So I managed to score an awesome holiday with my boyfriend to Stockholm and I thought it deserved a blog because not a lot of people really know about it. Basically it was a competition and we got to choose our top three destinations out of cities European cities: London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Barcelona and Milan. (Which ones would you have picked?)
We put down Stockholm, then Amsterdam, then Paris and we got Stockholm. The major thing I would say about it and it’s something that should be taken into consideration, is that Stockholm is expensive. I mean, we all accept that Ireland is expensive but even for what we’re used to, Stockholm is expensive. Having said that, it is a very beautiful city, and as two unemployed students we still managed to do plenty and have a really good time. The other thing to remember is that Sweden is in the EU but it’s one of the few countries that doesn’t have Euro so you need to change your money to Swedish Kronos.
Our hotel wasn’t in the best place but anything close to the city centre was way out of our price range and, once again, as students we’re no strangers to public transport so it was fine. Also the public transport is a lot more advanced than Ireland. If you’re going to Stockholm, inquire about a multiple day travel card they’re completely worth it, you can’t pay on the buses anyway so you’ll need some sort of card and we got a three-day one for 160 SEK (about €17/18) which took us on trams, buses and metros (and possibly trains if we ever needed them).
Anyway, the actual city is gorgeous. I’ve heard the weather is like Ireland and often even colder but we got an amazing weekend, it only rained on the Sunday night and we were leaving early Monday morning. The architecture is great too, albeit probably a bit lost on me but the arches looked pretty and stuff. Also I would recommend spending some time down in Gamla Stan, that’s the old part of the city, that has the best sightseeing and history and it also has great views of the rest of the city.
For attractions and things to do, I had a list of possibilities, which we didn’t get the whole way through but we were never really going to anyway. On the first day we went to the Aquaria Water Museum, which is just a small aquarium but if you like animals and aquariums it’s really nice. Also it’s worth it for more views and sightseeing, especially if you get a nice day because it’s in this place called Djurgarden, you have to take the tram but it’s got really nice parks and a flower market place that we stumbled upon. Plus more great views of Stockholm. Skansen is Stockholm’s only zoo and it’s also there, very near the aquarium. Sadly we never got to that one.
On the second day we went to the butterfly house. I would really recommend this unless you don’t like butterflies. It’s in Hagaparken, a big open park with really nice walking trails. The butterfly house is inside the park and in there it’s a humid rainforest full of free flying butterflies. They’re very colourful and they don’t shy away from cameras. You will not be disappointed.
That night was our big night out. If you plan on going out in Stockholm, plan your money accordingly and if you can afford to go overboard one night, plan on doing that when you’re drinking a lot. We started by going to the famous Absolut Ice Bar. I read many reviews of this, most of which said it was overstated and not worth it; a bit of a novelty. My opinion is that yes, it is a novelty but you have to think of it as a novelty, a tourist attraction rather than a bar. You pay in (it’s about €20) and you stay for 45 minutes with a funny cape to keep warm and you get a free drink. It’s -5°C to keep the whole bar from melting and everyone is dressed in special capes with hoods and thick gloves and then you line up for your free cocktail (made with Absolut Vodka) in your glass made of ice. The 45 minutes flies when you’re taking pictures and sipping your drink but you wouldn’t be able to stay much longer anyway. I think it’s definitely a tourist attraction, it’s something to do at night and if you’re willing to spend the money it’s worth seeing. We moved on to The Sky Bar atop the Radisson Blu Hotel, near Central Station but it was packed so we left and stumbled into a random pub, The Bishop’s Arms. We had a few drinks in there and then got a shot before we left. Here’s where we really felt the money go. A shot of Sambuca and a shot of Tequila cost 148 SEK (€15/16). Then before we headed back we decided to get one more shot so we headed back to the Sky Bar (beautiful views from up there by the way, if you want to drink and you have the money, go there early). These shots were 168 SEK and in addition, the barman offered my boyfriend (Calvin) flies in his Sambuca. Then he asked if he knew what that was and went to explain: They’re coffee beans floating in the Sambuca which you’re supposed to chew after you knock it back. It was an experience but I’m pretty sure Calvin would advise against it.
On the last day we slowly walked around Gamla Stan as I’ve mentioned above before calling it an early night. Unfortunately, I can’t advise on restaurants because like I said, Stockholm is expensive and doing everything else ate into our budget so twice it was TGIs and once it was Burger King. We snacked on hot dogs and rolls during the day.
Other things I had planned that we never made it to were Skansen’s Aquarium, which we now think is inside the zoo, the Sky View Globe from world’s largest spherical building, Grona Lund Amusement Park and the Music Museum. Also we didn’t go on the “Hop On Hop Off” tour because it was about €23 and we did a lot of sightseeing walking around. Also something to bear in mind if you ever go there is there’s a shopping centre near central station called “Giariam” and a tourist information stand is just inside the door so you can go straight there for any transport and attraction information.
Stockholm is amazing and somewhere you wouldn’t often think of going, but I would say it’s a couples’ holiday or maybe a family sightseeing holiday. If you just want to get locked with the girls or the lads, there’s always Benidorm.