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Stockholm is sometimes called the capital of Scandinavia. Built on 14 islands in Lake Malaren, it marks the beginning of an archipelago of 24,000 islands stretching all the way to the Baltic Sea. The city is more than 700 years old, and yet, is a beacon of modernity. Talk about contrasts. The birthplace of functional ( funkis) furniture meets renaissance majesty.
The historic heart of the city is the old town, Gamla Stan, which was blessedly spared during World War II thanks to the Sweden's supposed neutrality. The sometimes narrow and winding streets are lined with red, yellow and bronze-painted buildings housing restaurants and souvenir shops in addition to the city's lucky residents. You can dine on meatballs and lingonberries at the Den Gyldene Freden restaurant located on Osterl ånggatan. In business since 1722, the Guiness Book of Records lists it as the oldest existing restaurant with an unaltered interior. After eating, you can visit the Stockholm cathedral and the Royal Palace, both in the Old Town.
The Nobel Peace Prize, given away in Oslo, Norway, gets most of the press. But the rest of the Nobel Prizes are bestowed upon in Stockholm, home to the awards' founder, The Nobel Museum in Gamla Stan illustrates a century of creativity. Explore the work and ideas of more than 700 creative minds presented through short films, original artifacts and computers.
Most of Sweden isn't like Stockholm – it's rural and remote, with desolate beauty. When not working, locals want to enjoy the outdoors. And they head to Djurgarden, an island in central Stockholm. Home to historical buildings and monuments, museum, the amusement park Gröna Lund and extensive stretches of forest and meadows. The Skansen, an open air museum, shows the way of life in different parts of Sweden.
After visiting this museum, you may get the idea to travel further a field. Use your Eurail Sweden Pass and easily travel by the SJ High-speed train to Goeteborg on the west coast or travel north to experience the midnight sun in Kiruna. If you'll be in Sweden during winter, book a night at the world famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarui for a truly unique hotel stay.
Cosmopolitan Stockholm is just the beginning of your journey. See the Northern Lights shine across the sky. Travel north to Lapland to see the Sami people herd reindeer. Confuse day for night and night for day. This is beauty worth losing sleep over.
Contributed by: Rachel, E-business Editor, who has experienced much more of Europe than she ever imagined, traveling by train.