We got back from Northern Europe two weeks ago, but I only now finally sat down to write and edit the ‘Scandinavian Adventures’ guide. I will also share a trip video my husband made, so stay tuned and enjoy the plunge into the land of Vikings!
Ben and I flew to Stockholm via Moscow right after Christmas. The flight was long, so when we got to Stockholm, all I wanted to do was unpack and sleep. However, the freezing air of Skeppsholmen Island where we were staying (did you know that Stockholm is an archipelago and consists of 14 islands?) and delicious coffee in a pretty mug brought me back to life.
Ok, I am lying, because what really woke me right up when my husband said we need to check out a few boutiques so I can pick out a new bag for myself :)
There are a few nice boutiques at Birger Jarlsgatan, including Louis Vuitton and Gucci. If you live in the USA, you will definitely want to buy something in these boutiques as prices are lower and you will get a VAT return (just don’t forget to ask for a Tax Refund form!).
Our first days in Stockholm were cold, but quite manageable. I did expect Scandinavian countries to be much colder in winter than they actually were to be honest, so I was pleasantly surprised with the mild temperatures and absence of snow in the capital cities of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Of course I did pack wisely, and brought a very warm wardrobe that saved me from freezing, but I will talk about it in one of the next posts!
is an undeniably beautiful city, stunningly decorated around Christmas and New Years. I could talk a lot about its narrow colourful streets, breathtaking castles, little cafes with delicious, sweet pastries and hot chocolates, but you probably read that many times before in other travel guides. Therefore, I will focus on just best places Ben and I visited and share some photographs I took on our journey.
1. Skansen Museum
I absolutely fell in love with Skansen! Apparently it is the world’s first open-air museum, and was founded in 1891. The museum territory is huge and has many different, interesting parts covering five centuries of Swedish history. There are churches and houses, shops, bakeries and farmsteads, all authentic to the period each depicts.
Skansen is a remarkable ‘immersive experience’ place. While you walk around the historical buildings or a beautifully decorated merchant’s house from the 19th century, you can easily stumble across actors/characters in period dresses who will answer all your questions.
The museums also have a zoo with wild bears, reindeer, wolves and other beautiful animals.
There are many cafes with delicious deserts and traditional Swedish food around Stockholm, but my favourite one was Wienercaféet. Their smorgasbords with salmon and avocado were amazing, and I liked their pastries so much, that I had to take two pieces of cake to our hotel and devour them in bed while watching Vikings.
3. Hotel Skeppsholmen
By the way, speaking of hotels! Ben and I were staying at the Skeppsholmen which is situated on the beautiful and very quiet island of Skeppsholmen. Our room had a great Scandinavian minimalist design, big shower and in the mornings we were ate a very, very tasty breakfast with various choices of food.
The hotel has a very colourful history and is a government listed historic building. To read more about hotel’s history click here.
4. Gamla Stan
Probably the most photographed area of Sweden, Gamla Stan or ‘Old Town’, is one of the largest and most gorgeous medieval city centres in Europe. Come here for charming little streets, churches, pictures in front of colourful buildings, souvenirs, cafes, museums and old-fashioned romance. The Royal Palace is also located in Gamla Stan, and you surely don’t want to miss it!
5. The Royal Palace
Kungliga slottet, the Royal Palace is one of the largest and most lavish palaces in the world with its 608 rooms. Although the Swedish Royal family, the House of Bernadotte, reside in the much smaller and modest Drottinghom Palace, the king and the queen still hold audiences and host some official ceremonies in Kungliga slottet.
The island of Djugarden, once a royal hunting ground, doesn’t only have Skansen. The Nordiska Museum, Junibacken (which is a museum dedicated to fictional characters from Astrid Lindgren’s creations, e.g. Karlsson-on-the-Roof), The Abba Museum, Vasa Museum with its massive warship, Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628, and other smaller museums and galleries.
I think Djugarden was my favourite island in Stockholm, and I would definitely love to explore it in summer next time.
7. Fartygsmagasinet i Stockholm AB
I LOVE antique stores, and Fartygsmagasinet immediately caught my attention when we were walking around Gamla Stan. This antique store specialises in nautical antiques and maritime interiors, and has a large selection of unique pieces you just want to peruse.
Next, I will share my Lapland and Ice Hotel review, and also my Copenhagen guide, so stay tuned!