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Stockholm

Stockholm (2)

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.




Christmas in Stockholm

Posted in Stockholm by

If you have planned a city trip to Stockholm in December or around Christmas, then this article will definitely help you to plan and make it a successful holiday. Stockholm is always a fairytale city and Christmas adds some more magic. Yes, the days are short but the Swedish make it extra cozy during these dark days. Enjoy the sparkling Christmas lights and cozy Christmas markets. Add an extra stop for fika so you can warm up and December is a great time for a city trip to Stockholm.

Skansen

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In Skansen, the open-air museum in Stockholm, they organize a traditional Christmas market with Swedish delights during the weekends of the advent. At the stalls you can also buy Swedish products and crafts. They organize special Christmas workshops where you can make Christmas decorations. Skansen has a nice program with Christmas concerts and events. For example, you can experience Christmas from old times, they serve a Christmas buffet (see below) and you can learn about the special Christmas traditions.

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The rest of the park is open too, although sometimes limited. At the old houses there is a footstool in front of the door. They laid some branches on the floor to get the most snow from your shoes. In public spaces, you usually wear your shoes, but if you also visit a Stockholmers home, keep in mind that Sweden always take off their shoes when they come in, not only in winter but throughout the year. I visited the old school where volunteers explained how it used to be in the good old days and the smithy where another volunteer demonstrated the craft of smith.

At Christmas Eve the entrance is free of charge. Note: Skansen closes very early that day (at 2 pm). Check the current opening hours at Skansen website . You can also visit Skansen on Christmas Day.

Christmas Markets

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In addition to the Christmas market in Skansen, the traditional Christmas market in Gamla Stan, on Stortorget is also a must. The stalls sell glögg and gingerbread . Authentic Swedish products are also available for sale. This Christmas market is Stockholm’s oldest and has been there since 1837! You can visit the Christmas market from mid November to 23 December every day from 11 am to 6 pm.

In the Royal Stables at Östermalm you can go to Jul på Hovstallet. This Christmas market takes place every year during the first weekend (Friday-Sunday) of the advent. On the site of the royal coaches you will find 75 stalls with Swedish craftsmen who offer their stuff for sale this weekend. And you can enjoy all kinds of typical delicacies.

A little outside of Stockholm you can visit the Christmas markets in the courtyard of Skoklosters Slott (first weekend of the advent), in Sigtuna (every Sunday of the advent) and at Drottningholm (second weekend of advent). Also at Vaxholm (second weekend of the advent), they have a Christmas event with stalls and Santa’s visit to the Christmas market. From mid-November until Christmas, you can visit a large indoor Christmas market at Steninge Slott. The Christmas market is 1500 m² and can be found on Stenladan’s first floor.

Rosendal’s garden

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Rosendal’s garden is highly recommended throughout the year. From the last week of November untill December 21st, Rosendal’s garden is indulged in a cozy Christmas atmosphere. The conservatory is heated and decorated with benches where you can enjoy your ecological fika. Not to be missed is their big Christmas fire, on the last Sunday of the advent. On the 30th of November, the festivities begin with an evening of sweets, Christmas decorations, music and fires. The annual Winterlight event will take place on December 17th between 14h and 17h with light installations and lanterns.

City walk along the Christmas lights

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In Stockholm they dotted 3 walks to admire the Christmas lights. Throughout the city you will find bigger Christmas decorations. Very popular are the moose at Nybroplan. It is here that the lights are lit in the presence of the Christmas choir, halfway november.

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At the main entrance of the Central Station you can kiss under a mistletoe. At Northern Latin you can see reindeer. Biblioteksgatan is also worth a visit. In total, 35 streets in Stockholm are decorated with environmentally friendly lights. The Christmas lights walk map can be picked up free of charge at various hotels and tourism.

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Ice skating

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With temperatures around freezing point, various squares change in ice rinks where the Stockholmers can ice skate. If you don’t own ice skates, you can rent skates at Kungsträdgården. The ice skate rental shop at Kungsträdgården opens early November and stays open until March. Other squares that you can skate for free are Medborgarplatsen, Vasaparken, Zinkensdamm and Östermalm (Fiskartorpsvägen). Often there are no skates for rent and it is weather-dependent when the piste is open.

If it has been freezing for a while, it’s also possible to ice skate on the Lake Mälaren between Södermalm and Kungsholmen. Observe the safety regulations and ask someone who has sufficient local experience. You can also do guided tours.

Live Christmas Calendar (Levande Julkalender)

Every day, the whole advent long, a hatch opens somewhere in Gamla Stan (around 18:00). I thought this was a small-scale event but soon noticed that the whole square in front of the window that opened that day was full. The hatch opened and a story was read in Swedish. Then a choir sang some traditional and modern Christmas songs. So atmospheric! We were treated to glögg and gingerbread. No idea if it’s like this every day but it was a very special experience. The event is in Swedish and so is  the website . I understood most of the story, but even my friend who doesn’t speak Swedish was very impressed with this live advent calendar event.

ArkDes: Gingerbread House

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In the same building as Moderna Museet you can find ArkDes, Stockholm’s architecture and design center. From the beginning of December till the end of the Christmas holidays, you can visit an exhibition of gingerbread houses. Each year there is another theme and it is actually a contest that allows children and adults to participate. I accidentally found out last year but was impressed by the handsome constructions and it really adds and fits in with the Christmas atmosphere. ArkDes is free of charge.

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Julbord – Christmas buffet

A Julbord is an extensive Christmas buffet with all kinds of Swedish specialties such as pickled herring, the famous Christmas ham and Beet Salad. Many restaurants serve a Christmas buffet in the weeks before Christmas. Most Swedes shifts to one or more Christmas buffets with colleagues, friends or family.

Recommendations in Stockholm for Christmas board are Fjäderholmarnas Krog, Stadshuskällaren and Oaxen Krog. A vegetarian Christmas buffet can be booked at Hermans . Please be sure to make a reservation, as Julbord is usually available on request and has limited availability.

Is a Christmas buffet too extensive for you? Then taste the lussekatter, sweet saffron rolls that are baked around St. Lucia.

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Christmas shops in Stockholm

Of course you will find great Christmas shops in Stockholm. Tips for shopping streets and centers can be found here. Nice presents can be found at Designtorget, Granit, Lagerhaus, …

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Don’t forget to walk along the store of NK (Nordiska Kompagniet) in Hamngatan. These galleries are a true attraction from late November to early January. The Christmas windows are real artwork, and everyone tries to catch a glimpse of it.

Good to know: bargains in Stockholm/Sweden begin on December the 26th.

Important Data

The Christmas period in Sweden is full of special dates. It begins with celebrating the first advent, 4 weeks before Christmas. First advent is the starting point to start the Christmas markets, lights and events in the street scene.
On December 13, they celebrate St. Lucia, the party of the solstice. In several churches in Stockholm there is a ceremony in which they sing songs. Try if you can, to attend the celebration in Seglora Kyrkan in Skansen for an authentic experience.

Christmas Eve is the most important day for the Swedish. The city will feel empty because everyone goes home and visit their family. On the day after Christmas the bargains start in Sweden and most of them go shopping.

Open at Christmas?

Just like midsummer, many things are closed at Christmas. In the days before Christmas, the big shopping centers open a little longer so everyone can get their Christmas presents. On Christmas eve most shops close very early (around 14:00). On Christmas Day the shops will be closed. The days around New Year and New Year’s Eve follow a similar pattern.

Many museums close around Christmas. Skansen is the exception. The open-air museum is open every day of the year. The Vasamuseum closes on 23-25 ​​December and also on January 1. On the last day of the year they close at 3 pm. The ABBA Museum only closes on December 24th. If you are planning a city trip to Stockholm during the end of the year, you should plan ahead so that you can check the opening hours.

The same goes for the restaurants. The restaurants at hotels are usually open, other restaurants are best checked in advance. In emergency there is always Max Hamburgare 😉

White Christmas in Stockholm?

Do you dream of a white Christmas in Stockholm? There is a chance that there is snow, but it is certainly not guaranteed. If there is snow, it is often wet snow (slush). To be sure to have a white Christmas, you’re better off to go north. But it can be a white christmas in Stockholm! Keep an eye on the weather forecast the days before your departure so that you can take appropriate shoes. Warm clothes are best because temperatures are often around zero. Much, of course, depends on what activities you want to undertake and how much time you spend outside. Inside, it is always warm, so dress in layers!

Do you have any tips for Christmas in Stockholm?

The City Hall of Stockholm

Posted in Stockholm by

When I see the town hall popping up on the horizon it feels like being home. Stockholm City Hall (Stadshuset) is a rather impressive building. The red stones against the blue sky are so photogenic! On top of the tower, the 3 crowns show off. It is my favorite building in Stockholm. Even though the city hall looks much older, it is a quite recent building. It is the place where the annual noble dinner takes place after the Nobel Prize ceremony in Konserthuset and it is the only reason that first time tourists during their city trip also go to Kungsholmen Island.

The building

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The building was built between 1911 and 1923 by Kreuger & Tall and the architect of the building is Ragnar Östberg. No less than 8 million bricks were needed to build Stockholm City Hall. Stadshuset is really a landmark and you can see the building from many places in Stockholm. Because you have a beautiful view from Riddarholmen during sunset and the city hall fits in beautifully, it will without doubt be the building that I have photographed the most. It is a real Stockholm view for me. Visiting Stockholm’s City Hall can only be done by following a guided tour. These are organized every day both in Swedish as in English.

The halls

Blue Hall

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The Blue Hall is the first room where a tour in Stadshuset takes you. You’ll see it immediately: the blue room is not blue. The hall is 1500m² and 22m high and was originally intended as an open courtyard where you could see the blue sky. The architect Ragnar Östberg gained his inspiration from the Italian Renaissance. Because of the weather conditions in Scandinavia, the room also needed a roof so that the room could be used throughout the year.

The aim was to paint the red bricks blue to have a blue sky in the room, but when the architect saw how beautiful the light fell on the red stones, he eventually decided to let the stones like this. In the meantime, the name had already been used by everyone so it has always remained the Blue Hall.

In the corner of the Blue Hall you will find Scandinavia’s largest organ with 10,000 organ pipes and 135 registers. It is in the Blue Hall that the Nobeldiner is served on December 10 each year.

The Golden Hall – Gyllende Salen

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The moment the doors of the Golden Room open are one of the most spectacular moments of the tour. Every door weighs 1 ton and is made out of copper. Inside, 18 million tiles from gold leaf form a breathtaking mosaic. The gold leaf is attached between 2 glass plates. The design is from Einar Forseth. Pull & Wagner was responsible for the manufacturing. The mosaic shows all kinds of scenes from Swedish mythology and legends.

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It is here that invited guests to the Nobel Prize after dinner are invited to a dance party. Originally, dinner was served here but because there is room for 700 people, it is now the dance hall and serves the blue hall as a banquet hall.

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The Prince Gallery – Prinsens Galleri

In this hall, the important guests are received. On one side you are facing Lake Mälaren and Södermalm. On the other side of the table you have the same view, but painted on the wall! This way, the guests had a nice view of Stockholm on both sides of the table. It was Prince Eugen, the youngest son of Oscar II, who painted these paintings, named Stockholm’s Shores.

Stadshuskällaren

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In the basement of the town hall you can taste all the menus ever served on the Nobeldiner.

The tower

The town hall tower is 106 meters high. 2.5 million bricks are used for construction. The tower weighs 24,000 tons which is twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower! You can climb to the top of the tower. You have 365 steps to take (there is also an elevator which allows you to skip a large part of these stairs). A great view of Gamla Stan and the rest of Stockholm is your reward. This viewing platform is 73 meters high.

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In the tower there is also a museum with a 7.6 meter high statue of Erik IX, the patron saint of Stockholm, designed by the Sandberg brothers. It was originally intended that this statue would be placed on the tower but eventually they chose the 3 golden crowns (Tre Kronor has been Sweden’s national symbol since the 14th century). The copper crowns have a diameter of 2.2 meters and are 1.1 meters high. They weigh 70 kg / piece. Other models of the images that you can see on the tower and the town hall can be seen here in this tower museum.

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9 clocks up to 3000 kg hang in the tower. Every hour, the clocks sounds and there is a special melody at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock.

City Hall

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Of course, the town hall also serves as a city hall. Both the city council and the college are in the building. In the council hall, the city council meets every three weeks. As you can expect from Sweden, there are equal numbers of men and women. Look up too because the ceiling is quite impressive, unlike the rest of the pretty sober room.

Courtyard and Gardens

In the inner courtyard it is often a bustle of people and movement. On Saturday you will see a lot of wedding couples and bridesmaids at the inner courtyard of the town hall. Even those who do not live in Stockholm can marry here. There is also a garden on the waterfront.

Tössebageriet in Östermalm (Stockholm)

Posted in Stockholm by

Speaking of tasty fika addresses in Stockholm, Tössebageriet certainly can not be missed. This authentic bakery in Östermalm is a real m’as-tu vu place along Karlavägen. It is one of Stockholm’s oldest and most authentic patisseries.

 Tössebageriet

Semmelwrap

If you’ve ever heard of semmelwrappen, the wrap variant of the tasty semla pastries, you may already know Tössebageriet. It was this bakery that began with the hyped alternative version of semlor (in 2015). Tössebageriet can best be described as a classic Swedish bakery with tea-room that likes to remake a modern version of classics. The semmelwrap knew a huge success: at last there was a semla that you could eat without fuss.

Since 1920

Tössebageriet is one of Stockholm’s oldest bakeries. They have been at the same address since 1920. Helga Södermark began the bakery. She named the bakery after the village in Dalsland where they grew up.

You can go to Tössebageriet for breakfast, lunch and tasty treats for the fika hour. The sandwiches are fresh and with a lot of ingredients. The choice of fig bread is gigantic! I already tried their world-famous semla, their cardemum roll and the popular princess pie.

It’s a fairly small establishment so you need some luck to find a free spot. As soon as the sun is out, you can also sit on their terrace. The bakery is open every day of the week. If you are in Stockholm during the summer months, check out their opening hours because, like many other Swedish companies, they will close about one month during the summer holiday (often just after midsummer).