Guest blog by Tony van Diesel
Tammy and I had such a good time in Stockholm last summer that when I got the opportunity to re-visit the city for a couple of days work, I jumped at the chance.
So what do you do when you’ve got only a few hours, and both I and my colleague Richard had been there before?
Of the attractions both of us had missed on previous trips, the Abba Museum was quickly ruled out due to it looking a bit crap (I’m sure it’s lovely if you like that sort of thing!).
On the water
We decided to get onto the water and booked onto a short boat trip around Stockholm’s Archipelago.
Stockholm is built on hundreds of islands, large and small, and this was a great way to get a different view of the area.
We were on board the 1906-built Ostana, and went on a three-hour tour from the central quayside of Strandvagen.
It turned out to be a wonderful insight into the lives of Stockholmers – there is about one boat per 10 of the population.
We passed waterside houses both opulent and modest, each with their own jetty.
It seems to be the place to live, with access to the safe waters of the Baltic at the bottom of your garden.
Yachts, canoes and speedboats were scattered everywhere.
One of the smaller islands with just one house on it had been sold the previous year for almost a million euros.
If only I’d been told, I’d have been bidding. Not sure what with though… although it would be tempting if I win the Lottery!
Getting out on a boat excursion around Stockholm’s Archipelago makes you realise that it doesn’t take long before you can escape the city’s crowds to discover peace and tranquility.
It’s a must for lovers of the wild side of life – and for anyone who fancies buying a small island and a boat!
Stockholm – Tony’s travel tips
The Stockholm mini-archipelago tour can be booked online – which is probably a good idea in high season.
We just turned up and jumped on. There’s a restaurant on board – booking essential for that, although you can get drinks and a sandwich if you can’t get a seat.
Wrap up warm – it’s always colder on the water than you expect, even in summer and autumn.
There are a range of tours, starting with the harbour hop-on-hop-off service which is a great way of seeing the central area of Stockholm.
Longer tours can take up to a whole day and take you into the outer areas of the archipelago where things are even quieter. Look out for the 11 hour Thousand Islands Cruise where some of the most beautiful islands await you.
Boat trips run from Nybroplan to the Archipelago islands and Fjaderholmarna (the inner city archipelago).
There are also boat excursions to Sandhamn, Vaxholm’s island fortress and nearby Royal Haga, if you’re looking for other destinations.
Historic steamer boat trips go from Stadshusbron (City Hall) to Drottningholm Palace in the summer and autumn.
The trip takes you across Lake Malaren to this royal palace, one of the popular and busiest tourist attractions in Stockholm.
Stockholm can be reached from the UK by plane from Edinburgh or London Heathrow airports via SAS. The flight takes approximately one hour.
Eating out in Stockholm can turn out to be a scarily expensive operation.
We ate out twice, once at Eriks Bakficka, Fredrikshovsgatan 4 which specialises in traditional Swedish fare – I had a really good fish and seafood casserole.
Main courses were between 180 and 300 SKE. Good atmosphere, and the feel of an establishment that is comfortable in its own skin.
The second night was a total contrast.
Having failed to get a table at our Trip Advisor-inspired first choice, we went for a Mongolian buffet.
Mongolia Djingis Khan Barbecue on Sveavägen 36, at 190 SKE for all-you-can-eat turned out to be a kind of weird choice for Stockholm, but it must be hard to find anywhere else as cheap.
Perfectly decent food, either from a buffet or cooked to order – you pile your plate high with raw ingredients and they stir-fry them for you.
I’m not sure how authentically Mongolian it is, but then it’s not authentically Swedish either.
Who cares at that price?
Getting around Stockholm by boat is easy and cheap. Buy a hop on, hop off boat ticket with stops close to the city’s main attractions.
Also look out for the ‘jump on, jump off’ buses if you’re going sightseeing.