Stockholm is located on 14 islands at the mouth of Lake Malären in the Baltic Sea. The Swedish capital, the “Venice of the North”, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and at the same time one of the cleanest.
Around 24,000 islands of different sizes surround the Swedish capital Stockholm. Many of them are even part of the city: 30 percent of Stockholm’s surface is water. And it’s so clean, you see anglers everywhere hauling salmon out of the sea.
The city’s location is favorable, and people recognized this early on. In the 1970s, the remains of water poles dating back to the 11th century were discovered. About 100 years later a monastery was mentioned in “Stokholm”. The name Stockholm could refer to the tree trunks on which the city’s first buildings were erected – “Stock” means “tree trunk”, “Holm” means “small island”.
Historical Old Town: Gamla Stan
The main attraction of Stockholm, which is inhabited by around 1.2 million people, is the almost car-free Gamla Stan, the medieval old town with narrow streets and sights such as the German Church, the Knights’ House (Riddarhuset) once used as a meeting place for the nobility and the Royal Palace .
Popular shopping street
The Reichstag building is on the island of Helgeandsholmen, while the Wrangelsches Palais and the Riddarholm Church are on Riddarholmen. Norrmalm, where Stockholm’s high-rise buildings are located, is very modern – a historic quarter had to give way for their construction. The heart of the city center is Drottninggatan, Stockholm’s most famous shopping street.
Attractive Gründerzeit houses characterize Östermalm. The Royal Court Stables and the Royal Dramatic Theater are well known. Attractions on the island of Blasieholmen are the magnificent Grand Hotel or the National Museum. Stockholm City Hall is on the island of Kungsholmen, whose Blue Hall is the setting for the Nobel Prize Winners’ Banquet every year. The hip youth of Stockholm also meet in Östermalm in the clubs and hotel bars.
Recreation and culture in Djurgarden
When people in Stockholm want to relax, they are drawn to the Djurgarden peninsula with its charming nature, which is part of the so-called Ekoparken, the world’s first national city park, founded in 1994. However, important museums such as the Vasa Museum or the Skansen Open-Air Museum were also established here. The historic district of Djurgardsstaden is also attractive, with buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Fans of Swedish children’s books are drawn to the Junibacken Museum, where everything revolves around Swedish children’s literature and characters such as Pippi Longstocking, Michel from Lönneberga, Madita or Pettersson and Findus – a fairytale world for small and large connoisseurs. The Slussen lock on the island of Södermalm creates a connection to the Baltic Sea, the attraction of which is the beautiful St. Catherine’s Church.
57 bridges and a “squeeze tax”
With so many islands and peninsulas connected by 57 bridges, it’s clear that touring the city takes a while. Tourists should still do without a car – also because you have to pay a fee for driving in the city center. The method used to improve the air quality and reduce car traffic is called “push control”.
Stockholm and two famous book authors
An attraction for fans of Astrid Lindgren can be found in the Royal Library: the archive of the famous children’s book author, including 4000 books, letters, manuscripts and much more, a true treasure trove. Collections by the author Selma Lagerlöf are also housed in the library, as are the legacies of August Strindberg. And if you want to go a little further, you can visit Gripsholm Castle in Marifred near Stockholm, which Kurt Tucholsky described in his novel of the same name.
The 5 top sights in Stockholm
Of course there is a lot to see in the Swedish capital. But if you are only in Stockholm for a weekend, you should concentrate on the most important things:
- Royal Palace: At least parts of the baroque-style building are open to the public. However, the chances of seeing a member of the royal family are not very high.
- Shopping on Drottninggatan: Boutiques, department stores, market stalls and cafes line the famous shopping street: Shopping on Drottninggatan is great fun and there is a wide range to choose from. Not only fashion fans get their money’s worth, but also everyone who loves Scandinavian design. It’s worth browsing, because there are shops with wonderful finds everywhere.
- City Hall: Nobel Prize winners and a Golden Hall – the “Stadhuset”, the city hall of Stockholm, is an impressive building. The blue hall becomes a banquet hall every year. At least as magnificent is the Golden Hall, in which gold mosaics made of 18 million little stones can be seen.
- Vasa Museum: A perfectly preserved warship from 1628 is the main attraction of the Vasa Museum. The “Vasa” and much of what she had on board are spectacular and deserve a visit.
Stockholm’s Top 5 Sights: Hello, Pippi Longstocking!
- Museum Junibacken: After the Vasa Museum, it’s only a short walk to childhood heroes: eg Pippi Longstocking! In the Junibacken Museum there are encounters with her and other children’s book heroes – a place for small and big children.
The best time to travel to Stockholm
Extreme heat is rare, but the weather in Stockholm is better than those new to Sweden would expect. So if you think of permafrost and rain clouds, you will be surprised. On the contrary: at least in the south of the country, the climate is mild and the summers are sunny.
Ten to eleven hours of sunshine are quite normal in summer, the city owes this to its northern location – in summer it gets dark much later here than in Germany. Even if this is of course much more pronounced in northern Sweden.
The best time to travel to Stockholm is from June to August. Then the days are long and the weather in Stockholm is so stable that you can stay outside (although the mosquitoes know that too). As a visitor to Stockholm, you should always have a sweater or jacket with you, and an umbrella doesn’t hurt either, although it rains less in the city than in western Sweden. When it rains in summer, there are usually short showers.
January and February are the coldest months.