All up we had 6 days in Sweden on this trip. Stockholm was 2.5 days, another 2.5 days in Visby and a day of travel with a quick visit through Malmö and Lund. Antony, Astrid and I visited Sweden on our 2012 trip, during the Autumn. We really only had 2 half days in Stockholm during that trip (plus some time up North visiting friends), so were keen to see a little more of Sweden on this occasion.
We were banking on it being very cold, since our Autumn trip was on the freezing side. There had already been very cold temps and snow before our arrival, but we hit a warm patch and there was most definitely no snow to be seen! Probably ideal for sight-seeing weather but not at all what we were expecting. The lack of snow was disappointing but we only had 1 afternoon of rain and even some sunshine so we really can’t complain.
Our visit being right around the Winter Solstice, we had very little light during our Sweden stay. You’ll notice lots of my photos look like they were taken at night, they were actually mostly taken around breakfast time or in the afternoon, it was just dark – a lot!
For the 2 nights in Stockholm we stayed in the Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel. Nothing in Sweden is cheap but for value for money we got an excellent deal on this hotel. It’s literally outside central station, so excellent for moving luggage, and connecting to all forms of public transport. It is also right near an array of large shops and an easy walk through the city area and down to Gamla Stan. Our family room was a good size, really comfortable and had an amazing bathroom. Alan and Mikl’s room was smaller but still good for a 2 night stay. The breakfast was very good and the hotel was clean and modern on the inside. The outside looks a little dated but we had zero complaints about this hotel.
Food and drink in Stockholm are expensive but we found plenty of decent options and ate well for the few days we were there. The public transport system is very good and we used the trams, trains and buses a lot on our second day, when we ventured further afield. The 24 hour transit card worked well for this and we had no issues finding our way around. We walked a lot of kilometres but could have used trams more if we didn’t want to walk as far.
As far as attractions, walking around the harbour and doing the boat/canal tour is worthwhile if the weather is decent. A walk around Gamla Stan both during the day and after dark is a must. Food and drink are pricier here, so be warned. The changing of guard at the Royal Palace is worth seeing if you are in the area. Try to catch the full version (which seems to be on weekends as far as we could tell) if possible. We did enjoy the armoury of the Royal Palace but didn’t bother with the main palace tour. Vasa Museum is a must. We’ve been twice now and it’s still amazing seeing the enormous ship. It’s only a 1-2 hour activity and can be done in the dark and cold! We were a little disappointed with Skansen, for the cost it wasn’t all that exciting. It probably would have been better in Summer. Most of the gardens and parks would also be nicer in Summer, but it’s a pretty city to walk around and we have enjoyed our visits there. I would definitely go back to Stockholm but would like to see how it looks in the warmer months on any future visits, just for something different.
For our 3 nights in Visby we stayed in Hotell Stenugnen. It’s a small boutique hotel and within the City wall. We stayed in the annex (1 x family annex room and 1 x twin room), which meant one bathroom shared between 3 rooms, but there are rooms with private bathrooms which were a little more expensive. The annex suited us though as we had larger rooms with sitting areas and tables. The lobby area of the restaurant also has a nice seating area and had supplies of coffee, glogg, and Swedish biscuits. The staff were exceedingly helpful and friendly and loved having a chat. The breakfast was good, although mostly cold, there were warm boiled eggs and a toaster, so certainly plenty of options. As well as lots of muesli, meats and cheeses. The hotel is in an excellent location – within the city walls and easy access to museums, cafes, restaurants and the town square.
Aside from having to spend a little time and effort getting to Gotland, there aren’t a huge variety of flights and the ferry is a bus ride out of Stockholm, it’s a beautiful place to visit. The city wall is amazing (both in daylight and at night). The Hogklint cliffs a short drive out of Visby are amazing and worth a visit, as is the fossil beach we visited. We also enjoyed the Gotland museum, both for the viking exhibits and the fantastic kids play area. Wandering the lovely cobblestone streets and looking at the old buildings and the city wall has been a highlight of our trip.
Visby is a major tourist town in Summer. Prices are much higher during the Summer months and accommodation is at a premium. We found it a nice place to visit during the Winter (admittedly conditions were mild during our visit, we missed the snow!) but don’t be put off by it being a Summer location. There are a huge variety of restaurants and cafes and we had some good quality food during our stay. Again, it’s expensive when converting to Aussie dollars but you have that problem throughout all of Scandinavia.
If you are visiting Sweden, definitely consider Visby and Gotland!
Malmö and Lund
We really only did a flying visit through both Malmö and Lund so can’t comment extensively on either. Lund did seem like a really pretty town and the Cathedral and astronomical clock are worth a visit. On a less rainy (and dark) day we would have loved to see more of the countryside. Both Malmö and Lund are a short train ride from Copenhagen so if you are visiting Copenhagen, consider popping over the bridge and having a look around Skåne (the Southern part of Sweden).
I hope you enjoyed my Sweden posts. If you want any more detail on any of our Sweden activities, hotels or itinerary feel free to ask any questions. There are lots more pictures and details in the individual posts too. I’ve included a gallery of some of my many favourite images from our Sweden stay, so click through the photos to have a look.
After Sweden we had a stay in Germany, with visits to Berlin, Potsdam and Dresden. Posts on those coming up in the next week.