Linger Longer, and See More at Fewer Sights
Somewhat surprisingly, in these security conscious days, there are reasonably priced, unsupervised Left Luggage Lockers right in the station. So having deposited bags and armed with a map and the bus, subway and tram Travelcard (130SEK), we set off walking towards Gamla. (Had decided against the Stockholm Pass as I am someone who prefers to linger longer, and see more at fewer sights). On the island, you can see the Parliament and other Government buildings as well as the Royal Palace and visit the interiors, which are very beautiful and interesting. The rest of the island is a maze of lovely small streets with classic Stockholm houses, home to many cafes and small shops.
We were also fortunate to walk straight into the daily Changing of the Guard which is quite a pageant, with soldiers, musicians and more!
Beyond Stockholm Excursions
I’d once visited Uppsala and was tempted to return. It is pretty University town, with a 16th century castle, a cathedral and was the home of botanist Carl Linnaeus, who developed the first classification system of plants and more. But I decided to head west this time in an effort to see a little more. We took the commuter train to the end of the line at Saltsjobaden (all still covered by my TravelCard remarkably). Here we found a village, a marina full of local folk and a grand old hotel – where we had an evening aperitif on a patio overlooking the many islands. Even in early August there was a chill evening wind, a reminder that winters can be pretty long in this part of the world!
Of course, places outside the city of Stockholm are largely quiet making exploration to these ‘Routes Beyond’ all the more rewarding. Plus, you get a taste of what daily life is really like.
Stockholm has a wealth of sights to detain you, so in our Stockholm Stopover of just 2 days I really had to plan, and limit, what to visit. It is made all the more difficult as Stockholm ranks as one of my top located cities in the world! It is therefore a ‘must’ to stroll around the many waterfronts and especially the island of Gamla.
So, after arriving into Arlanda Airport we took the train to Stockholm Central. Note, the dedicated, frequent Arlanda Express is fast but very expensive. The alternative is the regular SJ local service, which is a little less frequent and takes a few minutes longer but is around half the price!
I was specifically keen to visit the relatively new, and popular Vasa Museum. Painstaking work has taken place over recent decades to restore the Vasa. It was completed in 1628 and was fully equipped with the latest details of the era at the request of the King. So much so, that it was top heavy and it sank after just a few minutes! It entombed many but due to the silty surface it had stayed in excellent condition and today gives an amazing insight into the era.
In the summer it’s a good idea to get there fairly early before the cruise coach tours drop in. Still it’s a large, multi levelled building and can house an awful lot of people.
Next we pottered across the bridge, admiring the Strandvagen frontage en route, to the Swedish History Museum.
This (free!) Museum details in comprehensible and illustrated form the development of Sweden and is well worth the 2-3 hours it takes to visit.
Sailing out of Stockholm
One of the sights of Stockholm are the innumerable islands and we discovered that the best way to see so many was to sit on the back (guess that’s really the ‘stern’) of our Viking Ferries departure to Turku at 7pm. Even in August it was light until past my bedtime and so we had many hours of wonderful scenery and eventually a gradual sunset changing the colors as our ship threaded its way along the various channels.
Note: the sights that did not make my Stopover Stockholm itinerary were the City Museum, the Nobel Museum and, ok I admit it ABBA The Museum. Based on my Saltsjobaden excursion ,I would allow more time for neighborhood excursion.