For all the “serious” travel, the cultural exchange and immersion that makes voyaging to new places so rewarding — there is also something fun, almost childishly silly, about doing some really cheesy tourist things sometimes. It kind of wakes up the kid in us and after all, that’s what travel is meant to do, I believe. That sense of discovery, of wonderment, of joy just for the sake of being happy at the moment.
So with that in mind, here are some touristy, sort-of-cheesy things I recently did in Stockholm that I would recommend to other travelers to that wonderful city. Each brought a smile to my face, and that’s something, isn’t it?
Digging up the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Sites
Stieg Larsson was perhaps the most internationally famous contemporary Swedish writer, and his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy was immensely popular (I read all three books, and saw both the Swedish and English films. So, yeah, I’m a fan).
One of the most popular things to do in Stockholm, at least for fans of Larsson’s books, is to follow the trail from his Millennium series. There is even a map with all the pertinent locations on his official website.
The photo below, for example, is one I took of the Mikael Blomkvist home, at Bellmansgatan 1. Nobody knows why Larsson chose to let Blomkvist live in this particular building. A family named Blomkvist lives in one of the apartments, but they didn’t know Larsson. Overlooking the Saltsjon bay and Stockholm’s medieval old town, the building offers some impressive views and is a quiet charming street, with its second-level walkways.
Seeing the Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace
Some people might think this is cheesy, some people not. All I would say is that it’s definitely a very touristy thing to do.
For most of us who have traveled in many large European cities, as well as others around the world, most royal palaces have a Changing of the Guard. I’ve seen this at Buckingham Palace, Vatican City, and Prague Castle. There is so much pomp and circumstance surrounding these ceremonies, and the royal formalities are especially enchanting to an American like me, where we don’t have that type of procedure.
Stockholm’s Royal Palace features an impressive 600 rooms and is the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden. Since 1523, the Royal Guard has kept a daily watch over Stockholm’s Royal Palace, and you can witness the famous changing of the guard ceremony every day at 12:15 pm (1:15 pm on Sundays).
I will say that Stockholm’s changing of the guard was a bit different, as it includes a horseback orchestra that performs several numbers. It’s a grand show that lasts for a while. A bit of a musical performance as well as the royal pomp. Well worth it.
Having Drinks at the Ice Bar
I’ve always wanted to go to an ice hotel or ice bar, ever since I heard about the first one many years ago. In Stockholm, I finally did it!
We went to the IceBar at the Nordic C Hotel. It’s best to get reservations online ahead of time because they only allow so many people in at a time. Unlike most bars where you just walk right in and out, this requires some procedures. The bar supplies parkas and gloves to brave the sub-zero temperatures. We booked online for a 195 SEK fee (about $23) and that includes one drink. Yes, it’s expensive — but then again, pretty much everything in Scandinavia is.
We were bundled up in our parkas and then ushered into the bar, made entirely of ice. Floors, walls, bar, stools. Even the “glasses” that your drinks come in are made of ice. There were some pretty cool carvings in all this frozen water. And yes, it was cold. However, not so cold (with the hooded parkas) that it was intolerable. At least for a half-hour to an hour. After a while, our fingers and feet did start to freeze up.
The bar was a lot smaller than I was expecting….but I guess it would be a pretty major undertaking to make something like that of a large size. The bartender was very fun and personable (I got a lingonberry vodka drink) and the drinks were good, though not huge. Yes, it was pretty cheesy; most people there were also tourists doing it for the novelty, and taking plenty of pictures. But that was kind of the fun of it, too. I wasn’t sorry I did it. A unique, fun travel experience that you don’t get to have in many places.
Visiting ABBA The Museum
OK, first off let me disclose that I did NOT go here (just not enough time). But, I wanted to include ABBA The Museum because it’s often noted as one of the tops “cheesy but super fun” places to see in Stockholm. Here’s what one Trip Advisor reviewer had to say:
“So, so cheesy, and so worth visiting. If you’re an ABBA fan, and you’re in Stockholm, you shouldn’t miss it. It does, of course, provide a particular version of the history – as is to be expected considering the thing is fully authorized by ABBA! – but it remains a very fun experience.”
I mean, the website says, “Walk in, Dance out.” And you can get DRESSED UP in costume and makeup at the beginning of your visit! What more do you need to know?
Tips for if You Go
Stay at the Story Hotel — a cool, chic, and very artsy boutique hotel in a thriving neighborhood; right across from a metro station and walking distance to Saluhall Market, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, the harbor, and museums.
Get a My Stockholm Pass, which gives you free use of all public transportation (metros, buses, ferries, and trains) as well as free entrance to dozens of museums and attractions, and discounts at various restaurants and shops.
Visit Stockholm is the tourism bureau website that will give you all the info you need to know about places of interest, accommodations, sites, and getting around the city.