Wednesday, June 18, 2014

20+ Artsy & Cool Things To Do in Stockholm, Sweden

By Jacquelin Carnegie - (Stockholm, Sweden) 
The lovely city of Stockholm is actually spread out over a series of islands. You can get from island to island--each with its unique neighborhoods--by ferry or the more prosaic metro and bus system. Everywhere you go in this city--that's a mixture of medieval and modern--you'll find trendy restaurants and cafés, lively bars, great art and interesting shops. Norrmalm is basically the downtown area. Gamla Stan is the Old Town district. Södermalm, which used to be working class, is now the hip, artsy section. The summer months are the perfect time to visit.
Mary Nelson, a Swedish-American jazz singer, advises guests at Marriott hotels how to get the most out of Stockholm's cultural offerings. Here are some of her tips along with my artsy highlights:
Metro Art Tour - Art Walks Tour starts: T-Centralen Metro Station, SL Center at Sergels torg (Tours in English: June-Aug; Tues, Thurs & Sat, 3pm)

Metro Art
Stockholm's transit system (SL) offers a free guided-tour of all the incredible artwork in the Stockholm metro. Each line and station has a unique theme. All you need is a metro ticket (or Stockholm Card). This is a really cool way to see interesting art while familiarizing yourself with the metro system!
The Millennium Tour
Stadsmuseum (Stockholm City Museum), Tour starts: Bellmansgatan 1
This is a guided tour of places in Stockholm that appear in the book series The Millennium Trilogy that began with the now famous “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson. The tour starts on the island of Södermalm at the "home" of the main character Mikael Blomkvist, then passes key locations in the books: bars, cafés, and of course, Lisbeth Salander’s "apartment." Whether you're a fan of the books or not, it's a great way to see and learn more about Stockholm's interesting neighborhoods. (The 2-hour tours can be pre-booked in English & several other languages. Or, get a Millennium Map for a self-guided tour.)

Old Town Ghost Walk
This is a really fun way to learn about Gamla Stan, the Old Town district of Stockholm. Explore the fascinating history as you stroll along the cobblestone streets, down dark alleyways, and into hidden courtyards. The terrific Stockholm Ghost Walk guides bring the past to life with gusto!
Stockholm has a great selection of exceptional museums from the Moderna Museet (Modern Museum of Art & Architecture) with its terrific collection and sculpture garden to the Nobel Museum with info on Nobel laureates from 1901 to the present, and for die-hard music fans there's ABBA The Museum in the Swedish Music Hall of Fame. (Some museums are open daily, others close on Mondays, so check before you head out). These are not-to-be-missed:
Fotografiska Museet (Photography Museum) Stadsgårdshamnen 22; Tel: +46 (0)8 509 005 00
Not only does this photography museum have great exhibits, it's a hot-spot, open late with music and entertainment. In a beautifully-restored, Art Nouveau-style industrial building with a marvelous cafe overlooking the water.

Hallwylska Museet
Hamngatan 4; Tel: +46 (0)8 402 30 99
The former home of Count and Countess von Hallwyl looks exactly as it did when the family lived here in the late 1890s. It's a fascinating example of the lifestyle and décor of Sweden's late Victorian period. The museum also has changing exhibitions and occasional music and theater in the courtyard in summertime.
Herserudsvägen 32, Lidingö; Tel: +46 (0)8 446 75 80
Millesgarden is the lovely sculpture garden, former home, and artist studio of the famous Swedish sculptor Carl Milles and his artist wife, Olga. It's a spectacular spot with great views and a cafe, about 20 minutes from Stockholm's city center.

Day Trip: Artipelag

Artipelag (photo: Winter Cherry Photography)

Artipelagstigen 1, Värmdö; Tel: +46 (0)8 570 130 00
Just a half-hour from Stockholm in the archipelago, this wonderful museum is in the most beautiful setting, overlooking the water. Artipelag--a showcase for international, modern art--is the vision of Björn Jakobson the creator of the ever-popular BabyBjörn products. Enjoy the art then walk along the lovely boardwalk around Baggen’s Bay leading up to the museum and meander on nature trails throughout the extensive grounds. There's also a cafe and restaurant both with marvelous views. Plan to spend plenty of time; you won't want to leave! (Get here by bus or boat from Stockholm.)

Spa Day: Centralbadet
Drottninggatan 88; Tel: +46 (0)8 545 213 00
While in Stockholm, treat yourself to a Swedish massage and sauna in this beautiful Art Nouveau spa with hot and cold-water pools, sun deck, gym, and restaurant in the courtyard. Swedes have been coming here since 1904.

Gamla Stan, Old Town (photo: JCarnegie)

Sergels torg; Tel: +46 (0)8 506 20 200
Even if you don't speak Swedish, you'll find something to do in this "House of Culture" presenting theatre, dance, music, interesting art exhibits, and events for kids. There are also a couple of nice, casual restaurants and a rooftop café with a panoramic view (and dancing in the summer). Parkteatern: From June through August, there's a range of free cultural events in different outdoor venues.
Jazz Clubs: You might not think of Stockholm as a hotbed for jazz, but there are some great clubs: Stampen Jazz Café, Stora Nygatan 5, Gamla Stan, Tel: +46 (0)8-20 57 93; Glenn Miller Café, Brunnsgatan 21; Tel: +46 (0)8 10 03 22; Fasching, Kungsgatan 63; Tel: +46 (0)8 20 00 66.
Dramaten (The Royal Dramatic Theatre)
Nybroplan 1, Tel: +46 8 667 06 80
You might not want to sit through a bleak Nordic drama, but The Royal Dramatic Theatre gives guided tours in English of this beautiful Art Nouveau building built in 1908. (Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey into Night” premiered here in 1956.)
Fjäderholmen Krog

The restaurant scene in Stockholm is hopping! Here are a few suggestions for great meals in extraordinary settings:
Riche, Birger Jarlsgatan 4; Tel: +46 (0)8 545 035 60 - A hip scene with beautiful people eating tasty food.
The Flying Elk, Malartorget 15 Tel: +46 (0)8 20 85 83 - Pub grub & Swedish ales in Old Town. (The flying elk is a Swedish myth about a huge moose with a crown of thorns living in the Jämtland forests.)
Fjäderholmarnas Krog, Stora Fjäderholmen; Tel: +46 (0)8 718 33 55 - A stunning locale; the restaurant looks like a modernist hunting lodge, on the closest island in the Stockholm archipelago; arrive by ferry boat.
Where to Stay:
There are many wonderful accommodations; here are a few in different neighborhoods:

Radisson Blu Royal Viking, Vasagatan 1; Tel: +46 (0)8 5065 4000 - This is a great location in the downtown area, but Radisson Blu also has six other really nice hotels in Stockholm.
Marriott Courtyard Stockholm Kungsholmen, Rålambshovsleden 50; Tel: +46 (0)8 441 3100 - On Kungsholmen island, great if you want to be close to nature and a jogging path; also a good spot if you're traveling with kids.
Hotel Skeppsholmen, Gröna gången 1; Tel: +46 (0)8 407 2300 - This splendid boutique hotel, in the Design Hotels group, has a country-in-the-city feel and a nice restaurant.
Making Your Trip Easier:
Stockholm Pass - Gives you free rides on Stockholm's public transports (SL: subway, bus, train, tram & ferries), along with entrance to 60 museums & attractions, and a selection of free sightseeing tours.
Holiday Phone - Avoid exorbitant cell phone charges when you travel, get a SIM card (the chip that makes all cell phones work) for Sweden--or any other country--along with Wi-Fi and a way to forward all your US calls.

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