Photograph by Oyster.com
Dubbed “the Venice of the North” for its many waterways, Stockholm offers the best of both worlds — a booming metropolis steeped in culture and history, without the dingy feel of some of the other big cities in Europe. One of the cleanest cities of its size, Stockholm was Europe’s first “green” capital and maintains much of its natural splendor in the parks that cover one-third of the city.
Another third of the city is covered in water. Set on Lake Malaren, Stockholm is made up of 14 islands, interconnected by a system of bridges and tunnels. (The city’s subway and ferry system makes it easy to island-hop.) Central Stockholm is referred to as Innerstaden and consists of several small islands. Norrmalm, one of the most popular destinations in Innerstaden, is home to the majority of the city’s 100 museums, like the Museum of Modern Art, as well as fabulous shopping. Gamla Stan offers a peak into historic Sweden through the maintained medieval city layout and centuries-old palaces. Most visitors come during the summer, when daylight lasts up to 18 hours and the weather makes for comfortable swimming and sight-seeing. In the winter months, daylight can be as brief as 6 hours, but the opera season is running during that time and visitors can partake in numerous winter sports and activities.
Unlike other tourist-centric cities, Stockholm does not have a plethora of new hotels — instead, Stockholm relies on its hotels’ stately grandeur to draw crowds, including the Grand Hotel Stockholm. While the Grand Hotel can be pricey, the service is unparalleled. Some newer hotels do provide more modern amenities, like the Lydmar Hotel, which has a hip, design-centric interior and a chic terrace bar that’s perfect for mingling.
It’s best for tourists to stay in one of the areas that make up Stockholm’s city center: Innerstaden, like Normalm, Sodermalm, Ostermalm, and Gamla Stan. Other areas are usually about a 10-minute drive from central Stockholm, so you’ll need to rent a car if you stay in its surburban parts. Normalm is home to many popular tourist attractions while Nacka, although outside of Innerstaden, is a wise choice for business travelers or those seeking privacy. We love the Hotel J’s secluded, tranquil feel, excellent free breakfast and the balconies in every single guest room.
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