That Stockholm Feeling

Oh beautiful Stockholm with its sparkling waters, lush greenery and quaint little streets. Find out what makes the city tick, experience its unique air – just like the Stockholmers themselves.

TACK, TACK AND TACK AGAIN

Swedish courtesy is legendary. They thank you for everything, absolutely everything. A Swede would never think of accepting a service without expressing a friendly tack. The person addressed expresses his gratitude for the thanks with “tack, tack”. And if someone wants to be particularly affable, then he says, “tack, tack, tack” to the person who has just thanked him. Even if this seems a little excessive, just play along, it pays to be courteous in Sweden. But beware: Don’t interpret this friendliness as an invitation for excessive bonhomie. Swedes appreciate a certain amount of restraint.

THE CITY FROM ABOVE

Stockholm boasts a unique location between Lake Mälar and the Baltic Sea. That is why it is so rewarding to look out across the city. There are countless ways to do that. The most well-known option is the view from the City Hall Tower, but there is also a beautiful view of the Old Town from Fjällgata street  or Monteliusvägen path in the Södermalm district. And then there is also the SkyView from the roof of the Ericsson Globe and the viewing platform of the radio and television tower, Kaknästornet.

OUT IN THE SKERRIES

Stockholmers love the water and the skerries. Many of the capital’s inhabitants have a weekend house out on one of the islands, which they cross over to in their own boat, on the ferry, or aboard an excursion boat. Why don’t you stay a few days? You can also rent holiday homes on the skerries.

FINGER FOOD

Part of the Stockholmers’ new savoir vivre means that shopping no longer entails just wandering through a market hall. A canapé here, a titbit there, a food sample over there: Stockholm’s everyday snacks have also been transformed into refined street food. The market hall on Östermalmstorg is particularly popular.

VIP-WATCHING ON THE STRANDVÄGEN

Strandvägen is the most prestigious boulevard in Stockholm. Many stars and starlets stay in the magnificent buildings overlooking the sea. As do Sweden’s well-to-do. The ship restaurants along the quay are the meeting place for everyone who wants to be seen sipping on a glass of Champagne. Why not join the cool crowd, don your sunglasses and order a glass of bubbly yourself? Those who only want to watch from the sidelines can sit on one of the numerous benches along the promenade, buy an ice-cream and view the strutting vanities.

NIGHTLIFE IN SOFO

It used to take a long time to find the in-districts in Stockholm. Going out was expensive – and anyone wanting to get into the upmarket bars had to get dressed up and join the long queue. Just meeting friends “for a beer” was not something people did. That changed a few years ago. In the nightlife district of SoFo you will find nice pubs and cafés, but you can equally dance your way through the night. The Kvarnen beer hall, which also plays a role in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson is particularly popular.

SINGING ALONG IN SKANSEN

A real Swede always has a song on his lips. Every Tuesday evening in summer, thousands flock to the Skansen Open-Air Museum for the Allsång to sing together. Even the TV crews are there. Even if you don’t know the songs, it is worth passing by. It would be difficult to find a more authentic experience of Sweden.

OUT IN THE FRESH AIR

Swedes are fresh-air fanatics. Regardless what the weather is like, they want to be out jogging, skiing, cycling or doing other activities. However, there are more relaxing alternatives for the hours outside: a picnic with a cinnamon bun and coffee, the Swedish alternative to cheese and wine. (Drinking alcohol in public is forbidden.) People love the Rålambshovsparken on Kungsholmen. In Rålis, as the locals call it, you are even allowed to barbecue on the spaces designated for this purpose, whilst the youngsters can take advantage of the skateboarding track.

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Marco Polo Stockholm Spiral Guide

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Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 13: Sweden, St Lucia

It’s Day 13 of our Advent Calendar and today we are headed to Sweden, where today is the Feast of Saint Lucia. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!

 

SWEDEN, SAINT LUCIA

In Sweden, and other neighbouring Nordic countries, December 13th is the Feast of Saint Lucia, or Sankta Lucia, as she is called in Swedish. Saint Lucia is celebrated as a bringer of light. According to one story, Saint Lucia brought food and supplies to the Christians hiding in catacombs, and to keep her hands free to carry more supplies, she wore candles on a wreath head-piece to light her way. Thus, during the darkest days of the year, the Swedes choose a Saint Lucia of their own, usually a young teenage girl, who will dress in white, with a red sash, and wear a wreath with candles on her head. These Saint Lucias will be accompanied by other young girls and boys, also dressed in white, carrying candles and singing songs. Together they will visit schools, public offices, churches, retirement homes and there is often a public procession as well. At the Globen in Stockholm there is a large Saint Lucia procession every year – so large that it has even made it to the Guinness Book of World Records with over 1,200 participants from Stockholm’s schools.

Part of the celebrations are also the Lussekatter, sweet buns made with saffron and cardamom, traditionally baked specifically for the Feast of Saint Lucia. Nowadays, however, few can wait until halfway-through December to sample these treats and thus they are available in cafes and shops from early November onwards.

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Marco Polo Stockholm Spiral Guide

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Only in Stockholm

Stockholm, the Venice of the North. A mix of historical buildings and modern architecture, the city is nestled on 14 islands and surrounded by blue water and green forests. It is the most populous city in the Nordic countries, known for its trendsetting attitude and coffee culture.

Let Marco Polo show you the unique experiences that make Stockholm the crown jewel of Sweden!

Stockholm Marco Polo Guide

Village idyll in the metropolis

Old farmhouses, cottages and grand houses from all over Sweden have been brought together to the Skansen open-air museum in the heart of Stockholm – with a village pond, mature trees and any number of animals. Since 1891 Swedish culture and traditions have been cultivated here, and festivals and concerts organised.

Skerry feeling in 25 minutes

Cliffs, pine trees, bilberry bushes: there are 30,000 islands beyond Stockholm’s city walls.
You can reach the small island of Fjäderholmen, where you will be able to feast on smoked shrimps and a glass of white wine and watch the spectacular sunset, in a mere 25 minutes.

The best city-salmon

The good water quality makes it possible for as many as 30 species of fish to feel at home in the rivers between Stadshuset and Djurgården. Every year, anglers reel in more than 1000 salmon – only with a license, of course!

The Royals

If you want to get a glimpse of the royal family you only have to take up position on one of the streets in Stockholm on 6th of June, the Swedish national holiday. This is the day when members of the royal family travel through the town to Skansen to celebrate with their subjects.

The signs of a former major power

With its 64 canons and 300 soldiers, the impressive battleship Vasa was intended to put the enemy to flight in the Thirty Years’ War. However, it didn’t get very far and sank on its maiden voyage while it was still in Stockholm harbour. It was salvaged in the 1960s, restored and is now on display.

Noble (or Nobel) location

You can spot Stockholm’s town hall and its tower with three golden crowns from far away: the Stadshuset is the symbol of the Swedish capital city. This is where weddings take place, the city is administered and celebrations are held. One of them, on 10th of December, is the gala dinner given in honour of the Nobel Prize winners.

 

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Stockholm Marco Polo Guide

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Eat Like a Local – Stockholm

Simple and substantial: For a long time, Sweden was a poor, agricultural country where people were more interested in just having enough to eat and not in exquisite culinary delights. This is still reflected to a certain extent in the local cooking: potatoes, meat (game, of course) and fish (especially herring and salmon in all variations) are the traditional ingredients of Swedish home-style cooking.

Stockholm Marco Polo Guide

Local specialities to try on your visit to Stockholm:

Biff à la Rydeberg – thinly sliced beef, seared and served with baked potatoes, onions and raw egg yolk

Gravad lax – salmon marinated in sugar, salt and dill, served with a hearty dill-and-mustard sauce

Gul ärtsoppa med flask – thick, yellow pea soup with bacon; the traditional dish on a Thursday

Janssons frestelse – Swedish classic: potato gratin with anchovies, onions and cream

Kanelbullar – very popular rolls with cinnamon

Köttbullar – small, fried meatballs of minced pork and beef, served with boiled or mashed potatoes, brunsås, brown sauce and lingon, cranberries

Kräftor – freshwater crayfish, cooked with a lot of dill and eaten with toast and butter. Season: August

Pannkakor med sylt – pancakes with jam, the obligatory dessert after pea soup on Thursday

Princesstårta – cream cake filled with jam and vanilla cream, covered with bright green marzipan icing

Pytt i panna – a classic way to use leftovers of cubed potatoes, sausage and pieces of meat, served with a fried egg on top and beetroot

Räkor – shrimps

Sill – herring, many variations: senapsill pickled in a sweet-and-sour mustard sauce, glasmästarsill, with onions and bay leaves, or fried

Walenbergare – hamburgers of veal, onions and cream. Side dishes: green peas, mashed potatoes and cranberries

 

Restaurants serving traditional Swedish cuisine:

GYLDENE FREDEN
This guesthouse from the 18th century serves typical Swedish food. Closed Sun | Österlånggatan 51 | Gamla Stan | tel. 08 24 97 60 | www.gyldenefreden.se | bus 2, 43, 53, 55, 76: Slottsbacken | red and green lines: Gamla Stan | Expensive

PONTUS!
Star chef Pontus Frithiof creates culinary highlights for the trendy Stockholm crowd. In addition there is an exquisite oyster bar. Closed Sun | Brunnsgatan 1 | Norrmalm | tel. 08 54 52 73 00 | www.pontusfrithiof.com | bus 1, 2, 55, 56: Stureplan | red line: Östermalmstorg | Expensive

ULRIKSDALS WÄRDSHUS
This traditional restaurant in a charming white wooden villa in Ulriksdal Castle Park is famous for its excellent smörgåsbord. The small version is prepared Tue–Fri 11.30am–2.30pm, the large smörgåsbord at the weekend (Sat/Sun 2 sittings 1pm and 5pm). In addition, à-la-carte dishes are served. Closed Mon | Ulriksdals Slottspark | Solna | tel. 08 85 08 15 | www.ulriksdalswardshus.se | red line to Mörby:Bergshamra then bus 503 to Ulriksdals Wärdshus (approx. 5 min, hourly) | Expensive

AARTS MAT & DRYCK
The dishes on the menu of this restaurant, that specialises in Swedish cooking, are simple, organic and made with local produce. Closed Sat lunch and Sun | Asögatan 176 | Södermalm | tel. 08 7 02 12 22 | aartsmat.se | bus 3: Asögatan | green line: Medborgarplatsen | Moderate

KRYP IN
This small, cosy restaurant is in a medieval vaulted cellar. Delicious Swedish specialities – prepared with Mediterranean flair; e.g. roast reindeer with port wine sauce. Closed Sun | Prästgatan 17 | Gamla Stan | tel. 08 20 88 41 | www.restaurangkrypin.nu | bus 3, 53: Mälartorget | red and green lines: Gamla Stan | Moderate

OPERAKÄLLARENS BAKFICKA
This less-expensive offshoot of the Opera Cellar serves premium quality, Swedish, home-style cooking such as köttbullar and biff rydberg. You eat seated on a bar stool at the bar. The classical Sunday meal (söndagsmiddag), a three-course set meal served between 1pm and 7pm, is especially popular with Stockholmers. Operahuset | Karl XII’s torg | Norrmalm | tel. 08 6 76 58 08 | www.operakalleren.se | bus 2, 55, 62, 71, 76: Karl XII’s torg | blue line: Kungsträdgården | Moderate

TRANAN
Red-and-white checked tablecloths, dark wooden chairs and high quality Swedish cuisine. A popular classic. Karlbergsvägen 14 | Vasastan | tel. 08 52 72 81 00 | www.tranan.se | bus 2, 4, 42, 53, 65, 70, 72: Odenplan | green line: Odenplan | Moderate

 

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Stockholm Marco Polo Guide

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Low Budget Stockholm

Marco Polo’s top tips for Stockholm on a budget!

Stockholm

Dining 

Many restaurants serve a dagensrätt (daily special) at lunchtime. It usually consists of a hot main course, salad, bread, a non-alcoholic beverage and coffee and prices start at around 70 SEK – great value, considering the usually high restaurant prices.

You will find multicultural fast food (e.g. Indian, Greek, Lebanese) at a reasonable price in the Kungshallen ‘snack temple’. Kungsgatan 44 | Norrmalm | Green line: Hötorget | www.kungshallen.eu

Fast-food classics with many different kinds of fried herring – as a burger, on crispbread or with mashed potatoes – are served at Strömmingsvagnen Slussen. In summer, daily 10am–8pm, at other times 11am–6pm | Södermalmstorg | Bus 2, 3, 43, 53, 55, 76: Slussen | Red and green lines: Slussen

HERMANS TRÄDGÅRDSCAFÉ: This garden restaurant not only provides a wonderful view of Stockholm but also has a good vegetarian buffet with dishes from all over the world. Grill evenings in summer (Wed – Sun 5–9pm). No alcohol! Fjällgatan 23B | Södermalm | Tel. 08 643 94 80 | Bus 2, 3: Tjärhovsplan | www.hermans.se (go to “International Visitors”)

ÖSTGÖTAKÄLLAREN: No matter whether you order Viennese schnitzel, pickled knuckle of pork or roast lamb, the motto ‘rustic, substantial and inexpensive’ applies. Large servings! Östgötagatan 41 | Södermalm | Tel. 08 6 43 22 30 | Green line: Medborgarplatsen | www.ostgotakallaren.gastrogate.com

Shopping

China and stoneware has been produced in Gustavsbergs Porslinsfabrik since 1827. The outlet sells seconds at a discount of between 30 and 50%. The Fabriksbutiken next door also sells reduced articles made by Rörstrand, Iitala, Arabia, Hackman, Höganäs Keramik and Boda Nova. Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat–Sun 11am–4pm | Chamottevägen 2 | Gustavsberg | Bus 474 from Slussen to Hemmesta: Farstaviken (around 20 min) or by Strömmakanalbolaget ship from Nybrokajen | July–mid-Aug daily 10.30 am (around 2 hours), return 1.45pm | Return fare 200 SEK | www.gustavsbergsporslinsfabrik.se

The 65 shops in the Stockholm Quality Outlet Barkaby offer discounts of 30-60% on the goods they sell. Daily | Majorsvägen 2 | Barkaby | Local train from the main station to Kungsängen or Bålsta: Jakobsberg, then bus 567 to Outlet |  www.qualityoutlet.com

Entertainment

Students of the Royal Music University give regular classical, jazz and folk concerts that are either free or very reasonably priced. Kungliga Musikhögskolan | Valhallavägen 105 | Tel. 08 16 18 00 | Bus 4: Musikhögskolan | Red line to Mörby: Stadion | www.kmh.se/english

Those who are more interested in the music than the action on the stage can buy a ticket for a lyssnarplats (hearer’s seat) at the Kungliga Operan for 40 SEK (60 SEK, Fri–Sat). Information and tickets Tel. 08 7 91 44 00 or www.operan.se

Monday is cinema day at the Zita repertory cinema – tickets cost only 70 SEK each. Birger Jarlsgatan 37 | bus 1, 2, 55, 56: Stureplan | Red line: Östermalmstorg | www.zita.se

Accommodation

Many hotels offer rooms at greatly reduced prices at weekends and in the Swedish summer holidays. It’s a good idea to check individual homepages to find out current rates! You will also frequently be given additional discounts for internet bookings.

Your stay in Stockholm will be less expensive if you take advantage of the Stockholm Package. It can be booked for one to three days and includes hotel accommodation and the Stockholm Card – which includes free admission to over 80 museums and attractions plus free public transport (www.destination-stockholm.com). The Stockholm Tourist Center will also help you find a rooms (Vasagatan 14 | Tel. 08 50 82 85 08 | www.visitstockholm.com

HOTEL TRE SMÅ RUM: This mini-hotel in the basement of a residential building is cheap, simple and clean. The shower and WC are shared with other guests and you prepare your own breakfast. 7 rooms | Högbergsgatan 81 | Södermalm | Tel. 08 6 41 23 71 | Red line: Mariatorget | www.tresmarum.se

STF VANDRARHEM FRIDHEMSPLAN: In addition to the obligatory multi-bed rooms, Stockholm’s most modern youth hostel also has private rooms for 1 to 4 guests that almost reach hotel standards. They have a TV and free internet access and their own WC and shower. 390 beds including 100 double rooms. With International youth hostel membership card | St. Eriksgatan 20 | Vasastan | Tel. 08 6 53 88 00 | Bus 1, 4, 62: Fridhemsplan | Blue and green lines: Fridhemsplan | www.fridhemsplan.se/en

Panoramic views

The half-mile long Monteliusvägen footpath stretches along pretty Södermalm. Although rather narrow, it offers a fabulous view over Lake Mälar, Stadshuset and Riddarholmen. www.spottedbylocals.com/stockholm/monteliusvagen

You only have to pay 40 SEK to climb the 365 steps of the City Hall  tower in the Stadhuset and you will be rewarded with an incomparable view of the city. June–Aug daily 9am–5pm, April Sat–Sun 10am–4pm | Hantverkargatan 1 | Bus 3, 62: Stadshuset | Blue line: Rådhuset | http://international.stockholm.se/City-Hall/Guided-tours-of-the-City-Hall/The-City-Hall-Tower/

Free ice-skating

Ice-skating fans have a heyday during Stockholm’s winter. You can skate on the artificial ice rinks in Vasaparken and at the Östermalm sporting complex every day, free of charge. Nov to first week in March Mon, Fri 8.30am–6pm, Tue, Thu 8.30am–8pm, Wed 11am–6pm, Sat–Sun 10am–6pm | If you don’t have your own skates: skate rental 50 SEK/hour | Bus 52, 55, 62, 69, 76; S7 | Blue line: Kungsträdgåden

 

Singing bench

A small park in the Vasastan district brings back memories of one of the best known Swedish jazz singers Monica Zetterlund. If you want to hear her voice, all you have to do is sit down on the big wooden bench and the music begins automatically. Roslagsgatan/corner of Surbrunnsgatan | Bus 2, 4, 42, 43, 53, 72: Roslagsgatan | Red line: Tekniska Högskolan

 

Free Newspapers

Can’t do without your favourite newspaper even when on holiday? You can browse through more than 30 international dailies, free of charge, in the Stadsbiblioteket (Public Libary). Mon–Thu 9am–9pm, Fri 9am–7pm, Sat–Sun noon–4pm | Sveavägen 73 | Bus 2, 4, 42, 53, 59: Stadsbiblioteket | Green line: Rådmansgatan

 

Changing of the guard

High up on horseback and with a military band: the changing of the guard and parade ceremony in front of the Royal Palace is a real crowd-puller in Stockholm. But His Majesty’s soldiers are not there for fun: they are on sentry duty and protect the royal family. (In summer Mon–Sat 12.15pm, Sun 1.15pm, at other times Wed, Sat 12.15pm, Sun 1.15pm). Mid-Sept to mid-May Tue–Sun noon–4pm, mid-May to mid-Sept daily 10am–5pm | Slottsbacken | Entrance fee from 100 SEK | Bus 2, 43, 55, 71, 76: Slottsbacken | Green and red lines: Gamla Stan | www.royalcourt.se

 

Free tours

Rikdagshuset: The monumental Parliament Building and the national bank on Helgeands holmen were opened in 1905 and 1906 respectively. Free tours (in Swedish and English) October to mid-June Sat–Sun noon, 1.30pm, mid-June to August daily noon–3pm | Riksgatan 3 | Tel. 087 86 48 62 | Bus 3, 53: Riddarhus torget | Green and red lines: Gamla Stan | www.riksdagen.se/en

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Stockholm Marco Polo Guide
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Top 10 dog-friendly beaches

Sandy beaches, crashing waves and warm sunshine – it’s no wonder our furry friends love going to the beach. Sandy paws equal happy dogs AND happy owners, so Marco Polo have sniffed out the best beaches from all around the world where dogs are welcome with open paws…

Dog on beach

Photo credit: Henning Leweke [CC BY-SA 2.0]

1. Barneville-Carteret, France

Untamed nature and the wind in Fido’s coat… Anyone who loves the bracing sea air will feel at home on this beach in Normandy. Even when it is deserted and nobody can be seen far and wide, dogs still have to be kept on a lead.

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2. Wenningstedt-Braderup, Sylt,  Germany

Endless beaches to make any doggie’s heart beat faster. Where? On the designated dog beach in Wenningstedt on Sylt.

INSIDER TIP: The Hotel Windrose publishes a brochure for guests with dogs with masses of useful tips in it. A must for every dog owner.

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3. Böda Sand, Öland,  Sweden

The climate is harsh, especially when storms blow across the island in autumn. Dogs can run to their heart’s content on the clearly signed dog beach near Böda Sand. Their two-legged friends can relax after a long walk with one of Johan Theorin’s crime novels.

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4. Bagno 81, Rimini, Italy

Quietly relaxing with Lady and the Tramp on the beach and letting the sun warm their coats or even going for a doggie-paddle – everything is possible at Bagno 81. There’s even free Internet access. Woof!

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5. Neßmersiel, Germany

A holiday with a difference for our four-legged friends. Teach your dog new tricks at the ‘Fun Agility Park’ next to the dog beach on the North Sea or simply let them run around. They can then explore the hiking trail for dogs and their owners in Dornumersiel.

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6. Blåvand, Denmark

Chasing clouds, barking at seagulls, digging holes and getting wet paws. Dogs love it on the wide North Sea beaches near Blåvand. There is a fenced-in area of  woodland near Oksby so dogs can run off the lead.

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7. Swinoujście, Poland

Fetch! Since 2011 Fido, Bella & Co. are officially allowed to run around and play on the beach
in Swinoujście in Poland. However, dogs which tend to get over-excited or bite others have to
wear a muzzle.

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8. Grömitz, Germany

Barking, digging and paddling on the flat Baltic Sea beach in Grömitz. Our four-legged friends are allowed off the lead here and can run, jump and do whatever they or their owners like.

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9. Skagen, Denmark

Furry family members will feel especially at home at the northern-most tip of Denmark where the North Sea meets the Baltic. Apart from the fact that (Great) Danes love the wind, there is often an especially strong breeze blowing here, to the delight of all ‘wet noses’.

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10. Schönhagen, Schlei, Germany

When the ball lands way out in the water, all four paws go f ying as Fido chases after it in the waves. The largest dog beach in the Baltic Sea resort of Schönhagen is enough to turn any pampered pooch into a fierce sea lion!

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Do you know any other great dog-friendly beaches you’d like to add to this list? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.