"The capital of Scandinavia”    

The Swedish capital sees itself as "the natural capital of Scandinavia", positioned at the geographical heart of the region and benefiting from a world-class transport infrastructure.

Stockholm takes pride in the large number of multinational companies based there, in the size of its stock market and in the large number of visitors it attracts... not to mention that time of year when the eyes of the world are on Stockholm as the Nobel Prizes are awarded.

Widely acknowledged to be one of the world's most beautiful cities, Stockholm is built on 14 islands surrounding a 750-yearold old town centre in a magnificent maritime setting where lake Mälaren opens into the Baltic sea.

This is a city that positively fizzes with life. Every week sees the opening of new exhibitions, premieres, opera and concert performances, public events of one kind or another: there is always something going on in Stockholm.

For once, that old travel cliché, "city of contrasts", is justified: think land and water, history and innovation, small town and big city, short winter days and light summer nights... a dazzling array of ever-changing impressions in a compact area, making Stockholm a destination for all seasons, short city breaks or longer stays, all year round.

Perhaps more than any other city of its size, what is so special about Stockholm is its natural location, its waterways and its parks. To the north, south, east and west are lakes, sea and forest. Even the city centre is criss-crossed by open water and parks, forests and walking areas, filled with historical sights and attractions. And just outside the city, the unique Stockholm archipelago of many thousands of islands is waiting to be explored.

Medieval city
But any exploration of Stockholm must start in the centre, ideally on foot, with Gamla Stan (the "Old Town") and Riddarholmen, the two islands that together make up northern Europe's largest and most perfectly preserved medieval city, with a history dating back to the 13th century. Gamla Stan is home to the Royal Palace, several beautiful churches, narrow, picturesque streets and an abundance of shops, restaurants and cafés.

From Gamla Stan, it's a short and scenic walk to the island of Södermalm, a trendy district known for its design, fashion, and entertainment. Young entrepreneurs with their shops, cafés and galleries are much in evidence here. From Fjällgatan, one of the main streets, there are stunning views across the city.

Kungliga Djurgården is an island consisting mainly of parkland, with more than enough attractions to keep visitors busy for several days. These include Skansen, the famous historical open-air museum; the Vasa Museum, featuring the warship Vasa, which sank on her maiden voyage in 1628, and Junibacken, a children's theme park and museum based on Astrid Lindgren's internationally popular Pippi Longstocking books.

Culture and history
Several outstanding art museums, housed in former private palaces, house collections of Scandinavian paintings and sculptures, while the imposing Nordic Museum (mistaken by some visitors for the Royal Palace) is a leading international centre for Scandinavian culture and history.

Quite apart from Stockholm's many cosmopolitan attractions, the magnificent natural surroundings of the capital are the main draw for many tourists: and above all, the spectacular Stockholm archipelago, a vast, fan-shaped maritime world of tens of thousands of islands, of which only about a thousand are inhabited. An hour by bus, local train or car will take you to any of several island communities, and from there you can continue by boat into this magical realm, which is every bit as spectacular in winter as in summer. Possibly the best option, however, is to jump aboard one of the classic white ferries – many dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries – from the centre of Stockholm.

On the waterfront

The warship Vasa Gröna Lund Amusement Park Classic white ferries

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