The view from the seventh floor of the First Reisin Hotel in Gamla Stan:
Stockholm is one of my favorite places. My travel companions, however, had not been there before. So the big question was, what do you show someone with only two days in Stockholm?
My best answer for where to start was Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum.
From Skansen’s website:
At Skansen, you can discover Sweden’s history and find out how Swedes once lived according to the changing seasons, through the customs and traditions, work, celebrations and everyday life of times gone by.
We took the short ferry ride from Gamla Stan to Djurgården, where Skansen is located, and spent the morning walking around viewing the historic homes, Nordic animals and costumed staff. Many of the historic homes have been moved to Skansen, a few were built there originally. Period costumed staff members portray life in Sweden in years past, making cheese, tending stock and showing visitors how daily chores were performed.
The Nordic animal display features moose, reindeer, bears, wolves, lynx and wolverines.
It would be easy to spend the entire day at Skansen, but we had plans for the evening.
Our friends Jan and Dawne, winter St. Petersburg residents, and Rich (full time St. Petersburg resident) had invited us to dinner at their home just north of Stockholm.
Jan picked us up in Gamla Stan and took us on a scenic tour of neighborhoods I had not seen before. Our private guided tour was delightful. We drove past Björn Kristian Ulvaeus’ home, one of the original ABBA members, and through the beautiful Djursholm neighborhood.
Rich showed off his culinary skills with a delicious quiche.
Dinner was a wonderful smorgasbord of food and conversation.
Jan had us try the herring and potatoes first, on a separate plate, and also made us drink Norwegian schnapps, and sing Swedish drinking songs. Jan knows the words, but we just add the sound effects.
A good time was had by all!
So my travel companions got a great first day impression of Stockholm.
For Day Two, a ferry trip to Vaxholm was a must see. Much of Stockholm and the surrounding area is on the water. A good choice for a first timer in the Stockholm archipelago is a ferry ride to Vaxholm. There are 30,000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago, and on the ferry we passed many of the small islands and pretty homes along the water.
Dogs are always welcome on the ferries.
We took the fast ferry out, walked the quaint streets and neighborhoods, did a little shopping and had a wonderful fika experience.
I had been to Vaxholm before, but not to this place. Hembygdsgårds Café is a short walk from town, along the water, and a true fika heaven. They sell sandwiches and a large selection of desserts.
Fika from heaven:
Attached to the cafe is a small museum, an example of a fisherman’s home from the 1800s, and displays of fishing equipment.
A farm stand near the Vaxholm hotel:
Returning to Gamla Stan we opted for the old steam powered ferry, a slower ride but a beautiful boat.
We had a few hours to tour Gamla Stan before our dinner plans.
We chose to tour The Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet) and the royal armory (Livrustkammaren) with our remaining time. The armory exhibit is in the lower levels of the palace, and is free. It houses the royal weaponry, clothing and carriages, and even Streiff, Gustav II’s stallion from the battle of Lutzen in 1632.
In the funeral procession for King Karl X Gustav, in 1660, a “rider clad in gilded armour symbolised the dead king and the eternal kingdom.” The small gold ceremonial dress, below the horse in the picture, was worn by the dead king’s 4 year old son Karl XI.
Silk wedding dresses:
After touring the armory, we walked through the palace, Kungliga Slottet. The king and queen have offices in the palace, but spend most of their time at Drottningholm.
The Council Chamber, where cabinet meetings are held:
We had 6:15 dinner reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, Den Gyldene Freden (in English, The Golden Peace). Owned by the Swedish Academy, who select the Nobel Prize for literature, it has been in business since 1722. It is mostly unchanged since its opening and is a wonderful example of an 18th century tavern, and a favorite gathering place for Swedish writers, painters and composers. Anders Zorn bought it in 1919 and saved it from destruction.
The group photo is by Jan Lagergren.