Scandinavia seems to be on everyone’s must do list at the moment and the magazines have been full of reviews and articles on the best places to visit. Sweden with its pretty cities, high standard of living and spectacular natural beauty is no longer assigned to a list of lesser known destinations. Its distinctive design, beautiful interior decor, stylish home furnishings and individualistic fashion has gained a devoted following from those whose job it is to be in-the-know. Earlier this year I wrote a short post about Stockholm, it was an overview, written with the first time visitor in mind (click here to read that past post). This trip I sought out a couple of places that take the visitor just a little way off the beaten track.
I particularly like Stockholm in the autumn, the trees are just starting to show their autumnal colours and the city is a mix of green and gold. The weather can be unpredictable but it hasn’t turned bitterly cold yet and the evenings are still light which makes it a great time of year to take to the streets and explore the lesser visited corners of this city.
Stockholms Stadshus Bell Tower
Stockholm is a beautiful city and viewing it from above is a real treat. The ultimate way to do this is to take a balloon ride over the city, but for those who don’t have the time to wait for the perfect flying conditions the views from the Stockholms Stadshus tower offers a more reliable alternative. This beautiful building on Kungsholmen Island is Stockholm’s City Hall; it is a central feature in Stockholm’s cityscape and is considered the best example of national romanticism architecture. It is an interesting building that combines
austere brickwork and oriental influences and has a beautiful landscaped garden that runs down to the water’s edge. But it is the views from the bell tower that really inspire; at 106 meters high it has fantastic views over the city. This little gem is only open from late May until the 30th September and during this period visitors can climb up inside the bell tower and enjoy 360 degree views over Stockholm. There are gorgeous views of the Riksdag building (Sweden’s Parliament House) and if you are interested in getting a closer look at the Riskdag building take the pretty walk from Stadshus beside the water via Strömgatan to Helgeandsholmen, the island where the Riksdag is located.
The Swedish Museum of Photography, Fotografiska, is a recent addition to Stockholm’s museum and gallery scene. It is the largest centre for contemporary photography in Europe and is slowly building its own formidable permanent collection. It opened in 2010 and undertakes 4 major exhibitions and 20 smaller exhibitions each year. On our last visit we saw the magnificent Genesis exhibition by the Brazilian photographer Sabastiao Salgado. The building itself is remarkable. Originally an old customs house, the building dates back to 1906. It was designed by the famous Swedish architect Ferdinand Boberg and built in industrial Art Nouveau style. The original brickwork is still intact whereas the interior has been completely redesigned as an exhibition space. There are fantastic views of Gamla Stan, Skeppsholmen and across to Kastellholmen and Djurgården and the cafe, terrace and restaurant have been strategically placed in the building to make the most of these views. In the spring and summer the terrace is transformed into an outdoor restaurant that overlooks Lake Saltsjön and diners are treated to Swedish grilled delicacies on the quayside. There is also a lovely cafe that is open all year round and a fantastic restaurant, famous for its weekend brunches (these are seasonal affairs so it is best to check before hand. They are also very popular so reservations are recommended).
Nytorget and Katarina Kyrka in Södermalm
From the Fotografiska you are well placed to take a detour into Södermalm. There is a staircase going up the cliffs opposite the gallery. These stairs link the Stadsgårdsleden at sea level and Katarinavägen above the cliffs in Södermalm. Södermalm is full of independent shops, restaurants and boutiques and it is great fun to wander around and explore. Nytorget is a particularly pretty square that is the focus for different events, particularly during the warmer months. The streets surrounding the square have an outstandingly good selection of restaurants including Nytorget 6 (www.nytorget6.com) and the Urban Deli (www.urbandeli.org). A little further to the north is Stockholm’s most important church, Katarina Kyrka; it dates back to the 17th Century and was originally designed by the French architect Jean de la Vallée. The streets immediately surrounding the church are very picturesque and have an old-world feel about them. From the church you can walk down the incredibly pretty Mäster Mikaels Gata for more views over the city before heading back to the stairs or to Renstiernas gata or Katarinavägen to pick-up a bus back towards Slussen and the central Stockholm.
Below are a couple of places we love. If you have some others please share them with us all in the comments section.
If you love the vibe in Södermalm and want to explore more then the the website below is a good starting point for information on what’s going on in the area: http://sofo-stockholm.se/
Restaurants: Gastrologik – this is one of the hottest restaurants in the city at the moment and is an outstanding dining experience. (www.gastrologik.se)
Cafes: Everyone has their favourite, we have a passion for cinnamon buns and this trip enjoyed the ones made at Riddarbageriet on Riddargatan and Brillo in the Sturegallerian.
Where to stay: we’re not big fans of hotels and our preference is to stay at one of the apartments from Stockholm City Rental (www.stockholmcityrental.se) These guys are just incredible. They have the best selection of places in the city and can arrange just about anything you need – chef, personal shopper, art tour, you name it – they seem to have the contacts to get it done.