Being one of the main hubs of Scandinavia, Stockholm has a growing popularity among tourists. However, if you want to explore a different side Stockholm, these are the best secret spots.
If you are visiting the open-air museum Skansen or the exciting amusement park Gröna Lund, you are welcomed by the Blå porten. Blå porten, which literally means ‘the Blue Gate’, is a historical monument situated in the entrance to Djurgården. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, Djurgården was a hunting park, and the Blue Gate was used as a marker for the King’s private hunting park. Apart from its historical significance, the Royal National Park located close to the gate also provides a green open space with a lake, and is perfect for walks, picnics and cycling.
In recent decades, Sweden has been playing a more significant role in the field of art and design. WIP:sthlm (the ‘WIP’ stands for ‘work in progress’) is considered to be the hub of artistic creation in Stockholm. WIP:sthlm houses 93 talented artists, 83 studios and a gallery. The artistic space aims at bringing artists together and sharing their ideas with their neighbors. If you are looking for a visit to Stockholm’s most modern and updated arts, then WIP:sthlm is surely the place to go. You can spend a whole day appreciating the art pieces and sharing your thoughts with the artists.
Beginning in Sweden, IKEA has been a global furniture giant that has branches all over the world. The store is now almost synonymous with Sweden, so it makes perfect sense to visit IKEA in this Nordic nation. Kungens Kurva IKEA is the world’s largest IKEA store with 55,000m2 floor space and a 8,000m2 furniture exhibition area. Apart from buying furniture by Scandinavian designers, this store has a cafeteria that is a must-go. From traditional Swedish meatballs to baked salmon, Kungens Kurva IKEA offers you a lot of dining options at a very reasonable price. Make sure you check out the bistro for some light snacks before leaving the store. Modulvägen 1, 141 08 Kungens Kurva, Sweden, +46 77 570 05 00
Stockholm’s metro Tunnelbana is more than just a railway system that transports you to wherever you want to. It’s also the world’s longest art exhibition, and artworks cover a total of 110km. Commuting can be boring, but your underground journey will be an artistic one in the Swedish capital. Since 1950, artists have been incorporating their creativity into Tunnelbana stations using sculptures, paintings and installed structures. There are several stations that are worth a visit. Kungsträdgården puts on an impressive exhibition of broken sculptures that resemble ancient relics, and Solna Centrum station gives you a spicy visit with the use of red in its wall paintings.
Around an hours’ traveling time from Stockholm Central, Sigtuna is a completely different town which gives you a historic vibe and a window through which to look back at the history of Sweden. Founded in 980, Sigtuna is Sweden’s oldest town and was once the center of commercial activities in the country. The old town structures are still well preserved, including many churches built in the 14th century. Mariakrykan (St. Mary’s Church) and St. Olaf’s Church Ruin are the two of the best attractions in the town. As one of the most famous baroque castles in Europe, Skokloster Castle is a place for experiencing the life of royal family in the 18th century. For those looking for a day trip to the suburbs, Sigtuna is ready to impress you.
Sweden is the world’s third largest music exporter. The country has provided the world with talented and sensational artists, from ABBA to Avicii. Every year, Skansen and Gröna Lund house two live music shows, Allsång på Skansen and Sommarkrysset respectively. Famous Swedish singers will be invited to perform live and interact with the crowd by singing traditional Swedish songs. These shows are a great way to indulge yourself in the power of live music and the electrifying vocals of local singers. Make sure you get your tickets in advance, as places are limited.
From the exterior, Mälardrottningen may look like a yacht just anchored on the water of Gamla Stan. However, it is actually a hotel, which has been transformed from a ship that was built in 1924. The hotel has an impressive restaurant, where you can have a relaxing meal on the ship while enjoying the view of Djurgården and Södermalm. Grillad rosékalv is highly recommended to get a taste of the Scandinavian cuisine. Riddarholmen, 111 28 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 8 120 900 00