August 26, 2011

Inca Gold Exhibition

We've had a great summer here in Stockholm and at the Rival Hotel, lots of wonderful visitors and interesting things happening in the city. But just because the weather is getting cooler it doesn't mean that there still aren't great things to look forward to! Number one on the list of exciting events this autumn is the Inca Gold exhibition.
Last year the Museum of East Asian Antiquities held an amazing exhibition of Terracotta Warriors from the X'ian province in China. The exhibition was held in the vast underground system of caverns (Bergsrummet) located on the island of Skeppsholmen and was a big success. And now, following on this success, the Swedish National Museums of World Culture will be showing an exhibition of Inca gold artifacts in the same caverns.
The exhibition consists of about 300 objects (with some of the very latest discoveries) on loan from 15 Peruvian museums. The artifacts show the wealth of the Inca Empire and the symbolic power of gold in their culture. The exhibition opens on September 10th and runs through February 12th, 2012. It will be open every day from 10am to 8pm with a few exceptions (see website for dates) and the entrance cost is 150 SEK for adults and free for children up to 19 years of age. Tickets can be bought online or by phone (see website), otherwise they can be purchased at the door or at any of the World Culture Museums in Stockholm.
Click here for other ongoing or upcoming exhibitions!

August 23, 2011

Three Days in Stockholm- Summertime

Picturesque archipelago on way to Sandhamn
I recently had 6 family and friends visiting me... and for 4 of them it was their first time in Stockholm. So I took a few days off to show them the city. Now what does a Stockholm Concierge show his own personal guests on their first time to the city? I thought it would be interesting to share our itinerary to help other first time visitors plan on what to do. I have already blogged about the majority of the stops, so I'll link to older posts and not go into too much detail here.

Day One:
Day Two:
Day Three:
Wolverines at Skansen
For me, this is a perfect itinerary for a first time visitor to Stockholm... in the summertime. All the must-see's are included and a great way to experience several facets of Stockholm as well as Swedish culture. As we get into September, I will do an itinerary for first time visitors during the non-summer months. Are you coming to the Rival Hotel and have already visited Stockholm? For tips on what to do for a return visit to Stockholm... contact me directly!
Viking gold at the History Museum
Disclaimer: my guests were more interested in history than art. For those that are more interested in art, substitute Fotografiska, Moderna or National Museum (depending on what type of art you are interested in) for the History Museum. I was present with my guests the whole time and acted as a guide for them, if you are interested in your own guided tour during your visit... then I recommend the Under the Bridges boat tour. The best comprehensive tour of Stockholm in my opinion.

August 17, 2011

Gamla Stan- "the Old Town"

It's a little embarrassing that I've been writing a tourist blog about Stockholm for over a year and I haven't written about the number one tourist attraction: Gamla Stan. I guess it's mostly because this island is so centrally located, just a ten minute walk from the Rival Hotel, that visitors can't help but visit it at some point during their stay in Stockholm.
Buildings in the Stortorget square
Gamla Stan, which literally means "old town", is the original core of Stockholm and where the city was founded sometime in the 13th century. Geographically it is the center of the city and almost all traffic (foot, car, bus & subway) going between the northern and southern sections of central Stockholm passes through or under Gamla Stan. It is also the border between the Baltic Sea to the east and Lake Mälaren to the west.
Up the hill to... Storkyrkan
Gamla Stan is the perfect place to stroll around for half a day or more to soak up some history. There are many interesting sights to see/visit like the Royal Palace, the Treasury, the Nobel Museum, the church Storkyrkan and the square Stortorget. There is plenty of interesting architecture to look at with most of the buildings dating back from the Middle Ages. Shopping is also a good option... a great place for souvenirs, antiques and Swedish handicraft. There are also plenty of good restaurants to be found on the island. Some that I can recommend are Kryp In, Pontus by the Sea, Le Rouge, Fem Små Hus, Pubologi, Djuret and Den Gyldene Freden. Some parts are more "touristy" than others... especially the street Västerlånggatan, a pedestrian street filled mainly with souvenir shops and Italian restaurants (for some strange reason). But don't let the amount of tourists put you off, you should definitely visit Gamla Stan when coming to Stockholm!
The Royal Palace

Outdoor Movies

If it wasn't enough with the Culture Festival in Stockholm this week... there is another festival going on as well. This one is more cinematic in nature. The Stockholm Film Festival takes place every November in the city, but one week every summer the festival shows excellent movies outdoors. Starting tonight (Wednesday, August 17th) they will be showing a different movie each evening (until Sunday) in Rålambshovsparken, located on the island of Kungsholmen. It is free of charge and the movies start (rain or shine) at 8:30pm though people start arriving already around 6pm with picnic baskets in hand. Some great movies will be shown, including Black Swan and the Buena Vista Social Club. Click here for their program.
To get to the park from the Rival Hotel... take the subway from Slussen, green line northbound to Fridhemsplan. From there it is a short walk south to the water and the park.

August 11, 2011

Culture Festival
We are gearing up for the next big festival in the city... this coming week, August 16th-21st)  we have the Culture Festival (Kulturfestivalen) taking place in Stockholm. Culture of all sorts take to the streets and squares of central Stockholm and 99% is free of charge! There will be 500 shows performed by 250 artists during this week and there will be something for everyone: music, theater, film, literature, dance, performance art, etc; When it comes to music you can enjoy everything from jazz to rock to opera with a little Motown thrown in for good measure. While many cultures, like Turkish, African and Latin, will be represented... this year's theme is Norway, which has taken on special significance since the terrible terror attacks in Norway a couple of weeks ago. Besides culture, there will also be food and drink tents in the festival area.
Photo: Thomas Karlsson
The festival will be held in three centrally located squares and their side streets: Gustav Adolfs Torg, Sergels Torg and Brunkebergs Torg as well as Kulturhuset. You can access the program (with times) for each venue on their website by clicking here. If you are traveling with small children, then Brunkeberg Torg during the daytime is the place to take them... called Maxed Out for the Small Ones, this mini children's festival will be filled with activities where children can play, dance, sing and listen to stories.
Photo: Karin Nilsson
To get to the festival area from the Rival Hotel... it's just a 20-25 minute walk through the Old Town or else three subway stops (red line north to T-Centralen, exit Sergels Torg).

August 10, 2011

Midnattsloppet (Midnight Race)!

Photo: Yanan Li, Stockholm Visitors Board
This Saturday (August 13th) is the date for the Midnight Race (Midnattsloppet). This 10 kilometer race has been held annually since 1982 and has gotten more popular with each year with thousands of runners and even more spectators. The race is run around the island of Södermalm with the home stretch down the street Hornsgatan right past the Rival Hotel. What makes this race unique is the carnival atmosphere along the route (there is even a costume competition) as well as the late start time... it's a staggered start with the first group starting at 9:30pm and the last group at 10:30pm.
If you are not participating in the race, then you can always choose a spot along the course, enjoy the atmosphere, and cheer on the racers!

High End Shopping on Biblioteksgatan

The start of Biblioteksgatan
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is going on in Stockholm right now and Swedish designers are busy showing their Spring & Summer collections for buyers and agents. This Thursday, August 11th, the general public can take part in the fashion extravaganza... during Fashion Night. Stores along Stockholm's premiere shopping street, Biblioteksgatan, will be open late in the evening (11pm) with special offers for customers. There will be a large screen set up in Norrmalmstorg square where you can watch Tiger of Sweden's fashion show plus give-aways, a champagne bar, dj's and more.

Photo by Nicho Södling, Stockholm Visitors Board
Perhaps a few words about Biblioteksgatan are in order? This is a pedestrian street located in the downtown area, starting at the square Norrmalmstorg and running north three blocks to Stureplan. The street and surrounding side streets are filled with high end shops mainly of Swedish origin... Acne, Whyred, Marc O'Polo, Filippa K, WeSC, J. Lindeberg, etc; At the north end of the street you will find the Sturegallerian shopping center for more upscale shopping options and just a block from Norrmalmstorg you will find the luxury department store NK. So, you see, you can spend the whole day in the area shopping for Swedish and international brands! It is easy to get to the area from the Rival Hotel... it's either four subway stops going north on the red line (the stop is Östermalmstorg), 7 minutes by taxi or a 30 minute walk.
Do you only have a short time in Stockholm? Then I would recommend the personal shoppers at Smart City Shopping to help you navigate the stores... otherwise here are some more shopping tips!

August 5, 2011

Strandvägen Waterfront & Esplanade

Strandvägen with Strandbryggan in the foreground
Strandvägen is the waterfront road located in the Östermalm district with some of the most prestigious addresses in Stockholm. With its tree-lined esplanade, boat quays and gorgeous architecture, it has become a favorite promenade for tourists and Stockholmers alike. It is about 1 kilometer in length and connects the downtown area with Djurgården (where you will find popular sights like the Vasa Museum and Skansen Park). Along the way (in the summertime) you will find a few cafés and casual restaurants. One of special note is Strandbryggan Sea Club, a floating restaurant & bar that I've mentioned earlier just at the base of the bridge over to Djurgården.
The palace guard cavalry marching on Strandvägen
On the western end of the street, along the shores of the Nybroviken inlet, you have the starting point for the Strömma and Cinderella boats heading out to the archipelago. Don't feel like walking? The Djurgård Streetcar line runs along Strandvägen taking people from the downtown area out to Djurgården and back. Want to walk even further? The Djurgårds Canal walking/jogging path starts at the Djurgårds bridge. The easiest way to get to Strandvägen from the Rival Hotel is by subway... red line, 4 stations to Östermalmstorg and then it's just a ten minute walk down to the water.
Streetcar that traffics Strandvägen

August 2, 2011

The Swedish Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History, or Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet as we call it here in Sweden, is located a little north of the city right next to the main campus of the Stockholm University. While this museum isn't as large and encompassing as its counterparts in London and New York, it is a great museum to visit if you are at all interested in nature and/or prehistoric animals... especially if you are traveling with young children. I was there yesterday and took in the museum as well as a film in their IMAX theater: Cosmonova. There I saw the 3D movie about flying prehistoric reptiles called "Flying Monsters" which was great! They have several different movies playing during the day, check their website (linked above) for the program. They are narrated in Swedish, but they have receivers & earphones for English speaking guests. They have several great exhibitions at the museum... of special note are the "Swedish Nature" and "Prehistory" exhibitions. The exhibitions are very interactive so they are great for children. My only complaint is that some of the smaller exhibitions weren't well marked in English.
To get there from the Rival Hotel take the subway (red line, direction Mörby Centrum- about a 15 minute ride) to Universitet, turn left as you exit the station and follow the signs. Just a ten minute walk. Click here for more information about opening hours and admission fees.