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 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!
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.
Skogskyrkogården can literally be translated as forest graveyard. That is actually what it is: a graveyard in a forest. Or rather: forest and cemetery merge seamlessly. A unique place in a suburb of Stockholm!
Skogskyrkogården in Enskede is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Swedish actress Greta Garbo, among others, found her final resting place there. Rumors say that the Swedish DJ Avicii is also buried there, but unlike Greta Garbo’s grave that you even see marked on Google Maps, Avicii’s final resting place is a well-kept secret.
Architecture & landscape
The cemetery was created between 1917 and 1920. There are several chapels and prayer rooms. There are few paths, which gives the whole a very naturalistic look.
The architects Gunnar Asplund (himself also buried here) and Sigurd Lewerentz designed the cemetery on an old pine-covered quarry. Nature and the graves are intertwined.
The cemetery is quite expansive. I was surprised that there were cars in the graveyard. Only around All Saints’ Day there is no car traffic allowed in the cemetery. To make it even crazier: there are even buses running around and there is a bus stop.
Skogskyrkogården – practical information
Before your visit, download the dedicated app (android/iOs). This audio guide will give you more information about the various sights in Skogskyrkogården. There is free wifi in the visitor center. There are also free visitor toilets spread throughout the domain.
How to reach Skogskyrkogården?
Take the metro to the Skogskyrkogården stop. From here, the cemetery is indicated by arrows. The metro stop is about 5 kilometers from Slussen, so you can also go on foot. I went by metro but returned on foot.
Skogskyrkogården is open 24/24, every day of the year. Special celebrations are planned for alla helgons dag.
Remember you are on a cemetery. Even though you are there as a tourist and you may consider the cemetery as a tourist attraction, respect the privacy of the locals who come to commemorate their loved ones.
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Walking or jogging is a good way to explore a city. In Stockholm I already have a few favorite routes. I like to walk or run around Kungsholmen and I also love to do my jogging tour around Riddarfjärden.
The water between Södermalm, Gamla Stan and Kungsholmen is Riddarfjärden. This is a part of Lake Mälaren. The round is about 7 kilometers. With the necessary photography stops, it is a feasible route, even for novice runners. In addition, the route is mainly flat. You can walk the steep parts. Experienced runners can run on the stairs at Rålambshovsparken and even run up the bridge (Västerbron) for some extra training.
I’m starting at Norrmalm, across the street from the Stockholm City Hall. One time I first run towards Gamla Stan and Södermalm, the other time I first run via Kungsholmen. Because you always follow the waterfront, it is a fairly easy route to navigate.
If you walk counterclockwise and thus first via Kungsholmen, you take the waterfront on the south side of the island. This is the side of the town hall. Follow the waterfront until you come to Rålambshovsparken. On sunny days, Stockholmers gather here to picnic, barbecue, play petanque or just socialize. Here in the park, walk to the right where you will find a staircase that takes you to the Västerbron (bron = bridge in Swedish). I usually walk this steep part 😉 The jogging around Riddarfjärden is tough enough for me. On the bridge you can enjoy a fantastic view over Stockholm. Wonderful!
The second half of the bridge you walk over Långholmen, a small and very green island where you’ll see, among other things, a campsite. At the end of the bridge you can follow the arrows to Söder Mälarstrand. Furthermore, it is also just a matter of following the water until the bridge takes you back to your starting point via Gamla Stan and Riddarholmen.
If you are staying at Kungsholmen, Gamla Stan or Södermalm, you can of course also start your tour around Riddarfjärden in a different place.
You see, it’s not hard to fall head over heels in love with this city!
More city jogging in Stockholm
City jogging around the smaller islets of Stockholm
The large park in SoFo, between the streets Renstiernas gata, Skånegatan, Barnängsgatan and Malmgårdsvägen in Stockholm is very popular with locals. Vitabergsparken is the place where they come for a walk, jogging, picnic,… They call their beloved place ‘Vitan’ or Vitabergen.
On top of the hilly park you can see the Sofia church (Sofia kyrka). On the other side is a large open-air theater where there are free performances in the summer. And the subsurface of Vitabergsparken is also special to say the least…
From poorest neighborhood to hotspot
In the 18th-19th century, Vitabergsparken was the poorest place in the city. The poor houses provided shelter for the textile workers who worked nearby. In 1888 they started to convert the site into a park with the (literally) highlight being the Sofia Church. Sofia kyrka reaches 46 meters above sea level.
Today there are still a few houses where still people are living in. Until a few years ago, the red house on Mäster Pers gränd 1 had no running water or drainage. The cottage is now owned by AB Stadsholmen and has a high cultural-historical value.
What few people know is that there is a data center under the hill of Vitabergsparken. Pionen was among other things where the Wikileaks servers were located. The (natural) security in the nuclear bunker is enormous.
Vitabergsparken, practical information
How do you reach Vitabergsparken?
Vitabergsparken is located on Södermalm, in the south-east of this island. The park is located near Skånegatan and Malmgårdsvägen streets.
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