Gamla Stan – This is the oldest part of Stockholm and we can’t help but start from it, because it just acts like a magnet. The views of the “historic heart” (and in our opinion, the heart of Stockholm in general), from wherever we look at it, but especially from Södermalm, are incredibly impressive. In fact, the impressive silhouette along the waters of Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea is shaped by the beautiful building of the Stockholm City Hall, which is outside the Gamla Stan area. But let’s go through the cobbled and picturesque streets of the Old Town first, and the City Hall will wait.
We move completely chaotically, just attracted by the colors and atmosphere of the medieval streets. So we hit not just any, but the oldest street – Kopmangatan . We go straight to the main square –Stortorget . It is the most iconic place in Gamla Stan. The square has been the scene of many historical events, and its atmosphere grabs us immediately – especially with the beautiful building of the Old Stock Exchange and the houses between № 14 and № 22 – historic buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries, with typical Scandinavian architecture and pastel colors. The Old Stock Exchange currently houses several institutions, including the Nobel Museum , which we have planned to visit . We postpone his visit until later in the afternoon, after we have explored the Old Town in full daylight so that we can concentrate on the museum itself.
We decide it’s time for tea or coffee. We enter a warm and cozy pastry shop, in which the basement has also been turned into a trading hall, and the inscription reads that it is from the 14th century. However, we prefer the ground floor with windows overlooking the narrow streets. We drink tea to forget about the cold weather outside. There is no window on the streets, and not just in Gamla Stan, which lacks a Christmas candlestick or glittering lights. Nor is there a shop or cafe without lighted lanterns and Christmas decorations or any other decoration that invites you to feel comfortable and welcome.
We continue the walk around Gamla Stan. We go to almost every souvenir shop, firstly because most of them sell different things, but also to keep warm. After some wandering, we find Martin Trotzig – the narrowest street in the city. It is really only 90 cm wide. A restaurant of the same name is glued to it, and this is an occasion to note that in this area the number of restaurants in general is amazing. Then we look for the other high tower in the area of Gamla Stan, which turns out to belong to the German Church . We continue to the Riksdagen– the building of the Swedish Parliament. It is pleasant, and around it the landscape becomes more and more watery, because it is located on a small island connected to the others by beautiful bridges. And here, as in the whole city, the bridges are so solidly constructed and naturally follow the street that only on the railings you understand that you are moving over water.
It is getting colder and windier outside. We return again through the streets around the Cathedral and Stortorget. At the time of our trip, the Christmas bazaar was already open , filling the middle of the square. Unlike Christmas markets in many other places in Europe, the one in Stockholm is open only during the day and closes at 6 pm. In addition to it, Christmas bazaars are organized in several other places in the city, but only on certain weekends and they are open again until 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon.
It starts to get dark quite early, about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and about half an hour the light stays in the pleasant phase of twilight. From it, the houses around Stortorget already look quite out of fairy tales.
On their ground floors, the fogged windows with Christmas lights in several cafes and restaurants confuse our choice – each looks more cozy than cozy. However, we choose one by intuition – with a few super narrow tables around a wood stove, the aroma of freshly baked gingerbread and mulled wine, the so-called. in Swedish glög and we go inside. It is so narrow that you sit and do not move, and I do not know how 4 people work and move inside. We warm up, drink a hawthorn and continue our walk through the winter streets of Gamla Stan. And so until it gets completely dark. Then we enter the Nobel Museum. It is interesting and we learn interesting facts. We have no difficulty in accepting the facts on display in the museum – someone has figured out how to present in the most accessible and concise way the most important things to say about the Nobel Prize discoveries over the years and the life of Alfred Nobel himself. rather than just formally opening a museum dedicated to the subject.
It rains this day and we decide to go hop on hop off bus to Stockholm. We pass the Royal Opera House , then the Ridarholmen district with the impressive Ridarholm Church , one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm, built around 1200, which serves as the burial church of the Swedish kings. We get off at the City Hall of Stockholm (Stadshuset) – that beautiful building with a golden statue on the blade of her tower, which from the moment of arrival we want to take a closer look. The tour is organized in small groups every half hour with a guide and lasts about 30-40 minutes. At least this week, tour hours are only possible before noon, because in the afternoon in the City Hall there are various events and happenings. Tickets are sold in the museum shop, which, like the City Hall, is too sophisticated to sell mass souvenirs – a serious selection has been made.
We continue the hop on hop off tour of the bus and pass the Central Station . We cross the longest shopping street Drottninggatan . The next stop on Stockholm’s tourist bus is Hawthorget– a huge open-air market, next to which the blue neoclassical building of the Stockholm Concert Hall stands a bit unusual for this landscape .
In addition to the Royal Symphony Orchestra, it hosts annual Nobel Prize ceremonies. We pass Norrmalmstrong Square , where the bank is located, involved in the emergence of the concept of “Stockholm Syndrome” from 1973. We come to a beautiful building with gold sculptures in front of the entrance – the Royal Drama Theater. Here you go down for a boat trip from the quay Nibroplan . In winter, only an internal tour of the lake’s canals circulates, while in the warmer months a boat travels around the archipelago. It stopped raining outside and even the sun rose. We cross Strandvegen – the boulevard with the most expensive and huge apartments.
We reach the island of Djurgården , which is home to a large number of sights and attractions in Stockholm. We start, of course, with the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) , considered the most visited museum in Scandinavia in recent years. The interest is justified because the 17th century warship “Vasa” looks impressively good, and after staying at the bottom of the sea for 333 years. As we tour the ship on all sides and listen with interest to the museum guide, the feeling grows that Johnny Depp will be on deck at any moment as Jack Sparrow. In fact, the ship “Vasa” is one of the real prototypes of the “Flying Dutchman” from “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but Johnny Depp never appears while we’re there :).
At the back of Vasamuseet is the Nordic Museum , housed in an incredibly beautiful building. Also in Djurgården are the ABBA Museum, the Unibakken Children’s Museum and the Grona Lund Amusement Park . Much of Djurgården is occupied by Skansen – a park, zoo and open-air ethnographic museum.
By the time we get out of the next museum, it’s completely dark. We head to Gamla Stan and the Christmas Bazaar for a glass of mulled wine.
It has been snowing since morning. Christmas carols are everywhere and the spirit of Christmas is hovering. We decided to visit the SoFo area in Södermalm, where we stayed and interesting places nearby such as the Photographic Museum and Fjällgatan – the place with the best views in Stockholm. Located in an area with historic buildings from the 17th century, it is called the “Stockholm Terrace” because of the wonderful view of the islands of Gamla Stan, Skepskolmen and Djurgården. Then we go around the tidy streets of Sopho (the area south of Folkungagatan), we reach the church of Hagia Sophiaon a bare and windy hill. Then we decide that SoFo is a good area to live in, but the weather is not pleasant for long and aimless walks in the open air. We get on the hop on hop off bus again (the ticket is valid for 24 hours from the first boarding) and decide to spend a few hours shopping on Drottningatan Street in Norrmalm.
Countless shops and malls are crowded because it’s Saturday and Christmas is approaching. We take a look here and there, but we definitely haven’t hit a good time to shop. We have lunch at a restaurant chosen at random and as in all cases in Stockholm so far, everything is delicious, flawless and accurate.
We remember the concert in the Cathedral and set off in the hope that there were tickets left. And even if they are not, we prefer to spend the rest of our time in Stockholm in the pleasant atmosphere of the Old Town.
The snow is getting heavier and dusk is starting to fall over Stortorget and the Christmas Bazaar…