August 17, 2016

Day Trip to Uppsala

Whenever visitors to Stockholm take day trips outside of the city, a huge majority take boat trips out to the archipelago (maybe Vaxholm), Drottningholm or places like Sigtuna. But there are also places you can take day trips to by car or train, like Haga Park or Saltsjöbaden. Another popular place to spend a day is the city of Uppsala... which is just what I did the other day. Good to note: this is a day trip that can be done year-round.
Uppsala is located about 70 kilometers north of Stockholm, not too far from Arlanda international airport. As it is so close to Stockholm, many people commute between the two cities daily which means that travel is relatively uncomplicated. Uppsala is the fourth largest city in Sweden and, these days, is most famous as being the home of the prestigious Uppsala University and the seat of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden.
Carl Linnaeus (hometown hero)
Uppsala has played a pivotal roll in the history of Sweden as far back as the Viking Age, when it was both a political and religious center. Already in the 1100's, Uppsala became the seat of the Swedish Archdiocese (when Sweden was still Catholic). The university was founded in 1477, cementing the city's roll as a place of higher learning, and is today the oldest and largest university in northern Europe. Many important events in Swedish history have taken place in Uppsala... like the death of St Erik (according to legend), the Sture Murders and the abdication of Queen Christina. It was also the home and workplace of famous Swedish scientists like Anders Celsius and Carl von Linné (Carl Linnaeus).
View of the botanical gardens from the castle.
There is a lot to see and do in Uppsala (you could easily spend a couple of days there) so it is a good idea to know ahead of time what you want to see and do. I took my visiting parents there and we hit the main attractions... the cathedral, castle as well as the Linneaus museum. We left Stockholm at around 10am and were back at about 4:30pm to give you an idea of how much time is needed. I will write a separate blog article later in the week for the cathedral and concentrate more on an overview, a look at the other sites we visited as well as travel in this article.
The river (stream?) Fyris cuts through the city and is nice to stroll along. To get from the train station to most of the sights (like the cathedral and castle), you have to cross the river. All of this is very walkable. The castle is up on a small hill and dominates the city's skyline. It isn't really a working castle anymore, but it is the location of an art museum,an easy walk uphill and gives you great views. The botanical gardens are also located just on the other side of the castle.
Bridge over the River Fyris.
Back across the river, on our way back to the train station, we visited the Linneaus museum and garden. Carl Linneaus (known as Carl von Linné after he was ennobled) was a zoologist and botanist in the 1700's. It was Linnaeus who came up with the formal naming of species with scientific classification (for example "homo sapiens") that we use today. The museum is located in the scientist's home and looks just like it did back in the 1700's and the gardens contain hundreds of plant species and was meticulously taken care of by Linnaeus.
Uppsala Castle.
All of these places (train station-cathedral-castle-museum) are within easy walking distance. One attraction that isn't and one that I would like to visit is Gamla (old) Uppsala. This is the old pagan part of the city (Viking Age) and is located on the northern outskirts of the city. Here you will find the royal mounds (three large barrows dating from the 4th century AD and legendary burial place of the gods Odin, Thor and Freya). You can also see the ruins of the first Uppsala cathedral and visit a museum dedicated to Gamla Uppsala. There are guided tours in English during the summer months.While it is located outside of Uppsala, it still is only a 15 minute bus ride from the train station.
Inside the Linnaeus museum.
To get from Stockholm to Uppsala, you have a choice of two types of train. You can either take a regular train which is run by SJ. This is the national train system and they have several departures every hour between Stockholm and Uppsala. The trip takes around 40 minutes and it is quite inexpensive (I think we paid about 100 SEK per ticket each way) and you can purchase them online or at the train station... either at one of machines or at the ticket office.
The Linnaeus gardens.
The other option is to take the Stockholm commuter train (pendeltåg) run by SL.  These run twice an hour and the trip takes around 50 minutes. A onetime ticket costs around 80-90 SEK depending on the type of ticket you buy. You can also use the Stockholm public transportation card, paying just a small extra fee as you journey cross county when going between the two cities. We do sell these cards to hotel guests at the Rival Hotel. If you are staying at the hotel and have any questions or want further information... contact me directly!
The train heading back to Stockholm from Uppsala station.
The cathedral seen from the castle (more on that in my next article)

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