This morning, after an early breakfast at the hotel, I headed out to savor a day in Stockholm, a city I had briefly experienced last night through a stroll in Gamla Stan. This morning, I wanted to get more of the city, without taking a guided excursion. So I started my day walking towards the area I knew from last night, Gamla Stan.
The streets were still quiet, but the cafes were open for breakfast and a few locals were up and about jogging or taking their babies out for a walk. As I walked towards Gamla Stan, I noticed the stone walls more clearly. Instead of heading straight down its cobblestoned streets, I veered to the left and walked on Stromgaten towards the Royal Opera House. From this spot, I saw several beautiful buildings….the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, the Parliament House and the very impressive façade of the Royal Palace. The buildings were on either side of the water and looking afar you could see some of the beautiful skyline views that are presented on picture post cards. Near the Royal Opera House, I noticed a bunch of passengers ready to board the red Hop On/ Hop Off double-decker tourist bus. I had a limited amount of time in Stockholm and knew nothing about the city. This would be an ideal way to make the most of my day. I asked the attendant about the itinerary and just looking at the map, concluded that I could cover the route by walking solo. Off I went in the direction of Gamla Stan, this time pausing at store fronts, reading café menus and looking at the souvenirs being sold. I also saw the narrowest alley in Gamla Stan and at this point, the medieval area was starting to fill with tourists.
I emerged from Gamla Stan and crossed Stadsgardsleden to face a body of water. I found a bench and sat there with my map, trying to identify the various areas of the city. Once I found the one place I really wanted to visit, Fotografiska (the photography museum), I took the pedestrian path along the water and headed in that direction. It was a beautiful sunny day and I had bikers and joggers for company. At Fotografiska, I mulled around the gift shop for a bit and then went through the multiple exhibits (More to follow in a separate post). I absolutely loved this museum and besides the pictures the most spectacular surprise was the coffee shop at the top from whose framed windows I got the most beautiful vistas of Stockholm.
I had been walking for several hours and as I retraced my steps on Stadsgardsleden, I paused to look at the many boats plying the waters. On an impulse, I paid 100 Kroners and jumped on a sightseeing boat which would make a variety of stops and of course have commentary in a number of languages. The next ninety minutes were spent amongst other tourists who were off their ships or in the city for a day, attempting to cover every museum and park the city had to offer. The benefit of this excursion? I got to see the rides at Grona Lund (the amusement park) up close, hear about Lady Gaga’s performance there and made a mental note to come back with the kids. I heard about Vasa, the ship that like the Titanic, sunk after its maiden voyage after being in route for only 20 minutes. The Vasa Museum houses the remains. I learnt more about Djurgarden, the site of the Skansen Outdoor museum, the Nordic Wildlife Park, the Nordic Museum and the Wasa Museum. Certainly with my time in Stockholm ticking away, the most I could do was to learn about these venues to explore on a future visit. On this ride, I also discovered Nybroviken, the site from where you can catch boats to the archipelago as well as browse a ton of cafes and shops. At the end of my tour, I headed straight back to Nybroviken, this time encountering hordes of tourists, tour buses and locals who were out to make the most of a sunny Stockholm day. I walked around for another hour and then sat for a bit on the steps near the water, admiring the city of Stockholm before heading back to catch the train to Gothenburg.
If you are in Stockholm and would like to do a walking tour, several guidebooks and websites have recommendations. I would recommend downloading or picking up a physical map and just walking the various areas and discovering your “personal” slice of the city.