Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exploring Stockholm

Exploring Stockholm
A good compromise between elegance , culture and fun in the Swedish capital


Stockholm is one of the most charming, livable and eclectic cities in the whole of Scandinavia. It’s special feel comes from the fact that although Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, this is still a relatively small city compared to most of the other capitals of Europe, which are huge metropolis the likes of London, Paris, Berlin or Rome. Unlike its European counterparts, Stockholm is home to only a little over 1 million citizens considering the surrounding urban area: this makes for a great compromise in between the perks of living in a smaller town and the kaleidoscopic spirit of an European city that has so much to offer to its citizens and tourists alike.

Along side the overwhelming number of green areas, water is a very prominent element in Stockholm: The entire city is built around (and within) an archipelago of hundreds of tiny islands, connected by bridges, providing breath-taking scenery that can even be enjoyed by hopping on a boat and cruise around these little island, passing through something close to 15 beautiful bridges in the process. Many of these islands are host to beautiful private homes, while others feature gardens and little natural havens that are well worth a more in-depth look.

Besides the charming environmental setting, Stockholm offers so much to do in terms of culture and entertainment. Most of the local museums, including the History Museum and The Modern Art museum, are always up to date and very accessible, especially to tourists, who can almost always benefit from free museum passes that come in with the purchase of a subway card (a lot more convenient than buying single tickets for every ride you need to take). One of the best ways to get into the “Stockholm mindset” is to take a walk from the central station (referred to as T-Centralen) to the charming area of Gamla Stan, “the old town”, situated just a few steps away from the Swedish Royal Palace (which, by the way, hosts musical performances by the Royal guard every day at 12pm!).

Gamla Stan might be crowded with tourists, but it’s atmosphere is still far from being a “plastic tourist trap”, with the exceptions, perhaps of some of the souvenir stores around the neighborhood. Gamla Stan offers a wide range of cozy, intimate restaurants, as well as many great vintage stores, where you can find great deals on great clothing, literature and records. After spending a day shopping and experiencing the city, you can get to the chic area of Södermalm, the true hot spot of Stockholm’s night life, where the clubs are crowded with Swedes spending their hard-earned money on their weekend drinks! If you are not the night-club type, you can enjoy an evening at one of the many more casual oriented pubs and restaurant in the city, and why not, take a look at what’s going on at legendary music venues such as Debaser Medis or Cirkus, where there is always some international artist performing for the Swedish audience.


Scandinavia, generally, is not known to be among the cheapest holiday destinations, but on the other hand, pricing is always quite fair where it really matters: For example, there is a very wide selection of hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts and apartment for rent coming in several price ranges to accommodate travelers with different budgets, and most of the museums and areas of touristic interests are accessible for free. Restaurants and nightlife can get pretty expensive, but even then it is possible to find countless wallet-friendly alternatives without necessarily compromising the quality.

Sunday, February 2, 2014