It was only two years since my last visit to Stockholm and I had then visited several of the main highlights of the Swedish capital. The question was what I wanted to discover this time.
People like me get a satisfaction out of ticking off places on a bucket list – but also from re-experiencing previous visits, achieving this comfortable feeling of having been some place before and loved it.
Which places did I visit last time?
The Old town (Gamla Stan) with it’s squares, quaint old streets and buildings, the Royal palace, the Parliament building, and churches and palaces on nearby islets. A visit was paid to the City Hall (Stadshuset), and also to the Vasa Museum and the Abba Museum over at the Djurgården island. I even went out of town to the cemetery called Skogskyrkogården, listed as a World Heritage Site. Just to mention some.
This time I was attending a conference and had part of the weekend available to myself before returning home on Sunday morning. Here’s what I did this time.
Dinner at Stadshuset
I returned to Stadshuset, this red brick building on the shore of Lake Mälaren serving as the capital’s city hall. It is actually being used for municipal meetings, but from what I gathered it is mostly used for representation and ceremonial purposes, apart from being open to the public on guided tours. Once a year it hosts the spectacular Nobel Banquet, in connection with the Nobel awards in December. That dinner is broadcast live on Swedish television and getting inside is by invitation to the very few only – although some would not consider 1,300 persons as “few”.
I was actually attending a Nobel inspired dinner on this visit, only a couple of months before the real thing. Drinks were served in the Golden Hall before dinner, and a ball was staged in the same spectacular hall after dinner. Like in December we received a well prepared meal in the Blue Hall, with professional entertainers in between the courses.
Fotografiska presents itself as one of the world’s largest meeting places for contemporary photography. There are every year four large exhibitions and around 20 smaller ones. Inside you’re able to buy books and souvenirs and also sit down at the restaurant with a magnificent view of Stockholm inner harbour. It’s not really a museum as it only deals with exhibitions and has no permanent collections.
For me this was a wonderful experience, actually the first museum dedicated to photography I have ever been to. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to Stockholm and Fotografiska.
Find out what Fotografiska has to offer right now.
I include a couple of photos from inside the museum, but these exhibitions are finished by the time you are reading this. The outdoor sculptures are less likely to be removed.
Situated on the islet of Skeppsholmen this museum is hosting a number of international works of art from modern and contemporary artists. It is one of Europe’s largest of its kind. The new building opened in 1998 and offer quality exhibition facilities for its permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. There is a bookshop and café inside.
My suggestion is to take a bus to its last stop on Skeppsholmen and then enjoy the outdoor sculptures before you enter the museum. Walk back into town.
Find out what Moderna has to offer right now.
Walks in the city centre
Any city centre is best understood by walking, although you may try one of the hop-on, hop-off buses as well. Into Gamla Stan you’ll only get on foot, but also the gardens and shopping streets north of it are best visited like that. I did that on this visit as well, represented by a few pictures here.
An excursion to Drottningholm Palace
The view of Drottningholm palace from the entrance.
A short metro and bus ride away, this is the King and Queen’s permanent home residence. Their private rooms are off limits to visitors, but the rest of the palace and the extensive park and gardens outside are open for the public year round.
I made the trip and had a wonderful experience as described in a special article from Drottningholm. There is also a short article about it in the World Heritage Site section of Sandalsand.
Attending a conference often involves staying at a boring and expensive conference hotel. I decided otherwise and found an extremely pleasant little hotel in Gamla Stan, within a short and picturesque walking distance to the conference centre near the central station. It did not come inexpensive so I switched to a cheaper one when my private wallet came to use.
Here’s what I wrote about Hotel Sven Vintappare on Tripadvisor: “Beautiful 1600 century building in Gamla Stan with nice cafe and hotel rooms in the old style, not to mention a comfortable bed. Here are the original beams preserved in the ceilings, and the squeaks in the floor. Everything is just charming. With only seven rooms the breakfast cannot be all too lavish, but the choice was surprisingly good and large. Its location in the Old Town is unmatched and it’s hard to think of anything negative.”
During the weekend I stayed a couple of nights at a budget hotel called Hotel Gamla Stan. Here’s what I wrote on Booking.com: “One gets what one pays for. A cramped single room lacked ceiling lights and I managed to change to a large double. The standard is not the world in this old hotel in the old town. The fact that there is a shared bathroom in the hallway does not really matter, it was kept clean. Few rooms on each floor stops queues from building up. The location is good, as is breakfast. The reception was very good.”
Apart from the Gala dinner at Stadshuset, I spent the evenings eating in Gamla Stan. The following links go to my reviews on Tripadvisor, quoted here.
Lunch at Cafe Sten Sture: “Touristy, yet must-see cellar restaurant: It’s kind of medieval and as such a fascinating place in an old town. Several chambers, low ceiling, dim lights, it all adds to the atmosphere. Service? Well, quiet and good. Food? Decent.”
Dinner at Restaurant C.C.: “Another basement restaurant in Gamla Stan: There are quite a few restaurants in the Old town pretending to be medieval. This one too offers that kind of atmosphere and background. In addition it serves traditional Swedish game. The menu is varied, tempting and the service is alright. The food is very good making this an highly decent choice on the tourist trail of Gamla Stan.”
Dinner at Zum Franziskaner: “Nice atmosphere, average food: This is a pub. Or perhaps more of a restaurant. It fits all. Good service, generous servings and an ambient atmosphere is what characterises this restaurant in the Old town of Stockholm. I liked the beer, I liked the place, but the food – the reason I came – was on the boring side. Basic, but not bad-tasting at all.”
Here on Sandalsand you may read other articles about what to see in and around Stockholm:
Stockholm 2014 – Gamla Stan and other highlights
World Heritage List #0558 – Skogskyrkogården
Stockholm 2016 (1) What to do revisiting the city? (THIS)
Stockholm 2016 (2) A visit to Drottningholm Palace
World Heritage List #0559 – Royal Domain of Drottningholm