There’s something magical about strolling around Stockholm on a hot summer day, the sun glistening on the surface of the sea like a sliver of gold. The dark blue sea and the pastel blue sky melt with one another to create a soothing backdrop to a city that seems to sit like a queen on her water kingdom.
Spreading over 14 islands connected by bridges, Stockholm offers breathtaking views along promenades and docks. From the different touristy neighborhoods of medieval Gamla and Västerlanggatan to the colourful district of Sodermalm, with its bars and quirky boutiques, you can walk to the green island of Langholmen and its beaches. Don’t miss the Vasa museum with its 17th Century ship brought back from the bottom of the sea on Djurgarden Island, and take a walk in glamorous Stureplan for a taste of Stockholm’s fashion district. If you have more than a day, explore the Archipelo that you can easily get to with a boat starting at Nybrokajen.
Bring sturdy walking shoes or rent a bike and meander around the islands — you’re in for a poetic visual experience. The constant backdrop of water against quaint architectural sites and details (such as super-elongated church steeples, castles, and elegant official buildings) makes for a truly exquisite discovery.
Choose a centrally located hotel that allows you to wander everywhere in a few minutes without using the subway. I found an ideal location with the 5-star Nobis Hotel, right in the Norrmalm district. A historical building recently renovated by designers Claesson, Koivisto and Rune, it has a 28 meter-high ceiling lounge and stylishly appointed rooms
My superior room boasted dark floors, white walls, dux-beds with nordic style duvets (no sheets), elegant armchairs, a working desk, a view of Normalmstorg, and a bathroom in Carrara marble including a new bathtub and separate shower. You’ll have full access to the fitness center, free high-speed wireless internet, air conditioning, full-bodied mirrors, make – up mirror a mini-bar and in-room safe. In the morning enjoy Continental and American breakfasts with a Nordic touch in the Italian Caina restaurant, including smoked salmon, reindeer salami, various types of muesli, cheese, hams, yogurt, bacon and eggs, local breads, grains and nuts, enough food to fuel your walking all around the city for hours. After touring the city, have a drink at the Gold Bar or the Bistro. For more information, visit http://www.nobishotel.se.
If you’ve never visited Stockholm, make it a destination. There are daily trips from Newark Airport, and you’ll be enchanted by this unusual city. Further south in Sweden, the city of Malmö is an attractive destination popular with Scandinavians for its Ribersborg beach.Take a guided boat tour around the canals of the city. Passing under 22 bridges, you’ll see the beautiful parks, historical city center, and the medieval castle of Malmöhus. The city has over 22 playgrounds themed from the circus to space and is of course easy to discover by bicycle. There are many restaurants in Malmö around the city center from steak house of traditional Swedish cooking. For a hotel, the place to stay is the new complex Clarion Hotel.
A five minute walk from the train station, the Clarion Hotel is located in the high towers of “Malmö Live,” a congress center. With 444 hotel rooms, 9 of which are suites, it offers spectacular views on the Malmö seaport. The Manhattanite in me felt she had never left home. My room was ultramodern, with ceiling-to-floor windows, designer furniture, contemporary wall art, and a full size mirror. The stone and marble bathroom included a bathtub, shower, wide sink, make up and full body mirror. You can pull the curtains for privacy or to block the sun out of your room but I enjoyed falling asleep with the magic of the moonlight and the murmur of the sea in the distance.
On the 25th floor, discover the “Kitchen & Table” restaurant, endorsed by chef Marcus Samuelsson as well as the Sky Bar. Breakfast was amazing with fresh herring served in four different sauces (including dill, my favorite). If you don’t usually like herring, you will definitely change your mind after you taste this local, super-fresh delicacy unlike anything that one usually associates with herring. July is the best season for this Swedish delicacy, so make the most of it if you are there next summer. The breakfast bar was huge, fresh and delicious with amazing crispbreads, croissants, fine cheeses, charcuteries, smoked salmon, fruit and a hot American Breakfast. In Malmö, the Clarion Hotel is the hotel to visit. For more information, visit http://www.nordicchoicehotels.se/clarion/clarion-hotel-congress-malmo-live.
Scandinavia provides an unforgettable European vacation. Discovering Stockholm and Malmö will delight your eyes, and the local cuisine will surprise you. Less crowded than middle and southern Europe, it offers fantastic discoveries to the curious and contemplative traveler — and anyone looking for an extraordinary cultural experience.