Stockholm – The World’s Smallest Big City

July 26th, 2019

Stockholm in the summer

Stockholm boasts an elegant ambiance with a beautiful design of historic influence preserved along the edge of the water. Instead of one, solid city, Stockholm is spread across 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. As the capital of Sweden, Stockholm acts as a microcosm of the surrounding country conserving the heritage while also constantly innovating through art, architecture, and balancing traditional style with forward-looking aesthetics. These are captured in spaces like the subway, which is often considered the world’s longest art gallery hosting gorgeous mosaics, elaborate sculptures, and fascinating paintings inside the majority of the stations.

With a population of over 965,000 people, Stockholm is one of the world’s cleanest capital cities with designated bike lanes helping upwards of 70,000 people commute to work, school, or social engagements throughout the day adding to the commitment to progressivism. The modern ambiance is exemplified by the open-air museum and streets that reflec the ever-evolving culture of the city. With so many activities, an abundance of sites, and the sensational blend of modernism and traditions, Stockholm is an enchanting city to visit with the following list exploring the Top 10 experiences in Sweden’s capital city.

1. Swedish Cuisine

Elegant cuisine is flourishing in Stockholm

When thinking of Swedish cuisine, you probably think of dishes like meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes, and lingonberry sauce and while this is a tasty and traditional part of classic foods of Sweden, Stockholm’s restaurants represent the true diversity of flavors found in the city and across the country acting as a melting pot of contemporary interpretations of traditional recipes. Ingredients such as game, fish, and shellfish take center-stage as chefs highlight the local and customary delicacies of the region that are found along the shores and landscape of greater Sweden. These ingredients create a balance of sweet and savory by finding the complex, layered flavors of blueberries, cloudberries, lingonberries, salmon, and venison.

Restaurants throughout Stockholm focus on ambiance and flavor ranging from lively eateries with wine and beer complimenting every dish to candlelit favorites filled with the savory scent of aromatics, which add to the mouthwatering aromas of the coveted recipes. Whether enjoying a long-time favorite like Pelikan or a newer restaurant known as Meatballs for the People known for serving 14 different types of meatballs from elk to salmon, beef to game, you can find a variety of powerful flavors that embody the modern city while respecting tradition.

2. The Vasa Museum

A calamity of the past stands as a point of fascination of the present

The Vasa Museum in Stockholm displays the remains of the massive 17th-century ship for which the gallery is named. The structure was built specifically to house the massive war ship reaching over 226 feet long and 160 feet tall. Within minutes of weighing anchor and setting out to sea from the Stockholm harbor, the top-heavy ship sunk to the bottom of Saltsjon Bay in the Baltic Sea. The ship was built as a giant fortress on the water adding to the luster of the Stockholm Kingdom and the ability of the king to conquer new lands during the age of Western European colonial expansion.

The ship contained 48 light cannons, two additional large cannons, and six howitzers with the ammunition alone weighting over 588 pounds. During the marine archeological excavation, archeologists uncovered thousands of artifacts including the remains of 15 of the ship’s passengers eventually allowing staff to reassemble the entire giant ship like a puzzle with approximately 14,000 individual pieces. A film in the screening room of the museum has a 17-minute film offering insight into the Vasa’s salvage operation and conservation.

3. The Royal Palace

The palace harkens to back to a regal era

The Royal Palace of Stockholm, also known as the Kungliga Slottet, is one of Europe’s largest palatial complexes hosts upwards of 608 rooms and dates back to the 17th century acting as the world’s largest royal castle used by a royal family still in power. The lavish Baroque and Rococo designs embellish each room with a unique fingerprint from the adornments on the wall to the opulent furniture. Galleries such as the Armory and Royal Stable showcase the elaborate collections of royal costumes and glinting armor, as well as elaborate coronation carriages and remarkable coaches fit for royalty.

Stockholm’s Royal Palace befits the regal ambiance of His Majesty the King of Sweden with four facades symbolizing the King, Queen, Nation, and Royalty, in addition to acting as the center of government growing to host Parliament, the Royal Press Office, the Royal Chapel, and a grand selection of museums resulting in the palace complex possessing 1,430 rooms in total.

4. Fjallgatan

Grand views are in high supply in Stockholm

is a street in Stockholm famous for its panoramic views sweeping across the city’s harbor and historical architecture. The grand ambiance derives from the stoic ripples in the water and the vibrant colors from the traditional architecture across the bay. Well-preserved wooden buildings dating back to the 18th century surround the viewpoints along Fjallgatan and the Kaffestuga Café provides patrons with a charming atmosphere filled with the aroma of spices only accentuating the neighboring beauty.

In Swedish, the term “fjall” has a double meaning referring to both the scales of a fish and the mountains rising above a tree line. No one knows for certain whether the name “Fjallgatan” stems from the tradition of fishing in the neighborhood or street’s elevated location but the brilliance of the land and sea continues to draw locals and visitors to the vibrant viewpoint especially in summer when the grass shines an emerald color, the flowers blossom, and the water possesses a cobalt sheen.

5. Skansen Open-Air Museum

Discover Scandinavian heritage in an environment unlike any other museum

The Skansen Open-Air Museum attracts both visitors and residents of Stockholm with a vibrant setting encompassing the oldest open-air museum in the world beside the fantastic collection of native Scandinavian animals residing in the Stockholm Zoo. The complex represents Sweden in miniature form hosting 150 farms and homes highlighting both the diversity of culture from around the country in addition to Sweden’s historical evolution. The gallery was opened in the late-19th century as a way to highlight the nature, villages, commerce, and industry of each region of Sweden. Many visitors enjoy the glassblowing demonstration as well as visiting the elk, reindeer, brown bears, and wolves. Actors continue portraying folklife by answering questions working with handicrafts, playing music, and churning butter. A bakery on the property serves delicious pastries and during the summer months, the jovial ambiance emerges from the public Midsummer’s Eve festival.

6. Moderna Museet

Displays of public art demonstrate one Stockholm's many redeeming qualities

Stockholm’s modern art museum has a fantastic permanent collection reflected in the sculptures and photography, video installations to paintings. The diversity of the collection on display ranges from contemporary masters like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol while also showcasing the grandeur of mainly the Scandinavian and Russian art worlds. The galleries host important works by Francis Bacon, Matisse, and their contemporaries. The museum also stages temporary exhibitions and fantastic views over the water. The sculpture park highlights artists of different nationalities with major works dating back to the 1960s with newer installations bringing in larger crowds with screenings, talks, and audio-visual events. Visitors to the permanent collection can see the famous works for free but visiting or temporary exhibitions cost an entrance fee.


7. Nordiska Museet
Sweden's history is front and center along the waterfront

The past and present of Sweden come to life in the Nordiska Museet, the largest cultural history museum in Sweden. The galleries on Djurgarden Island host a landmark display of exhibitions focusing on the fashion, textiles, furniture, and traditional customs pertaining to Sweden’s heritage found in tangible artifacts, replicas, and photographs. A separate exhibition highlights the customs of the indigenous Sami people of Sweden. The eclectic architectural aesthetic of the building dates back to the early 20th century with a significant Renaissance design similar to a castle with large open spaces hosting sacred Sami objects, paintings by August Strindberg, and other artifacts comprising a collection of approximately 1.5 million pieces dating back to the 16th century. galleries also reveal the different ways life in Sweden has influenced the lifestyles, fashions, or aesthetics of other countries of the world including Britain.
8. Stadsbiblioteket

The city library offers a wealth of knowledge along with a stunning design

Stockholm’s City Library is an ode to modern architectural brilliance standing as a symbol of Swedish Grace, a distinct aesthetic from the 1920s during which architects combined elements of neoclassical and playful details using timeless proportions, luxuriously hand-crafted materials, and multi-layered objects. The specific design of the City Library in Stockholm makes the interior feel like a temple especially when standing beneath the elegant rotunda offering a 360-degree view of the book stacks.

The library is open to the public with the upper levels allowing visitors to peer down into the lower collections hosting approximately 2 million volumes of books and over 2.4 million audio tapes. The two annexed buildings behind the City Library host the International Library where researchers and visitors can find an extra 50,000 tiles in over 100 languages. The grand design of the library, in addition to the magnificent collection of books, makes Stockholm’s City Library one of the most unique destinations to visit when exploring Sweden’s capital and is consistently ranked one of the most inspiring libraries in the world.

9. Stockholm Metro Art Gallery

Stockholm: making art utilitarian and utilitarian infrastructure artistic

Stockholm’s Metro Art Gallery does not only provide stunning works in transport hubs cross the city since 1941 but also doubles as the world’s longest art gallery spread across approximately 90 stations. The elaborate installations work like a vision of mobile art where commuters and visitors can find intricate mosaics, stunning paintings, detailed sculptures, and wandering installations. Art within the metro stations adds to the architectural details of the city turning each destination into a modern-day work of art where people can discover secrets, surprises, and hidden images. Artists express their ideas in different ways, not only in the artistic form but also in their use of color, images, and details such as 8-bit aesthetics in Thorildsplan versus the large gleaming sun and animal statues at Tensta, while the landscape of Solna Centrum depicts a subtext related to the issues at the heart Sweden in the 1970s.

10. Ice Cream

A fascination with the frigid treat is thriving even in the artic

A Swedish love of ice cream may surprise many visitors to Stockholm but the sweet treat has become a staple of the local diet with the average person eating as much as 12 quarts a year making Sweden one of the top five consumers of ice cream in the world. Ice cream parlors have evolved in Stockholm both in their popularity and the styles of treats that they serve ranging from the traditional creamy texture and flavors of ice cream to the distinctive tastes of artisan shops or the gourmet creations of a gelateria but possessing an admired Swedish twist.

Each shop focuses on the quality of ingredients and the importance of flavor using components sourced locally or purchasing ingredients meant for a specific purpose representing the way the different ice cream makers in Stockholm are mastering their craft. Whether delighting in the seasonal tastes of gelato at Scarfò or finding the perfect scoop from one of the 40 flavors offered at Stockholms Glasshus, you can indulge in Stockholm’s fondness for ice cream summer, spring, fall, and even in winter.