Stockholm is the city to go for alfresco life in the summer. We look at the outdoor options on offer in the sunny Swedish capital.
Stockholm is an attractive city at any time of the year – metropolitan, spacious, idyllic. Still, it is in the summer that the Swedish capital comes into its own, when the streets, squares and parks fill up with people enjoying the vibrant sun and the archipelago teems with sailboats and island-hoppers making the most of the city’s remarkable maritime environment. In Stockholm, summer is a time to be outdoors.
From sky to sea
The most spectacular way of sightseeing in the Swedish capital is to go on a hot air balloon flight (website: www.farochflyg.se). Stockholm in summer has superb ballooning conditions, and sometimes the sky above the city and the archipelago is dotted with more than a dozen balloons.
More common, however, is sightseeing by boat. A wide range of sightseeing boat trips, both in the archipelago and in the city’s waterways, is available from Sightseeing in Stockholm (website: www.stockholmsightseeing.se). The most comprehensive lasts for over two hours, passes under 15 bridges and through two locks and includes both the sea and Lake Mälaren in the west of the city.
An alternative is obviously to hire a boat – whether a rowing boat (website: www.bigboatrowing.com), a sailing boat (website: www.hissasegel.se), a motor boat (website: www.skanstullmarin.se) or a larger yacht (website: www.classicyachtcharter.com).
Stockholm’s archipelago is one of the world’s most spectacular, with 24,000 islands, islets and rocks. Many of the islands can be reached from central Stockholm by ferry (website: www.waxholmsbolaget.se), and several have picturesque inns and restaurants. Most restaurants specialise in seafood dishes, particularly Baltic herring. Sandhamn (website: http://sandhamn.org) is a charming island, widely known for its natural beauty, cultural heritage, restaurants and regattas. It is also great for swimming and has several child-friendly sandy beaches.
Of the archipelago camping sites, Waxholm Strand & Camping (website: www.vaxholmscamping.com) on the island Vaxön is very good and offers camping spaces as well as cabins and tent cabins, boat and bicycle hire and a restaurant and café. Not that you need to go out to sea to enjoy the Stockholm waters. There are plenty of places in the city where you can go canoeing, do a bit of fishing or go swimming. For the latter, try Långholmen, a small island with a sandy beach. Boats, kayaks and canoes as well as bikes and inline skates can be hired from Djurgårdsbrons Sjöcafé (website: http://info.aos.se:80/E/V/STOSE/0000/35/50/1.html).
Seeing the sights
Djurgården itself is a lovely island known for its lush greenery, its museums and the Gröna Lund (website: www.gronalund.com) amusement park, which has eight restaurants and 25 rides and other attractions, including frequent open-air concerts. It’s a great place for kids, as is the popular open-air museum Skansen (website: www.skansen.se) in the north-western corner of Djurgården. It contains some 160 historic wooden houses and even whole farms from Sweden’s rural past, and there are plenty of animals both on the farms and in the museum’s zoo and aquarium.
Another Djurgården attraction is Rosendals Trädgård (Rosendal’s Garden) (website: www.rosendalstradgard.se), a biodynamic garden where visitors can pick their own flowers and buy fresh produce from the greenhouses.
Other pleasant Stockholm green spaces include the parkland at Drottningholm Palace (website: www.royalcourt.se), with its impressive baroque and English gardens, and Kungsträdgården (website: www.kungstradgarden.nu) on Norrmalm, where there are plenty of free outdoor events in the summer. Millesgården (website: www.millesgarden.se) on the island of Lidingö is also worth checking out, a garden museum devoted to Sweden’s best known sculptor of the 20th century, Carl Milles (1875-1955).
An important part of summer park life in Stockholm are the many free performances by Parkteatern (the Park Theatre) (website: www.stadsteatern.stockholm.se) in the city’s parks. This summer there will be comedy, drama, ballet, musicals, poetry recitals and dance performances at more than 30 park venues throughout the city.
If you don’t fancy either sea or green spaces, there are always the streets and squares to check out. The cobbled medieval streets of Gamla Stan (Old Town) are full of charm, and there are pavement cafes and restaurants everywhere (around 800 throughout the city). Alfresco dining really is a must in summer. Several restaurants can be found at Nytorget on Södermalm, a square with a bohemian vibe and lawns where you can sit down for a coffee.
Medborgarplatsen, a lively entertainment square to the west of Götgatan on Södermalm, has several outdoor places too. Further north, on Norrmalm, there are pleasant outdoor dining options in the area around Rörstrandsgatan. Of the city’s many outdoor establishments, fashionable Sturehof (website: www.sturehof.com) on Stureplan is an excellent place for a meal alfresco. The same goes for Tehuset (Tea House), which is located under the elm trees in Kungsträdgården.
One of Stockholm’s most idyllic cafes, Lasse i Parken (website: www.lasseiparken.se), is located in a little red 18th-century house with a garden in Pålsundsparken. When it comes to outside dining with a view, however, it is hard to beat vegetarian restaurant Hermans at Fjällgatan (website: www.hermans.gastrogate.com) on Södermalm, with its gorgeous aspect of the sea approach to Stockholm.