Over the past few months, with the pandemic in full swing, we’ve tried to keep ourselves occupied by planning things like future travel. With work and busy family life, it was hard to really plan a decent trip, full of excursions, so we thought we’d take advantage of the “spare” time we now had available.
Although most sites were offline or unavailable to bookings, some websites were still showcasing previous deals or events to give you a taste, therefore we were able to get some ideas in motion, and with the ease of lockdown recently, I decided to start planning our next family holiday!
One of our fondest memories from last year’s travel was when we went to Stockholm thanks to Stockholm LGBT and Visit Stockholm. It was one of the first occasions where I felt safe to be me outside of the UK. With this in mind, I decided to take a look around their recent updates to see whether the city could entice us back for a second time!
Our Favourites From Last Year…
Although we visited during the colder months and around Christmas time, this made no difference to the excursions that were available to us. In fact, there was so much choice, we weren’t able to visit all the places on our list! Not only that, the city itself is beautiful. If nothing was open, I would have been happy just walking the cobbled streets!
Thinking back to our visit, we certainly had some memorable moments, from consuming a lot of cinnamon and Swedish treats, to exploring the city’s ‘hidden gems’. Here are our a few of our favourite locations:
Skansen – aka ‘The Open Air Museum’ – is as big as Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (the old town). You can stroll freely in the park, watch animals and experience historic environments outdoors – with personnel dressed in period clothes! Each year at Pride, the site does something special for its LGBT+ guests.
*NEW* This year, it is proud to premiere its “Love below the surface” where they offer a free guided tour to showcase some very special same-gender love stories!
Using Stockholm LGBT and Visit Stockholm as our virtual tour guides, we’ve recently found out about a couple of their new partners – which made for some interesting reading (and planning!). We were also able to find out about a few historical locations that we weren’t aware of!
Starting at Royal Djurgården, which is at the heart of Stockholm, it’s where you’ll find a lot of Scandinavia’s BIGGEST attractions, from the ABBA Museum to Amusement Parks to several historical locations, such as; The Vasa Museum, which showcases the world’s only preserved seventeenth-century ship retrieved from the bottom of the sea! It comes as no surprise that it is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, with over one million visitors a year! Plus, visitors under 18 can visit free of charge.
If history if your thing, Stockholm has a vast amount of history to explore, and a lot of our time last year was spent exploring this. One of our favourites was The Royal Palace, which is still His Majesty The Kings’s official residence. This spectacular location is open all year round and has lots of events running throughout the year.
Places to Stay
During our last visit, we stayed at Hotel Skeppsholmen, which is a gorgeous hotel that combines traditional Swedish art and modern decor, and sits close to Lake Mälaren, which all fourteen Stockholm islands are set in. It offers fantastic views across the city, tranquillity, and scenic walks.
Looking at our options, our next choice sits close to Skansen (literally on its doorstep). The historic Hasselbacken Hotel is the perfect place to stay if you and your family want to be close to all the action of Djurgården, but also the perfect place for a spot to eat. From the heritage-rich restaurant to the fact that it’s right across the way from the ABBA Museum and Gröna Lund. There’s something for everyone!
Another Skansen neighbour is the fabulous Pop House Hotel – part of the ABBA the Museum family. The museum sits in the hotel’s basement and the property shares its reception with the attraction, so expect a buzzy atmosphere (and a number of limited edition ABBA themed suites!). You might even spot Bjorn from ABBA, who often works in the area!
Keeping with the ABBA theme, The Hotel Rival is a gorgeous family-friendly, theatre-revival hotel in the hip and happening neighborhood of Sodermalm, and gives you the experience of what it’s like to be a resident of the city. It is owned by Benny from ABBA so rooms will showcase photography from the fab 4.
When you book a room at the Hotel Rival via their website, you can choose either to get a free upgrade to the next room category or receive a delicious bottle of True Colours Cava when you arrive (until the end of August, every bottle that is purchased by the hotel for you has profits donated to Sweden’s Rainbow Foundation, who does grassroots human-rights work to support LGBT+ people under threat, across the world).
Finally, a new and unique experience this summer comes in the form of Hotel HOBO will roll out their hotel suites on wheels – a luxury of rolling away in a camper furnished with 100% Hobo standard and products and a fully equipped
mini kitchen. The price will also include 1 tank of fuel and breakfast, lunch and dinner boxes!
Did you know? In Sweden there’s a “right to roam”, so you can park your camper up anywhere (within reason) and enjoy the nearby nature.
Where to Eat
It goes without saying, that food is an important part of Swedish lifestyle – from Fika time, to a slow and relaxed evening of Swedish dining by the river. As well as our accommodation options, we also try and plan our meals whenever we go on holiday. This is so we can plan our budget and make sure that we have variety of foodie experiences throughout our trip.
Last year, we were incredibly lucky to have had some of our meals planned out for us, which meant we got the opportunity to try some fabulous Stockholm eateries. Following Stockholm LGBT’s recommendations, here are a few we liked the look of:
Although it wasn’t too cold when we visited, we decided to remain indoors when it came to mealtimes. Therefore, when I saw Mälarpaviljongen, where you can literally sit – not by, but ON the water, there was no way I wasn’t going to add this to the list. I can just imagine us in the sun, and maybe letting T have a little swim right off from one of its pontoons.
Stockholm certainly isn’t short on views and skylines, therefore I thought I’d look into some of their roof-top bars and restaurants. TAK and Stockholm Under the Stars is located on top of our hotels Hotels At Six and HOBO.
Lastly, just like Brighton, I adore street food, therefore The Green Queen sounds like my kinda place! A Los Angeles inspired restaurant, but with a Swedish twist., you can enjoy vegetarian and vegan street-food. The menu also offers gluten free eating & drinking!
If you have time at the end…
Stockholm also has TONS of museums, attractions and galleries that are free to enter. This not only makes parts of the city inclusive to all, but it gives you an opportunity to make the most out of your trip. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to learn about Swedish history and culture for free?! The City Museum of Stockholm (located in a magnificent 17th-century palace) is a great place to start if you want to trace the city’s development. Likewise, if you’re interested in ancient artefacts and treasures, then look no further than The Swedish History Museum!
If nature and science is more your thing, then The Swedish Museum of Natural History and Cosmonova invites you into an adventure under Cosmonova’s 760-square meter (8,000+ sq. ft.) dome to learn about earth, animals, and planets. If you prefer Art and Design, then Arkdes and Accelerator is what you’re looking for. If you can’t wait until your visit, Visit Stockholm is going to be offering a number of virtual exhibitions online.
First on our list is Skokloster Castle, which is Sweden’s biggest private palace. One of the world’s greatest baroque castles, set by Mälaren’s shore near Arlanda, the castle dates back to the 17th Century. Another famous building that we’d also like to visit is Stockholm City Hall, with its spire featuring the golden Three Crowns. Apparently, it’s one of the most famous silhouettes in Stockholm.
For children (big and small!) there’s the Stockholm Toy Museum, which is housed at Bergrummet, the caverns under Skeppsholmen, and boasts the largest collection of its kind in Scandinavia. For drier days, there are a number of children’s parks that we’d like to visit, including the Mulle Meck Park, which is based on the George Johansson and Jens Ahlbom’s children’s books. A majority of the parks and play areas in the city have a history behind them or a theme!
The Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) was a last minute decision after we had finished at The Vasa Museum, but it did not disappoint. Situated on the Djurgården island in the centre of Stockholm, the magnificent building is one of Stockholm’s iconic landmarks. Discover a variety of exhibitions, from fashion and textiles to furniture and interiors, and learn about Swedish history.
*NEW* New for 2020 is the open-air café in the backyard of the museum, Kafé Lusknäppen, and an interactive exhibition for children 8-12 years old, called ‘Tidsvalvet’ (meaning the Time Vault).
So there’s what we have planned!
We still don’t know when we’ll be able to visit, but with everything slowly (very slowly!) returning back to a sense of normality it felt nice to see what one of our favourite parts of the world had to offer! In an ideal world, we’d visit during late summer / early Autumn to capture some of the different colours of the rainbow!
Have you started planning any holidays yet? Has Stockholm ever ticked your fancy? If you’ve visited Stockholm before, where would you recommend we visit?
Banner Image Credit: Photo by Raphael Andres on Unsplash