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Stockholm was named the European Capital of Culture in 1998 and I understand why. If you enjoy visiting museums, zoos, battle ships and Royal Palaces, then this is the city for you.

The City

The city itself is made up of a number of islands that are joined together by bridges. It’s a walkable city and is quite picturesque. The boat harbour houses hundreds of boats that can be hired to take you to neighboring islands. We opted to explore the city by foot especially since Old Town was not far away and walking along the harbour was stunning (even though it was cold and windy!).

Stockholm’s beautiful harbour

Stockholm Old Town

Stockholm’s Old Town

Walking through one of the oldest Old Towns in Europe, Stockholm

We also noticed the buildings and how beautiful the architecture was.

 The Skansen Open Air Museum

The Skansen is my second favourite museum in Europe (the first is the Lourve in Paris). The Skansen is located on the beautiful island of Djurgården and is special because it’s an open air museum and doubles as a zoo!

Rick standing on front of The Skansen

We spent hours admiring the old Swedish buildings which have been physically lifted from all parts of Sweden and placed inside the Skansen. The gardens were also lush and green and had amazing views of neighboring islands in Stockholm.

This is an old Swedish mansion at The Skansen Museum

A beautiful garden in The Skansen

There are beautiful parks in the The Skansen

This museum is also home to various animals that I have never seen before. There were bird enclosures, peacocks, seals, reindeer, wolves and brown bears. These animals also seemed unaware of the strange humans staring at them, as they were prancing around in enclosures that were very similar to their natural habitat. I don’t think that the brown bears realised that their home was prime property – it overlooks the Stockholm river!

I saw a Brown Bear at the The Skansen

Our first sightings of reindeer at The Skansen

The Vasa

After exploring the Skansen, we decided to visit the Vasa Museum which houses the wonderfully epic Vasa ship! The Vasa was a warship that was commissioned by the King in order to defeat the Polish army in 1628. However, this giant warship did not get a chance to fulfill its destiny as it sank minutes after leaving the shore.

The Vasa then stayed underwater for hundreds of years until the 1960s where work began to salvage the remains of the Vasa. What was so special about this ship is that it is a survivor. Hundreds of years later, parts of the Vasa were reconstructed to bring the ship back to its former glory and after being under water for so long, 95% of the wood has remained well-preserved.

We visited the Vasa to marvel at its size and the intricate details that remain give you some sense of how beautiful it would have been when it was first created.

The Vasa, Stockholm

The Royal Palace

We spent an entire day visiting the Royal Palace of Stockholm, home to the very beautiful Swedish Royal Family. The Royal Palace in Stockholm has been one of my favourite Royal Palaces to visit. The Royal Palace was originally built as a fairy tale style Palace but burnt down and restored to its former glory as a renaissance style Palace.

The Royal Palace, Stockholm

The Palace itself is a beautiful place to visit as it houses historical clothing and furniture, jewels and artwork; all in its original form as no replicas have been produced. I couldn’t take photos inside but here a picture of one of the Palace entrances.

The Royal Palace in Stockholm entrance is as grand as it is inside

My highlight was actually the changing of the guards. Similar to Copenhagen, the changing of the guards occurs daily at a particular time. The changing of the guards for the Palace occurs at midday, except for Sundays where the changing of the guards occurs a little later.

I actually discovered by accident that the changing of the guards starts from one side of the city to another. The guards are led by a marching band that make their way to the Palace. The best view of this spectacle is from the bridge just outside of the Palace at about 11.50am.

Can you see that I thoroughly enjoyed being one of the only spectators?

Here comes the marching band…

Here come the guards…

The changing of the guards at The Royal Palace lasts for 40 minutes. As the band merrily plays classical and modern songs, the guards perform their routine! The Swedish Royal family have really outdone themselves with this one.

The band continues to play within the Palace walls.

The guards perform their changing of the guards ceremony

Finally, after a long but extremely exciting day at the Palace, we decided to visit the International Food Market which happened to be held during the weekend of our visit. I sampled a German hot dog while Rick enjoyed a large pretzel!

International Food Market at Stockholm

International Food Market at Stockholm

So that was Stockholm in a nutshell! We spent 3 and a half days in Stockholm and felt like we had ample time to explore the city. My favourite part was the Royal Palace as the changing of the guards was the best I’ve ever seen! If you’re interested in other Royal Palaces, check out some of my posts below:

If you like the historical and cultural aspects of Stockholm, other places you may like to visit are:

What do you think of Stockholm?

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