City Slicker in Stockholm

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Swedish capital is booming, not least because it is Europe's first designated Green Capital. Sarah Barrell offers a guide for new and returning visitors



Why visit?


Because it's summer in the city and because this year Stockholm has been named Europe's first Green Capital, a new accolade to be awarded annually by the EU Commission to cities that lead the way in environmentally friendly urban living.

Along with workaday achievements such as smart waste management and reductions in noise pollution and CO2 emissions, the Swedish capital also has 95 per cent of its population living within 300 metres of a green space. And you can bet your Swedish-designed Hasbeens eco clogs that this includes your hotel.

The city sprawls across 14 distinct islands, and navigating its neighbourhoods by ferry or cruise boat is a supremely pleasant way to get your bearings, as is cycling (from borrow-and-return City Bikes: citybikes.se). But a bird's-eye view gives the best sense of Stockholm's patchwork lay-out and there's no better place to see it than from the new SkyView, the city's dome-shaped answer to the London Eye.

Stockholm is currently booming with new sights and hotels. More than 1,000 hotel rooms will open in the city this year alone, including one in an old waterfront mill (elite.se/marinatower). Best of all, Stockholm is no longer the budget buster it used to be. Mercer's latest Cost of Living Index gave Tokyo and Moscow the top spots, with plenty of eurozone destinations to follow; Stockholm wasn't even ranked.

Don't miss

Gamla Stan. Even if you're not titivated by displays of jewel-encrusted tiaras and well-polished weapons, the royal palace complex dominating the island of Gamla Stan is a must-see, representing the grandest of Stockholm's old town architecture.

The archipelago. A maritime world of more than 24,000 islands, islets and skerries, of which only about 1,000 are inhabited. Cruises from 45 minutes, to full-day trips and longer. See waxholmsbolaget.se

Vasa. The museum built around a spectacularly well-preserved 69-metre-long warship, which met its end in the city's harbour on its maiden voyage in 1628. See vasamuseet.se

NK department store. A grand building, designed by Ferdinand Boberg, Sweden's leading Art Nouveau architect, sells everything from cutting-edge menswear to mints made from a 90-year old secret recipe. See Nk.se

National Gallery. Along with the Cezannes and Rembrandts, Sweden's largest art gallery is defined by its Scandinavian collection. See nationalmuseum.se

Djurgarden. Hike, bike or laze around this green lung of an island, a former royal hunting ground.

What's new

Fotografiska

A permanent showplace for international photography, set in a restored customs building originally designed by Boberg. The museum opened last month with five exhibitions, including the headlining Annie Leibovitz retrospective entitled A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005. Set near the somewhat remote Stadsgard wharf, the venue is best accessed by strolling along the cliff-top Per Andas Terrace, taking photos of the harbour, Old Town, Skeppsholmen and Djurgarden as you go.

Details: fotografiska.eu

Skeppsholmen Hotel

A new member of Design Hotels, Skeppsholmen is set in an 18th-century house near the Modern Art Museum and is the only hotel on the tiny, peaceful island of the same name. It's set in two long-house buildings that date back in part to the 1600s and used to house the Royal Marines. Apart from the building's exterior and antique wooden floors, the hotel is ultra-modern, decked in lots of marine greys and blues warmed up by sculptural fittings and furnishings from local designers Claesson Koivisto. Rooms from £187 per night.

Details: hotelskeppsholmen.se

B.A.R restaurant

Tiled walls, a huge wet fish bar, rough cotton napkins and a zinc-top bar make this the coolest of Stockholm's new eateries. Open since last November, B.A.R is the third restaurant directed by award-winning chef and gastronomic visionary, Henrik Norström and Peter Johansson (the team behind feted LUX restaurant). This "ocean grill" gets patrons to participate in devising their dishes, by choosing from the ice counter and fish tank, fresh fish, seafood, meat, seasonal vegetables and condiments. Main meals cost SEK25-32 (£20-£27).

Details: restaurangbar.se

SkyView

Take a 20-minute journey to the top of what is pegged as the largest spherical building in the world. This new panoramic ride has two glass gondolas that travel on rails up the side of the Ericsson Globe Arena (on Stockholm's largest island, Sodermalm) to heights of 130 metres above sea level, offering superb city views. Admission: SEK130 (£11).

Details: globearenas.se

The Grand spa

The city's landmark hotel, The Grand, has just opened a birch-scented spa in the Burmanska Palace section of the building. Book a massage, wrap or holistic treatment and you can use the sumptuous pool, wet rooms and Nordic baths that overlook the Baltic and Sweden's Royal Castle.

Details: raisondetrespa.se

Millennium Trilogy Tour

Unless you've had your head in a very big pile of herring, you'll have heard of Swedish author Stieg Larsson and his bestselling Millennium Trilogy, which tells the story of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Fans can delve further into Larsson's world on a guided tour of Stockholm, taking in story locations (or buy a Millennium Map from the city museum for DIY exploration). Admission SEK120 (£10).

Details: stadsmuseum.stockholm.se

Insider's secret

Pierre Couriaut, founder of the Swedish dating site blickar.se

"Enjoy the late-setting sun at Vitabergsparken, a hilltop park on Sodermalm island, near the bohemian district of SoFo [South of Folkungagatan]. Then move to one of the crowded cafés around Nytorget, rounding off your evening at one of the hundreds of local restaurants. My favourite is Pelikan (pelikan.se), just off the main hub, serving home-style Swedish food (plenty of pickled herring and more), in an atmospheric, old building."

Compact Facts

How to get there

Sarah Barrell travelled as a guest of SAS (0906 294 2772; flysas.co.uk), which offers return fares from London Heathrow to Stockholm from £134, and from Manchester from £136. She stayed at Hotel Stureplan (hotelstureplan.se), which offers B&B in a double room from SEK1,325 (£120) per night.

Further Information

Visit Sweden (visitsweden.com/citybreaks).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea