Without doubt one of the most beautiful and idyllic cities in the world the capital city of Stockholm is firmly established as one of the great city break destinations. In addition to the picturesque surroundings of this famously sleek city by the water Stockholm can also boast a famously vibrant nightclub and restaurant scene, as well as being home to cutting edge fashion designers and an enviable calendar of music and cultural festivals.
Stockholm’s islands and historic buildings mean the city as a whole is full of personality, and the same trait is true of its hotel scene. The five-star Grand Hôtel Stockholm (Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8) sits on the waterside opposite the Royal Palace, while the island-based Hotel Skeppsholmen (Gröna Gången 1) occupies a 17th-century building and offers just as much in the way of character. In the fashionable Östermalm district, the three-star Clarion Collection Hotel Tapto (Jungfrugatan 57) sits close to Stockholm Stadium and has a free evening buffet, while for something completely different, Hotell M/S Monika (Kungsholms Strand 133) is set in a refurbished boat.
The city centre is home to three large-scale department stores: PUB (Hötorget), which is Stockholm’s oldest; Åhléns (Klarabergsgatan 50), which is the largest retail outlet in the city and sells everything from clothes to groceries; and Nordiska Kompaniet (Hamngatan 18-20), which is where to head for upscale goods and designer items. Elsewhere in the city, the Södermalm quarter is home to the SoFo district, renowned for its creative fashion shops and vintage knick-knacks. Meanwhile, if you’re keen to pick up well-priced, mass-produced home furnishings, the world’s largest IKEA store – open since 1965 – sits south of the city (Kungens Kurva).
Stockholm is nothing if not multicultural, so Chinese, Thai and Italian restaurants are among those that are easy to come by, although traditional Swedish food acts as the city’s main culinary draw. There are good local dishes to be had at the atmospheric KB (Smålandsgatan 7), which has long been a haunt for artists and writers, while the well-hidden Restaurang Kryp In (Prästgatan 17) is a popular spot in the Old Town. Stockholm isn’t renowned for being cheap, so it can be wise to eat a main meal at lunch, when many restaurants and cafés offer attractive set menus.
Stockholm Early Music Festival (SEMF)
Now more than a decade old, the SEMF presents a stirring array of baroque, renaissance and medieval music, drawing on traditions from across Scandinavia and the wider world. Fittingly, the event makes use of venues in the Old Town.
The largest gay pride event in Scandinavia, this five-day festival combines costumed parades and high-octane parties with a more sober programme of workshops, discussions, films and theatre. The city park of Tantolunden becomes rebranded as ‘Pride Park’ for the duration of the festival.
A novel way to experience the city, this night-time race makes the most of the region’s midsummer sun and sees thousands of runners pound the streets in front of large crowds. The race gets going at 9.30pm, and the course is 10km in length.
Stockholm Jazz Festival
Running over seven days and taking in around 20 venues around the city, Stockholm’s Jazz Festival has earned a hefty reputation on the international scene. It stands as one of the oldest festivals in Sweden and always draws overseas talent.
Stockholm Tennis Open
A long-standing event on the ATP tour, the Stockholm Open has in the past been won by stars such as Roger Federer, John McEnroe and national hero Stefan Edberg. It takes place at the Kungliga Tennishallen and attracts considerable local enthusiasm.