Sometimes called The Venice of The North, Stockholm is built on 14 Islands a the mouth on Lake Maralen on Sweden's South East Coast. With a history dating back to the 13th Century and buildings to match it is not surprising that it is the most visited of Nordic Cities. At the heart of Stockholm is the Old Town, the "Gamla Stan" where all the buildings date from 1300 to 1500. For visitors interested in antiques, this is the place to stay.
There is currently a great deal of interest in antiques and art in Stockholm. Over the last few years, there has been a marked increase in the number of shops which deal in antiques. The city's four antique fairs have enough variety to satisfy every taste and pocket. The best antique districts are Upplandsgatan, Odengatan and Roslagsgatan in Vasastan, and Gamla Stan.
Small shops with more up-market items are interspersed with large basement premises full of antiques. Antique shops which are members of Sveriges Konst- och Antikhandlareforening, SKAF (the Swedish Art and Antique Dealers' Association) meet the highest demands with regard to quality, expert knowledge, responsibility and reliability.
Swedish furnishings get a lot more stylish than Ikea. At Stockholm International Antiques Fair, held at the Fairs & Congress Center, you can pick up everything from 18th-century Gustavian-style antiques to decadent Karl Johan-style pieces.
Where to stay? No discussion of hotels in Stockholm can avoid mention of The Grand Hotel Opened in 1874 it is Stockholm's best known hotel. Traditionally Nobel prize winners spend the night there after the prize giving ceremony.
Greta Garbo always stayed at the Grand Hotel when returning to Sweden once she was a Hollywood star. Reviews vary some say it is one the World's great 'luxury disappointments'. Many many others, however, say it is gorgeous, sumptuous, the epitome of luxury. In the 2008 World Travel Awards it won Best Swedish Hotel, Best Swedish Conference Hotel and Best Swedish Suite.
If, however, you don't have the budget of a movie star, there are plenty of other places to stay. Visit www.hotels-stockholm.com.
Where to eat? Traditional Swedish food can be had at Den Gyldene Freden (Golden Peace), which is said to be Stockholm's oldest tavern. The restaurant opened in 1722 and many famous people have wined and dined here over the centuries. The interior has changed very little over time. The decor is rustic, depicting medieval and renaissance cultures. Just looking at the menu will make your taste buds tingle.
Where to go? Make sure you make time in your visit to Stockholm to go to the Skansen Open Air Museum a branch of the Nordic Museum, which extends over a large area to the east of the Biological Museum in Stockholm. The initiator and founder of the museum, which was opened in 1891, was Artur Hazelius, who was concerned to save something of the older Sweden before the development of industry had gone too far in changing the country.
The old buildings brought together here include a church and a manor house, Lapp dwellings and an upland shieling (summer grazing station), smallholders' cottages and peasant farmhouses, and a whole quarter of a town, with craftsmen's workshops. Over the years some 150 old buildings of historical interest have been assembled at Skansen, which is now 10 times its original size. In the various houses and workshops visitors can see something of many traditional crafts - butter and cheese making, baking, weaving, basketwork, wood-turning, glass-blowing, etc.
The WASA Museum, home to the royal flagship Wasa, is one of the most extraordinary museums in Europe. Built to fight the kingdom of Poland in the early 1600s, the Wasa, sank in Stockholm harbour before it could ever engage another ship. More than 300 years later it was successfully raised, preserved and restored by Swedish divers and scientists.
And while in Stockholm why not take a guided tour of the The Royal Palace which is the largest royal palace in Europe (one more room than Buckingham Palace!)