The D&O Diary’s European sojourn continued this past week with a long weekend stopover in Stockholm, Sweden’s beautiful capital city. The magnificent weather we enjoyed during our prior stops on the trip continued for our Stockholm visit. Clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine prevailed throughout our time there. Our overall experience benefitted not only from the splendid weather but also from the long days and short nights of the Northern latitude early summer.

At 59 degrees Northern latitude, Stockholm is very far north. (By way of comparison, New York is at 40 degrees Northern latitude.) As a result of Stockholm’s northern location, during my prior visits to the city, all in the colder months, darkness gathered early. During a late November visit a few years ago, for example, it started to get dark around 2:30 in the afternoon and it was dark by 3:30. By contrast, during this visit, the days stretched on and on. The sun didn’t set until after 10 pm, and even after that it never really got dark; instead, the skies dimmed to a kind of twilight glow. The sun was back up again shortly after 3 am, and by 5 am the skies were filled with bright sunshine. The temperatures rose during the daylight hours to daytime highs around 70 degrees or so, but in the evening the air cooled down quickly. During several of the nights while we were there, the temperatures fell into the low 40s.

With a metropolitan area population of 1.7 million people, Stockholm is a large, sprawling city. The city is also geographically complicated, as the city proper is composed of 14 islands connected by more than 50 bridges. However, the public transportation system is excellent, and using a combination of the Tunnelbana (subway), buses, and ferries, we found it very easy to make our way around and we ranged widely during our short visit.

We began by visiting the waterfront in the central city, which was quite lively in the warm sunshine. From the harbor, we walked to Gamla Stan, the city’s small but well-preserved old town. Many of the buildings in the old town date from the 16th century, and the district’s narrow streets preserve the feel of an older time and place.

Skansen, the city’s sprawling open-air museum, is located on a wooded island near the city center.  The museum preserves traditional buildings and farmsteads from around the country, and also includes a collection of native animals, as well. 

The Skansen museum preserves structures brought to the site from around the country; this picture depicts a “soldier’s house,” a structure built to hold soldiers whom the state required farmers to house.
Skansen also features a large area of enclosures housing native animals. I was pleased to get this picture of a wolverine, a notoriously elusive animal. Some readers will understand this — Go Blue!
Another of the preserved structures at Skansen
It turns out that many people want to get married at Skansen. In order to accommodate the wedding demand, the museum authorities designate one day in June for “walk in weddings” — anyone that wants to can just walk in and get married there. Literally hundreds of couples were there to take their vows. They couldn’t have had a nicer day for it.
Adjacent to Skansen is the Vasa Museum, which preserves the 17th century battleship, the Vasa. The ship sank in its maiden voyage in 1628, and it sat on the bottom of the Stockholm harbor for over 300 years. The incredibly well preserved ship was salvaged in the 1970s. The museum not only explains how the ship was located and retrieved, but also details the social and political context surrounding the ship. It is a fascinating museum.
The ship is incredibly well preserved

When we had finished our museum visits, it was still relatively early in the afternoon, so we took advantage of the brilliant sunshine to explore the parklands of Djurgården, the island on which the museums are located. We finished up by circumnavigating the Djurgårdsbrunnsviken, the bay that forms the northern shore of the island.

City view from the bridge to Djurgården
A view of Djurgården from the walkway along the bay
Massive flowering rhododendrons in the Djurgården park

On Saturday, we were up early catch a ferry to the royal castle of Drottingholm, the current residence of the Swedish royal family.  (The current king, King Carl XVI Gustaf, is celebrating his 50th year on the throne this year.) “Drottingholm” means “Queen’s Island.” The current Baroque castle building was built in the late 17th century, and the building and its grounds, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site,  were remodeled several different times after that. Walking through the gardens and woods on a sunny early summer day was a just about perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Drottingholm is located on Lovö Island in Lake Mälaren, One of the advantages of traveling to Drottingholm by boat is that it allows you to see the palace from the water. Here’s a view of the palace taken from the boat.
Here’s a view of the Drottingholm palace from the landward side
I visited Drottingholm once before, on a prior visit. On the previous visit, the palace’s gardens and grounds were in their winter dormancy. It was great to see the ground in their full summer glory this time.
Along the canal in the Drottingholm gardens
Another reason to take the boat to visit Drottingholm is that it provides a wonderful view of the lakeshore along Lake Mälaren. It really was just a beautiful day.

We were up early again the next day to catch a boat for a tour of the vast Stockholm archipelago. There are over 30,000 islands, islets, and skerries off of Stockholm’s Baltic coast; many of the islands are tiny and uninhabited, while others support resident populations of varying sizes. We arranged to disembark from the tour boat at Vaxholm, on the island of Vaxön. which has a small permanent population; during the summer months, it also has squadrons of visitors, who arrive to enjoy the village’s quaint streets and pleasant atmosphere. The same boat we arrived on came back later in the afternoon to take us back to the city. We strolled around the island and we also found a pleasant out of the way spot for a picnic. A particularly agreeable feature of the conditions on this island during our visit was that the flowering plants were in full bloom. 

One of the many small islands in the archipelago. So many of the islands are just little outcroppings of rocks and trees.
One of the inhabited islands in the archipelago.
Fisherman’s huts in Vaxholm.
A house in Vaxholm surrounded by flowering lilacs
Blooming roses in Vaxholm.
A wild rose in Vaxholm.
The main street in the little village of Vaxholm.
A perfect spot for a picnic overlooking the Baltic in Vaxholm.

Our time in Stockholm was all too brief and we soon had to leave to move on to other destinations. This visit, although short, reinforced my view that (at least in the right weather conditions). Stockholm is a wonderful place, one of my favorite places to visit.

More Pictures of Stockholm

This is Järnpojke (Iron Boy). At about 6 inches in height, it is reputedly the smallest statute in Stockholm, located behind the Finnish Church in Gamla Stan. Locals knit caps and scarves for the statue. It reportedly is good luck to rub the boy’s head, which of course we did, being very careful to replace his cap afterwards.
Stockholm’s city hall, viewed from the water. We caught the boat to Drottingholm on the quay adjacent to city hall.
While we were picnicking in Vaxholm, we saw this ship sail past the Vaxholm fortress. Even though the fortress is one of Vaxholm’s main attractions, we were not able to visit it because it is not yet open for the season. It doesn’t open until June 26.
One evening while we were in Stockholm, we went up to the Stockholm observatory hill, which was located near our hotel, for a picnic. This picture shows the view during our picnic. The long summery evenings during our Stockholm visit were just great. We know we were extremely fortunate with the weather we enjoyed during our visit. I have to say that in the summer sunshine Stockholm is a really fabulous place. One of my all time favorite places to visit.