As Sunday dawned, we were greeted with even more sunshine (according to a local guy we spoke to, the weather was unusually good that weekend. Hurrah!) Although there was still lots to see in Stockholm, we had heard that taking a boat ride out into the archipelago was a must. Given my now growing obsession with Scandinavia’s Great Outdoors, we therefore made our way to the harbour, close to the Östermalmstorg stop. Here we booked aboard the ‘Stockholm’ for a three hour cruise around this beautiful scattering of islands, for 299 SEK.
Stockholm’s archipelago consists of a staggering 30,000 – 35,000 islands, spreading from Arholma in the north to Landsort in the south. The Swedish government actively encourage ‘archipelago’ living, providing residents with easier access to resources such as the emergency services and many of the islands are government-funded. If I was Swedish, I would want to live here. Each island is unique and a mixture of small wooden summer house and large, pastel coloured family homes. Dotting the shorelines are boats and jetties, which come the summer, are filled with people swimming and enjoying the warm sunshine. As we glided past, we watched people sitting out on their decks, quietly fishing or enjoying a beer in the afternoon sunshine. It seemed a truly idyllic lifestyle and further cemented my conviction that Scandinavia is truly my spiritual home.
The cruise was beautiful and one I will store away in my bank of happy memories. But a tip? Given the icy winds that blow off the water, wrap up warm. The sunshine is deceiving. I spent an hour with a scarf wrapped entirely around my head to fend off those icy winds. Although most boats offer a cosy indoor cabin, complete with lunch if you’d like, I’d recommend sitting on the top deck to really make the most of the trip.
With a few hours left, we decide to do what Stockholmers do best: shop. This activity was short-lived. Something I need to mention is a) how incredibly beautiful everyone in Stockholm is b) how incredibly fashionable everyone in Stockholm is. These people know how to wear a black coat. Unfortunately, as a result we felt like colourful little trolls, bumbling around the city in last season’s trends.
Aside from H&M and Zara, we seemed a little priced out fashion wise. It seems that glorious comes at a price. However, if you are in the mood for shopping (and not just in the vintage stores) then definitely head to NK and Åhléns: two of the big department stores in the city. We spent a while in here staring lustfully after an Acne coat, before removing ourselves to avoid financial ruin.
For our last night, we decided to have dinner at the highly recommended Urban Deli in Södermalm . A few metres from our apartment, this is a popular and lively place, that combines a restaurant with a ‘Wholefoods’ style shop. Definitely book ahead as it is very popular! I’d recommend the sausage dish, with celeriac puree. It was so good.
The next morning, we had one last chance for a walk around Södermalm and one last Fika, before boarding our bus back to the airport. On our journey back I wondered whether Stockholm lived up to the high expectations I set it. My verdict? Yes. I love travel and seeing new places, so can be prone to declaring my love for every place I visit. But Stockholm is most definitely a firm favourite. The perfect mixture of old and new, with incredible scenery; unique and quirky shops; high quality places to eat; plentiful amounts of greenery and space, this is a city that lives up to its glowing reputation. Claimed to offer one of the highest standards of living in the world, I can completely understand why. Stockholm, you were glorious.