Stockholmers call their city 'beauty on water'. But despite the well-preserved historic core, Stockholm is no museum piece: it's modern, dynamic and ever-evolving.
When it comes to cultural assets, Stockholm is scandalously rich. Take Gamla Stan. The city's oldest district is the stuff of storybooks. Complete with prerequisite royal palace, gabled buildings and razor-thin cobblestone streets, it's hands down one of Europe’s most enchanting, impeccably preserved historic centres. Across the city, world-class museums and galleries inform and provoke, harbouring everything from glittering Viking treasures and an ill-fated warship, to Abba props and subversive contemporary art. It's a stimulating, inspiring mix, where the past, present and future constantly merge, converse and engage.
Stockholm's sense of style is legendary. Here, good design is not a luxury, it's a right – even the humblest coffee shop is usually design literate, from its lighting right down to its cups, bowls and cutlery. And while industrial design is a theme at several city museums, a fix of retail therapy can be equally enlightening. From cult-status local threads, bags and textiles, to delicate handmade ceramics, local objects reveal much about the Swedish love of understatement, functionality and harmony. If it's time to redesign your life, this is the city to do it in.
Food, Glorious Food
Given the bounty of prime ingredients drawn from Stockholm's surrounding waters, fields and forests, it's not surprising that food is a serious passion. This is a city with a curious, open-minded palate. Whatever the global culinary trend, Stockholm is on it, from raw food and açai breakfast bowls to sustainable, locavore dining. Old-school, homegrown classics are equally revered. Whether it's fried herring, succulent meatballs or buttery toast skagen, traditions are both faithfully adhered to and cleverly tweaked, the latter by Stockholm's legion of young, ambitious, forward-thinking chefs.
Stockholm is easy in all the right ways. Despite being spread across 14 islands, it's a relatively compact creature, and walking is often the best way to get around. Bridges connect most of the islands, while ferries and the tunnelbana (metro) link the rest. Public transport is safe, smooth and efficient, covering every corner of the city and its bucolic surrounds. It's also well adapted to wheelchair travel. Nearly all signs are written in Swedish and English, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a local who doesn't speak near-perfect English.