Most popular during the summer (and quite rightly so), city breaks to the Swedish capital of Stockholm are the perfect mix of culture, restaurants, nightlife, and the beautiful surrounding nature. But the city is just as charming in winter.
Set across fourteen islands in the Stockholm archipelago, the capital, with a huge focus on spending time outdoors, is stunning during the summer. I, however, visited in January. Pleasantly surprised by what I found, I would strongly recommend anyone planning a Swedish Lapland adventure or any kind of trip further north to add a day or two to their stay to visit Stockholm; a winter wonderland. Here's an account of the things to do in the city in the winter...
Our day started in the beautiful upmarket district of Östermalm, just east of the city center. The streets in this part of town have brick and colourfully painted buildings of typically five or six stories, dating back to around 1880. At street level, many of these have small boutique shops, antique dealers, and cafés in that are truly charming to wander around. From here, it's a short walk down to the harbour or the Royal island of Djurgården where many of the museums are found.
We chose to walk along the harbour front in to town. The sea was frozen with a perfectly smooth covering of snow, pretty boats and grand architecture to admire along the way. The spires of Gamla Stan and Slussen across the water served as the perfect backdrop to the frozen cityscape.
Starting to feel the chill, we popped in to a typically Scandinavian café to defrost. Here we ordered what everyone should: Swedish apple cake. Laced with cinnamon, and covered with vanilla custard, it smelt absolutely divine.
Full of hot chocolate and cake, we set off again. We walked past Kungsträdgården park, which has an outdoor (and free!) ice rink in the winter for anyone to use. Weekends see a grill lit for a communal bring-your-own BBQ at the side of the ice rink. Here, the crisp fresh air is sporadically scented with hotdogs being grilled on most streets.
The sun sets early during the winter months, so by three o'clock we found ourselves hunting for a warmer spot to enjoy the afternoon. There are a number of bars with city views; we went for Sky Bar on top of the Radisson Blu hotel, close to the Central Station, for it's close proximity to Gamla Stan. The bar isn't huge, but has good cocktails and wonderful sunset views over the old town and water.
Best of all, when it's time to leave, there's no long cold walk. The central Stockholm station is just across the road, and the most central point for the city's public transport system. We headed back the short distance to the Saluhallen on Nybrogatan in Östermalm. This is a kind of food hall where different restaurants, caterers, and cafés serve up some of the best food going in the capital. From local specialties of fresh seafood and fine meats to more exotic fares of sushi and wonderful French cheeses, there really is something for everyone