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Stockholm i mitt hjärta!

Ever since my first visit in 2015 I have a weak spot for the Swedish capital and many visits later that love is still growing strong. Strolling along the waterfront, visiting museums (tip: Vasa), shopping, have fika, take a boat tour or even take a dip in the water or go skating on the frozen lake, Stockholm has it all! The different districts Gamla Stan (the old town), Norrmalm, Östermalm, Södermalm, Djurgarden and Kungsholmen have very few secrets for me.

Stockholm is a city of contrasts. It is not just a trendy, leading place, the city also has a rich history. It is a cosmopolitan city and still has a very relaxed atmosphere. It is the city where fresh water (Mälaren) meets salt (Baltic Sea).

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find all the blog posts about Stockholm.

Stockholm facts

Stockholm consists of 14 islands that are connected by 57 bridges. The city is very green. One third of the city is water, another third is green and another third of the area are buildings. In Stockholm you never have to take more than 300 steps to be surrounded by nature!

Strandvägen - Stockholm

One side of Stockholm is Lake Mälaren, the third largest lake in Sweden. On the opposite side you have the Baltic Sea with some 24,000 islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago. Other sources speak of 30,000 islands – I have no ambition to recount them ;-)

Stockholm city is home to approximately 850,000 people. In Greater Stockholm there are 2.4 million inhabitants. One fourth of the Swedish population lives in the capital.

History of Stockholm

In 1252 Stockholm shows up in literature for the first time. The city was probably founded by Birger Jarl. Stockholm’s name is a composition of ‘stock’ (piece of wood) and “holm” (island). Birger Jarl would have thrown a piece of wood in the water to see where it would wash up and what the best place would be to build a settlement.

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Landsort, the southernmost part of the Stockholm archipelago

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Landsort

Off the coast of Stockholm lies an archipelago with thousands of islands. The most southern island of that archipelago is Landsort. When I spent a few days on the island in July 2016, Landsort quickly captured my heart. Anyone who takes a look at my Facebook page and wonders where the cover photo was taken… Landsort, from the pilot tower!

The island of Öja

Landsort is a town in the south of the 4 km long and barely 560 meters wide island of Öja and is located about 65 km south of Stockholm. Barely a handful of people live there (there used to be 190 people, now only 27). There are mainly summer houses. When we were there, a completely to be renovated house was for sale for a very affordable price (150,000 SEK or about 15,000 euros). The renovation costs would probably soar as everything had to be transported to the island by boat. Yes, I have considered the purchase (and now I’m sorry I didn’t)!

From Nynäshamn we took the ferry to Landsort. Due to the difficult conditions for mooring with the vessel, there are two inlets on both the eastern and western sides of the island that are used as ports. Depending on the weather, one or the other “port” is chosen.

Landsort comes from Landzoort which stands for “the end of the country” in Old Dutch. It was the Dutch businessman Johan van der Hagen who in 1669 was given the right to provide a lighthouse at this location.

Landsort lighthouse

The lighthouse on the island is the oldest Swedish lighthouse still in use. The current tower was built in 1689. First the signaling was done with a real fire. Only later they worked with lenses to amplify the signal. In 1870, another extension was added to the lighthouse, reaching a height of 25 meters. The light from the tower can be seen for over 40 km. Nowadays a lighthouse is no longer useful because of the modern equipment, but no one dares to turn it off. Lighthouses have great cultural value.

You can also visit the iconic lighthouse on request. When we were there, the owner of Lotstornet had a key. To get to the top of the lighthouse you have to climb 87 stairs. From the top of the tower you have a fantastic view of the island. For a good view of the lighthouse and the island, you have to be in Lotstornet, the pilot tower.

There have been “pilots” on the island since 1535. Because of the difficulties to navigate the environment with a lot of shallow parts, those pilots were not an exaggerated luxury. The Swedes left by sea to “go to war” but were often stranded on their return at Landsort.

The secret side of the island

Landsort is also home to one of the most advanced military bunkers, Batteri Landsort. It was mainly placed there during the Cold War as a deterrent. The anti-aircraft guns could shoot up to 25 km. The guide Jaak told us about the strategic location of Landsort. During the Second World War, between 400 and 1700 soldiers were stationed here. During the war, only Swedish civilians were allowed to enter the island. Batteri Landsort is built to survive for a longer period of time. Drinking water is collected at a depth of 100 meters. A fellow traveler wrote this about it.

Spend the night at Landsort

We spent the night in Lotstornet of Åke Svedtilja. A few years ago, this former Swedish top chef chose to stop his popular restaurant in Stockholm, to renovate the pilot tower and to run an accommodation on Landsort. In the meantime he also has a restaurant on the island. You can read more about our wonderful stay at Svedtiljas in a separate article.

After a refreshing night’s sleep, we took an even more refreshing dip in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea. It is here that my love for open water swimming rekindled. Whatever the season, if I have the opportunity to dive in a lake or in the sea, I will certainly not let it go.

How do you reach Landsort?

To travel to Landsort, from Stockholm, you first take the train to Nynäshamn. This will take just over an hour. From here you can take a (taxi) boat to Landsort or you can travel further by bus 852 to Ankarudden where you can take ferry 29 to Landsort for 75 SEK (about 8 euros – prices from 2018). In summer, the ferry sails 5 times a day. In winter you can travel to Landsort 3 times a day. Then sometimes an icebreaker is needed to reach your destination. Total travel time Stockholm-Landsort is approximately 2.5 hours.

And to conclude, a few more pictures to dream away:

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Landsort is a small island in the very south of the Stockholm archipelago. You can spend the night in the 'pilot tower'.
20 April 2021
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City jogging in Stockholm: around Kungsholmen

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Kungsholmen runt

Walking or jogging is a great way to explore a city. In Stockholm I have a few favorite routes. The tour around Kungsholmen was the first run I explored in Stockholm. The tour is about 10 km and because you can follow the water almost all the time, it is also completely flat and easy to navigate. Jogging around Kungsholmen is one of the most popular walking routes in Stockholm.

Jogging round Kungsholmen

I opted for a start at Stadshuset in Stockholm. From here I ran, counterclockwise, around the island. On the north side of the island you follow Kungsholmstranden. A bit further you pass Hornsberg Strand . After that, it’s a little bit more tricky. If you are lucky, there are other runners who follow the same route because a round of Kungsholmen is very popular among the Stockholm joggers. If there is no one to follow, keep to the right.

In practice, this means that you do not walk through the gate on a certain stretch but stay by it as short as possible until you see water again. At Marieberg you have to watch out again. Here you have to run a bit uphill, unless you continue to run on the cliff edge. If in doubt, you can always consult Google Maps.

The last piece is in a straight line to the Town Hall where you pass beautiful gardens on the waterfront. For a change, you can run the opposite direction.

Kungsholmen runt: zicht op Riddarholmen en Södermalm
Kungsholmen runt: zicht op Riddarholmen en Södermalm bij zonsondergang
Kungsholmen runt: zicht op Västerbron

More city jogging in Stockholm

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City jogging Stockholm rond Kungsholmen
29 January 2021
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Sergels Torg, the beating heart of Stockholm

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Sergels Torg - Stockholm

“För vi ska bada nakna på Sergels Torg å leva livet utan sorg…” It was Samir & Viktor’s song in Melodifestivalen that first drew my attention to Sergels Torg. Especially because my godchild (at the time less than a year old) reacted quite enthusiastically to the song.

Going naked in the fountains of Sergels Torg was not an option in recent years. The square (torget in Swedish) underwent a thorough renovation. In my archives I found a photo of what it looked like before the works. When I was in Stockholm in January 2018, I saw the monument illuminated again for the first time. Opinions about the pillar are divided, but I am a fan. It is a recognizable point and Samir & Viktor and their “Bada Nakna” will probably also have something to do with it.

All roads lead to Sergels Torg

For a long time there were road works around Sergels Torg. Sergels Torg is a busy crossroad where major Stockholm roads converge. It can be a chaotic square and even as a pedestrian it sometimes takes a while, especially during the works, to orientate yourself. On one side, the square has 2 floors with a lot of shops (Sergelarkaden) downstairs where you can shop covered from the rain. On the other side is Kulturhuset, a gigantic cultural center.

Plattan - Sergels Torg

This square and especially Plattan, the part that you can see in the photo above with the white / black triangles, is the heart of Stockholm. After the attacks of April 7, 2017, people gathered here to commemorate the victims. Even after Avicii’s sudden death, Sergels Torg was the place where everyone gathered to commemorate Tim Bergling. Sergels Torg is also a gathering place at joyful moments. There often are open-air manifestations and events.

The monument of Sergels Torg

On the other side of the square you can see a huge fountain with the artwork Kristall, vertikal accent i glas och stål in the middle by Edvin Öhrström. The renovations took more than 2 years. The tower is 37.5 m high. LED lights have been incorporated into the artwork so it is beautifully lit at night. I only saw the orange and purple versions for now and was told that they can adjust the colors according to the seasons.

Sergels Torg by night

Practical information

Watch out for pickpockets and petty crime at the entrance of T-Centralen on Sergels Torg. This is the only place in Stockholm that I prefer to avoid at night. Although extra guards are deployed to keep an eye on the “gangs”, I always tend to walk a bit faster here in the evenings.

How do you reach Sergels Torg?

Sergels Torg is centrally located in Stockholm. If you leave the station via Klarabergsgatan, you will arrive at Sergels Torg, just past the intersection with Drottninggatan. Here on the corner you will also find the T-Centralen metro stop. The (provisional) starting stop of Tram 7 is also located here.

In the neighbourhood

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Sergels Torg Stockholm
22 January 2021
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