King Gustav II Adolf ordered the building of Vasa, an elaborately ornate warship in 1625. Taking almost two years to construct, Vasa’s masts stood at over fifty meters, the hull was built from more than a thousand oak trees, hundreds of sculptures were crafted and painted specifically for the ship and it was equipped with sixty-four bronze cannons. Vasa, carrying over one hundred crewmen along with their family and guests, was scheduled to set sail on her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628 amid much fanfare and in front of a large public gathering. Shortly after leaving the harbor, Vasa began to heel heavily once its sails began to catch wind and sank after only having sailed 1300 meters.
The wreckage of Vasa was found in 1956 by Anders Franzén and Per Edvin Fälting at a depth of 32 meters. The salvage attempt took several years with Vasa finally reaching the surface in 1961. The ship was carefully reconstructed, using 95% original timber, and was displayed temporarily at the Wasa Shipyard before the current Vasa Museum opened in 1990. The museum is designed around the prominently displayed, full-size reconstruction of the 17th century ship and features exhibits detailing the story of the royal family, the construction of the ship, the disaster of its maiden voyage and the findings of the inquest into what caused Vasa to sink.
Galärvarvsvägen 14, Djurgården, Stockholm
Located in Stureplan, the heart of the city’s nightlife, Spy Bar occupies several rooms in a converted second floor apartment. Would-be party-goers who don’t notice the small red neon sign on the building’s facade will surely be able to find the club by the long queue surrounding it. A large wooden bar marked by an over-sized classical portrait and chandelier anchors the front room off the foyer and feeds out into the hallway where you can wander through additional rooms, each presided over by their own DJ. The decor is a mix of grand luxury and minimalist disco-ball adorned party rooms. The music between the front and back rooms consists mostly of house and R&B/hip-hop. Lines outside form before midnight and last until the club closes down in the early morning hours.
Birger Jarlsgatan 20, Stockholm. Cover/Dress Code
Café Opera blends a classical setting with a very hip nightlife scene. The venue dates back to 1895 and its grandness can be appreciated as soon as you step inside. Elaborately painted ceilings, stuccos and crystal chandeliers frame the massive, open space. The strobing ceiling lights reflect off the chandeliers as they cut through the fog-filled dance floor. Private tables for bottle service are roped off around the perimeter, giving VIP patrons a front row view of the action on the floor. The club maintains a lineup of rotating DJs but the music consists mostly of house/techno.
Karl XII:s torg. Cover/Dress Code
The Stockholm Card offers the best value for any visitor looking to take in the city’s main attractions. The card covers the admittance fee to nearly every museum, including the some of the more popular ones like the Vasa Museum, the National Museum, Skansen and the Modern Art Museum. Without the Stockholm Card, normal museum admission prices range from 30SEK to over 100SEK per adult over 18. In addition to the museums, the card gains you entrance to other popular attractions like Skyview, the outdoor glass gondola ride up the largest spherical building in the world, the Katarina Lift, a walkway 38 meters up offering panoramic views of the waterfront, Slussen and Gamla Stan, or Casino Cosmopol. You can even enjoy free or discounted guided sightseeing tours by bicycle, boat or bus, which are always a great way to get oriented in a new city.
The card also includes unlimited free public transport on the subways, buses, trams and commuter trains throughout Stockholm County, making it easy to navigate the city and get to all the sights you want to see while your card is valid.
Offered in 1, 2, 3 or 5 day durations, activated from the time of first use. A 2-day pass is plenty of time to check out most of the museums and take on a few of the sightseeing tours, but to explore at a more leisurely pace, the 3-day pass would be a better option. Check with the Stockholm Visitors Board for current pricing.
Skyview offers the opportunity to travel in a glass gondola along the outside and to the top of the largest spherical building in the world, the Ericsson Globe. An uncommon attraction, Skyview is comprised of two gondolas on parallel tracks that alternate turns ascending to the top of the globe. Visitors are “boarded” at the entrance of the globe and then made to sit through a pre-departure video, largely comprised of clips promoting the various events hosted at Globe Arenas before they are ushered into the gondolas. Up to 16 guests can be accommodated in each gondola. The vessels offer 360 degree views, which provide for breathtaking panoramas of the city. As the gondola ascends and descends slowly, with each trip taking about 20 minutes, it may not be the most enjoyable trip for the faint of heart. It is also worth noting that the gondolas are not staffed, but rather monitored by a single security camera and equipped with an emergency telephone.
In 2001, Nordic Hotels & Resorts opened two adjacent design hotels, Nordic Sea and Nordic Light. Nordic Sea offers clean, modern accommodations inspired by Stockholm’s coastal location. Upon entering the hotel, the first design element noticed by guests is the large fish tank anchoring the lobby and spanning from the reception area into the Sea Bar. The room designs also draw from the coastal inspiration with deep blue bedding and wall coverings that reflect the hues of the city’s waterways and serve to add warmth to the contemporary furnishings. Rooms are offered in the Superior, Standard and Express classes to meet any traveler’s requirements in terms of comfort and budget.
The hotel is the first in the world to offer a permanent ice bar. In collaboration with the ICEHOTEL, located in Swedish Lapland, blocks of ice from the river Torne are meticulously carved each year according to a unique “ice design” to create ICEBAR STOCKHOLM. A shared interior wall with the hotel allows guests to steal a sneak peak of the bar through the wall of ice blocks as they pass through the lobby. Prior to entry into Icebar, guests are outfitted with specially designed capes and gloves to help face the constant -5°C temperature within the bar. An automatically locking door will close behind you before another opens in front of you to transport you into the frozen room. Once inside, you can enjoy ice sculptures and carvings located throughout the bar. Bartenders, working in rotating 4-hour shifts due to the cold, are on hand to offer up any of the bar’s signature vodka-based drinks, served in glasses made from carved out blocks of ice.
Vasaplan 4, Stockholm (located nearby the Arlanda Express and Central Station in the city center)
Hotel guests receive discounted entry into ICEBAR STOCKHOLM