Stockholm as a city is like a great big garden. The city seems like something from a fairy tale: It is a complete intertwining of blue canals, bridges, parks, gardens, flowers, palaces and stone paved streets. The air always has a hint of crisp frostiness even at the height of summer, which gives pep to my step and makes me feel alive. This city mimics and blends with its surroundings so perfectly because it follows the design of its geographic make-up.
Stockholm has received much praise in recent years as Europe’s “Green Capital” and as one of the most honest cities in the word. What’s impressive about all this is that Stockholm is a very modern city with every convenience of a major capital. The extra effort and care which the people and government give to care for their city is where the magic happens. The city is really a testament to the integration of parks, gardens and canals with palaces, skyscrapers and shopping centers. If you continue further into Sweden and other Nordic lands you will see that this setup is not an anomaly. In fact quality of life is a motto that permeates all that the Scandinavians do. From schools to jobs to food and fitness, these countries promote efficiency, balance and happiness. It is important that you as the visitor get to experience this, try to notice their outlook and friendliness; you may find yourself wanting to imitate it.
A first stop should be the Royal Palace Drottningholm. This is where the Swedish monarch and his family live. It is an impressive edifice surrounded by some very serious but friendly guards. There is usually a guard change somewhere around the palace on the hour. The best time to go is at noon. This is the highlighted changing of the guard ceremony which usually lasts twenty minutes or so. It is a grand display of uniforms, marches, music and flags. If you’re lucky the King might show up to his balcony to watch too. Next you should head five minutes down the street to wander the “Gamla Stan” or the preserved medieval old town. The streets maintain their original layout and there are a variety of boutique restaurants featuring local cuisine including a great selection of seafood. Try the Salmon, Halibut or Herring in any of these places, you won’t find it much fresher than here. Speaking of food, the options are limitless. There are over a thousand restaurants tucked into the lush greenery of this city and due to heavy immigration in recent years they offer a variety of cuisines. Obviously the city is famous for the Nobel Prizes with the famous Nobel Banquet occurring on December 10th every year. This takes place in the very large and modern Stockholm city hall. Other recommended places are the woodland cemetery, a UNESCO heritage site and Nordic Museum which is full of cultural and ethnographic delights. The city is highly cultural and there are literally dozens of museums, theaters and art galleries across the urban sprawl.
If you love parks, the outdoors, walking, biking or just a great experience you must head to the sectors of the city which are dominated by parks, paths and gardens. While the whole city is well integrated in this style, some of the outer districts are full on urban nature preserves. The opportunities for running, walking and cycling are endless with the many paths and trails provided. My absolute favorite is the Royal National City Park. It consists of an entire island just past the central island full of gardens, paths and decorative structures. Take one of the abundant and well maintained city bikes to experience a thrilling ride full of colors, smells and action. If you are looking for some outdoor fun amidst traditional Viking structures and Swedish Mansions head to Djurgarden. This is a great area for a leisurely stroll or an afternoon picnic under towering oaks.