Astrid Lindgren remains one of the world’s most successful children’s authors to this day. Her books have been translated into more than 100 languages. As such, children all over the world are familiar with the adventures of Bill Bergson, Pippi Longstocking, and the Children of Noisy Village. Children born in the second half of the twentieth century therefore associate Sweden with the great outdoors, vast landscapes dotted with little red houses, and the fact that a new adventure is just around every corner. Even though it isn’t really possible to lift a horse like Pippi or fly like Karlsson on the Roof, Astrid Lindgren firmly anchored the idea of finding unconventional solutions in the minds of her readers. This is especially evident in Stockholm’s start-up scene.
The city, which was founded on 14 islands, is now the world’s number one on the start-up scene. Maybe you’ve heard of Spotify, Candy Crush, or Skype? These three companies are so-called unicorns, the name given to a start-up that has witnessed a rapid commercial rise. It is the location of the world’s second largest unicorn pasture – the only one larger than this is Silicon Valley, where Google, Facebook, and other such companies famously have their headquarters.
Fifteen percent of all direct investments worldwide are made in Stockholm. And the city is not only developing economically from one day to the next, because Stockholm also has quite a story to tell from an architectural perspective. In 1250, the regent Birger Jarl built a fortress where the Lake Mäleren flows into Baltic Sea in order to combat piracy. This is how Stockholm was established, a name which freely translates as “Pole Island.” The city’s population grew considerably as it acquired an increasingly dominant position through maritime trade. By the seventeenth century, when Stockholm became the capital city, 50,000 people lived there. Today around 1.6 million people live in the metropolitan region.
The fortress was eventually converted into a palace in what is now the old town of Gamla Stan and in 1754 the royal family moved in. It remains the main royal residence to this day, even though it is only really used for representative purposes nowadays. The Gamla Stan is Europe’s best-preserved old town and is famous for its quaint houses and winding alleys. The narrowest alley in the world can be found here: Mårten Trotzigs Gränd is just less than 90 centimeters wide. Wheelchair users must be pushed, because their hands no longer fit between the walls of the houses and the wheels.
Stockholm’s 14 islands are linked by 57 bridges. In addition, almost 200,000 boats sail along the waterways – this means that one in four residents has their own boat. It is also highly practical when you’re allowed to build your own jetty in the garden. Due to the good access to the water and to nature, it is thus possible to go fishing for salmon in the middle of Stockholm or go swimming at one of the 96 beaches.
Besides the many different river arms, Stockholm naturally also has a few roads and with a little luck the local car drivers can win some huge prizes. What’s that? Prizes for car drivers? Does Stockholm wish to become a new Formula One circuit? On the contrary: The city has introduced the “Speed Camera Lottery” for drivers who stay within the speed limit. The fines paid by those who are caught speeding are distributed as prizes to those who respect the law on the roads. A clever idea – the average speed dropped overnight.
And if the traffic happens to get a little heavy in Stockholm, there is always the Tunelbana – not just a subway system, but also one of the biggest underground art galleries in the world. Besides art, Stockholm is also known for its musical exports: In 1974, ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo.” Many other hits followed, including “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen,” all of which are still loved by all generations. Other big names from Sweden’s music scene include Roxette and Rednex.
There is also an international focus on Stockholm due to the Nobel Prizes that have been awarded since 1901 for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature. Founder Alfred Nobel wanted to ensure that the people who did great things for humanity were suitably honored. One of the best-known winners is Marie Curie, who won an award for both physics and chemistry, making her one of just four winners to have received more than one award. Famous German winners include Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein.
We have put together a list of other places worth checking out in Stockholm:
Restaurant and bar: HIMLEN (https://www.restauranghimlen.se/)
A cocktail with a view or perhaps a relaxed evening meal with a superb view of the whole of Stockholm? Classic yet contemporary Swedish cuisine can be enjoyed on the 25th floor of the Skrapan at a height of 104 meters.
Restaurant: AG (http://www.restaurangag.se/)
This restaurant consists of a tapas bar and an area for lovers of exquisite meat. The best steaks in the whole of Sweden are reportedly served here. Find out for yourself and tell us whether it’s true.
Restaurant: Judith och Bertil (https://www.juditbertil.se/)
This small establishment is situated far away from the throng of tourists. Between the exceptional salads, fresh fish, and grilled shrimps, guests will find a perfectly composed wine list. The later it gets, the more the restaurant metamorphoses into a cozy bar that is perfect for whiling away the hours.
Bar: Akkurat Bar & Restaurant (http://www.akkurat.se/)
This rustic location is renowned for its intimate atmosphere. The bar has a huge selection of whiskies and the quality of the beer is also famous for miles around.
Hotel: Radisson Blue Royal Viking (https://www.radissonblu.com/en/royalvikinghotel-stockholm) This centrally located hotel is both elegant and modern and has all the comforts of a four-star establishment. The bar on the roof terrace provides a fascinating panorama of the various islands and the Baltic Sea.
Hot spot: Södermalm
This district is located in central Stockholm, yet still exudes a cozy and homely atmosphere. The streets are dotted with small bars and restaurants and are closed to traffic in summer, allowing the proprietors to set up their tables everywhere.
Hot spot: Baggensfjärden im Schärengarten
On cold, windy days, Stockholm’s residents flock to the frozen water surfaces around the Baggensfjärden. Here they practice trend sports such as kitewing riding and skate sailing. The best thing of all is that anyone can try it.