By Zoe Lumsden
Frosty winter weather is well and truly here but despite chilly temperatures, winter can still be one of the most magical times of year to travel. Here’s a look at Sweden’s charming capital, Stockholm, for some Scandinavian winter explorations…
This delightful port city is all about the water. The city is made up of 14 islands, mostly interconnected with bridges. Each island holds a district of the city with unique character and charm. Take some the time to walk by the docks of the islands and take in the atmosphere where both huge cruise ships and smaller sail boats set out on adventures.
The ports of this city have a rich heritage. The Vasa Museum is a must-see for any visitor to Stockholm, telling the fascinating story of the Vasa ship which capsized and sank at the start of its maiden voyage from Stockholm harbour in 1628. Hundreds of years later the immense warship was recovered from the sea bed. Today the Vasa is the only preserved 17th century ship in the world. It’s astonishing to think that if the Vasa had only set sail successfully, the Vasa Museum and the story of this ship might not even be in Stockholm today.
Stockholm can be fairly easily explored by foot, however the metro network Stockholm tunnelbana (literally ‘tunnel rail’) is well worth using not least for a look at the extensive display of artwork in the stations. The paintings, graphics and mosaics on the walls of the stations are works from over 150 artists. Bold designs and intricate patterns enhance the artistic feel in this creative city.
After exploring in chilly temperatures there’s no doubt it’s time for a warm tea or coffee. Head to Stockholm’s Söldermalm district for the cosiest tea and coffee spots and warm sweet treats. Here you can also find vinyl and vintage shops and Stockholm’s famous bright pink bicycle.
Despite freezing temperatures, snow lining the docks and glistening ice freezing the surrounding water, Stockholm remains a welcoming spot for travellers and is somewhere where winter only enhances the city’s atmosphere and where there’s always a warm café just round the corner to take respite from icy weather.
A couple of winter travel tips
- Don’t rely entirely on your phone for navigation – phone batteries often die in minus temperatures meaning no access to GoogleMaps. Use a paper map – aside from having less dependence on your phone, using a physical map requires you to pay closer attention to your surroundings and very quickly you’ll be able to create a sense of the layout of the city you’re visiting in your own head anyway, giving you more independence with your sense of direction.
- Gloves – essential item(!) – don’t risk venturing out into the cold without these.
- Lip balm – icy winds pick up in the cities and can be bitterly cold – your lip balm is an essential for frosty city streets.
- Layer up! Thermals, t-shirts, jumper/fleece, coat (ideally windproof/waterproof). Prepare for the cold, stay warm and explore for longer!