Islands and lots of water — Hawaii? No.
Canals — Venice? No.
Stockholm! Yes, Stockholm, referred to as the Venice of the North, the capital of Sweden sits on 14 islands. Fifty bridges connect the area and ferries and sightseeing boats help locals and tourists get around. It’s a great biking city. There are dedicated bike lanes throughout the city and it is estimated 70,000 city residents bike to work each day.
Museums for everyone, even ABBA fans!
Stockholm has more museums per capita than any place else in the world. It has open-air museums, modern art museums, museums dedicated to sailing vessels and, yes, one for ABBA.
The best museums are on Djargården. That’s also the island where city residents go for entertainment and to soak up some culture. The world’s first national park is located in the heart of Stockholm and it covers Ulriksdal, Haga, Brunnsviken and Djargården. The National Museum or Nationalmuseum, is on Djargården. It houses nearly 50,000 paintings including some Rembrandts, a huge porcelain collection and an entire floor devoted to what is called applied art. That encompasses design, ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture, glass and industrial design.
The Moderna Museet or modern art museum has a great sculpture park.
The Vasa Museum is Stockholm’s most popular museum. The Vasa was a massive 64-gun warship commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus and sent out on her maiden voyage in 1628. The pride of the Swedish fleet, it promptly sank. Salvage efforts finally brought it up in 1961. There are English language guided tours as well as audio tours. There are four more ship museums in the building, 10 separate exhibits, a shop and a restaurant.
The world’s largest open-air museum which faithfully recreates houses and farmsteads from all areas of Sweden from 1720 to the 1960s, is on Skansen and Djurgården.
Churches, schools, manor houses, shops, mills, laborers’ homes and artisan shops have been replicated or moved to the museum and artisans in period costumes demonstrate crafts and skills as well as replicate home and farm tasks. A Sami camp complete with reindeer is on the museum grounds. There are several restaurants, a zoo, and an aquarium on site.
ABBA the Museum is chock full of memorabilia and, an immersive “Waterloo” exhibit! Walk in and dance out.
Need more museums? There’s more!
The Royal Palace is in Stockholm and with its 600 rooms, it’s one of the largest palaces in Europe. There are five museums on the palace grounds including the Treasury Museum which has all the jewels and fabulous regalia of the royal family.
The Modern Art Museum on Skeppsholmen features works from Picasso, Duchamp, Matisse and Dali. Kids can dress up in armour, see a 16th Century warship and get a feel of the city’s history from the 13th to the 16th Century at the Medieval Museum. Get your fill of Vikings lore at the Swedish History Museum.
Fill your time with shopping and theme parks
Gamla Stan or The Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval city centers in Europe. This was the heart of merchant shops and trading. To call attention to the area, the quaint gable-roofed shops and warehouses were painted in shades of gold, mustard, rust and coral. The old warehouses now are home to restaurants, boutiques, cafes and bars. Shop here for curiosities and bargains. Visit City Hall, because not only is it a distinguished building, it is also where the Nobel Prize banquet and dance are held. The Golden Hall, where the dance is, is decorated with 18 million (yes, million) gold mosaic tiles.
The Stockholm Cathedral, or Sorkyrkan, is in Gamla Stan. It has been the site of many royal coronations and weddings. Inside the cathedral is a spectacular silver altar as well as the gilded oak sculpture “Saint George and the Dragon.”
Gröna Lund is a theme park that was first opened in 1883, but it gets frequent updates. Every couple of years a new roller coaster is added, including a newer one where half of the ride keeps riders upside down.
Junibacken is a theme park aimed at the younger set. It is based on the stories of children’s book author Astrid Lindgren. Lindgren’s most beloved character is Pippi Longstocking. Take a train ride through the park and end up at Villa Vilekulla, Pippi’s home. Children are invited to explore friendly tunnels, niches and miniature houses throughout the park.
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