The Swedish capital Stockholm was the first stop of my 4 weeks in Scandinavia adventure in July/August 2015. Here are my 5 top film fan tips for what to do, see and eat in 2 days.
While I was here, I started thinking about my favourite Swedish films. The dark comedy The 100-year-old man who climbed out of window and disappeared was one of my favourite films in 2014. And then there is the slightly weird, but nevertheless well-done drama All things fair about a teacher starting an affair with her underage pupil from 1995. Or the 2011 mystery thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for which Stockholm provided most of the background setting.
I'm sure there are many more great Swedish films. However, just as the German ones, most Swedish films don't get a release abroad and are therefore less known internationally.
So here are my 5 tried-and-tested tips of what a film fan in Stockholm could do to pass 72 hours:
1. For access all areas, get your access card
The easiest way to get around is via Stockholm's underground system, called tunnelbana! Single tickets are a bit complicated to get and quite expensive, so I got myself a no-worries all-in card – called access card – at the airport. For 72 hours this costs you 230 SEK (about 24 Euros) and will give you unlimited access to all public transport (tube, buses, ferry) in Stockholm. The method used is similar to that of the London underground. Whenever you put your card on the reader, it will magically open doors.
2. Stay somewhere central
As the capital of Sweden, Stockholm is not the cheapest place for accommodation, so I booked myself into a hostel. As I soon found out, the 2kronor hostel was a good choice as it's very centrally located, has friendly staff, a good-sized kitchen and excellent WiFi. You can easily walk to the main train station (Centralen) or catch the tunnelbana just a few metres from the hostel's doorstep.
Before coming here, I was a bit nervous whether I would find my way round. A different language, an un-known city… all that intimidated me. But to my surprise this was actually really easy as (just like in London) all street names are attached to buildings, so you always know where you are. If you still get lost, you can always ask a friendly local for directions. They all speak excellent English!
3. Explore the past in world-class museums
When I think of Swedish films, the first thing that comes to mind are the characters of world-famous children's book author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi Longstocking, Emil i Lönneberga, Ronia the Robber's Daughter and Madicken were the hero of my childhood. In the open-air outdoor museum Skansen you can get a good idea of how these characters may have lived once upon a time in rural Sweden.
The museum is located on an island, but you can easily reach it by bus or ferry. During the high season (June to August), it's 170 SEK (about 18 Euros) entry for adults, so quite pricy. But therefore you can spend the whole day here and basically have a zoo and museum in one as there are many Nordic animals to see as well. I really enjoyed going through all those old houses (most of them original) and the actors/guides that waited in every house to tell me something about its history. In excellent English, of course!
The Medeltidsmuseet (museum about the Middle Ages in Stockholm and Sweden) is another hot spot for history fans and time travel lovers! Here, you can walk through several reconstructed houses that bring history to life! To my surprise (and delight) this museum is free to enter every day it's open (closed on Mondays). It also opens longer (until 8 pm) on Wednesdays.
4. Trace the footsteps of royalty
The recent wedding of Prince Carl Philip of Sweden to Sophia Hellqvist made a certain royal balcony world-famous. Whenever there is not a royal wedding or other big event going on, you can wander this balcony freely and feel a bit like a princess (or prince) looking over the historic centre of Stockholm.
5. Get a taste of the real Sweden
According to my travel guide, the Café Valand, which was literally around the corner from my hostel, has served as a popular location for many films and TV productions. However, I only got to the see the outside of this café stuck in the 1950s as it was the first day of their summer break and therefore closed.
Instead, I tried a real Swedish cinnamon bun and a huge bread roll at Nybergs Konditori (Norrtullsgatan 25, tunnelbana: Odenplan) and yep – they were heavenly and reasonably priced!
Even though my hunt for a vegetarian option of the Swedish national dish meatballs was unsuccessful, I did find a really good and affordable veggie deli called SönderManna (Medborgarplatsen 3, get off the tunnelbana stop of the same name and find it inside the Söderhallarna food court).