stock 1creativecommons.org/ Michael Caven

Following Sweden's induction into the European Union in 1995 and the swift IT boom of the late 90s, the capital of Stockholm emerged from its cold, Nordic shadow to become a truly international city.

The city is something of a wonder in and of itself, being hailed the ‘Venice of the North’, it sits astride 14 islands on the sparkling waters of Lake Malaren and boasts plenty of dramatic Nordic beauty right in its backyard.

This leads to some unique opportunities in the city, like sailing on Baltic breezes to one of the 24,000 islands in the archipelago, or shopping for Scandinavian fashion at the city’s many chic stores.

Shopping

stock 2creativecommons.org/ Samantha Marx

Stockholm is bursting with extravagant shopping opportunities, but usually with the extravagant prices to match. The discerning visitor isn't exactly interested in extreme bargains though, which is fortunate - as opportunities to find a legitimate bargain in Stockholm are few and far in between.

When it comes to shopping, Gamla Stan or ‘Old Town’ is the places to go. Nestled between the area’s museums and churches you’ll find some of the best shopping in the country - it even attracts the Queen of Sweden every now and then!

While there are a few international fashion labels prevalent in Stockholm, they wisely focus on the unique fashion of local designers. Boutiques like Natalie Schuterman, Nordiska Kompaniet and Flippa K all stock the best in Swedish fashion. However, the fashion scene in Sweden is more high-quality-hip rather than classy and elegant, so it may not suit the taste of every fashionista.

The Gamla Stan district offers more than just fashion though, it is also particularly famous for its antiques, despite the fact that they all come at a high price. Although, with the sheer mass of antique shops and the Scandinavian relics that line their shelves, Stockholm is an antique-lover’s paradise.

Aside from fashion and old things, Sweden is famed for both its glass and wood products. Swedish glass is world famous and Swedish wooden items are often coveted for their superior craftsmanship. Stockholm serves as an excellent place to pick up beautiful furniture made of blonde pine and birch, and when it comes to searching for crafts, Skansen is – surprisingly - the place to go. Skansen is especially nice in the summer when all the craft-workers come out to show off their wares in kiosks.

Sailing the Archipelago

stock 3Creativecommons.org/ Ragnar Jensen

There are hundreds of sailing tours available Stockholm, but a favourite is Stockholm Adventures. These tours take visitors out on luxury yachts where visitors can try their hand at sailing the boats or relaxing on deck. However, a sailing trip wouldn't be complete without a quick swim in the warm months, or stopping to pick blueberries on the islands in the cooler ones. A favourite pastime is having a few drinks on the water while sailing, so visitors shouldn't be too surprised to find a well-stocked bar aboard most of the pleasure cruises.

For the more active visitors who don't much care for tour guides, kayaks are a popular mode of getting around the city's waterways. While there are kayak tours, visitors can also rent one for the day and easily and spend it exploring the fascinating islands.

Pampering – Stockholm Style

stock 4Creativecommons.org/ Nick Webb

Scandinavia is famous for its spas and the techniques used in them. So, when in Sweden, why not take full advantage of that?

The Raison D'etre Spa in the Grand Hotel Stockholm is perhaps the city's most famous spa. The treatment within is inspired by the local nature and heritage of the people of Sweden. The spa also offers therapists who can help patrons work through their issues. This assures that guests leave with not only peaceful bodies, but peaceful minds as well. Its 'Be' treatments come highly recommended. It offers ‘Be Rested’, ‘Be Balanced’ and ‘Be Renewed’ treatments that treat different ailments.

For a more traditional spa experience, head down to Sturebadet where you will find a peaceful oasis in the middle of a bustling city. From massages to a soak in a traditional Turkish bath, Sturebadet has everything to help visitors unwind. The spa uses the treatments of the award-winning Kerstin Florian, as she was one of the founders of this magnificent spa.

‘New Nordic’ Cuisine

stock 5creativecommons.org/ Sharon Hahn Darlin

With the recent wave of New Nordic cuisine, Stockholm now rivals every other European metropolis in terms of fine cuisine. With their unique creativity, chefs in Stockholm are now weaving magic within their food.

Fredsgatan 12 is without a doubt one of Stockholm's most creative restaurants. It utilizes ingredients selected from the farmer's almanac of 1666, which results in delectable dishes like ‘The Swell of the Sea’, a langoustine on rice bread with dill and ginger, and ‘The Cooling Shade’, a duck liver with white peach lemonade and toasted seeds. Curious visitors should take advantage of the 11-course tasting menu that samples all of the best that Fredsgatan 12 has to offer.

For a less daring dining experience, the modern and elegant dining room in Mathias Dahlgren delivers. It presents simple, but artistically rendered dishes in what it dubs ‘natural cuisine’. Visitors can savour dishes like heart of venison and spare-rib dumplings or the rich saddle of lamb with fried sweetbreads. It also has two tasting menus and an impressive wine list that visitors should take advantage of.

Stockholm Hotels

stock 6Creativecommons.org/ kenji ross

Over the last few years Stockholm has seen a welcomed rise in new hotels popping up around town. While they are not as trendy as visitors will find elsewhere in Europe, there is certainly no lack of accommodation.

When it comes to luxury accommodation in Stockholm, the Grand Hotel is the name on everyone's lips. It is not called ‘grand’ for nothing, after all. From the outside, the Grand Hotel just seems like your average international hotel, and in many ways it is. However, its location on the quayside just across from the royal palace cannot be beat. The service inside is stunning; the staff ardently try to predict the every need of their guests.

For those who can't get a room at the Grand Hotel, a beautiful alternative is the Hotel Stureplan. This hotel is housed in an elegant 18th century mansion that offers the perfect mix of modern design, comfort and function. The rooms are classified into classic style and loft style. Classic style rooms host Gustavian furniture, stucco features, balconies and massive fireplaces, while the loft style boasts modern, minimal and sun-soaked designs. Whatever style you choose, the staff have perfected the art of making guests feel right at home.

 

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