Stockholm is the Swedish capital and its largest city, situated on the south east coast of the country. It is located at the mouth of the lake Mälaren, near the Stockholm archipelago, and spreads across 14 small islands connected by bridges. It is one of the most beautiful European capitals, and is often referred to as 'the Venice of the north'. It is composed of one third water, one third greenery, and one third buildings. The city takes pride in its very clean air, and people here are very conscious of the health of the environment.
Stockholm has been the political and economical center of the country since the 13 th century. Today it is home to the Government, the parliament, and is also the residence of the head of state, King Carl XVI Gustaf. The city is also a cultural capital, with over 150 museums, numerous festivals and a world-renowned opera. The most popular attraction is the old part of the city, Gamla Stan. Visitors love the narrow alleys, interesting 17th century buildings and the Royal Castle.
Stockholm offers some great partying - license hours are extended until 5:00 am.
Stockholm has a temperate climate with mild temperatures in both winter and summer and moderate precipitation in all seasons. During the winter the temperatures range from 2°C to -7°C. It tends to be dark, cold and snowy. Summer temperatures range from 20°C to 25°C and sometimes higher, and the weather is usually mild and sunny. Snow lasts from January untill March and rainfall occurs throughout the year, however, the wettest months are June and July. July is the average warmest month while February is the average coolest month.
January average temperature -3 deg Celsius, 38.1 mm rainfall February average temperature -3 deg Celsius, 27.9 mm rainfall March average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 25.4 mm rainfall April average temperature 3 deg Celsius, 30.5 mm rainfall May average temperature 9 deg Celsius, 30.5 mm rainfall June average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 45.2 mm rainfall July average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 71.1 mm rainfall August average temperature 10.5 deg Celsius, 66.0 mm rainfall September average temperature 10.5 deg Celsius, 55.9 mm rainfall October average temperature 5.5 deg Celsius, 50.8 mm rainfall November average temperature 0.5 deg Celsius, 53.3 mm rainfall December average temperature -1 deg Celsius, 45.7 mm rainfall
Stockholm ’s airport is Arlanda, 45 km north of the city center; it handles international flights and also has a domestic terminal. The airport is linked to the city by a freeway.
Train: The fastest option is the newly acquired high-speed train service. Leaving every 15 minutes, the ride from the airport to the city’s central station takes only 20 minutes. Bus: Called ‘Flygbussarna’ or flight busses, they leave from domestic and international terminals every 10 or 15 minutes. The service runs between 6:30 am and 11:00 pm. There are several stops along the route, and the final stop is at Cityterminalen at Klarabergsviadukten. The whole route takes about 35 minutes and costs around SKr 70. Taxi: a ride to the city should cost you from SKr 350 – SKr 435. Ask the driver about the fixed price between airport and city. Avoid unregistered cabs – they tend to have higher rates.
Cityterminalen (or the City Terminal) at Karabergsviadukten 72 is used by all the major bus and coach services. There you will find offices of major bus lines such as Swebus Express, Eurolines, Svenska Bus, and also some cheaper ones like Säfflebussen. There are also direct buses to the north.
The main train station is Centralstationen on Vasagatan in the heart of the city. Both long-distance as well as commuter trains arrive at this station. There is a ticket office where you can get tickets, make reservations, ask for information, as well as find automated ticket-vending machines.
Silja Line departs from Värtahamnen for Helsinki and Turku. Viking Line departs from Tegelvikshamn terminal for Helsinki and Turku. There is a 50% discount for holders of a Rail Pass.
The city can be approached by the E20 or E18 highway from the west, or the E4 from the north and south. There is a new 8 km long bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen, which eased road congestion and enabled train connections between Sweden and Denmark. The ferry is cheaper but takes approximately 45 minutes.
A bike is one of the best options for getting around. The city is well equipped with bike lanes so cycling is safe. It costs around Skr90 to rent a bike for a day. The best place to ride a bike is on the island Djurgärden.
The bus system is excellent. There are also night busses that operate when the trains stop running.
The subway, known as T-banan, (Tunnelbanan), is the easiest and fastest transportation mode in the city. Stations are marked by a blue T on white. Services run between 5:00 am and 3:00 am. Bus and subway tickets are interchangeable.
Public transport is efficient and available everywhere so it is a better option than driving a car. Fuel and parking are expensive, illegally parked cars are fined.
Taxis are efficient but expensive. You can hail one on the street or order it by telephone. The following taxi companies are reliable: Taxi 020, Taxi Stockholm, or Taxikurir. A cab on duty is marked by a lit ‘taxi’ sign on the roof.
Open: May-August: daily 10:00 am – 4:30pm; September: daily 12:00 am – 3:30 pm; October – April: weekends 12:00 am- 3:30 pm Web: www.royalcourt.se/
Drottningholms Slott or Queen’s Island Castle is the private residence of the Swedish Royal Family located on the Lovön Island. It was built in the 17 th century and was first used as a summer residence. It has magnificent huge gardens and resembles a smaller version of Versailles. Today it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The nicest way of reaching the castle is by boat. The ride takes 45 minutes and costs around Skr 60. Boats leave from Klara Mälarstrand quay (near the City Hall).
SWIMMING ON LÅNGHOLMEN
Address: Långholmen Neighborhood: Södermalm
Langholmen is a small island, near Södermalm and a perfect spot to go swimming in the summer. The beautiful island is full of bays, cliffs and sandy beaches. Visiting the island makes a nice family trip as there are loads of things for children to do like swimming, playing in the sand or in the nearby forest.
Gamla Stan is the oldest part of the city; it is a picturesque mass of narrow cobbled streets and 17th century buildings. It is home to the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral and the main square. The streets are lined with restaurants and various shops. There are numerous architectural wonders to be admired, for example the 13th century Cathedral Storkyrkan.
Address: Slottsbacken 11130, Gamla Stan Phone: 08 402 6130 Web: www.royalcourt.se Open: 15 May – 31 August: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; 1 September – 14 May: Tuesday – Sunday: 12:00 pm -3:00pm
The Royal Palace, completed in 1760 replaced the old one dating from the 13 th century which burned down in 1697. The new castle was built in the same place and according to the original drawings in the style of Roman Baroque. It is situated in the old town and is the official residence of the king of Sweden. Boasting over 600 rooms, most of which are open to the public throughout the year, it is one of the largest residential castles in Europe, and the largest in the world still used for its original purpose.
There are a number of museums on the castle grounds, like the Royal Treasury, the Royal Armory, the Hall of State and more. See also the changing of the guard which takes place in front of the palace every day at 12:15pm, and Sundays at 1:15 pm.
Address: Hantverkargatan 1 Web: www.stockholm.se/stadshuset Phone: 08 5082 9058 Open: Tower 10:00am-4:30 pm; Tours: June, July, and August: 10:00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm; The rest of the year: 10:00 am, 12:00 pm
The City Hall is Stockholm's main landmark. It was built between 1911 and 1923 and was made world-famous for the Nobel Prize Banquet held here each year. The building made of red brick is situated on King's Island. Its interior is decorated in marvelous art nouveau style. The elegant council chamber has vaulted ceilings made to look like an upturned Viking boat to honor the Viking tradition of using boats to shield oneself in the winter. The most magnificent is the Golden Hall with walls covered in handmade gilt mosaic.
Access: 10 minute walk from the city center across Djurgarden bridge
The island was once a royal hunting ground. Today it is home to numerous museums, amusement venues and green spaces. Here you will find Sweden's oldest amusement park Gröna Lund, a zoo, Skansen – the open air museum of Sweden's history, and the marvelous Vasa Museum which houses a 17th century galleon, which was lifted from Stockholm harbor.
Skansen open air museum Web: www.skansen.se/ Open: daily 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (until 10:00 pm in the summer season)
Gröna Lund - the zoo Open: open between May and September, hours vary
MUSEUM OF NATIONAL ANTIQUITIES
Address: Narvargen 13–17 Web: www.historiska.se/ Phone: 08 5195 5600 Access: Metro (Karlaplan station) Open: 11:00 am-5:00 pm, (until 8:00 pm on Thursday); closed on Monday. Admission: free Disabled access.
The museum houses a marvelous collection of artifacts from the times of Vikings and ancient Swedish people. The Gold Room displays a fascinating collection of gold and silver objects from the Viking tombs and treasure caches. The most notable item is a gold reliquary set with precious stones dating from the Middle Ages which contained the skull of Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia.
The restaurant offers German food like sausages and rumpsteak. In addition they have excellent home-brewed Weissbier. Traditional Swedish dishes are also available. The interior is decorated in beautiful Art Nouveau style.
Midsummer’s eve is one of the biggest celebrations in Sweden. After the long Scandinavian winter the sunlight is welcomed with great enthusiasm. The festival originates in the old pagan celebration of summer solstice. The traditional way of celebrating this event is eating pickled herring and drinking spiced grain alcohol. A May pole is erected, and people dance and sing around it. The open air museum Skansen holds a three-day celebration of Midsummer’s Eve each year.
Date: April 30
Walpurgis Night or Valborgsmässoafton is an old pagan ritual celebrated on April 30 each year with huge bonfires burnt all over the country and choirs sing songs celebrating the arrival of spring. The original purpose of the bonfires was to scare away the witches and demons and send them back to Blåkulla, their hideaway in the mountains. The largest and most traditional Walpurgis celebrations are held in the open air museum Skansen.
NOBEL PRIZE DAY
Date: December 10
Every year Sweden hosts the Nobel Prize distribution ceremony. It is Stockholm’s biggest event; however it is not open to the public. The awards are presented by the King and the ceremony is held in the Concert Hall. Some parts of Stockholm are closed because of the important guests present at the ceremony so do expect some traffic delays.
SMAKA PÅ STOCKHOLM
Date: June 1-6
This annual food festival which literally means ‘Taste Stockholm’ is held in the central park Kungsträdgården. Restaurants set up food stalls and various Swedish as well as international dishes can be eaten at more affordable prices than usual. In the last couple of years the event also features cultural and sports activities. The festival ends on Sweden’s National Day.
Date: July 31 – August 6 Location: various locations
The heart of this annual festival is Pride Park, the city’s Tantolunden, where numerous activities are held for the occasion, ranging from debates, to weddings and even mud wrestling. The parade is witty, outrageous and visually spectacular. There is huge media coverage of the festival and also many heterosexuals join the festivities to show their support.
STOCKHOLM JAZZ FESTIVAL
Date: July 18 – 20
Stockholm comes alive with numerous performances by world-renowned musicians. Concerts are held on Skeppsholmen Island . In past years the performers included such celebrities as Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz and Stevie Wonder.
If you visit during the summer, check the outdoor summer theater ‘Parkteatern’. The plays are performed in various parks throughout Stockholm; the range is vast, from musicals to children’s plays. There is no admission so come early.
The center of Stockholm’s nightlife is in the area between Kungsträdgården and Stureplan. The hottest bars and nightclubs are found here. Most places are open until 3:00 am on weekends, some even until 5:00 am.
The area of Söder offers various local pubs, for example Snaps, Fenix or Guldapan. In Vasastan you will find the following pubs: Storstad and Cliff Barnes. If you prefer British-style pubs, visit Bishop's Arms on St Eriksgatan or The Loft on Regeringsgatan which is close to the center of the city.
Stockholm enjoys a prominent location where trade has thrived since ancient times. The Vikings established a trading center at Birka, in the vicinity of today’s Stockholm, in AD 760. The city of Stockholm was established in 1252 by Regent Birger Jarl. It was a fortified island post defending against the Baltic pirates. In the following couple of hundred years it became one of the largest cities in Sweden and an important merchant center trading with iron, copper, tar and fur.
The city was overcrowded, made up mainly of rather simple wooden houses. However, it also boasted a majestic Cathedral Storkykan and the tower named Three Crowns. In the 14 th and 15 th centuries the city grew and improvements were made to accommodate the population. Gustav Vasa introduced vast changes; he made Sweden an independent monarchy and Stockholm became the capital city, however, this became official only in 1634.
In the 17 th century Stockholm was home to wealthy knights, Royal emissaries and merchants who changed its face, building magnificent palaces and castles. The examples of architecture dating from that period are the House of Knights and the Royal Palace. The city had already grown a lot by that time, and immigration into the city had also increased. In the 19 th century Stockholm was being largely renewed, many facilities being added, hospitals erected, post offices and railway stations built.
Trams became the main transportation mode. The working class was relocated to the suburbs, whereas the rich moved to wealthy areas like Djursholm. With the arrival of steamships and railway, trade expanded to an international scale.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
Technologically advanced and ethnically diverse, the city has become a major modern metropolis. The city’s further expansion led to many new districts for example Rinkeby and Tensta. The number of immigrants rose.
Stockholm today is home to many multinational corporations and has a vibrant cultural scene. It is the major city of Scandinavia. Since its inclusion in the European Union the city has worked to become an affordable and lively tourist destination.
Stockholm is a relatively safe city. But like in any big city tourists should be mainly aware of petty crime. Things are stolen mainly from people on the street or from parked vehicles.
There are pickpockets and bag snatchers, often operating in pairs. One distracts you while the other grabs your belongings. They are often found near major tourist attractions, like Gamla Stan, near restaurants, amusement parks, museums, bars, buses and subway stations.
Professional thieves operate in hotel lobbies and breakfast rooms. They are elegantly dressed and wait for purses and briefcases to be left unguarded.
Do not leave any valuables in parked vehicles.
Emergency phone numbers: In case of a traffic accident or a medical emergency call 112