We headed off to Stansted ridiculously early and dropped off the car at the long stay car park at 6am which was trouble free, grabbed the transfer bus and headed to the airport for our Ryanair flight at 8.20am. It departed on time arriving at 11.40am Swedish time at Stockholm Skavsta Airport. This was the first of at least three times on our trip we managed to ‘lose’ an hour, with Sweden already being an hour ahead of the UK before daylight saving kicked in the following day, therefore ‘losing’ another hour. The airport itself was not so much of an airport as a tin shack! You got off the plane, went through a tiny building and before you knew it you were outside!
We picked up a rather nice hire car (Kia Niro hybrid) from Budget and headed off down the E4 to Stockholm. After a short motorway stop (with some childish giggling at sharing a chocolate bar named Plopp) and some heavy traffic coming into Stockholm we arrived at Connect City Hotel at approx 2.30pm. We were a bit wary about the parking in the hotel which is an underground car park as we had read reviews it was really tricky and very small; we also discovered it cost 200 Krona (SEK) a night (£17) but nevertheless, Nigel managed to park it with no problems. The hotel itself was very nice and clean although the rooms were a little small; however, we were happy compared to some of the micro rooms in Stockholm we had seen online.
After a short check-in, we headed to the nearest tube station, Fridhemsplan, and decided to check out the some of the subway artwork we had read about online. There were a variety of passes available but unfortunately no 48-hour pass which would have been ideal only 24 or 72 hours. The 24-hour pass cost 125 Krona (SEK) (approx £10.30) and individual one-way singles were 44 Krona (SEK) and valid for 75 minutes (approx £3.65). Stockholm has 100 subway stations and approximately 90 have artwork of some sort. We headed from Fridhemsplan to T Centralen station via Kungstadgarden admiring the artwork on the way.
Upon arrival at T Centralen, we headed outside and found a nice pub to partake in a refreshing beverage, the Bishops Arms. We noticed 2 or 3 bars advertising themselves as ‘Scottish Pubs’ long before we saw our first Irish Bar. Sweden is not cheap for alcohol and in this bar 2 pints of beer cost £13. However, we did have a couple more pints (Nigel thought the Eriksberg was the best beer he tasted all trip) as well as some Jalapeno poppers and rosemary chips before heading to Gamla Stan. According to Visit Stockholm “Gamla Stan, the Old Town is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe, and one of the foremost attractions in Stockholm. This is where Stockholm was founded in 1252.” From our visit, it was a really lovely place with loads of quaint shops, restaurants and bars.
We found a bar advertising “very good” margaritas (you can see the exact wording for yourself in the photo below). Geronimo’s FGT (something about “Good Times” I believe) had a cool vibe, with the barman playing a selection of vinyl records whilst we were there, all with a heavy rock theme, we manged to confirm they were indeed very good, before heading on our way. We also discovered the Lion Bar which is one of the cheapest places to buy a beer in Stockholm at 29 SEK (£2.45). If you’re looking for cheap beer, ask for a Stor Stark. Unfortunately we didn’t think the beer was too great, it reminded me of the old 3% odd Heineken you used to be able to buy; however, it was cheap! After an early start and a long day, we headed back to our hotel via the waterfront to rest our weary bones! We had grand plans for the next day and so wanted to be rested!
The next morning we woke up early and had our included breakfast which was plentiful. We then headed off on the tube to do a bit more subway art spotting at Sol Centrum which was really quite impressive.
We got back on the tube after admiring the artwork to Kungsträdgården where we exited and walked down to the amazing views across to Gamla Stan. Nigel had recently watched the Swedish TV series Modus and was excited to see the ship, The AF Chapman, which was featured as the headquarters used in the series. It was a beautiful, but chilly day with lots of ice in the harbour, and we got some lovely pictures including the ship along the islet Skeppsholmen.
We then caught tram number 7 to Stockholm Liljevalc Gröna Lund for the Abba Museum. This had been recommended to us and we were excited about our visit here. The entry cost was 250 Krona (SEK) or £21 which was quite pricey however the museum was full of fun interactive activities including guitar hero, quizzes, make your own music video and appearing on stage “with” Abba. We had a really good giggle here and would recommend it if you were in the area. You can also view your music videos and performances online after you have been there and download them for free – ours, unfortunately, are for private viewing only lol!.
Next on our ‘must see’ list was the Vasa Museum. The museum is a short distance from the Abba Museum. The VASA was built between 1626 and 1628 and set out on her maiden voyage on 10th August 1628 in the late afternoon. The ship had been built by various tradesmen from different countries who worked 6 days a week and she was a very spectacular ship. On her maiden voyage, the ship had a full of crew, plus their guests including women and children, but only a short distance into the journey the ship began to list. There was a fateful decision to leave the gun portholes open on this maiden voyage and they filled with water sinking her within minutes, only 1300 metres into her journey. There were many survivors and all but 30 of crew and guests survived; many who didn’t were stuck below deck with no means of escape.
Several attempts were made to recover the ship over the years and between 1663-1665 around 50 of the valuable guns were recovered from the wreck but attempts to raise the ship were unsuccessful due to the technology at the time. In 1959 she was raised from a depth of 32 metres to 16 metres and was finally raised on 24th April 1961. She remained in the shipyard undergoing restoration until 1988 when she was moved to the VASA museum which was still under construction. The museum opened to the public in 1990. There were several design flaws found as well as the portholes being left open; the ballast was incorrect, the centre of gravity was too high and the ship was overly tall. Nevertheless, the decoration and design of the ship were spectacular and although restoration has been undertaken she will not last forever so if you’re in the area it is definitely worth a visit.
After we left the VASA we headed for some more subway art spotting which included Stadion, before heading on the tube to our next attraction.
Skyview offers gondola rides along the outside of the Ericsson Globe, the world’s largest spherical building. The globe hosts a wide variety of pop concerts from well-known acts around the world. It is located on subway line number 17 for Skarpnäck and is a very short distance from the subway station. We made it to the Globe at 16:10 and were pleased to see the gondolas still moving; however, the attraction closed at 16:00 so we missed out! Shame as we were quite looking forward to the fantastic views of the city – lesson learnt; check opening times!
We decided to head back to Gamla Stan as although we had seen it yesterday we had mostly frequented drinking establishments and were sure there was a lot more to offer. We visited the Stortorge Square which is also home to the Nobel Museum. There had been mixed reviews about this and we didn’t go in because our we weren’t sure our interest would justify the entrance fee (about £10) and also because of the time of day.
We then headed the short distance to the Royal Palace which is also open to the public but was either shut or just shutting (it was a Sunday!). The Palace is one of Europe’s largest palaces and I feel with more time it would definitely be worth a visit, however, we just took some photographs from outside instead 🙂
All this sightseeing was starting to take its toll and we were in need of a rest and a nice cold refreshment. We looked around for a suitable stop with some entertainment but struggled; Sunday’s do not appear all that lively in Stockholm! We eventually stumbled across a bar which had live jazz on a Sunday Night called Stampen. This was situated on Stora Gråmunkegränd and is an antique-filled bar. After struggling slightly to find the entrance which looked like an entrance to a block of flats we entered to a busy and atmospheric pub with live music which was on all evening. We stopped and had a couple of beers here and enjoyed the music and the ambience. If you’re in the area this jazz pub is definitely worth a visit. Also, it’s only just around the corner from Geronimo’s FGT.
We headed back to the Bishops Arms for a quick bite to eat before heading back to our hotel, as we had an early flight in the morning, but had really enjoyed our time in Stockholm; the prices although expensive were on a par with London and compared to our last break in Switzerland they were nowhere near as shocking. We also didn’t need any currency here because everywhere took card which was really handy. Coffee stalls and independent hot dog stands in the middle of nowhere – all accepted payment by card. We even saw bars displaying signs along the lines of “You’re very welcome here, but your cash isn’t!” Stockholm is a beautiful and safe city with a lot to offer and we felt we could have spent longer here; nevertheless, our next location was calling us and we were excited to see what Bucharest had to offer!