“There’s a black hole deep inside of me, reminding me
That I lost my backbone, back home, somewhere in Stockholm…”
Avicii anyone? To be honest there’s a small part of me that feels like the major reason I visited Stockholm was to use those lyrics in an instagram caption (I’m 80% joking).
I flip flopped between making this post a summary of my 4 days in Stockholm, or about something unrelated with little anecdotes about the city thrown in here and there. You’ll find I chose a bit of both.
June 27 was my travel day to Stockholm. After a fire in one of the tunnels at Stockholm Central caused my train to be delayed by 2 hours, I finally arrived at my hostel. Location wise, it couldn’t have been any better: dead smack in the middle of Gamla Stan (Castanea Old Town Hostel, for anyone wondering). I went grocery shopping that evening, which gave me a small taste of the cobblestone and shop-lined streets. As I walked back with my grocery bag (I’ve already mentioned that cooking your own food saves you so much money right? Because it saves you SO MUCH MONEY) I felt ready to go exploring the next morning.
Or so I thought.
Because there was one big fact that I didn’t realize: Stockholm is huge. Like, really fricking big. Compared to Oslo, a giant of inhumane proportions.
“Shit…” I whispered as my small map unfolded…and kept unfolding, until a picnic blanket lay in front of me (Ok a bit exaggerated but I needed metaphor…).
So day one was…very basic. I walked around the Old Town and took refuge in a cafe afte realizing I had no idea what I was doing nor looking at. As I walked back to my hostel I remembered that one of their billboards had advertised walking tours around the old town. Just my luck, they were also free to join and started in one hour.
That was a good choice on my part. I got to see the narrowest alley in the Old Town, the oldest street, the oldest restaurant, and the famous Stortorget and it’s buildings.
Day 2 was a bit more organized. I went for coffee at a local roasters with 2 girls I had met the night before, got a take-away falafel lunch, then walked over to take the ferry to Djugården. On Djugården I made my way to the Rosendals Trägård; the site of gardens and a cafe that focuses on sustainable practices and locally grown food. Afterwards, one of the highlights of my trip, Vasamuseet (the Vasa Museum). It’s hard to put into words my feelings as I stared up at this enormous ship…awe, mainly, but a huge range given the history this vessel holds. For those who don’t know, in 1628, the Vasa made her maiden voyage…only to sink after 1500m due an eveness of weight (too heavy at the top and not enough weight at the bottom). Many died on board, and thought she was ost at the bottom of the sea forever. In the 1970’s she was pulled from the ocean and preserved; the first attempt of it’s kind. The museum was fascinating because the science of how she was recovered and preserved is described, and is still ongoing (For exmaple, all the bolts holding her together are a specially created stainless steel, and the museum is climate controlled to prevent any changes in humidity). Anyone who knows me knows I fear deep water and those creepy diving suits that look like robots…guess what one section contained.
The next day I still had use of the 24hour transit pass from the day before, so made my way to the Historika Museet, the Swedish History Museum, expecting to maybe spend an hour or so. But, in a theme that followed me throught Sweden, it was way bigger than expected. I ended up spending 2 hours there and could have easily spent more, given that it contained everything I needed to get my Swedish history on fleek. A giant timeline from the 1100’s to present, an exhibit in which religion and contemprary art met, and a giant gold rooms featuring a total of *kg of gold and silver artifacts. I also walked to the public library to take photo of their rotunda style main floor.
And day 4 was a reunion with a friend I met in Taiwan 3 years ago. We went and walked around Naturhistorika Riksmuseet (the Swedish Museum of Natural History), laughing at the incorrect English translations and spellings, because we are cruel, cruel people. We also got to explore the public art on the Swedish metro system, something I had been curious about but wasn’t sure whether I’d have the time to do it.
So it took a day to get my bearings, but I feel really good about my time in Stockholm! I could have easily spent another 3 days to explore different districts, get out for a hike or to visit Uppsala, and do something like a food tour. I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to come back.
Below are my recommendations/suggestions if you’re planning to visit or find yourself uncertain at what to do like I did at first!
-Cook your own meals! I opted to not buy breakfasts or dinners and so mainly bought lunches. It’s incredible how expensive eating out is in Scandinavia.
-Mazimize use of your 24 hour transit pass. Taking 3 journeys more than 1 hour apart already makes this pass a good deal. Whether it be the bus, tram, metro, or ferry, you can see a lot and do a lot by travelling throughout the city!
-Free museums! I was shocked at the amount of free museums in the city. I went to the Swedish History Museum (Historika Museet) and Museum of Natural History (Naturhistorika Riksmuseet), but the Modern Art Museum, Nobel Museum (on certain days), Nordic museum (Tuesday or Wednesday evenings), and Swedish Viking Museum are all free.
-Free Walking Tours! A great way to get introduced to the city and learn the history. I went with Free Tours Stockholm and you can tip the guide if you think they did a good job, but they are free to join and nobody forces any money out of you (LINK).
-Vasa Museum: As opposed to my regular strategy of getting there right at opening time, I actually visited at 3:30pm on a weekday afternoon, and I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. The tour groups and crowds were few and far between, and it was really calm inside. If you’re not a morning person, go in the late afternoon to avoid crowds. When you’re there I recommend watching the introductory film before starting your exploring for a background on the history of the ship.
-Chill out in a cafe with a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun). That’s all I’m saying.
Until next time! Next stop, Copenhagen!