Culture

5 Great Things About Stockholm That Aren’t Eurovision

Theres so much more to Scandinavia’s coolest city than ABBA.

Stockholm is deservedly known as one of the coolest cities in the world. Combining sleek Scandinavian minimalism, a knack for doing cold weather well, and countless quaint cobblestone streets to get lost in, Sweden’s capital is ripe for exploring. With the city famously hosting the upcoming 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (yet again), here’s a few other reasons to visit this excellent city.

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Old Stockholm

Stockholm is actually made up of 14 islands, each offering something unique. The island of Gamla Stan is where to go for a slice of old Europe; it’s where Stockholm’s was founded in 1252. The city’s “Old Town” is full of charm, with brightly coloured shopfronts and apartments lining narrow stone streets. Not even the expanding number of tourist souvenir shops can quell the atmosphere; walking the streets is like walking through a large-scale history museum. Spend an afternoon (with ice-cream in hand during summer) exploring the statues and sights, admiring the city expense from across the rivers.

Alternatively, you can explore The Royal Palace of Stockholm which is full of so much ornate art that your eyes may not be able to handle it. You won’t be able to see all of the 600 rooms of Europe’s largest palace as it’s still an official residence of the still-ruling Swedish King, but the abundance of paintings, sculptures, gold furniture, jewels, and even the odd ghost story or two will fascinate even the most jaded of people.

Photo: Tove Freij/Visit Stockholm

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The nightlife

There are so many awesome bars and pubs across Stockholm that you’d be hard-pressed to see them all in one trip. While there are drinking tours available to guide you across the city, there are some essential stops for any tourist. Your first port of call should be Aifur Krog & Bar, or more affectionately known as the Viking Bar. Located in Old Town, this rustic venue aims for authenticity with its hearty food and assortment of beers and meads. It’s the perfect introduction to Stockholm’s night scene – just be careful to not trip on the cobblestone paths as your make your way home late at night. (And trust us, it’ll be a late night.)

Another great drinking hole is the Glenn Miller Café, a hole-in-the-wall bar that hosts nightly jazz and blues from local and international bands for 40SEK ($6AUD) per session. You might not get a table for dinner, but that doesn’t stop crowds from standing up the back with a beer – there’s as many varieties as there are seats – and taking in some of the best entertainment in the city. Other nights of the week you could visit Debaser for rock tunes, Fylkingen for experimental and alternative music, or, depending on your tastes, Södra Teatern which offers indie pop and folk concerts (and even spoken word poetry, if that’s your thing).

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Being on the water

Any guide book or online directory will offer all the usual methods of getting to places including subway, bus, and walking (the best way to get around given the city is full of hidden treasures). But what makes Stockholm unique is the fleet of ferries that shuffle everyone around from island-to-island. They traverse the waters of the city’s archipelago, covering wide distances. The Sjövägen 80 is an extremely convenient way of accessing the museums of Djurgården (which has no subway and is a little too far on foot), while the many ports on Gamla Stan mean you’ll always be able to find your way back to the centre of the city without a worry. There are also a number of water tours if you’re wanting to experience the city’s beauty from the canals.

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A view like no other

It seems every major city these days has a tall skyscraper or a giant Ferris Wheel that offers unparalleled city views. In Stockholm, however, they have the SkyView. Visitors enter an enclosed circular gondola that departs every ten minutes and then proceeds to circumnavigate the Ericsson Globe, the world’s largest spherical building, on a rail. It sounds odd, but it offers the best view of Stockholm from 130 metres in the sky on a trip that takes 30 minutes. The building itself has hosted music concerts, political rallies, and is a sport stadium for the national hockey team that won 2013’s world championship.

There’s also Observatorielunden in the city’s Vasastaden district. This park, home to the 18th century observatory, is another spot to head to for great views; its hills offer plenty of different perspectives. Observatorielunden is like an oasis, offering solitude from the hustle of the city, and if you’re there between April and September you absolutely have to try the famous waffle menu at Kafé Himlavalvet. Thank us later.

Photo: Sören Andersson/Visit Stockholm

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The Swedish Music Hall of Fame

Okay, so we’re cheating here because Sweden’s Music Hall of Fame includes the famous ABBA Museum, honouring the band that famously got their start at Eurovision. The ABBA section of the museum takes visitors on a chronological tour of their career, beginning with an introduction video by another of Sweden’s great musical exports: Jonas Akerlund. From there you can get up close with a room full of over 100 costumes as well as a disco dancefloor playing non-stop ABBA hits, walls of memorabilia, props (like instruments, recording equipment, and even the helicopter from Arrival album cover), and much more.

The rest of the museum charts Sweden’s immense history of pioneering pop and rock music including Robyn, Roxette, Avicii, and more. If you’re a fan of pop music, you’ll love this place.

(Lead image: Tove Freij/Visit Stockholm)

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