Stockholm and the archipelago in the spring
Stockholm och skärgården på våren
It takes Stockholm a long time to warm up again after the winter so it is not until May or June before it really feels like spring. They are particularly good months in which to visit Stockholm as the days are long with an average of 9 hours sunshine per day. The weather is warmer (the average maximum is 18°C by the end of May) and yet the trees are still coming into leaf.
Most visitors to Stockholm base themselves in or near Gamla Stan, the old town. Its central location, proximity to the water and the charm of its narrow cobbled streets make it an excellent choice.
Three recommended restaurants in Gamla Stan
For classic Swedish food in Gamla Stan three restaurants dominate. At the time of writing, Restaurang Kryp In is getting the highest ratings on TripAdvisor and it is certainly one of my favourites.
Fem Små Hus (Five Small Houses) serves similar quality food in more sumptiously and very quaint surroundings. As the name suggests, five small houses have been joined together and turned into a restaurant. It has an intimate and cosy atmosphere which makes it the best choice for a romantic meal. I've always had fantastic food there.
The most famous restaurant in Sweden is probably Den Gyldene Freden (The Golden Peace), which opened in 1722. It is noted in the Guiness Book of Records for being the oldest restaurant in the world to have the same surroundings. The house is now owned by the Swedish Academy and every Thursday, the Academy (who nominate the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature) convene there for their weekly dinner to decide who should receive the next prize.
Stockholm is built on 14 islands and so the water is never far away. On the west side is Lake Mälaren and to the east is the sea. However, as the water is not really tidal, to a Brit the sea and the lake are indistinquishable.
Above: A short ferry trip is a must during a trip to Stockholm.
Above: The National Museum is one of many grand buildings lining the waterfronts of Stockholm.
Above: City Hall where the Nobel Prizes are awarded at a sumptuous banquet. The menu is kept secret until 7pm on the day of the meal.
Above: View from Skeppsbron across towards the island of Skeppsholmen. The grand old ship, af Chapman, is now a highly rated youth hostel.
Above: Riddarholmskyrkan is one of Stockholm's oldest churches. The cast iron spire was installed in the 19th century after a fire destroyed the previous wooden spire.
A lot more boats start running again in May, with a full service resuming in June, so a visit to Stockholm in late spring really must include a trip out to the archipelago. The beautiful archipelago is made up of tens of thousands of pine-covered islands. It extends for distance of 140 km from north to south. Only 150 of the islands are inhabited, mainly by rich Stockholmers who have summerhouses on them.
There are several islands which can be easily visited but the best for a day trip is probably Grinda, shown above. It is about one and half hours by boat from the city and there is a good choice of boats. It has a tranquility which contrasts well with the city centre, excellent beaches, rocks for swimming and some good fishing. It is small enough to be walkable but large enough to enjoy the tranquility. There are a couple of restaurants, picnic tables and a barbecue near the beach. I recommend buying a picnic at Östermalms Salluhall before you catch the boat!
Above: A quaint summerhouse on the outer archipelago.
If you have more time to spare, Utö in the outer archipelago is a splendid choice. It has a hotel, youth hostel and B&B accommodation. The baker is renowned for its delicious Utölimpa bread.
Above: A fountain at Nacka, one of several ferry stops on the way to Grinda.
Above: Sailing is extremely popular in Sweden because the sea is so calm.
Above: Rich Stockholmers' houses line the waterfront on the inner archipelago.
Above: The archipelago is so calm, it is quite unlike being at sea off the British coast.
Above: Houses to make you envious line the waterfront.
Lake Malären and Drottningholm
Drottningholm is the permanent residence of the Swedish royal family. It is located 10 km west of Stockholm on the sparsely populated island of Lovön on Lake Malären. It is an essential excursion if you are spending a few days in Stockholm. Its well preserved grounds included 300-year-old trees and a 17th century castle. Perhaps the most interesting part of the palace is Drottningholms Slottsteater, the royal theatre. It is the world's oldest working theatre and has its original stage sets and hand-driven machinery.
The nicest way to get to Drottninghom by far is take a steamboat. The boats runs from Stadshusbron near the Stadshuset on Kungsholmen and the journey takes 1 hour. You can have lunch on board, which is a very nice way to enjoy the journey whilst admiring the many palatial estates on the shores of Lake Malären.
Listen to the silence
If you like walking and have the time, take a bus out to Gamla Tyresö and enjoy a superb walk through the Tyresta Nature Reserve. There is a nice picnic area near Stensjön (Stone Lake), shown above, where you can sit and listen to the silence. Walk on to Dalarö and admire its narrow lanes and charming white and yellow wooden houses. From there you can catch boat back to Stockholm. Please email me for further details.
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