ABBA pun intended for all you fans out there!
Sweden, known for having the best life styles, the birth place of ABBA, the country that gave us the obsession of IKEA furniture and one of the countries where the legends and history of Vikings is deep within its culture…what more could you want out of a country for a city break in its Capital Stockholm. With 14 islands making up the city, and over 50 bridges connecting them all together, sometimes known as the Smallest Big City in Europe? Get your head round that!
I flew with my two best friends here for a long weekend beginning of a May bank holiday the weather was beautiful which isn’t common, it was unusually warm, and sunny. We flew from Luton LDN and when in Stockholm stayed in the area called Norrhalm, just North east of the centre. We chose an Airbnb to keep the costs down and it gave us a homely feel on the 3rd floor of a block. Easy walking distance and gave us our own space for food, relaxing and a little further away from the busy city centre. Its very residential and gave us a lovely relaxing vibe with shops, food shops, small independent restaurants all with decorated windows to draw you in.
One thing we bought before we got to Stockholm is buy alcohol in duty free, Sweden is expensive but worth it and if you are on a budget (like my whole life is) you will thank me. It means you can pre drink like a student and enjoy the night life without breaking the budget. Drinks can be anything from 7 pound for a beer to 15 pounds for a spirit and mixer depending on where you go… More on the night life later ;). Food prices are anything from 7 pounds for a croissant pastry to 20 – 25 pounds for a main meal of Swedish meat balls depending on what kindof place you go to eat.
DAY 1 – Friday
Once we had settled into the airbnb and changed into some comfy shows. My dear friends love a walking tour http://freetourstockholm.com/ and its rubbed off on me, so we headed out for a brisk walk to the shopping streets of Drottninggatan where we met our tour guide outside the main patterned tiled path who does a 2 hour walking tour around all the key areas of Sweden. Great for newbies to the city and to get a good sense of direction and areas you would like to go in the afternoon. The normal cost to give them a tip is anything from 10 english pounds (Swedish money)
First stop was Kungstradgarten in spring the pink blossom trees which form a straight line all the way to the harbour which brings a softness to the area and beautiful backdrop for photos… There are steps for people to sit and you can see people going about there everyday life catching up with friends and walking dogs. The next stop was The Royal Palace, Kungliga Strutett walking through the parliament buildings and long the Norrbro Bridge with amazing views on either side .This is the bridge that’s leads you onto the edge of the well known island of Gamla Stan (Stadshlomen island), which is flooded with cute colourful buildings, handmade crafts and freshly warm bakeries. We stopped at one of the many Cafes for the countries famous Swedish meatball dish. We ended with the main square in the centre of the island called Stortoget Its cute and colourful buildings looking over all the table and chairs set up in the sun is a lovely break, and a coffee or two later we headed home.
What was so good about the city tour is we covered some ground and got to see a lot of Stockholm before even saying good bye to our tour guide who finished back in the blossoms square. Comfy shoes are a must!! Also remember if you do a free walking tour its polite and normal to give the guide a tip of a minimum I would say of 5 pound (60 Swedish Krona)
Day 2 – Saturday
The main day, infact the day we had been waiting for! We managed to get a boat which stops at several different islands in Stockholm, firstly the Djurgardens island, then the Island where we got off. This was where the Tivoli amusement park is seen from over the river and the best and most well known The ABBA museum !!! So I don’t need to exateurate the fact myself and my friends were briught up with our parents playing the ABBA albums on repeat, so to be here in Stockholm with this museum in front of us was a little bit of a fan girl moment! The price to get in is 35 pounds And completely worth it for anyone who loves them… They have a changeable exhibition sometimes Mamma mia the movie, sometimes Eurovision and other key aspects that made ABBA who they are. It takes you through how they become ABBA and how it all ended. A lot of interesting facts and also costumes from their mosy popular days. The best part was the KAREOKE opportunities and interactive parts of the tour (we got a little too into it singing waterloo full blast) We were told it takes about 2 hour to walk round, however we left after 3 hours of pure joy!
After about an hour of calming down we headed to the nearby Skansen Museum, located across the road from the ABBA museum . It celebrates everything housing in Swedish history, from the first yurts, the log cabins, some of them built so beautifully, walking around takes about 2 hours and is the perfect location on a sunny day, it was amazing to walk around the houses with so much history. They even have some animals to stroke for the little kids, and big kids 🙂 , shops for some traditional Swedish crafts (I got the painted red and blue wooden horses), and painted crockery. You even sometimes bump into a live dancing and music concert they put on.
We walked back along the harbour going past the Nordic Museum and back towards the main areas of Stockholm, walking along the waters edge of the Ladugårdslandsviken estuary into the Ostermalm district which is built up of beautiful period hotels, bistros along the main pathways and trees lining the streets. Before heading home for a good rest after all the excitement, and before the next exciting event, The Viking restaurant!
Food wise, we came across a professional Viking Restaurant named Aifur Krog and Bar. This is found in the main street of Vasterlanggatan within the Gamla Stan area if your not careful you will miss it, but once inside (make sure you book in advance its always busy) you will go back in time to the Viking era… From the waiters in traditional gear, the musicians playing the music and instruments, then the whole interior of the restaurant. You would be correct in thinking it’s a little bit of a novelty to draw tourists in, but the 10pm slot being the only time we could get for food shows just how popular it is with anyone coming to Stockholm. We were seated on a long table, with silver bowls and the traditional cutlery/ cups. A small but delicious menu and ofcourse alcohol. As we waited for food there was people joining into the music and singing, Vikings walking around like it’s the norm, and 3 very excited ladies getting happier by the Swedish minute. I tucked into a full chicken and rice meal with amazing flavours from the sauce using the traditional pitch folks and knives in bowls. We left around 11.30 feeling merry and full, purses pretty empty but completely worth such a unique experience.
We headed to a few other bars nearby, as I mentioned the price for alcohol and food here is more than normal, so be prepared for some awkward silences when the bill comes and be smart. The Östermalm district is the richest area of Stockholm where there are the most exclusive and elegant clubs. This chic and sophisticated area is the main area from 11pm to be!! From clubs, bars and restaurants, to meeting some friendly locals or the famous DJ’s (one of them was Avicii). Soon enough we got talking to some Swedes who took us to one of their haunts.. Located south of Stockholm, Södermalm is an alternative district and boheme. Here there are plenty of bars, and the clubs are more popular and easygoing. Here you will find less code and the selection at the entrance is less rigid and is made only on the basis of age (usually above the 23 years). The budget went down the hole when we got the this area with drinks been round 15 pound (160 Sk) We added a hangover to our must haves in Stockholm!
DAY 3 – Sunday
What is a weekend break without a sore head in the morning! We had a relaxing morning, popped out to get breakfast from Urban Deli , which has amazing booster food to make you feel energised for the day ahead. We also decided we deserved our new favourite Swedish Princess cake One of the other delicacies in Sweden… My friend was a little addicted to this the whole weekend, but so delish!!
We decided to venture out in the afternoon, I am a girl who cant waste a day, so we headed to the ‘Boat inside a building museum’ – Which we later were provided the actual named the Vasa Museum in the Royal National City Park sunk on its maiden voyage out of the harbour much to the shock of the entire royal family and the thousands of citizens cheering it on. (awkward!), an amazing surprise not knowing anything about it! It was only taken from the water 50 years ago.
We also had pre booked tickets into the royal Palace which was as stunning inside as it was outside, for anyone who appreciates historical interiors, architecture, and gold, lots of gold! Some other things not to miss;
Then homeward bound by 8pm, A taxi isn’t too expensive from or too the airport but other means of transport is the train which you can get straight into the Stockholm central train station only 20 minutes. And very regular, at 18 pounds (2017 price)… Stockholm’s metro network is often dubbed the world’s longest art gallery for a reason: most stations have art in some form or other. Carved out of rocks, many retain the feel of a newly discovered cave, vividly brought to life through rainbow colours, words
So enjoy Stockholm , it really is such a relaxed, historical and friendly place!