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.
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.
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.
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.
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