 percent of the ship is original, and it is decorated with hundreds of carved sculptures. It is only 9 minutes by car from the city center or a short 30 minute scenic walk along the river into another island.
Our first lunch could not have been at a better place other than the Operakällare. It is without a doubt Sweden’s most beautiful restaurant with its original interior of wall paintings, gilded oak panels, suspended panel ceiling and impressive chandeliers which with the addition of large mirrors, new furniture and fixtures; it has been transformed into a modern restaurant. The Operakällare is a one-starred Michelin Restaurant.
Our next stop and a must when in Stockholm is its City Hall. Stockholm City Hall is one of the most famous silhouettes in the city and guided tours are available all year round. The City Hall is built from eight million bricks, and the 106-meter tall tower has the three crowns, which is the Swedish national coat of arms, at its apex.
One cannot help but feel the regal flair of this city everywhere you look. What better place to understand this other than The Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in Europe. The Royal Palace is the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden, with over 600 rooms. The Palace is open to the public and offers no less than five museums. The Palace was largely built during the eighteenth century in the Italian Baroque style, on the spot where the “Tre Kronor” castle burned down in 1697. Visit the reception rooms with splendid interiors from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Rikssalen (the Hall of State) with Queen Kristina’s silver throne, and Ordenssalarna (Halls of the Orders of Chivalry).
After a long educational day we went back to our hotel to be pampered Swedish style and there is only one place in the city for that The Grand Hotel Stockholm which is home to Matsalen our next culinary rendez-vous.
The Grand Hôtel in Stockholm has been home to celebrities, high-profile events and everyday bon-vivants since 1874. Situated in the best waterfront location imaginable, the hotel overlooks the Royal Palace and Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. All rooms at the Grand Hôtel are individually designed. Everything from the beautiful curtain fabrics to the Molton Brown toiletries are carefully selected for quality and comfort. Friendly, discreet and professional staff is always at hand to help out. A hotel fit for a king and if you need to relax or get in shape, all guests have complimentary access to their lovely Nordic Spa & Fitness club.
Out of its 300 rooms an 31 suites we chose the Bernadotte suite, located high up in the Grand Hotel with stunning views of Stockholm’s waterfront and the Royal Palace. The suite is warmly decorated with clear elements of the Empire style that connects to the time when Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was King.
The 165 square meter suite has everything once could wish for. The two bedrooms, each with luxurious king size beds, and a separate lounge that offers a place to relax or work. The dining room, with its hand-painted wallpaper, is the suite’s jewel. It was the perfect choice for us four.
As we said before, the Grand Hotel is home to Matsalen a two Michelin-starred restaurant. Their cuisine is based on using the best fresh seasonal produce available in Sweden and other parts of the world, spiced with curiosity and inspiration from everything they encounter. We took a tasting menu with eight courses perfectly combined with wine and drinks put together by their sommeliers to enhance our experience.
The next day we visited ABBA The Museum. Swedish popular music has also been honored with a dedicated museum in the Swedish Music Hall of Fame. Modern, interactive, and of course non-stop music. You do not walk through the museum you dance through it. The ticket system is based on entry slots to avoid long lines and give every visitor the ultimate experience. In other words, your tickets will state a specific entry time so book with time.
An excellent afternoon visit for this second day is the Drottningholm only 26 minutes west from Stockholm by car, a once in a lifetime experience. The Drottningholm Palace is Sweden’s best preserved royal palace constructed in the seventeenth century, the permanent residence of the royal family and one of Stockholm’s three World Heritage Sites.
The amount of islands and bridged makes a sightseeing tour by boat the ideal way to see this city. People may stay aboard for the whole tour or hop on and off as they please in one of the many harbors and attractions of this spectacular city.
A bicycle tour is a good option to experience Stockholm from its most beautiful side and to see the city gems, famous landmarks and viewpoints although spring and summer are much better seasons for this.
Listing Stockholm’s attractions and landmarks could take me forever instead I urge you to plan a visit to this phenomenal city a true European jewel. You will not regret it. You will be WOWed !