Stockholm may seem like a strange choice for a summer holiday destination but it is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a long time.
After reading and loving the novels of Stieg Larsson I became interested in Swedish culture and the more I read about the country the more I was sure I wanted to visit. When I first broached the subject of visiting Stockholm for our summer holidays it was met with some resistance as I think my partner had been envisaging a beach somewhere but slowely I managed to turn him into my way of thinking.
When we arrived in Sweden I was immediately struck by just how green and lush everything looked on the journey into the city from the airport. Even though I had read that Sweden has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world the people all looked healthy and happy. As it was summer this might have had something to do with it as the sun was shining everyone was making the most of the warm weather.
I was looking forward to getting out and exploring the city so as soon as we dropped off our bags we went to have a look around.
The first thing I noticed was just how clean everything was and the lack of graffiti everywhere. The architecture was stunning and could easily rival any other major European city and although there were tourists everywhere it never felt crowded or too 'touristy'.
We decided to visit Gamla Stan the old medieval quarter of the city first and I was immediately charmed by the cobbled streets and old medieval squares. It was lovely to just wander around getting a feel for the place and having ice cream from one of the many shops selling it.
Gamls Stan is located next to the harbour where the boats leave to the many islands so we decided to hop on a boat and go and explore the main island of Djurgarden and spent the rest of the afternoon getting a feel for the city.
The next day bright and early with our Stockholm cards in hand we did all the major tourist sites such as the palace and the Vasa museum. Again these were busy but we never had to queue for long unlike sites in other European cities and because Stockholm is so compact it never took us long to get to the next attraction on our list.
All the facilities were top notch and everyone spoke perfect English so if we even got lost or encountered any problems we could always find someone to help.
Stockholm has such a cool atmosphere to it and everyone seemed to be fashionable from young to old and all the bars and restaurants we visited had an amazing vibe to them. This was probably my favourite part of Stockholm just soaking up the atmosphere of the city whilst sitting having a beer.
The people were amazing and incredibly polite. We never encountered any surly shop assistants or bar staff and everyone always had a smile which is getting rarer these days when travelling on a city break.
At night my favourite area was the Gamla stan as all the restaurants and bars had outsde seating and there was an amazing vibe of people spilling onto the streets enjoying their weekend.
I never once felt threatened or nervous about walking the streets at night and whereever we went was always well lit and it felt safe and secure.
One of my favourite things that we did in Stockholm that I can't imagine being able to do in any other major city is go swimming. In the centre there are some small beaches and when we visited it felt as though the whole of Stockholm was there. With no room at the small beach we had to walk quite a distance until we came upon some room on the rocks and spent an enjoyable afternoon sunbathing and swimming. Yep that's right we went swimming in the centre of the city. The water was lovely and clean and perfectly safe for swimming in as the hundreds of people who were there would testify to. I thought this was fantastic and I only wish the water was clean enough in my city centre to be able to go swimming.
For me Stockholm made a perfect summer holiday and it is a great city break destination. It is absolutely beautiful and easily as stunning as any other European city but without the hordes of tourists and the dirt and grafitti. It is a real city where people live and not just somewhere for tourists to visit but the people were wonderful and welcomed the tourists and didn't resent them like the locals in some other popular cities do.
I would highly recommend visiting Stockholm if you haven't aleady as there is so much to see and do and I am sure you will have a wonderful time there.