Posted by: Ciaran | December 17, 2009

Changing places – Stockholm

By the far the best way to arrive into Stockholm is by water, through the thousands of small islands of the Stockholm Archipelago.  Sailing through the islands is stunning, and is a great way to begin to get a feel for ‘the Venice of the north’.

A view across the harbour

It is a great city to explore on foot; compact enough that it is easy to do so (and necessary to do so in the old part) but big enough that there is plenty to explore.  The main focal point for tourists is the Royal Palace, which is the official workplace and residence of the monarch.

The front of the Royal Palace

I didn’t have the chance to go inside or take a tour, though I did have a glimpse into the inner courtyard and it looked pretty impressive.  Opening times change dependent on the season and there are restricitions around ceremonial times such as the King’s birthday.

The palace and courtyard are to the right, with the Old City straight ahead

I skipped the palace to head on into the old part of the city, which is full of cobbled streets and tall buildings, many of which have now been converted into touristic shops and coffee chains but there is still something of the ambience of antiquity about it, particularly during the colourful changing of the guard ceremony.

Marching band during changing of the guard

Again there are most probably seasonal variations on the timing of these ceremonies, but this was around lunchtime and in the searing heat of an August day.  Walk through the streets and you get a good view all around the city, and you can see right across to the National Museum (which, disappointingly, was closed when I was there).

The outside of the Swedish Parliament

I took a tour of the Riksdag, the super-modern home of the Swedish Parliament and only a stone’s throw from Stockholm’s equivalent of Downing Street.  They do tours in a range of languages and you get fantastic access around the building with a really knowledgeable guide.  If you do go there, make sure you have the 10 Swedish Krona to stow your bag in a locker – I didn’t and had to beg it from a curmudgeonly German.  I took great pleasure in not giving it back.

The chamber of the Riksdag

And, to end, a challenge: there will be a prize for the first person to find and send me a photograph of themself posing with this little fella (and I don’t mean the good-looking one on the left)…

Good luck finding him!

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Responses

  1. Great pics on this blog post- Stockholm looks lovely!


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