Our week in Bremen reunited us with friends, but it was just the beginning of our Euro-friends-trip. The tour continued next in Stockholm, Sweden! Neither of us had been to Stockholm before, so we were both pretty excited about going around town and sightseeing.
Though compact and walkable, Stockholm is spread through 14 islands and has a lot to offer. A boat trip into the archipelago will take you to more than 24,000 islands, while a stroll through its razor-thin alleys sets you back in time.
Old Town Stockholm
Stockholm combines the buzz of a modern city with the charming looks of a medieval town. Dating back to the 1200s, the old town (Gamla Stan) in Stockholm is one of Europe’s most historical destinations. Stortorget – the scenic and large square in the middle of Gamla Stan – is the oldest square in Stockholm. Interesting fact: the well in the middle of the square is coordinates (0,0) for the city, the absolute center of town.
A group of iconic colorful buildings, numbered from 14-22, flanks Stortorget on the west. These buildings carry a lot of history and plots involving kings and royals during Stockholm’s first years.
To the north, the Nobel Museum inspires young minds by exposing the accomplishments of Nobel laureates, as well as exhibitions about Alfred Nobel’s life. The visit to the museum was very humbling and showed us how little we have contributed to society when compared to the greatest minds in history. Free on Tuesday nights!
Behind the Nobel museum, the Stockholm Cathedral leads the way down to the Swedish Parliament, where the royal family still resides. Even though we didn’t go inside the building, it still made for a nice walk by, not only admiring its impressive architecture, but also watching locals carrying on their daily lives. We missed the Change of Guard, but we hear it’s pretty cool.
Kungsholmen island is home to the Stockholm City Hall. A major touristic attraction in Stockholm, the City Hall is also venue to weddings, important gatherings and the Nobel Prize banquet.
The view of Gamla Stan from its backyard promenade is one of the best in the city.
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm was well worth the visit and definitely our favourite museum. Built around the only almost fully intact 17th century ship, the Vasa, the museum does a great job of displaying the ship, its history, as well as the stories of the people working on the construction of the ship and later on onboard.
The Swedish warship was built between 1626 and 1628 under the orders of King Gustavus Adolphus as part of a military expansion campaign. Armed with bronze cannons and decorated with symbols of the king, the Vasa was one of the most powerful vessels in the world.
Despite its robust size and devastating weapons, the Vasa sank in its maiden voyage after sailing only a bit more than one kilometer into the Stockholm Archipelago. A gust of wind a bit stronger than a breeze hit the vessels and the highly unstable ship turned on its side. The fiasco was witnessed by thousands of people, including foreign ambassadors and spies on King Gustavus Adolphus.
After sinking, several attempts were made to recover the wreck – none successful. It was almost three centuries later that Vasa’s location was rediscovered and a successful attempt raised the ship from the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Even though the ship was severely damaged by decomposition and erosion, the less salty waters of the Baltic kept much of it in a preserved state.
Going around the museum while learning the comic fate of such a wonderful ship was very interesting. It was also quite surprising to learn how much history a single ship could have.
A visit to Stockholm wouldn’t be complete without a stop in one of Sweden’s biggest contributions to modern day city dwellers – IKEA. While Julie has loved IKEA for years now, I had yet to set foot in the beloved furniture store. My excuse has been that I was saving myself to go to the original one in Sweden.
We made sure to go to one during our time in Stockholm (though not the very first IKEA), wandering through the signature maze of showrooms. The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly tasting the world-famous Swedish meatballs served at the stores. In fact, we had two rounds of those, one before and another after going through the showrooms!
Visiting Stockholm has been on our list for quite some time now and we’re so happy we finally made it. The city was even better than our expectations and we’re looking forward to coming back in the summer! I have a good feeling it will happen in the foreseeable future. Thanks for a great week, Stockholm! We were sad but so eager for the city that is our home away from home – lovely Zurich, Switzerland.
For more pictures from Stockholm, please visit the gallery!