2011's tourism hotspots: What to do in Stockholm, Sweden

Those who loved Stockholm before Lisbeth Salander may be a little nonplussed by its new fame, but it's hard to imagine that they're surprised - the city is an easy place to love (and not just because of the impossibly good-looking people).

This week, it emerged that the value of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy to Stockholm has been estimated at around SEK960 million (€106 million), drawing thousands of visitors and worldwide publicity through books and on the silver screen, although the books' success is only one element of the city's surge in visitors.

Selected by Rough Guides as one of its top 10 places to visit in 2011, the Swedish capital looks set to reap what it has sown - a series of new hotel openings, a royal wedding and a big marketing push helped boost overnight visits by ten percent last year, pushing the number of visitors past 10 million for the first time.

That makes Stockholm the most visited of all the Scandinavian capitals (followed by Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki), something which is unlikely to change as the city aggressively brands itself "the capital of Scandinavia."

Paradoxically, one of the best things about Stockholm is that it doesn't really feel like a capital, with its 30,000 island-archipelago and 27 kilometer-square city park providing a breath of fresh air from the bustling streets.

Yet with a world-leading creative sector, fascinating museums and a vibrant nightlife, there's plenty to do in one of Europe's most overlooked cities:

See the king - Eyes turned on Stockholm last year for the royal wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel and the monarchy's palaces are popular tourist attractions - the city's Royal Palace is one of the largest palaces in Europe and is home to five museums.

Eat - Stockholm is a fairly expensive destination but the city offers a panoply of gastronomic choices, and most of them offer excellent deals if you opt for a big meal at lunchtime rather than dinner.

Enjoy the sun - In the summer, Stockholm has considerably warmer weather than most expect from its high latitude, with the added bonus of longer hours - some 18 hours of daylight at midsummer.

Go green - Stockholm was Europe's first green capital and it's a great place to be active. Biking, hiking and swimming are all popular activities, even in the winter!

Go high - From the city's many vantage points, Stockholm's buildings are stunningly varied, offering a view of what seems like a different city through the seasons.

Cruise - Although the city is an important port for cruise ships, casual vacationers can hop on a smaller boat to enjoy a tour of the archipelago, with day cruises, lunch and dinner cruises calling at the unique villages, markets and parks on the islands.

Read - Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy has come to dominate many of the tours and other tourist offerings in the city, so if you haven't already, pick up a copy to read while you're there. If you need company, go read it at the Kaffebar Cafe, a staple of the city's many Millennium-themed tours (and a hangout of the fictional hero, Mikael Blomqvist).


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