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Sunday, 24 September 2017

How To Spend 72 Hours in Stockholm

Picture of a bridge in Djurgården, Stockholm‎
Back in June, I was lucky enough to tick off one of the cities on My Ultimate Travel Wishlist when I took a short trip to Stockholm with my sister and our two friends. The city is absolutely beautiful with a rich history and stunning architecture. On the whole, I have to be honest and say that it wasn't one of my most favourite places in the world - mainly down to the expense and how spread out everything is - but I would still highly recommend taking a trip here; those tiny little negatives didn't stop me thoroughly enjoying myself. Here's my tips on how to spend 72 hours in Stockholm:

Day One: Capture the breathtakingly beautiful views in Riddarholmen
Picture of Riddarholmen in Stockholm
We spent our first day wandering around just familiarising ourselves with the area and accidentally stumbled upon these gorgeous views along the Riddarholmen waterfront. The weather was beautiful and we sat for hours dangling our legs near the water - it was so relaxing and much needed after walking a fair distance. I wouldn't recommend on a cold day (unless you wrap up warm) but if you happen to have good weather it's an absolute must. You can also enjoy the beautiful buildings in this area, especially Riddarholmskyrkan (pictured below) which is one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm.
Picture of Riddarholmskyrkan

Day Two: Spend the day exploring Stockholm Old Town (Gamla Stan)/Royal Palace
Gamla Stan is the medieval hub of Stockholm with the most incredibly well preserved buildings and intricate architecture. You can get lost in your own little world exploring Stockholm's beautiful Old Town - I'd recommend spending the day walking the winding cobbled streets, browsing quaint little shops and eating in cosy little cafés. The area does get pretty busy as it's a prime spot for tourists with souvenir shops on almost every corner so it's best to get there early if you'd rather avoid the large crowds.

The Old Town is also home to the The Royal Palace - you can choose to admire this from the outside or pay to go inside and explore. I'd definitely recommend the latter as it was one of the highlights of my trip and it's reasonably priced (160 SEK). The ticket allows you to view The Royal Apartments and catch a glimpse of the glittering Crown Jewels in the Treasury. I'd try and time it right and catch the changing of the guards too because it's a brilliant spectacle!
Picture of The Old Town in Stockholm

Day 3: Hop over to Djurgården - visit Skansen and the Vasa Museum

Djurgården is a beautiful island in the middle of Stockholm that is easily reached from the city centre via public transport. We hopped on the tram and made the short journey over there with a view to visiting the ABBA Museum (we couldn't get in though because they only take card and no cash). After that little disappointment, we opted for Skansen, the world's oldest open air museum. We were so lucky to experience this during the Midsummer celebrations (a national Swedish holiday) - it was great to be part of the hustle and bustle with traditional music, maypole dancing and stunning Scandinavian houses. There's a zoo inside for all of the animal lovers out there too. We did have to queue for an hour before we could get in but it was definitely worth the wait.

A short walk from Skansen is the Vasa Museum which is where you'll find a 17th century ship that was recovered from the sea floor after 333 years and restored - 95% of the ship is original! I wasn't overly impressed with the museum as it was way too busy and it was a struggle to actually read all of the information to fully grasp the history but the ship itself is absolutely incredible.

Other tips for travelling in Sweden:

1. Buy a travel card - this is by far the cheapest way to get around in Stockholm (as with everything else in Sweden, public transport is pretty expensive). A 72 hour travel card will cost 240 SEK (approx  £20) and you can use the train, bus, tram and certain ferry routes across the city.
2. Plan carefully to maximise your stay - in comparison to every other European country we have visited so far, the city seemed really spread out. We devised a little itinerary so that we could plan our route and ensure that we got to see everything that we wanted to see. This is especially important if you are only staying for a few days and want to ensure that you make the most of it.
3. Budget for alcohol - I nearly fell off my chair when I paid the equivalent of £24 for a Long Island cocktail in our hotel, it's a different level of expensive. I thought I had the genius idea of buying alcohol in the supermarket before going out to make it cheaper but they don't sell wine in the local shops. The government has monopoly on retail sales of alcohol so you'll have to locate a Systembolaget (store licensed to sell stronger alcohol) if you're partial to a glass of wine like me.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other recommendations for travelling in Stockholm!

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