Visit Stockholm, and you’ll fall in love with the city — its beauty, its order and efficiency, and its friendly populace. Stockholm is known as the water city and is laid out over 14 islands, connected by bridges, boats, and a superb mass-transit system. This stunning destination boasts plenty of remarkable sites that are accessible to visitors year-round.
Old Town, or Gamla Stan, is at Stockholm’s center on a smaller island. Stockholm was founded here in 1252, and the neighborhood’s winding, cloistered streets are today home to the Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in the world, the Nobel Museum, and the Stockholm Cathedral, as well as art galleries and several excellent boutiques and restaurants. While in the neighborhood, try the seafood platter of “seven tastes” at Aquavit Raw Bar & Grill, or Swedish specialties like elk and reindeer at Bakfickan.
A neighboring island is home to Djurgården, which houses historical attractions such as open-air Skansen and Vasa Museums. Skansen is the oldest outdoor museum in the world; here you can take a trip through Sweden’s past, with over 150 authentic, preserved houses from all over the country, from grand manors to the huts and storehouses from the indigenous Sami people of the northern Lapland province. The famed Vasa allows for a look at Sweden’s history from a more typically Nordic perspective: The Vasa Museum houses the sunken, completely intact 17th century war ship, which was salvaged and restored in 1961, over 300 years after it tanked in the harbor — on its maiden voyage — due to its weight. The Vasa is the only ship that survived from the 17th century and is one of the prime tourist attractions in the world.
Looking for more active adventures? In the summertime, when the days are long and warm, you’ll want to see the city from the water. Take a boat tour, swim off the Fredhäll cliffs in Kristineberg, or take a ferry to the Stockholm Archipelago, a stunning mass of over 24,000 islands and rocks.
Sweden also boasts a menu of winter sports — ice skating, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding. When the temperatures soar downwards, the crowds hit the outdoor ice skating rink at Kungsträdgården. Another local thrill is “tour skating,” long distance skating on natural ice through frozen rivers and lakes. For downhill skiing, the closest slope to Stockholm, Hammarbybacken, is just a few miles from the city center and is accessible by public transportation.