Difference between revisions of "Stockholm"
Revision as of 21:17, 11 April 2012
Stockholm  is the capital of Sweden. The city is made up of 14 islands connected by some 50 bridges on Lake Mälaren, which flows into the Baltic Sea and passes an archipelago with some 24,000 islands and islets.
The city is a very lively, cosmopolitan place with both modern Scandinavian architecture consisting of ample amounts of brass and steel, alongside fairytale towers, a captivating Old Town (Gamla Stan) and an abundance of green space. Over 30% of the city area is made up of waterways and another 30% is made up of parks and green spaces, giving Stockholm perhaps the freshest air and widest lungs of any European capital.
Most attractions in Stockholm are found in what Stockholmers call "innerstaden", the inner city - historically the zone within the city tolls. The geography of Stockholm, with its islands and bodies of water, makes for a natural division of the inner city into three major zones. Simply put, the mainland north of Gamla Stan (consisting of Norrmalm, Vasastan and Östermalm) can be said to form one district, the small island Gamla Stan and the large Södermalm another, and the island of Kungsholmen a separate district in the west. This division reflects how most Stockholmers perceive the city, although it is in part different from the administrative borough divisions.
Outside the inner city, the city has a typically suburban character. The Municipality of Stockholm extends to the northwest and to the south. To the north the municipality borders the towns of Solna and Danderyd and to the east Nacka and the island of Lidingö; all of them traditionally separate entities.
The northern inner city
The southern inner city
Suburbs and bordering towns
Stockholm is not the oldest town in Sweden, but after its establishment in the 1250s it rapidly became a national centre, with its strategic location between lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea. The city is in almost every respect the most important city in Sweden, even though more peripheral regions feel they survive quite well without the political centralism exerted by the capital.
The city contains buildings from all ages since the 15th century. Like the rest of Sweden it was untouched by the World Wars, but particularly between 1955 and 1975, hundreds of old buildings in Norrmalm were demolished in a large-scale modernization process, encouraged by similar projects in other European cities. Since then, only infills and a few areas have been developed with new architercture in central Stockholm. Good building technique, good materials for the climate and a tradition of preservation has all contributed to the apprearance of the city. More recent buildings are the Waterfront, Bonniers konsthall and Clarion Sign Hotell.
Sweden's beautiful capital has a picturesque setting that makes the city unique. The difference between seasons is quite large, the summers green with mild nights, and the winters dark, cold, rainy, sometimes snowy, and with millions of Christmas candles in the windows.
Swedes are helpful and speak adequate English in general. Most swedes won't approach a tourist if they think that they are lost, in respect that they might not need help. But if you ask for directions or recommendations you will most likely get it.
Despite its northern location, Stockholm has fairly mild temperatures throughout the year. As a result of its northerly latitude, the city sees a huge seasonal variation in sunlight, from more than 18 hours of daylight around midsummer, to approximately 6 hours of daylight in late December. Stockholm enjoys an average of nearly 2,000 hours of sunshine a year. Average yearly precipitation is 539 mm (21.2"), with July and August slightly the wettest months.
Throughout the summer, the average daily high temperatures reach 20-25°C (68-77°F), with lows of 12-15°C (54-59°F). However, summer heat waves are frequent and temperatures above 25°C+ (77°F+) are not uncommon. Autumn tends to be rather cool and often rainy; in October, average daily highs dip to approximately 10°C (50°F). In the winter months, from December through early March, average daily temperatures fall between -3 and 3°C (26-38°F). Milder periods occur, but so do cold spells with temperatures around -10°C (14°F). Snowfall can occur from late November to early April, but the amount of snowfall varies greatly from year to year and through the winter season. However, longer periods of deep snow cover are rather uncommon. But the last two years have had exceptional amounts of snow that doesn't melt, creating a beautiful white winterland. Spring is the driest season, with average daily temperature reaching highs of 9°C (48°F) in April and 16°C (61°F) in May.
Note though that the cheapest fare is only offered on select days; on other days fares start at 97 SEK. The cheapest tickets are also nonrefundable and nonrebookable.
The main station, Stockholms Central, serves both commuter and long-distance routes. It is located in the city centre, with an underground connection to T-Centralen, the central hub for the subway system. The major national rail company, SJ, has a store located inside the station and a travel planner with ticket booking service on its web page .
Internationally, there are services from Copenhagen (Denmark) (5 h) and Oslo (Norway) (6 h) with several direct connections daily. A daily overnight train is available from the northern Norwegian city of Narvik (14 h). From Trondheim, a quick change in Östersund is needed.
There are numerous direct domestic services to Stockholm from most major cities. The major ones being high speed services from Gothenburg (3 h), Malmö (4½ h), Sundsvall (3½ h) and Östersund (5 h). Conventional trains plys the same routes and adds an extra hour but can slash prices considerably. Most other mid-sized cities in Sweden have a train connection with Stockholm. Domestic night trains are available from Malmö, and from the northern cities of Luleå, Kiruna and Umeå.
If looking for a bit of luxury, then a new train named Blå Tåget (Blue Train)  now travels the route Gothenburg-Stockholm-Uppsala daily except Fridays. It's slower than ordinary trains, taking a lengthy 4½ hours to reach Stockholm but has first class seatings and a real restaurant onboard. WiFi is included in the price.
The City Terminal (Cityterminalen ) is the main bus terminal, centrally located and directly connected to the main train station, Stockholms Central and the T Centralen metro station. There are multiple daily departures to most other cities in Sweden, as well as a few international routes. Swebus Express  operates routes to Copenhagen and Oslo with several daily departures, and a twice-weekly service to Berlin. Eurolines  has some departures to Copenhagen. Smaller operators offer connections with Prague, Budapest, Zagreb, Banja Luka among other cities.
Cruise-ferries link Stockholm to Helsinki, Mariehamn and Turku in Finland, Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia every day. Stockholm is the main Swedish terminal for the Baltic Sea cruises - over 12 million passengers pass through the city's port each year, making the boats one of the main ways to get into the city. They are by far the cheapest way to get to and from these cities from Stockholm. If you intend to use the boats to travel to- or from- Stockholm, it is almost always cheaper to book a cruise (kryssning), or even two head-to-head cruises and discard the returns, rather than buy one-way tickets. Tickets can be had for as low as 80 SEK for a full 4-person cabin (making it practically the cheapest accommodation one can find virtually anywhere in the world - at 10 SEK/night/person) for a two-night Stockholm-Helsinki return cruise (provided you book early and/or last minute during the weekdays), and should almost never (even for a weekend cruise in high season) exceed 400 SEK for the cheapest type of 4-bed cabin. A one-way ticket, for a shared berth, in comparison, will almost always exceed 1000 SEK.
As of June 2011 the international websites of both Tallink-Silja and Viking Line do at last have on-line booking. Check for "Red tickets" or "Last minute offers" for cruises reaching Stockholm. Note that both Viking and Tallink Silja may have a problem with accepting international credit cards. That is not a problem in practice, as you can make a booking and pay it in the port with only a token extra charge (3-5 euro).
A lot of European cruises have day long stops in Stockholm.
Stockholms Lokaltrafik, SL (Stockholm Public Transport)  runs an extensive subway, commuter train and bus system as well as some tram, light rail and ferry services, all using an integrated ticket system. In an attempt to cut down Stockholm now operates a RFID card called "SL Access". The card costs 20kr to purchase and can be loaded with all tickets available in the SL fare scheme.
There are two forms of ticketing, ticketing based on passes or based on coupons. The minimum amount of coupons needed is 2, and the maximum 4, depending on how many zones the trip goes through. Single tickets are cheaper when bought in advance (22SEK, 14SEK for children/seniors) rather than when bought from the clerk, and mean making one trip in one zone costs at least 44SEK for adults. There are strips of 16 coupons (förköpsremsa) for 200SEK (120SEK for children/seniors). Strips can be shared as long as you go to the same destination. All these tickets are valid for one hour, during which you can make unlimited changes. Note that children under 12 travelling with adults travel free from mid-day Friday to midnight Sunday.
There are also passes available for 24 hours (115SEK, 70SEK for for children/seniors), 72 hours (230SEK, 140SEK for for children/seniors), 7 days (300SEK, 180 SEK for for children/seniors) and if you are going to be in Stockholm for a while, go ahead and purchase a 30-day card, which allows unrestricted access to all of the buses, trams, subways, and commuter trains, as well as the Djurgården ferry, for 790SEK. Do the maths and see which ticket fits best with your plans! When you purchase the 72-hour pass, you also receive free admission to Gröna Lund (see "See" below).
The Stockholm Card  allows free public transport as well as free admission to 80 museums and sights in Stockholm, free sightseeing by boat and other bonus offers. Adult 24 hours 425SEK, 48 hours 550SEK, 72 hours 650SEK, 120 hours 895SEK. Children (7-17 years of age) 24 hours 195SEK, 48 hours 225SEK, 72 hours 245SEK, 120 hours 285SEK.
The SL website is very good and has detailed ticket and price information, and a journey planner. It is always updated.
The standard of quality among the public transportation services is very high but there are still are a few older trains running during rush hour.
There is an efficient metro system called the Tunnelbana (sometimes abbreviated T-Bana or just T on signs). With exactly 100 stations, it is extensive for a city of this size and will get you around almost all the downtown places as well as many inner suburbs. Trains run from 5AM to 1AM on weekdays and all night on weekends. Nightbusses replaces the trains on weekdays.
The tunnelbana is probably the fastest way to travel to the inner suburbs as well as offering a fantastic view from the bridge between Gamla Stan and Slussen.
The SL website offers a fantastic guide to the artwork that is featured in many tunnelbana stations, with nearly all stations offering some form of artwork on display. The artwork on the blue line in particular is of note.
Stockholm also has a suburban rail network (Pendeltåg; official English term: Commuter rail) reaching into inner and outer suburbs of the Stockholm metropolitan area as well as Bålsta and Gnesta in Uppsala and Södermanland counties respectively. There are currently 50 stations on two main lines and a branch line:
35: (Bålsta) - Kungsängen - Stockholm C - Västerhaninge - (Nynäshamn) 36: Märsta - Stockholm C - Södertälje C 37: Södertälje C - Gnesta (connects with line 36 at Södertälje hamn)
Typical off-peak service is 4 tph (trains per hour) on lines 35 and 36 (2 tph in the bracketed sections), and 1 tph on line 37. Additional services run during peak hours, giving the core section Karlberg - Älvsjö a peak frequency of 16 tph.
Unlike in the United States and many other countries, commuter trains use the same tickets and passes as the subways and public buses.
Bus, light rail, tram and ferry
Stockholm has an extensive bus system which reaches areas the Tunnelbana does not. Four inner city main lines numbered from 1 to 4 are operated by large blue buses (weekdays every 3-10 minutes), the other, generally less frequent lines (weekdays 7-20 minutes), by red buses.
The Tvärbanan is a semi-circular light rail line running from the west to the southeast part of the city with a new section forming a 3/4 loop around Stockholm opening mid-2013. It currently connects both ends of the green line and the southern group of lines on the red line of the tunnelbana.
The Lidingöbanan runs on the island of Lidingö where it connects to Östermalm at the tunnelbana station Ropsten on the red line. This line offers a scenic view at the end of Lidingö across the archipelago. A few ferry services also call at Gåshaga brygga at the end of the line offering a scenic ride around the various islands that make up Stockholm.
The final light rail line is the Nockebybanan which connects the district of Nockeby to Alvik on the green line of the Tunnelbana. This line offers a direct link to the buses heading to Drottningholm Slott as well as passing through some more quaint Swedish neighbourhoods consisting of older, more established housing.
There is currently one tram line connecting Sergels Torg to Waldemarsudde. This tram line passes through the park of Djurgården as well as serving the Nordiska Museet, Grona Lund and Skansen.
There are also ferries going to Djurgården and Skeppsholmen. Bus and light rail is included in any SL ticket or pass, and travel with the Djurgården ferry is included with any 24- or 72-hour pass, 7-day pass as well as the monthly pass. Suburban ferries, airport buses, the Arlanda Express and regional trains are not part of the SL network and thus not included in any of these tickets.
Cycling is an attractive option and there are many bikepaths. On a bike, a journey across central Stockholm' will take no longer than 30 minutes and can be faster than travelling by subway or car. There are cycle paths along most major streets and drivers are generally considerate towards cyclists. In winter, when paths can be covered by ice, extra care should be taken. Bikepaths have a bicycle painted on the ground and/or round blue signs with a white bike. Make sure you bike on the right hand side of the street, just as the cars.
Taxis are on the expensive side. Even worse is the fact that some small dodgy operators charge outrageous prices: unsuspecting visitors have been charged thousands of crowns for a trip from the airport. The antidote is to always, always, always check the black and yellow price sticker on the rear window. The price shown in large digits is the maximum (for instance during night hours) fare for a 10 km, 15 minute journey and reputable companies charge around 300 SEK for this. If the sticker shows a much higher price, stay away or be ripped off. The taxi market was deregulated several years ago which made it considerably easier to find a taxi but the downside is that the rip-offs aren't even illegal, just "supply and demand"!
As long as you check the sticker you'll be fine, but if you're still nervous choose the major companies TopCab, +46 8 33 33 33; Taxi Kurir, +46 8 30 00 00; Taxi 020, 020 20 20 20 (free calls from Swedish phones); and Taxi Stockholm, +46 8 15 00 00. Note that many minor companies use "Stockholm" in their names to mimic their competitor, so look for the phone number 15 00 00 which appears below the logo on all Taxi Stockholm cars.
Most taxi firms operate a fixed price regime from central Stockholm to Arlanda airport, mirroring the rates for the journey into town of around 450-500SEK. It is a good idea to check with the driver that you will get the fixed price before you set off - the meter price for the same ride may cost twice as much. Note that the taxis often have big stickers advertising their airport price: do not confuse them with the black and yellow price sticker pictured in this article.
Authorized taxis have yellow license plates. Late at night in the city centre, you may be offered a ride with an unauthorized taxi, svarttaxi (literally "black taxi"), usually by discrete whispering of "taxi". Most of the time this will get you home for roughly the same cost as ordinary taxis, just don't ask for a receipt. Rumours say that these cabs are usually controlled by organized crime, and some unpleasant episodes have been known to happen to passengers, so try this at your own risk, and preferably not alone.
It's often possible to negotiate a price with a licensed taxi driver before entering the cab. In this case, it's implied that you won't receive a receipt, and the driver won't be paying any taxes or his employer. The money (paid in cash) will go straight into the driver's pocket, which means that you can often get a cheaper ride. However, if you don't know the area well enough to estimate the regular metered price you might get ripped off. Negotiating the price also undermines the swedish system of taxes and employment security which will be considered very rude by many (not all) swedes.
Cars driving into or out of central Stockholm between 6:30AM and 6:29PM are charged a congestion tax  of 10 to 20SEK. Some car rental companies charge their customers separately for the cost of toll passages, while others don't. Foreign-registered cars are exempt from the tax. Driving in Stockholm is easy compared to many larger capitals in the world. Just make sure to use your flashers when changing lanes.
There are two hop-on/hop-off boat tours that run loops between various sites in Stockholm. Both cost approximately 10 Euro for a day long pass and have approximately 8 stops, including the cruise terminal, Gamla Stan, the Vasa Museum, Skansen, and Skeppsholmen.
Stockholm has a number of spectacular tourist attractions, ranging from the interesting architecture of the City Hall to the stunning natural beauty of the archipelago. In the Royal Palace and the royal family residence Drottningholm Palace, visitors can get in close contact with traditions of the Swedish monarchy. Among the wide range of museums, the Vasa museum with its 17th century warship and the Skansen open air museum are unique experiences. Gamla stan, the picturesque old town, is a major attraction in itself, with narrow streets and houses dating back to medieval times.
Note: Directions in Stockholm are often accompanied by the name of the closest subway stop, using "T" as an abbreviation for "Tunnelbana", e.g. "T Gamla Stan". This practice is followed below when appropriate.
From April through September numerous services operate directly from the city centre to various destiantions, with Waxholmsbolaget departing from Strömkajen right downhill T Kungsträdgården and Cinderellabåtarna departing from Nybrokajen, 400 m from T Östermalmstorg or T Kungsträdgården. Other (and basically the only ones during winter) routes operate from suburban mainland jetties connected to the city centre by suburban rail and bus. Vaxholm, reached by bus 670 from T Tekniska högskolan, and Stavsnäs, reached by bus 433 or 434 from T Slussen are examples of this. Also note that even during the summer, when countless services operate from the city centre it is still, generally, a lot faster to travel via a suburban jetty, not to mention a lot cheaper. This is because even though the archipelago is within the metropolitan area, local transport tickets are NOT valid and tickets are paid on a distance basis. However, if you're doing multiple trips, it is also possible to buy a 5 or 30 day card (420 SEK and 750 SEK respectively), which belong to Waxholmsbolaget but are also valid on Cinderellabåtarna.
Destinations in the archipelago include (but are far from limited to) Grinda, Svartsö, Finnhamn, Möja, Sandhamn, Ingmarsö, Runmarö, Nämdö and Utö. From April through september most of these can be reached either from the city centre or via suburban jetties. The islands offer a wide variety of nature, from the lush green of the inner archipelago to the bare cliffs of the more distant outposts. Some islands have restaurants, youth hostels and country stores, while others are entirely deserted islands.
A good destination for a day trip is Sandhamn, which is reached either by taking a direct ferry from the city centre (this takes 5 h) or by taking the 433 or 434 bus from the centrally located T Slussen to Stavsnäs and from there a connecting ferry bound for Sandhamn or Hagede (from T Slussen this takes 90-95 min during summer and 110-115 min during winter). Both Waxholmsbolaget and Cinderellabåtarna serve both routes, but again, Cinderellabåtarna service is shut down during winter.
Utö makes another good trip and is accessible from the city centre (takes 3.5 h) or by taking suburban train from Stockholm central station to Västerhaninge, then bus 846 to Årsta brygga and then a connecting ferry (from Stockholm C this takes 90 min during summer and 1 h 45 min during winter). Both routes are served solely by Waxholmsbolaget.
Buildings and structures
Stockholm has a large number of interesting churches, some of them dating back to medieval times. Most of them are in active use by the Lutheran Church of Sweden. There is also a synagogue and a mosque in the city center. The Skogskyrkogården cemetery, in the southern suburbs, is one of the very few UNESCO World Heritage sites from the 20th century.
The Stadsbiblioteket (The main city library) by architect Gunnar Asplund is a beautiful building in the short gap between the styles of classisism and modernism, close to T Odenplan or T Rådmanshuset.
The Globen arena is a white sphere which holds many of the biggest concerts and sports events. Sometimes at night it is lit with colored light creating a beautiful scenery.
Stockholm has more than 70 museums , ranging from those large in size and scope to the very specialized, including the Butterfly Museum, the Army Museum, and the Dance Museum, to name but a few. Among the most popular and spectacular are the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet), with its magnificent and well-preserved 17th century warship, the rather unique open air museum and zoo Skansen and the Museum of History (Historiska museet) featuring an extensive and beautifully presented Viking exhibition. The National Museum (Nationalmuseet) and the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna museet) both hold interesting collections of Swedish and international art.
Beyond the art museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum and Prince Eugen's Waldemarsudde (see Museums above), Stockholm has a vivid art scene and offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy contemporary art in galleries, exhibition halls and public places. The Stockholm official visitors guide has a list of galleries . The newly opened museum of photography is also well worth a visit with its great selection. And don't forget to look at the art in the Stockholm subway stations!
Stockholm is a city easily enjoyed by foot, with very few steep streets. Walk around, and be sure to enjoy the beautiful panoramas, either from the viewpoints listed in the See section, or from one of the bars and restaurants with good views: Gondolen, Herman's or the penthouse lounge of Sjöfartshotellet on Södermalm, or the SAS Radisson Hotel Skybar on Norrmalm. You will get the best view of Stockholm from the Skybar and restaurant called "Och himlen därtill" located in the Skrapan building on Södermalm.
There is a wide selection of guided tours available, by boat, by bus and on foot.
Stockholm Sightseeing  (part of the Strömma group) has several different guided boat tours.
Alternatively, and cheaply, there is the eight-stop "Hop On-Hop Off" boat service of Stockholm Sightseeing (but NOT promoted as one of the STROMMA carriers) -- as near as we can tell (August, 2010), this is the only boat service that honors the Stockholm Card for full fares. Two of the most frequented stops are at the Palace, and at the Gamla Stan, right across the canal from the Slussen T-bana stop. The recordings on this loop service are reasonably informative.
The competing Aphrodite boat service offers a similar hop on-hop off service for a modest fee for 24 hours. (In other sections of this article, a price of 10 SEK is quoted, but this is lower than any prices we heard quoted by a factor of 10 or more.)
City Tours and Open Top Tours (also divisions of the Strömma group) offers bus tours:
Stockholm Excursions  has a few specialized bus tours:
Taxi Stockholm, +46 8 15 00 00, offers a personal guide service , allowing up to 4 persons to travel in their own taxi. 1 hour 30 min M-F 9AM-3PM SEK 825, other hours SEK 900. 2 hours M-F 9AM-3PM SEK 1100, other hours SEK 1200.
Free Tour Stockholm  offers free guided tours in English year round, find out when through the webpage. It runs completely on tips and you don't have to book in advance, just show up. Highlights include finding out which Nobel Prize is a kind of fake, why Queen Christina had to sleep under her dead dad's heart and how not to rob a bank. This tour is currently the highest ranked tour on TripAdvisor, and since it's free, check it out! It starts from the big staircase at Sergels torg and takes 1 hour 30 min.
City Tours offers a walking tour in the summer months:
For sightseeing on a higher level, Upplev mer has a special tour:
Gallivant Productions offers year round walking tours including the Viking Tour: Sweden: From the Ice Age to IKEA , which is a performance walk, and runs on weekends throughout the year and daily between May and September. SEK 135. New this year is and 'Stockholm Syndrome: The City Tour' which runs on Saturday mornings SEK 200 (3 hour tour).
There are several other agencies that offer occasional guided walking tours in English during the summer months. Check with the Stockholm Tourist Centre for information.
Talk of the town offers self-guided bike tours in six languages.
You are never far from water in Stockholm. There are several beaches in the inner city. They might be crowded when Swedish people have time off, but you will surely find some place. The water in central Stockholm is so clean you can drink it, even though it looks dark. The quality of the water is controlled by Miljöförvaltningen (the municipal authorities) and the reports for all the beaches in the city is available online. Would there be a problem with the water, signs would be posted at the beach.
If the water in Lake Mälaren is too cold for your tastes, you can opt for one of the outdoor swimming pools:
Stockholm also has several indoor swimming pools and spas in very special settings: Centralbadet Sturebadet Yasuragi spa
Stockholm is home to several elite sports teams, and if you're a sports fan you might want to watch a game. The most popular spectator sports are football (soccer) and ice hockey. Also, bandy has something of a cult following. Tickets for all games can be bought online from Ticnet . Speedway is another big spectator sport in Sweden, and it can be experienced only 16 minutes from the Central station by subway, station "Gubbängen" .
The Swedish top football league, Allsvenskan, is considerably weaker than most of its Western European sister leagues, and Swedish teams generally struggle in the European cups. The fans don't seem to mind that much, and the games can still be an exciting experience. Unlike in continental Europe, the football season starts in April and ends in October. There are currently two teams from Stockholm in Allsvenskan (AIK and Djurgården):
The Swedish top ice hockey league, Elitserien, is one of the top leagues in the world, after North-American NHL and the Russian KHL. The season starts at the end of September and ends with finals in April. Stockholm currently has one teams in Elitserien: AIK. They are playing their home games at Hovet.
Bandy is a sport popular mainly in Sweden, Finland and Russia, and slowly gaining popularity in Northern America, played outdoors on ice with sticks and a small ball. The field is roughly as large as a soccer field, and the rules show some similarities. If you visit Stockholm sometime from November to February, and want an exotic experience, this is for you. Remember to dress warm, the game is played in two 45-minute halves. Stockholm currently has only one team in the top men's bandy league: Hammarby.
There are several big sporting events taking place in Stockholm.
Spectator sporting events
There are many opportunities to do sports in the Stockholm area.
The Stockholm area contains several semi-artificial ski slopes. The height is modest, but the view is usually great, well worth a hike anytime during the year. Tracks for cross country skiing is available throughout Stockholm.
There are few stables close to the city where you can ride ponies and horses. Both available for adults and children with various riding-experience.
There are many open green areas in Stockholm. Gärdet (T Karlaplan or T Gärdet) is a good one for outdoor sports. Just bring a ball of your choice. In the green season you can see big groups play a swedish version of baseball called Brännboll here.
There are many cinemas in Stockholm. With the exception of children's movies, films aren't dubbed but subtitled, so if your English is good enough this is a good leisure activity. Many cinemas are THX certified. A ticket is around 100SEK.
Many of Stockholm's most charming classic cinemas have been closed in recent years, victims of the competition from modern multiplex screens. The elegant Röda Kvarn on Biblioteksgatan was recently transformed into an Urban Outfitters store, and Astoria Nybrogatan was closed in 2007. A few splendid venues are especially worth a visit: Park, Rigoletto,Grand Sveavägen, Saga, Victoria...
Stockholm International Film Festival
In November, Stockholm hosts an annual international film festival  that draws large crowds.
The Stockholm International Film Festival also hosts an open air cinema in the Tantolunden park during one week in August .
Amusement park and children's activities
Attitudes towards homosexuality are generally tolerant. In the summer (generally late July/early August), there is an annual LGBT pride festival, Stockholm Pride , which is the largest in Scandinavia. The national LGBT organization, RFSL , can provide information on other events and venues.
With about 80,000 university students at more than twenty universities and university colleges, Stockholm is the largest university city in the Nordic countries. The largest institutions of higher education are Stockholm University (Stockholms universitet), the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga tekniska högskolan), and Södertörn University College (Södertörns högskola). Karolinska institutet is a world-class medical university. There are also several fine arts university colleges. Study in Stockholm  has information about university studies in Stockholm.
Sweden is internationally well-known for its design, and Stockholm has many stores where you can find Swedish-designed clothes, textiles and interior decoration items. Hand-made and hand-painted glassware is also a famous Swedish speciality.
Popular Swedish clothing brands that you can find in several major stores include Acne Jeans, WESC, Cheap Monday, J Lindeberg, Whyred, Tiger and Filippa K. Recent years have seen an explosion of young designers starting their own small labels. Many of these can be found in the small shops in the SoFo area (see below). Examples are Nakkna, Jenny Hellström, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair and The Stray Boys.
The main shopping street in Stockholm is the wholly pedestrianised Drottninggatan in Norrmalm. The street is a shopping heaven for big name brands down at the Sergels Torg end before giving way to smaller and more specialised shops further north. Drottninggatan is easily reached on the tunnelbana at T-centralen taking the Sergels Torg exit.
Also connected to Drottninggatan is the square of Hötorget. Here one can find a daily fresh food market outside as well as Hötorgshallen, an indoor market where one can buy raw as well as cooked food. Hötorget is easily reached by tunnelbana on any of the three green lines to station Hötorget as well as the blue bus line number 1.
Also accessible from Hötorget station is Stockholm's newest inner city mall, Mood Stockholm on Norrlandsgatan. This mall contains a lot of interesting boutiques not represented elsewhere in the city. (Mon-Fri 10:00-20:00, Sat 10:00-18:00, Sun 11:00-18:00)
In Östermalm is the main square Östermalmstorg, a square which possesses Stockholm's best food hall, Östermalms Saluhall. This area is easily accessible by tunnelbana on any of the two red lines to Östermalmstorg station. (Mon-Thurs 09:30-18:00, Fri 09:30-19:00, Sat 09:30-16:00).
Also at Östermalmstorg station on the tunnelbana is Sturegallerian, an upmarket shopping mall at the famous nightlife district, Stureplan. Shopping and food are contained within this upmarket mall with some unique eateries available in the rear of the mall. Stureplan can also be reached by blue bus line number 2. (Mon-Fri 10:00-19:00, Sat 10:00-17:00, Sun 12:00-17:00).
From Norrmalmstorg on Hamngatan which is accessible from Kungsträdgården station on the blue line of the tunnelbana or Tram line 7 from Sergels Torg up to Stureplan in Östermalm is a collection of high end shops including Gucci, Ralph Laurent, Louis Vuitton amongst others.
Suburban shopping centers and malls
There are a number of shopping centers and malls in the major suburban centers surrounding the inner city. While different in size, they all have a similar profile, with cheap restaurants, supermarkets and major fashion, electronics and interior design chain stores, as well as some smaller shops. There is no obvious reason to venture outside the city centre, except perhaps for the possibility of Sunday evening shopping at Kista Galleria when inner-city shops all have closed.
Brand stores of Swedish fashion labels:
Some great second hand stores:
Music and media
On Sunday evenings from September to May at Skeppsholmen near the city center there is live Swedish folk music at Folkmusikhuset. Just go there and listen or why not dance some Swedish folk dances. It is free entrance.
Food and drink
Furniture and design
Asplund furniture store, is an upscale store with world-class design. T Östermalmstorg.
Room is another great furniture and design store locaded in the Pub mall, T Hötorget.
Many antiquties shops are located close to T Odenplan. Good place to stroll around.
If second hand is an option many Stadsmissionen and Myrorna (christian charity) have fun and unique products that also contributes to a good cause. Especially Stadsmissionen Stortorget (T Gamla stan) has handpicked design and classical furiture.
Stockholm features a large variety of restaurants. However, dining in Stockholm can be rather expensive, if you aim for something a bit more memorable than the run-of-the-mill English-style pubs and Westernized Asian restaurants that dominate the budget bracket. Be prepared to pay around 175-250SEK or more, for most main courses at quality restaurants. If you are on a tight budget, self-catering is probably the best option.
Most restaurants have "dagens rätt" - a lunch offer, normally including non-alcoholic beverages, bread, butter, salad and coffee M-F, usually 11AM-2PM. Expect to pay between 60-80SEK. Many Asian, Indian, Mexican and fast food restaurants offer rather cheap "all you can eat" lunch buffets.
The vast majority of restaurants' kitchens close at 10PM, even on weekends so it is a good idea to be seated and ready to order early in the evening.
Alcohol in restaurants is expensive. A bottle of house wine can cost around 450 SEK.
Sweden has enforced non-smoking in all bars, pubs and restaurants. Smoking is usually permitted outdoors, or in designated smoking rooms/outdoor seating.
Note that many Stockholm restaurants are closed for vacation for a few weeks in July and/or early August. In December, many restaurants offer an (often rather expensive) "julbord" ("Christmas buffet"), a variation of the classic Swedish smörgåsbord with traditional seasonal dishes such as ham, pickled herring, "lutfisk" (stockfish from cod or ling, prepared with lye) and much more.
Taking a break for coffee and a cookie is a Swedish tradition, commonly called fika in Swedish, and there are many coffee-bars around the city. Traditional Swedish filter coffee is relatively strong when compared to American, but a far cry from the Italian espresso. In recent years, espresso, caffe latte, cappuccino and other varieties of Italian coffee have generally become available. If you prefer tea, note that many cafés only offer a few flavours, but generally some black, red and green teas.
Although you won't find the largest international franchises such as Starbucks and Costa among Stockholm's coffee shops, there are several Swedish counterparts - Wayne's Coffee, Robert's Coffee and Espresso House are the most common names here - that are strikingly similar in design. Just as everywhere else, the small local cafés offer a more personal experience, and often better coffee. Expect to pay anything from 20SEK and upwards for a cup of regular black coffee.
Don't hesitate to ask for a refill at self-service cafeterias, as it is often free.
The cost for drinking out in Stockholm can vary a lot. Expect to pay around 30 SEK in the cheapest pub (55-75 SEK in a trendier club or pub) for a beer or cider, and at least 95-150 kr for a long-drink or cocktail in a club. Bars usually have no cover charge, but may have an arbitrarily set (and arbitrarily enforced) minimum age limit (usually 21 or 23, sometimes as low as 18, other times as high as 27), while clubs usually charge 50-200 SEK at the door (or more at special performances). Long, and very slow moving lines tend to form outside most popular clubs - expect having to wait as much as 1 hour or more if going to a trendy place after midnight, even if raining or snowing. Don't forget to bring an ID with you, as bouncers will (almost) always ask for identification at the door in both pubs and clubs.
The most famous nightlife district is Stureplan, at the crossing of Birger Jarlsgatan, Kungsgatan and Sturegatan, (T Östermalmstorg). The mushroom-shaped rain shelter is a common meeting point. High entrance fees (200SEK or more) and long lines.
Major bar streets are Götgatan (where most places are rather cheap pubs) and Bondegatan (with a younger and more trendy crowd), both on Södermalm, Rörstrandsgatan in western Vasastan (also rather trendy, but drawing a slightly older crowd) and the area around the Rådhuset and Fridhemsplan subway stations on Kungsholmen (with many small and relaxed places).
Most restaurants and bars close at 1 AM. Larger clubs usually close at 3 AM. There are an exclusive few open till 5 AM.
It is common that the more trendy clubs have a long queue from midnight till closing time. Get out early (at least before midnight), well-dressed (most clubs have an informal dress code, vårdad klädsel, while some upscale places even have and enforce a formal dress codes), and not too drunk, and you will be welcome at most clubs.
If you can read Swedish, you can get more information about Stockholm's nightlife in the free monthly magazine Nöjesguiden, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Thursdays, and the free Metro and Stockholm City on Fridays.
Hotels located far from city center are cheaper. If possible try to find one close to the subway or commuter trains.
There are a number of places where you can access the Internet in central Stockholm.
An alternative for any visitor to Sweden is to buy a pre-paid USB 3G modem. These can be had cheaply (down to 150 SEK) and the 3G coverage in Stockholm is excellent. Expect to pay around 100 SEK/week or 300 SEK/month to use the 3G modem. Data limits are typically high (20 GB/Month but up to 100 GB or more is also available)
If you have your own laptop, many cafés, hotels, libraries offer free wi-fi access.
Stockholm is a safe city by international standards. For 2011 it was named as the 6th safest city in the world to live in as part of the Mercer Livability Survey. As in other cities, however, you should avoid late-night walks through deserted areas of the city or through unlit parks.
Stockholm has the 'classic' warnings: Beware of pick pockets in tourist areas such as Old Town and be cautious of travelling on the underground on your own late at night. The T-Centralen subway entrance to Sergels Torg (plattan) is a well-known hangout for drug-dealers, and it is possible for a passer-by to feel threatened.
Stockholm has a very exciting nightlife with a lot of partying in town. As in most countries, being overly intoxicated is not accepted in most bars and clubs and could lead to the security staff forcibly ejecting the intoxicated person in question. Alcohol-fuelled violence is becoming a more common phenomenon around the world and as such one should avoid groups of people who are obviously intoxicated.
Most crimes against tourists are crimes of opportunity, such as pick-pocketing, bicycle theft, auto theft, and auto vandalism. As always, do not leave valuable items in your car and watch your bag in crowded places. Most shops and all major taxi companies accept credit and debit cards, so there is no need to carry a lot of cash. Be especially aware of your safety in crowded areas such as local festivals, crowded tourist sites, markets, airports, and on trains and buses.
Try to use one of the more well-established cab companies to avoid overcharging. Going by taxi in Stockholm is a safe way to travel, but the fares differ between cab companies. Among recommended companies are Taxi Stockholm, Taxi Kurir and Taxi 020. Watch out for taxi signs designed to look like these three.
During summer, a few street gamblers try to swindle their audience on Drottninggatan and in other crowded areas. They use a variety of tricks one of them being planting a few of their own in the crowd. Don't play, you will lose. Homeless people can occasionally be seen begging downtown. A responsible way to address their situation is to buy their magazine, Situation Stockholm, for 40 SEK. People handing out laminated begging cards in or on the subway might belong to organized gangs, and should be ignored. Buying food or water for someone begging is also a good way of helping without risking that your money goes in the wrong hands. The welfare system in Sweden is highly developed and because of the governmental programs the numbers of Swedish citizens that are homeless are few compared to other countries.
Some things to pack:
There are many ATMs in the city.
There are many locations of a currency exchange called Forex, but they charge a whopping 45 SEK (7$) commission on top of their buy-sell spread.
Credit cards are widely accepted even for small amounts.
Many department stores and fast-food restaurants have clean restrooms, often for the charge of 5SEK. That is also the cost of public toilet booths found in most city squares (though these might be messy) so be sure to carry some 5SEK coins. Restaurants' toilets are often reserved for customers and might be messy depending on the establishment. Some good, clean toilets are found in Max (at Norrmalmstorg and Stockholm Central) and in the bar Sturehof (at Stureplan - the establishment is too big for crew to keep track of people borrowing the toilet). Urinating in town is illegal, but urinals are often free even if you have to pay for a WC. The libraries, museums, and govermental buildings often have free, clean toilets.
Since all Swedish apartments either have a washing machine or access to a communal laundry room, there are virtually no self-service laundries to be found in Stockholm, with one exception:
Most youth hostels have washing machines. Some dry cleaners offer to wash shirts and bed linen as well, but this tends to be quite expensive.
Swedish healthcare is generally of very high quality, although you may have to face a long wait in emergency rooms. How fast you get to see the doctor is dependent on how ill you are and if others are sicker. If you have a small wound that needs stitches you will wait if there are victims of a car-accident. But if you are in a bad car-accident you know you will get help first. Money, name or title won't help pass the queue.
EU/EES citizens with a European Health Insurance card pay the same (rather low) fee for emergency and necessary care as a local citizen. Others must pay the whole health care cost (which can be between 1,700 and 2,200SEK for a doctor’s visit at an emergency care unit at a hospital). More information on hospital fees can be found on the Stockholm County information site .
In an emergency, always call 112 for SOS Alarm, for ambulance, police, fire service, air and sea rescue, mountain patrol, or priest on call. English-speaking operators are available.
There are two hospitals with 24-hour emergency care units in the inner city:
For less serious illnesses and ailments, getting in touch with a local clinic, vårdcentral, is a much better option than the hospital emergency rooms. The Stockholm County healthcare hotline Vårdguiden (+46 8 320 100, ) can give medical advice and help you find a doctor. While information is officially given in Swedish only, the doctors can often speak some English.
The pharmacy market has recently been de-regulated, giving some competition to the state-operated monopoly chain Apoteket. Certified pharmacies have a green cross sign. You can buy over-the-counter medicine (such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, throat and cough relief tablets or nose-sprays) in almost any supermarket.
The tap water in Stockholm is of very high quality. There is no reason for buying bottled water. It is also completely accepted to ask for tap water in restaurants. Many places have a tap and glasses for self-service.