Explore: Stockholm

Date Posted: 01/04/2013

Jeannine Williamson looks at the Swedish capital of Stockholm, and found a fantastic destination for groups.

Essential Sights

Gamla Stan: The cobbled old town is the best place to start a visit to Sweden's beautiful capital. One of Europe's largest and best-preserved medieval centres, this is where the city was founded in 1252. Allow plenty of time for everyone to wander around the maze of streets and tiny market squares where there are lots of places to stop for coffee. 

The Vasa Museum: Here you will find the magnificent but top heavy and ill-fated flagship that sank within minutes of being launched in Stockholm in 1628. Salvaged in 1961 and painstakingly restored, the ship is covered with 700 carved wooden figures and virtually everything visitors can see today is original. Special tours, including a film show, are available for groups.

Stockholm's Royal Palace: With its 1,430 rooms, it is one of the largest palaces in the world still used for is original purpose. A selection of splendid rooms from the 18th and 19th centuries are open to visitors and there are also museums, including one on the site of the original palace, a glittering treasury and stables containing grand coronation coaches. A guided tour of the palace apartments or one of the museums is available for groups.

Food & Drink

Classic dishes include meatballs, pickled herring and gravlax - cold cured salmon - which are staples on the majority of restaurant menus. The fika, or coffee break, is a Swedish institution so take time out to join locals in one of the many cafes for a coffee, cinnamon bun and a chat. For a quick snack while sightseeing there are hot dogs stands all around the city and the frankfurters are typically served topped with shrimp salad and pickled cucumber.

Aquavit, meaning 'the water of life' is a popular aperitif and usually served unmixed, straight out of the freezer, and drunk straight down in one go.

Where to Stay
Best for Groups

Follow in the footsteps of Abba, Sweden's most successful band of all time, with a themed walk through the city where the 70s pop stars lived and worked. Sights include performance venues and video shoot locations. Organised by Stockholm City Museum, groups can also go on self-guided walks with the Abba map available from the museum and tourist information centres. Fans won't want to miss the first ever Abba Museum, part of the new Swedish Music Hall of Fame, opening on 7th May.

Seeing Stockholm from the water is a must and group travel organisers have a range of cruise options to choose from. Tours with an English commentary range from 50 minutes to more than two hours, and for flexible sightseeing there's the hop-on hop-off waterbus that can also be combined with an open-top bus tour.

Smaller groups of up to ten can take a private tour of the City Hall, setting for Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies and one of Sweden's most recognisable buildings with its spire topped by three gold crowns. Tours take in the opulent golden hall which illustrates Sweden's history in 18 million pieces of glittering gold mosaic.

Live Like a Local

Take a culinary tour and soak up the atmosphere at Hotorgshallen which is one of Stockholm's oldest indoor markets and packed with food from around the world. Outside is the colourful vegetable and flower market on Hotorget that first opened in the 1640s.  

Lucia Day, one of Sweden's best-known festivals, is celebrated on 13th December to mark the Winter Solstice. Singers in white robes trimmed with red ribbons are led by a woman dressed as Lucia, representing light, and wearing a crown of candles. The best place to see the spectacle is Skansen, Stockholm's open-air museum that is the oldest of its kind in Sweden.

Fact File

Journey time: 2hrs 15mins to Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
Currency: Swedish Krona £1 = SEK9.8.
Best time to go: From May to August temperatures are warmest and it's light virtually round the clock in June. In December Stockholm's Christmas markets ring in the changes for groups that have experienced festive traditions in other European countries.

For further group travel information visit:

www.visitstockholm.com
www.visitsweden.com


Pictured: Singers in white robes lead the Luica Day festival every December (Photo credit: Cecilia Larsson).

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