A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
I’m back from Sweden!
And what an adventure.
It was Wow!
This summer is going to be so awesome!
If you’re just joining us, I have plans for the summer. Fantastic plans!
I’ll be travelling to Sweden & Slovenia. By bus. OMG!
I have a million things to tell you so I’ll be breaking the posts down. This week is about the absolute best things to do in Stockholm, and next week will be where we stayed and what we ate and drank. Oh goodness me!
After that, I’ll be giving you some details about my up-coming trip to Slovenia.
But first, Sweden.
Today, I’m going to tell you why the winner takes it all, in Stockholm!
Sweden, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Sweden, really needs no introduction, and is a small Scandinavian country in Northern Europe.
It borders Norway to the west and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest, by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund.
Sweden is the third-largest country in the European Union with a whopping mass area of 450,295 square kilometres or 173,860 square miles, and a population of just 10 million people!
The capital city is Stockholm.
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous city in the Nordic countries. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.
Stockholm has been a settlement area since the Stone Ages around roughly 6 B.C. and was founded as a city in 1252!
It is spread across 17 islands on the coast at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago, and to the Baltic Sea!
Stockholm is the seat of the Swedish government and the official residencies of the Swedish monarch and the Prime Minister. The Stockholm Palace is the official residence and workplace of the Swedish monarch, while the Drottningholm Palace, is the Royal Family’s private residence.
Stockholm is the cultural, media, political, and economic centre of Sweden. It is among the top 10 regions in Europe by GDP per capita, is a very important global city, and the main centre for corporate headquarters in the Nordic region!
The Nordic region is defined as Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden, including their associated territories (Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands)!
I had never been to Sweden before as the prices used to frighten me, but right now, the Nordic Nations are trendy, fashionable, and pretty much all the rage, and I absolutely adooooore ABBA!
In fact, I was actually supposed to go to Sweden for the TBEX conference last year, but opted to go to the Philippines instead!
And I annoyingly regret it now!
I so wish I had been able to do both TBEX Europe & TBEX Asia Pacific, but it just isn’t possible as I have a family, and a respectable job!
Ah well! This year, I’ve chosen TBEX Europe. In Killarney, Ireland!
Exciting stuff. Back to Stockholm.
Stockholm is a most fascinating city of trendy music, design, fashion and technology. It also has a rich history comprising exciting architecture, museums, a medieval urban core, and is home to the Nobel Prize!
OMG! We absolutely loved it! I brought along The Tall Young Gentleman who at 15 years old, is sceptical about everything, and he loved it too!
At first, he whinged and whined, because as a toddler, he loved the music of ABBA, until he saw the film MAMMA MIA! And then he was totally turned off!
However, what he liked most was not ABBA itself, but the Good Evening Europe new official exhibition dedicated to 60 years of the Eurovision Song Contest!
In the first section of the ABBA Museum is an interactive exhibition that celebrates the story of the world’s longest running annual television competition first held in 1956. Yep! The Eurovision Song Contest! There is a reason why millions of people around the world go mad for it. And my teenage son was no exception. He loved it!
Because of the songs, the singers, the live performances, the fact that you get to see Celine Dion with a hideous mullet but winning the Eurovision in 1998 for Switzerland, and taking off in her career, Ms. Conchita Wurst the winner of 2013 for Austria, the Irish Jedward twins in 2011, with the largest shoulder pads that TV has ever seen! Michael Flatley’s Riverdance for the very first time in 1994, and the fact that Ireland holds the world record for the highest number of wins, having won the contest seven times! Sweden six times, the UK along with France and Luxembourg, five times, and Germany, along with Austria, Italy, Spain, Ukraine and Switzerland, only twice!
And of course, where would we be without ABBA who won the Eurovision in 1974, with Waterloo, wearing those fabulous glam sparkly clothes and huge platform shoes, thus changing the Song Contest forever. Previously before that, everyone wore tuxedos and bow ties!
The Museum also includes a new exhibition with more than 250 swedish and international artists, otherwise known as the Pop House, and the Gröna Lund Backstage – Photo Exhibition.
Note: The Swedish Music Hall of Fame is no longer located at ABBA – The Museum!
You also get to walk, dance and sing as many ABBA songs as you like, which you can save and record. And for once, my teenage son wasn’t embarrassed by my singing, he actually thought my voice and ahem! my dance moves were pretty alright.
Yes. I danced with the holograms. It’s ABBA. What can I say!
ABBA – The Museum is modern, interactive, and a non-stop musical experience. A Must Do!
Cost: Adults 250 SEK or €26.00. Children between 7-15 years – 95 SEK or €10.00. Family tickets – Up to 2 adults and 4 children between 7 – 15 – 595 SEK or €61.50. Children under 7 – free of charge.
NOTE: NO cash accepted. Cards only.
Another fantastic win. Again, we loved it! The VASA Museum is a unique museum that was built around the 17th century royal warship that sank on it’s maiden voyage in 1628!
What a disaster!
I mean, people were still waving goodbye with their handkerchiefs when it sank! Honestly speaking, I was expecting heads to roll for that, but you’ll need to find out what happens yourself!
The VASA was submerged at the bottom of the Stockholm harbour, pretty much outside the museum, for 333 years! It was finally found by an amateur archaeologist – Anders Franzén – in 1956 and rescued from the seabed in 1961!
VASA is the most visited non-art museum in Scandinavia. It’s also the only preserved 17th century ship in the world, and is on record as having the shortest maiden voyage in history. Ever!
I had planned to spend only an hour, as we wanted to go to the SKANSEN Open-Air Museum too. Ha! Ha! That was a mistake, as in fact, we spent over three (3) hours at the VASA Museum instead!
The VASA MUSEUM is presented in all it’s glory. There’s loads to do, with film screens, guided tours, interactive exhibitions, pictures, and of course, the enormous beautiful ship – the VASA – herself. A must do!
Cost: Adults 130 SEK or €13.50. Students – 110 SEK or €11.50. Children under 18 – Absolutely free of charge!
3. THE SKANSEN OPEN-AIR MUSEUM:
This was supposed to have been one of the highlights of our trip, but we never did it!
We got to the front of the gate, and then turned around, as I wanted to go on the boat, one more time, AND visit the Old Town!
We were going to spend a few hours here because I am obsessed with open-air museums!
I am disappointed that we didn’t make it, but I’m absolutely sure that we’ll be back to Stockholm, and when we do, it’ll be on the top of my list!
The Skansen is the oldest open-air museum in the world. I weep as I write!
This museum was founded in 1891 and tells the story of five (5) centuries of Swedish history. It comes complete with historical buildings, Nordic animals, a zoo, an aquarium, costumed characters clothed in period dress, and doing the work their ancestors probably would have done.
It would have been a crime to rush through it, so perhaps on reflection I was right to leave the open-air museum, to another day. Sob!
You’ll probably need a minimum of two (2) hours, perhaps even three (3). And the best way to get there is actually to take the ferry, as it’s on the Island of Djurgården! Do it!
Cost: There are a variety of prices depending on what you want to see but generally, adults 180 SEK or €18.50. Students – 160 SEK or €16.50. Children between 4-15 years – 60 SEK or €6.00. Children under 4 – free of charge!
4. THE ICEBAR:
OMG! This. Was. Awesome!
I didn’t know what to expect, but we were invited by the Sales Manager of the Hotel C Stockholm!
We had been in communication whilst I was at the ITB Berlin, but we weren’t actually able to meet, as I was fully booked up! However, we stayed in contact, and once she realised that I was going to be in Stockholm, and even though I had already had my hotel organised, she invited us to an evening of cocktails at the ICEBAR by Ice Hotel!
ICEBAR by Ice Hotel in Stockholm is the world’s first permanent ice bar. Created 100% out of ice from the Torne River in Northern Sweden, it’s the Stockholm branch of the original ICEHOTEL created in Jukkasjärvi, back in 1994!
Book Hotel C Stockholm here or here!
Once you step in, you’re bundled up in a warm coat with a furry hood, and gloves. You then step into the beautifully sculptured interior where the blocks of ice are crystal clear, and carved into fish!
There’s a seat of ice, covered with furs that made me feel like the Ice Queen in Narnia. The air was crisp, the floor was slightly slippery, and a sense of awe, comes over you.
With our complimentary VIP cards, we were served cocktails and non-alcoholic champagne, presented in a glass made entirely of ice!
We were duly impressed!
Absolutely recommended. A Must Do!
Cost: It’s cheaper to pre-book or if you’re a hotel guest. Adults 199 SEK or €20.50. Non-alcoholic drinks – 170 SEK or €17.50. Children between 3-17 years – 99 SEK or €10.00.
Book Hotel C Stockholm here or here!
The Stockholm Archipelago, otherwise known as skärgård, is the largest archipelago in Sweden, and the second-largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea (the largest being across the Baltic in Finland)!
The Stockholm Archipelago comprises about 30,000 islands, islets, and rocks that are accessible from Stockholm itself! We didn’t have enough time to do this as first time visitors, but if you’re in Stockholm for more than 3 days, or you’ve been to Stockholm before, this is an excellent activity to do. There are 40 reserves with small settlements. Many of the islands have unique nature and beautiful cultural landscapes. You can even dine or spend the night, as well as enjoy seal safaris, visit historic settings, see art, hike, cycle, paddle, and eat locally sourced dishes and archipelago delicacies!
Make it a day trip to remember.
Cost: Variable depending on which ship company you go with. This is where the Stockholm Pass comes in handy. We had VIP passes for 72 hours, and could have gone on an Archipelago Guided Tour, for free!
6. OLD TOWN / GAMLA STAN:
The Old Town, otherwise known as Gamla Stan in Stockholm, is a medieval urban core, and also one of the world’s best-preserved medieval city centres with it’s meandering alleys lined with crooked buildings next to crooked art shops and galleries!
Gamla Stan is a traffic-free living museum stuffed with sights, restaurants, cafes, bars and places to go shopping! The narrow, winding cobblestones streets with buildings in fantastic bright colours, are a sight for sore eyes, and like Schnoor, the medieval centre of the city of Bremen, gives the Old Town a unique character.
We went on a free walking tour which was packed with young visitors from all over the world, but really gave us an insight into what Stockholm is all about. There are many free tour companies in Stockholm, but we chose this one ‘cos the timings of 10:00 & 16:00 were much better than 13:30! They even mentioned the Roof-Top bar of our Hobo Hotel, which was pretty dandy!
More about that next week! A Must Do!
Cost: Nothing at all, except a tip at your own discretion!
7. BOAT SIGHTSEEING:
Stockholm lies on 14 islands, connected by 56 bridges! As a result, you can travel from place to place on a sightseeing boat. The sights are beautiful and the journey is unique. You can do a hop-on-hop-off boat tour, you can also take boat tours to Birka – the Viking City – Sigtuna and Skokloster, Drottingholm, Gustavsberg, Artipelag, Fjäderholmarna, Vaxholm, Rosersberg, as well as Royal Canal Tours, Under the Bridges of Stockholm Tours, and Historical Canal Tours.
Boats depart from various places and if using a Stockholm Pass, are included in the price!
NOTE: Depending on which pass you purchase, you can only validate the museum or attraction once. However, if you had a 48 hour pass, and wanted to do the same thing twice on separate days, I don’t think it would be an issue, but do check for confirmation before you travel!
8. GO TO ANY OF THE PALACES:
The two most important palaces that you absolutely must go to, are the Royal Palace and the Drottningham Palace.
The Royal Palace, with 600 rooms, is one of the largest inhabited palaces in the world! Not as many as Buckingham Palace though, which has 775 rooms. Just saying!
The palace is built in baroque style and formed as a Roman palace. The palace contains many interesting things to see such as the Royal Apartments, three (3) museums steeped in regal history, and the Royal Armory. I managed to watch the Changing of the Guards, but I only had the chance to spend snatched minutes basking in it’s elegance beneath the river, before it was time to move on! I would very much have enjoyed sitting on the steps, or just laying on the grass in the sunshine, and taking it all in!
The Drottningham Palace is Sweden’s best preserved royal palace from the 17th century. It serves as the Swedish Royal Family’s permanent private residence, and is one of Stockholm’s three (3) UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
The Palalce can be reached by water and features magnificent pieces from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, as well as a beautiful park, a unique palace theatre, and a Chinese Pavilion.
The Royal Palace – Cost: Adults 160 SEK or €16.50. Children between 7-17 years – 80 SEK or €8.00. Children under 7 – free of charge!
The Drottningham Palace – Cost: Adults 130 SEK or €13.50. Students – 65 SEK or €7.00. Children between 7-17 years – 65 SEK or €7.00. Children under 6 – free of charge!
There’s a reason that I love Game of Thrones, and it’s because of the blood and gore. I’m also very much into witches, ghosts, vampires, and wolves!
It should be of no surprise therefore, when I discovered that Stockholm has a Ghost Walk!
Now, I ran out of time, and was far too tired, as I had cocktails to drink…but I’ve been told that you can explore dark alleyways of Gamla Stan on an exciting mystical tour through history, about tales of murder, disease, fires, legends, and a houseful of ghosts! Rattle!
A Must Try!
Cost: Adults 200 SEK or €20.50. Children between 7-14 years – 100 SEK or €10.20. Children under 7 – Not recommended.
The Stockholm subway station opened in 1950, and is – at 110 kms – known as the longest art gallery in the world!
Over 90 of the 100 subway stations have a unique style with exciting art and embellishments covered with sculptures, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings and reliefs, by over 150 artists!
You can either explore the art independently or take a free guided art tour to learn about the architecture and artwork, and meet some of the artists.
I so wanted to do this as I like alternative street art, but I was so engrossed with things on land and on water, that I completely forgot!
Still, a Must Try!
Cost: Absolutely free of charge, as long as you have a valid train ticket. Don’t forget now!
NOTE: The Museums and Attractions in Stockholm below are completely, and utterly free of charge!
This article is part – sponsored, and even though I’m working in partnership with Visit Stockholm, and the above organisations, absolutely all opinions, and the fantastic time that I had, are my very own!
Thanks so much!
In June, I’ll be writing more about Sweden, and visiting Slovenia! Follow me on Twitter & Facebook to find out what I’m up to!
I’ll be there. Will you?
That’s it for now.
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
You had a lovely time! I haven’t ventured into any Scandinavian countries because the costs are scary! Hope that I can get a partnership to head there…love your suggestions of things,to do there…abba was also popular when we were kids…back home in Kenya we knew about them!
Thanks so much Caroline!
I did indeed. Sweden was everything I expected, and more! Thankfully, Stockholm prices weren’t as bad as I thought. Most things were London-priced. Yeah, I admit I was glad of some sponsorship, but transport and food and drink (outside of the IceBar) was paid for by me. And anyway, with a growing lad, I’m totally worth it! 😀
Thanks so much Neha!
Have you been to Sweden?
Stockholm was fun. We really enjoyed our trip. Federico was more impressed with ABBA more than l was, even though l like them well enough. Drottingholm palace was a highlight for me as well as the boat ride there. Gorgeous scenery. Gamla Stan was also very nice. I loved it. I do doubt a return trip for us though unless we win the lottery. It was insanely expensive..like 2 servings of Udon soup, 2 beers and an appetizer for like €60. The sushi was reasonable though..so we ate a lot of that, thank goodness we love that immensely. Good roundup!
Thanks so much KemKem!
It really was! I’m not surprised that Federico enjoyed ABBA – I was amazed that “The Tall Young Gentleman” found the Eurovision Song Contest so interesting too. It must be the technical stuff! 😉 Again, we spent about 2.5 hours there and had to rush the last parts!
Thank goodness, our hotel was included in our programme or else…! Mind you, we spent a lot of time eating Asian food. That happened in Finland too. Much cheaper. However, we found a very nice place in the Old Town that had “reasonable” prices and Swedish food. Oh, and of course, I didn’t order any alcohol! I reserved that for the IceBar, and on our last day on the rooftop bar. Our drinks were London-priced so I used the rest of my Swedish cash to pay for them!! 😀
Victoria, Sweden does sound very interesting, I am a huge fan of ABBA and would certainly love to visit the Museum. The river cruise also would be great to do, you often get a very different perspective of a place from the water. The prices there can ba a bit scary though, so will need to budget carefully. I have visited the Icebar in London and in Barcelona, it was a fun experience. Great suggestions here of things to do, I would probably like to do them all 🙂
Thanks so much Gilda! You would looooove Sweden! Yep! No one can deny that the prices could turn your hair grey, but if you’re careful, it’s just fine. It’s pretty much like going to London!
p.s. You’ve visited the IceBar in London & Barcelona? That’s so (excuse the pun) cool!!!! 😀 😀
Stockholm does seem like an interesting place to go! So many things which seem fun! Great post, Vic! 🙂
Thanks so much Agness! You’re so sweet to say so. Stockholm is great! I’m really glad that I visited. 😀
Love the pics! Love the info! Love ABBA! Hadn’t thought of a visit to Sweden but I seriously am now…love your enthusiasm.
Thanks so much Kathleen! That’s awfully nice of you to say so! I loooove ABBA, and if you do too, then it’time to visit Sweden. It’s a very nice country. 😀
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