I had expected vibrance and rhythm in Madrid, I had ideas of romance and art for Paris, but Stockholm to me was an unknown island. There were no museums or monuments that I could automatically reel off and I had no idea about cuisine or history. However, I was excited to see the epicentre of Sweden and sample the culture it had to offer.
First impressions, well I have to steal a few lines from Jay-Z and say that Stockholm actually is a "concrete jungle"- a vast landscape of skyscrapers and plazas. However, myself and travel buddy were utilising our contacts and staying with relatives in a small town called Vallingby. This meant that we could escape the inner city madness and sample suburban Swedish life.
Staying in a what looked like page 45 of the Ikea brochure really provided a taste for the ruralistic and laid-back living in Sweden, including the home-cooked cuisine. Crayfish, caviar and kanelbullar topped the menu. I squirmed and squinted as I sucked the juice from the crayfish, the traditional munching method, and I winced and wormed as I swallowed the caviar.
Aside from the food we also sampled Stockholm's retail outlets and quickly learnt that it was not a cheap place. The city's train network was easy to use and allowed us to frequent the centre hassle free. This meant we could spend mornings getting lost and absorbing the city's canals and architecture.
The usual top attractions apply here, the cathedral and history museum, the gardens and the palace. Out of all of these, Drottningholm Palace is perhaps the most enjoyable. Located just outside the city, it is the home to Sweden's royal family. It boasts beautiful galleries and gorgeous gardens that are well worth the visit.
Something that might not be on the to-do list, but certainly should be, is the theme park. Grona Lund is a great day out and not a bad price at SEK 100 (£10) per ticket. During a city stay it can be nice to take a break from all things cultural and have a bit off foreign fun. Rollercoasters and ghost trains meet this criteria perfectly.
Another alternative attraction is the Millennium tour. If you are a fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, this tour shows you all the hotspots mentioned in the book, and film, as well as divulging some of the hidden secrets. Grunge meets geek.
All in all, Stockholm is an extremely pretty city dotted with architectural treasures and retail havens. Food aside it offers everything you need for a relaxing break, and if you hit it up during the summer period you can enjoy sunshine and high temps. Although there may not be reems to do for young travellers it is a quieter destination amidst a continent of madness.