The Swedish capital city spreads over fourteen islands in Lake Malaren and has everything a visitor would like to see in one of the major European capitals: lots of history, an urban development that showcases the natural features of the land and locals who often seem to be taken for a pastoral picture of simpler and more peaceful times. The city was first documented as early as 1252, when it had become an important post in the local and regional iron trade. It is sometimes known as the Venice of the North

Huge virgin landscapes, cold, short days in winter, lots of snow, near eighteen hours of light in summer, Abba, the Vikings, tall beautiful blond Goddesses (no, really: goddesses!), Alfred Nobel, the actress Ingrid Bergman, the paradox of social policies that reach perfection in a capitalist society, director Ingmar Bergman and his beloved actor, Max von Sydow, writer Stieg Larsson and his posthumously successful trilogy (should I stop?…), are just a few that come to mind when thinking of Sweden. Stockholm, its capital, embodies a unique landscape, with nature, history and modern living coming together in harmony here. Just so that you don’t get lost, here is your list of five “must sees” in Stockholm:

2. The Skansen Museum
. Here, on the island of Djurgarden, Sodra Djurgarden, to be precise, the open air Skansen Museum takes one back to another way of life. Built at the end of the 19th century, this was one of the first museums in Europe to display real dwellings and other buildings in the village, transplanted here and transformed into museum exhibits. Try to connect with the rural past of this amazing people and imagine life as you walk the streets of the museum and enter the farm houses.1. Gamla Stan, the Old City, with a visit to the Royal Palace, whose notable neighbor is the Swedish Parliament. Sweden is, after all, a monarchy. Like many royal palaces throughout the world, this palace’s history dates back to medieval times. It started as a fortress and has been rebuilt over and over again, until it reached its present form, tribute to the Baroque style. This huge palace, even for the standards of a European royal palace, houses museums, a Treasury, countless royal apartments, a library, the royal Chapel and a Royal Guard that looks over all these. It is usually open from 10 am to 5 pm during the summer days and from 12 pm to 6 pm during winter. Make sure you join one of the guided tours that can tell you a lot more about everything you’ll see.

3. Markets, especially the Östermalms Saluhall, likely to greet you with smells and visions of the simple and yet satisfying products that have been present on tables from those of the Vikings to the most demanding food critics’ of the twenty first century: meats such as moose and reindeer, fish, like salmon and herring, but also French and Italian cheeses, Spanish and Italian ham and countless of other food products from Sweden or around the world. Taste them on the spot and satisfy your own hunger.

4. A boat tour. A boat tour is a good way to expand you view of Stockholm and explore some of the related landscapes. It would take you from island to island and further from the Lake Malaren that houses them all into the Baltic Sea. Beautiful landscapes and buildings that complement them are testimonials to the Swedish talent of paying respects to nature even in the capital city.

5. Vantage Points. If you are someone who enjoys taking spectacular, panoramic shots (and even if you aren’t), don’t miss some excellent locations for observation. The first one is from the gardens of the City Hall. The Old Town is at your feet and it is wonderful to rest while taking all in. Further up, and more amazing, but also further away, is the Monteliusvagen, a quarter mile path that walks along the island Sodermalm (you have to walk off all those hams and cheeses ate at the Östermalms Saluhall market). With the higher vantage point here, the views are all encompassing and your snapshots as well as your mental photos will be breathtaking, especially at sunrise or sunset.

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