Welcome to Winter Wonderland!
Sweden’s capital Stockholm is widely regarded as one of the world’s best cities to live in and visit – but what is it about this place that makes it so special?
As a central part of the Stockholm Åre 2026, and with venues that regularly host world-class winter sport events, we’re taking a look inside the city that perfectly mixes old and new – boasting three ancient UNESCO World Heritage sites, whilst also being described as Europe’s Silicon Valley…
• Stockholm has been called the ‘world’s smallest big city’
The Swedish capital is dwarfed by other European capitals like London, Paris or Berlin – indeed, it’s not even in the top 35 largest European cities in terms of population – but when it comes to culture, it can hold its own against anywhere else on the planet. Home to superb art galleries, museum and theatre, and with an incredible food and wine scene, Stockholm is a joy to walk around and full of world-class amenities.
• It’s one of the world’s cleanest cities
Wander around the city and you’ll see why – an absence of heavy industry makes Stockholm one of the most spotless metropolises on the planet.
Boasting 11 parks in the city centre, there is plenty of opportunity to get back to nature. In fact, the air quality was recently revealed to be the best in over 50 years – and Swedes have the longest life expectancy in Europe. What better reason could there be to visit.
• Stockholm is regarded as the start-up capital of Europe
Stockholm is the world’s second most prolific tech hub on a per capita basis, behind Silicon Valley. When people think of iconic Swedish
brands, they usually go for Ikea, H&M and Volvo – but not many realise that Skype, Spotify and Candy Crush were all #MadeInSweden. In the 90s, the Swedish government invested in high-speed internet (this is now the longest optic fibre network in the world, stretching 1.2m km) and gave citizens tax breaks to buy computers – creating what the World Economic Forum has called the world’s most digital economy.
• It’s the home of the Nobel Prize
Not only was Alfred Nobel, the famed icon behind the world’s most famous award, born and bred in Stockholm – his prestigious prize, established to reward those who serve humanity, is awarded every year at a ceremony in the city.
• The dining and wining in Stockholm is sublime
Stockholm has almost 50 Michelin-awarded restaurants in the city centre alone, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when your stomach begins to rumble.
The city’s oldest restaurant is Den Gyldene Freden, opened in 1721 and famous for its traditional Swedish fare. You can’t come to Sweden and not do ‘fika’ – a mid-afternoon cinnamon bun and coffee – and there are many cafes around the city to do this like a true Swede.
• Stockholm’s subway has the world’s longest art gallery
Actually, the majority of the stations in Stockholm are adorned with paintings, sculptures and mosaics. Above ground, Stockholm has a vibrant, diverse art scene with many high-quality private galleries. At any time of the year, you can easily spend a weekend touring exhibitions, listening to talks and looking for that perfect piece of art to adorn your living room.
• The city is sometimes referred to as ‘Venice of the North’
Thanks to its beautiful buildings and exquisite architecture, abundant open water and numerous parks, Stockholm has drawn comparisons to Italy’s sinking city, Venice.
With 14 islands inter-connected by 42 bridges, you can switch from bike to boat at a moment’s notice. On a summer’s day, you can even visit the beach… without leaving the city centre – with water so clean that you can swim just 800 metres from Stockholm City Hall!
• It has everything in one place
Stockholm is a city with many different perspectives. As well as one of Europe’s most modern and innovative places, the city’s ‘Gamla Stan’ (Old Town) dates from the 13th century and is a glorious labyrinth of charming cobbled streets, alleyways, faded mustard and rust-coloured town houses and bustling meeting squares.
There’s also a Royal Palace with full military band and horse parade in the summer. Stockholm boasts the world’s oldest in-use Olympic Stadium, built in 1912, last time Sweden hosted the Olympic Games – and it’s also a winter sport lover’s paradise, with a ice skating rinks in the centre of town, and an iconic downhill ski slope (‘Hammarbybacken’) overlooking the whole of the city.