Gamla Stan, the old city © Judith Duk
The Swedish capital of Stockholm is not only
Scandinavia's largest city but also one of its most enchanting,
with its centuries-old alleyways and squares spread across an
archipelago of 14 islands. Locals are extremely proud of the fact
that in Stockholm one can go ocean-fishing in the heart of the
This historic metropolis with a small town heart
boasts a multitude of museums, restaurants, parks, fun fairs, a
never-ending nightlife (licensing hours extend into the early
hours), and a rich cultural tradition. There's never a dull moment,
particularly in the summer when the sun virtually never sets
because of the city's position in the far northern latitudes.
Most tourists are initially drawn to the quaint Gamla
Stan (Old Town), a warren of narrow cobblestone streets
overshadowed by historic houses. It radiates out from the sumptuous
Royal Castle, where Swedish monarchs have resided since the 13th
However, despite the rich medieval heritage,
Stockholm is not an old-fashioned enclave. Citizens have developed
a reputation for being trendy, daring and innovative, especially in
the global realms of IT and fashion, often setting the pace in the
technology and design fields.
Stockholmers are also immensely concerned with the
environment, and the cityscape is made up of one-third water,
one-third green space, one-third buildings, and some of the
cleanest air of any city in the world. Pack a picnic, hop aboard a
ferry, and make for one of the parks where you will undoubtedly be
treated to a free concert; or head for the legendary shopping
districts of Biblioteksgatan (exclusive European boutiques),
Odengatan (antique treasures), and others.
There is culture to be soaked up too, with more than
150 museums to visit, art festivals galore, opera and jazz
concerts, and architecture to be admired, including the beautiful
City Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet takes place. It may be old
but Stockholm is a destination for the young and energetic, and not
overrun with tourists like many other European capitals.
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