Browsing Category:

Uppland




Visiting the Vikings in Birka, a daytrip from Stockholm

Posted in Uppland by

Birka was the first city in Sweden. The city originates around 750 and is located on todays Björkö. The island was an important trading center during the time of the Vikings. Björkö is an island in Lake Malaren, about 30 kilometers from Stockholm. Since 1993, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage .

By boat to Birka

Birka (2)

Strömma offers various boat excursions, Birka is probably the most popular one in the summer months. The boat leaves from Stadshuskajen, near Stockholm City Hall. It is advisable to buy your ticket in advance. Unfortunately, anyone traveling with the Stockholm Card can not book a ticket and will have to be on time to secure his/her spot. For departure times, take a look at on the website .

At 10 o’clock the town hall bells just sounded when our boat started to move. It was a sunny day and the sun deck was filling up quickly. Despite the sunny weather, it was quite fresh when the boat sailed away. Don’t forget to bring both warm clothes and sun protection. The boat ride takes around 2 hours. You can book food in advance. If you have not reserved to eat, you can bring your picnic or wait for your meal in the restaurant of Birka.

Birka (3)

Along the way you will pass many interesting places where the hostess or host of the boat tells you something about. They tell about King Hats and how this place got its name. On top of the island you also see this symbolized with a hat on a meipala. In addition, the boat stops short to deliver the newspaper in New King’s Hat.

Birka, the Viking town

Birka (10)

Birka offers guided tours in English and Swedish. They take about an hour. I first doubted if I would follow the tour because an hour in a total staying of only 3 hours is quite long but it was well worth it. The first tour proved to be the busiest. To me the first tour seems the most practical too because you get a lot of information about the location during the tour and then you have time to visit some parts like Black Earth.

Birka (9)

Do not expect to see a real city in Birka. Archeologically, however, it is a very interesting place. From the mountain Borgberget you can see the remains of the city walls. On Borgberget you will also see the Angar monuments that was placed here in 1834 for the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Sankt Ansgars in Birka.

Birka (8)

A bit of the Viking town is being rebuilt near the boat. In one of the houses there is a bakery where you can bake bread for 30 kronor. You will also find some Viking sloops.

Birka (1)

In the museum you will find some archaeological finds. There is an aerial view on which you can see the topography. Also, some replicas, a film and a museum shop.

Birka (7)

Facilities on the island

Birka (4) Birka (5)

There are toilets and even showers on the island. A little further down you’ll find two taps where you can take drinking water for free. You can go to Café Eldrimner for fika and small snacks. In the restaurant Särimner you can eat a larger meal. The island also has nice picnic spots and you always see someone taking a fresh dip in the water so bringing your swimwear with you is definitely a good idea 🙂

Birka (6)

How do you reach Birka?

In addition to boat trips from Stockholm and Mariefred, there is also a guest harbor for those who want to come to the island with their own boat.

Skokloster Slott, a daytrip from Stockholm

Posted in Uppland by

With the M/S Evert Taube, I traveled from Stockholm to Skoklosters Slott. I actually planned a day trip to Sigtuna but when I read that there was an exhibition about Jane Austen in Skoklosters Slott, I decided to stay on board the boat for another hour and leave Sigtuna for another time. Anyone interested in the exhibition about Jane Austen has to hurry because it is a temporary exhibition until 1 October 2017.

By boat to Skoklosters Slott

Skoklosters Slott (1)

The boat to Sigtuna and Skoklosters Slott departs from Stadshuskajen, near the town hall of Stockholm. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance. In total, it takes 3 hours to arrive at Skokloster. The time on site is therefore limited, but the boat trip on Lake Mälaren along picturesque islands is definitely worth the effort. On the way they give you explanations of the places you pass by and the closer you approach Skokloster, the more information and history the hostess or host will provide about the castle. On board you can buy fika, sandwiches, drinks and even hot meals.

Skoklosters Slott

Skoklosters Slott (7)

Skoklosters Slott is the largest private castle ever built in Sweden. The castle overlooks the Mälar lake. It was almost never inhabited. It used to be a summer residence and the builder Carl Gustav Wrangel only spent about 30 days in this castle. After his death, the castle went to the Brahe family.

Skoklosters Castle is a baroque castle that has been very well preserved. It is a 17th century castle with rich decorations. Be sure to look up to the ceilings too, because I saw a few things that I did not see (often) before. In most rooms, ornaments were placed around the ceiling beams. Another hall had no plain painted ceiling, but it was a sculpture or a 3D painting that came out of the ceiling.

Skoklosters Slott (4)

Also very special is the collection of artworks on the ground floor. What, for example, do you think of a dried, inflated puffer fish? This painting Vertumnus of Giuseppe Arcimboldo is a portrait of Emperor Rudolf II, with fruits and vegetables. It was stolen in Prague in the 17th century.

Skloklosters Slott - schilderij

The Wrangel and Brahe apartments are the highlights of the castle. You can also follow a tour in Swedish or English that leads you to the ‘unfinished room’. Since the 17th century this banquet hall  has not been changed and is still not finished. The information boards in the castle are largely in Swedish. However, English-language audio guides can be rented. The entrance and the audioguides were included in the boat trip. If you come on your own, you can rent your audioguide.

Skoklosters Slott (5)

Near the castle you will find the house of the father of the first castle owner and the church that used to belong to the monastery and from which the castle has its name. You can also take a walk in the big garden. In my mind, I was wearing a Jane Austen dress and waved my perfectly coiffured hair in the wind while in the distance Mr. Darcy showed up.

Skoklosters Slott (6)

Exposition Jane Austen’s World

Skoklosters Slott (3)

The temporary exhibition Jane Austen’s World continues until October 1, 2017. In some of the guest apartments on the second floor, iconic costumes from the movies and TV series of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, etc. are shown. With a little imagination, you’ll see Kate Winslet or Colin Firth walking around in Skoklosters Slott. Anyone who wants to can even dive into the wardrobe and dress up in Jane Austen’s costumes.

Skoklosters Slott (2)

Practical information

The castle is not open every day during the summer months. So check out the website to plan your visit. Large bags are not allowed but lockers are provided. There is of course a castle/museum boutique and a cafeteria where they serve fika and small dishes.
The boat trips from Strömma to Skoklosters Castle are only during the Swedish summer holidays (so until mid-August).

Interested in more day trips? You can also go to Birka by boat, Drottningholm Slott (same architect as Skoklosters Slott!).. in the Mälarmeer or to Fjäderholmarna in the archipelago.