Last time I saw Bon Jovi I was 18. So when I saw they were touring again I decided I would go. Wanting to see them somewhere I had never been, I ummed and ahhed over Tallinn, Warsaw, Romania before finally deciding on Stockholm. Ticket bought, was I glad? At first NO! When I checked out the cost of accommodation in Stockholm I started to panic! But now, having been I am SO glad I went. It is one of, if not my absolute favourite place I have been so far. I walked pretty much everywhere but you can use public transport, rent a bike or scooter (found on the streets everywhere) or take the boats to get around.
One of the first things I noticed and loved was the big time use of bikes and scooters to get around. The roads were well set up for it with dedicated bike/scooter lanes and traffic lights.
I stayed in Gamla Stan, the old town area. It was my first time staying in a hostel (I couldn’t afford a hotel!) and I was quite apprehensive, but I did have a room with a private toilet and sink so only had to share the shower area. The hostel was lovely:
All underground there are no windows but it is beautifully decorated. The shared showers were ok – quite small but functional enough and I was only there for two nights so not an issue.
I checked in quickly to get out to explore as much as I could, knowing already that I was going to need more than two nights here. I had planned to go to Fotografiska, a photography centre known for its café with great views. Fotografiska was on a different island (Södermalm) but I had a map so off I went. And ended up on a completely different island (Skeppsholmen). It didn’t really matter though because everywhere was a delight.
How was I going to be upset when I could take photos of cute buildings like this?
You need to know your up from your down to not get lost. Or just get lost and enjoy!
Later in the day I discovered a festival going on with lots of food stalls – and the food was lovely. As a vegetarian I was spoilt for choice. I sat down with my poke bowl and smoothie and knew I loved this place already.
The Bon Jovi concert was that night. I decided to walk to the venue 4km away so I could see as much of Stockholm as possible. The concert was just ok, Bon Jovi took ages to come on and then the sound was not great unfortunately. Oh well, still glad I went.
After the concert I walked back to the hostel. It was almost midnight and not something I would normally do, but June in Stockholm never gets totally dark so I felt safer than I normally would.
The Vasa Museum and Djurgården
The next morning I got a coffee and wandered round one of the shopping areas, checking out places like Prada and GUCCI – from the outside! I headed over to the Vasa museum on Djurgården, not getting lost this time. I recommend going here, it was really moving seeing the ship that had been raised from the ocean bed after more than 300 years and it is so well restored and preserved.
The museum is well set up and keeps your interest and you get to view the ship from different levels. In June 2019 it cost €15 to visit and is worth every cent. They have a “selfie spot” – see if you can find it. You can also have your photo taken for free with the ship background and it will send it to your email. A cute souvenir if you don’t want to spend in the shop.
Also on Djurgården you will find the ABBA museum and the huge funfair at Gröna Lund that you can spot from most places. When you get tired of exploring you can easily find a café or grab a snack from a shop and relax outdoors. Don’t miss the huge park area here where everyone likes to picnic and ride bikes and scooters. With bright flowers and glimpses to the water through the trees it’s a great area to relax in.
A Swedish drink and snack (fika) are compulsory I think
On leaving here I realised that there were more and more people at each step and noticed that roads had been closed off and there was a high police presence. People started lining up at the barriers and not knowing what was going on I decided to wait. I didn’t ask anyone what was going on, I just waited. I could in theory have been waiting for hours. It turned out the Royal family were in town and eventually rode past us in open carriages.
The cutest security dog was on guard. I had to stop myself stroking it.
EXPLORE THE ARCHIPELAGO
I didn’t have time to explore much but I did visit the nearest island in the archipelago – Fjäderholmarna.
The boat goes from Nybroplan / Strandvägen – basically the same area, you can’t miss the boats when you get here or the stalls selling tickets although I bought my ticket online. The journey was about 30 minutes and one return ticket cost €15. I recommend going to this island earlier in the day as when I got there at 5pm a few things had closed. It’s very pretty and peaceful with quaint places to eat and drink as well as local craft stores.
I found a cute café where I treated myself to a drink and some cake. There were all sorts of seating areas – chairs, sofa, and if you went down to the water, a hammock!
Allow a good 2 or 3 hours to explore and relax with some food and drink.
TAKE A FIKA!
The Swedish care about their quality time and getting the work / life balance right. So much so that they even have their own word for it – “fika”. Fika basically means to take a break. Have a coffee and a cinammon bun (or any drink and snack of your choice), but have a fika whenever you can. When there are fresh cinammon buns everywhere, I don’t need telling twice.
This is the old town part of Stockholm and has your typical old town narrow streets with interesting shops to explore. You will probably recognise the colourful buildings in the square here. It’s beautiful. Try and go early to get a photo without all the people in it.
I loved Stockholm and wish I had more time there but when I booked it I had no idea what lay in wait for me. I’d like to go back one day to explore more of the archipelago and go to the island of Lovön where Drottningholm Palace is located. And eat lots more cinnamon buns!
P.S. If you want to get cheaper accommodation and don’t mind when you go I would recommend trying to avoid big name music festivals, National days and the Royals being in town!