On our first day, we explored the city a bit before checking in to our hotel. One place we visited was the Medieval Museum (Medeltidsmuseet). This is located next to the parliament building, right at the edge of the water. Interestingly, this site was supposed to be a parking garage for the Parliament, but when they began excavations, the original city walls and many artifacts were found. And thus, the Medieval Museum was born. We took the audio tour, and learned a lot about the history of the city of Stockholm. This was also the first place we saw a depiction of George and the Dragon. Turns out he is big in Stockholm. We saw him all over the place…
A few locals told us that St. George is seen by many as Sweden, or the King of Sweden and the dragon is seen as (king of) Denmark. These two neighbors have a centuries old rivalry. Formerly they fought wars, now it is more in the sports arenas. But in our recent travels, the Swedes liked to make fun of the Danes, and the Danes liked to make jokes about the Swedes. A lot.
Also on our first day, we toured the Royal Armory, or Livrustkammaren. It is located in the basement of the Royal Palace. Very close to Gamla Stan and our hotel in Sodermalm. This is a fun, short visit where you can see ceremonial armor, for humans and also horses (my favorite), and some Royal fashion through the ages.
The armory also houses the actual clothes King Gustavus Adolphus wore when he was killed. In the basement are the Royal Coaches, these folks travelled in style!
On Day two in Stockholm, we walked over to the island of Djurgarden. It was long-ish walk, maybe an hour, but very scenic and pleasant. Djurgarden is great, because many of Stockholm’s big attractions are all there, very close together. The first museum you come to on the island is the imposing Nordiska Museet. This is a landmark which you can see from many places around Stockholm. It is a very imposing and interesting building, and interestingly enough is only 1/4 of its intended size. Built in the early 1900s, it was intended to have a wing for every Nordic country, thus the name. However, funding dried up and only the Swedish section was completed.
When you enter the Nordic Museum , you are greeted by this huge hand painted wooded statue of Gustav Vasa, considered the father of modern Sweden. The main hall is very impressive, and there are exhibits of Swedish folk art, furniture, Cultural traditions, Sami heritage, clothing and more. In truth, I enjoyed this place a lot, and my husband to a lesser degree. Many say this museum is more impressive on the outside than the inside… but I really did enjoy. Maybe worth an hour or two of your vacation…
Just a little further down the road from the Nordiska Museet, is the outdoor living history of Skansen. The Swedes will tell you this is the first museum of its kind, and the Danes will tell you they had the first one. Either way, it is similar to our Williamsburg. Lots of relocated historic homes from all over Sweden, and all through time. The folks who work there dress in period garb for whichever building they docent, and they tell you all about what life would have been like in their place and time. Very enjoyable on a sunny summer day.
Also on the island of Djurgarden, you will find the Vasa museum, and that is fantastic! We saw that in a special way with our Tauck tour… I will give you a peek later… further down the road, you will find the Abba museum and a small amusement park. Just beyond those, you will find a park with an historic home of Prins Eugens and also a small but beautiful art museum. It is called Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, and was a very nice surprise, since we hadn’t seen it in our trip planning books.
You can tour Prins Eugens beautiful home and gardens. We did the audio tour and that was enjoyable. Fun surprise was that there were beautiful fresh flowers throughout the home. Attached to the mansion was a museum of Swedish art. I confess I had not heard of any of these artists, and was very pleasantly surprised to learn more and see more. It was a really beautiful collection and not overwhelming. Touring the house and museum, plus walking around the gardens took just a couple of hours.
We capped off this beautiful day with a canal cruise and also dinner in Gamla Stan, the old town. Both of these things I recommend strongly!