The Thiel Gallery
The subject of great art work can be, for some, a bit of a dry subject and a tough sell for people who don’t already know the names and works of the amazing artists on show. However, Thielska Galleriet celebrates a rich cultural history of Swedish art from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Showing off some of the finest works from great painters of the time such as Carl Larsson, Edvard Munch and Eugene Jansson, Thiel stands on the island of Djurgarten a veritable castle of fine art.
The paintings and sculptures on show here are staggering, but to truly learn the story of the site and the rich collection take a guided tour to really explore the tremendous story of Ernest Thiel, the famed art collector for which this gallery is named, and how he came to create a cultural hub devoted to art and beauty in his time. The Gallery itself was once his residence and now stands as a monument to his love of art and stands for everyone to enjoy.
The Vassa Museum
Anyone who knows the story of Mary Celeste knows that strange things can happen at sea, and yet this peculiar place is home to a truly unique story all its own. The warship Vassa, actually began as something of a horrifying embarrassment for the people of Sweden when it sailed for 1300 meters before sinking in 1628.
However, the ship was raised in the mid 19th century and following years of painstaking work the vessel was restored to it’s original glory and now sits in it’s own museum for all to see. From national embarrassment to national treasure, the Vassa is a great attraction for lovers of history and stands as one of the country’s most famous museums.
The ABBA Museum
How can you come to Sweden and not make sure you have a copy of ABBA’s greatest hits to listen to? Well you can go one step further thanks to the ABBA Museum, a conceptual space which shows the history and successes of a group that took the world by storm.
Attractions here are created with a diorama like appeal, each one showing snatches of time in the lives of the group, creating a rare and stimulating trip into music history. The museum also boasts several fun interactive experiences that make it fun for all the family and an essential stop for anyone who ever sang Waterloo at karaoke.
The site is also home to the Swedish Music Hall of fame, which in contrast to ABBA celebrates the best musical performances by artists and groups throughout the country’s history. It helps round off the tour through ABBA’s life and switches visitors on to a whole new world of music that they may never have heard of, but wont be able to imagine their life without.
The historic Old Town of Stockholm is a feast for the eyes in more ways than one. The historic heart of the city has remained a testament to Swedish architecture and history that has remained unchanged once again blending the concepts of old and new.
Similarly tours through Gamla Stan can be seen as a rich trip through history showing all things both weird and wonderful that have happened there. In particular thanks to the amazing work of our guide Marco we got treated to a rendition of drinking songs, a glimpse into Swedish politics and even a trip to the Nobel museum, for which the international peace prize derives it’s name.
This is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants a dose of authentic local culture and with several guides available we recommend you book one as soon as you can.
I know what you are thinking, this sounds like a knock off of Soho in London and New York. Well surprise surprise it is more like a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, and in this case gives you a more kitsch and rewarding experience than you might experience elsewhere.
SoFo is nestled in Sodermalm, making the most of being in the hipster heart of Stockholm by hosting more unique businesses and specialty shops than you can shake a particularly big stick at.
For visitors with an irrepressible sweet tooth look no further than Parlans, a classic take on a Swedish sweet shop serving amazing confections. Those of you with something of a voyeur streak can even look though the windows to see chef’s preparing treat after treat to tantalise your taste buds.
If you get a chance to try anything I would recommend the toffees which were so rich that it was impossible to have just one.
Shoppers who want a little bit of everything feel free to head on to one of SoFo’s vintage stores too. In particular I fell a little bit in love with Grandpa which peddled an eclectic mix of curios, stationary, clothes and even jewellery and furniture. This vintage approach gives everything a ‘lived in’ and comfortable aesthetic which is something that made it all very endearing. Certainly worth a visit, but be warned, you may end up spending a little more than you bargained for.
On paper a trip to the oldest department store in Stockholm might seem to be a little dry. Indeed, after a long day of experiencing the wonder of the city by the water I was flagging and beginning to feel weak. However, I would have regretted it as NK, or Nordiska Kompaniet, is a centre of a different kind of culture promoting fashion and beauty in a way that is very accessible in way any traveller can appreciate.
For any lover of fashion, NK is an essential destination as it shows off several collections across all its many floors. From the second you step into that atrium you know that you aren’t hopping over to your local Debenham’s as every area embodies a totally different element of style and fashion.
If you are a hapless window shopper you might find yourself wandering the floor with your eyes assaulted over and over again into some of the most amazing luxury items you will see this side of Paris fashion week. In particular swedish fashion represents a toned down but elegant image which makes it fit for every occasion. Much like your trip to SoFo be warned, you will spend all of your pay slip and most of your next pay slip here, and you wont even mind.
After a wondrous sojourn to Thiel Gallery we cannot recommend a trip to this gorgeous museum by the water. While Thiel was a grand and almost operatic trip into the past expressed through art, Fotografiska (literally Photography Museum) is a very contemporary take on the classic idea of what you expect from a gallery.
The sense of spectacle is toned down, with simple wall treatments and dim lighting, to focus on the wonder of the images on display. Knowing how it works also doesn’t take away from the power and majesty of these works.
Some of the items on display were hard to view, some of their subject matter was indeed potent and at times offensively strong. But while it was hard see them at times, there was almost an essential energy to the which makes them hard to ignore and impossible to dismiss.
Whenever you visit you will find entirely new pieces from new featured photographers which help change the mood of any tour you take, making any time you visit a perfect time to go and see it. If you are beginning to get weak from your wanders though I suggest you pay a trip to their sandwich bar too which is a refreshingly dressed down space with some excellent food and drink to complement almost any palette.
Of course what would a trip be without a great hotel to stay in. Well Stockholm has you covered there too, with a wide variety of locations to help cater to any taste. But these were some of my favourite venues to rest my weary head.