The city that inspired Stieg Larsson is strung out across 14 islands,each boasting great bars, restaurants and culture in a cool Scandinavian style

Stockholm Port Guide
Stockholm’s waterside is a great place to hang out

With its spire-spiked skyline and colourful buildings, Sweden’s beautiful capital has a beguiling mix of heritage and history, tradition and modernity. Crossing the town is a case of crossing numerous bridges, as it’s built on 14 islands. Summertime on Stockholm’s shores is a pleasure.

What to see and do

The island of Gamla Stan is the Old Town of Stockholm, with narrow, cobbled lanes and tiny shops leading up through elegant squares to the splendid Royal Palace. Here you’ll find a changing of the guard ceremony, and enough museums to keep you occupied for hours. Take a Millennium tour on theisland of Södermalm and discover where Stieg Larsson got inspiration for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.

For Stockholm’s best art collection, ranging from the Middle Ages to contemporary art, including the decorative arts, visit the National Museum (nationalmuseum.se). Edging Lake Malaran, iconic City Hall, the scene of glittering Nobel Prize banquets, is a must-see. Its exterior belies its dazzling interior, so the guided tours are worth taking.

If you only get to one museum, make it the Vasa (vasamuseet.se). This fantastic wooden warship, built in 1628, sank before it had even left harbour. Brought up from the deep in 1961, its story is incredible, and the museum created around it is superb. Nearby, the outdoor museum Skansen (skansen.se) is a delightful mix of old wooden houses, craft works and living history.

Take a boat trip among the forested islands of the archipelago, and see the 17th-century Drottningholm Palace, home of Sweden’s royal family, with a wonderful old theatre in the extensive parkland grounds.

Where to eat

Den Gyldene Freden (gyldenefreden.se) is a comfortably old-world, barrel-vaulted restaurant that’s been serving classic Swedish dishes in style since 1722.

Alternatively, you can take an exquisite modern culinary journey at Fredsgatan 12 (fredsgatan12.com).

Another excellent choice is the innovative Smak på Restaurangen (restaurangentm.com), while Hermans Trädgårdscafé (hermans.se) is famous for its excellent vegetarian buffet, great terrace views and live bands.

A food court with a difference, lakeside Kungsholmen (kungsholmen. com) features seven open kitchens, a sleek cocktail bar, DJs and a great vibe.

Where to drink

With countless bars, clubs and music venues, Stockholm’s nightlife carries on at least until dawn. A memorable night out could involve cocktails at stylish Hotellet (hotellet.info), followed by the legendary music club/pub Stampen (stampen.se). Glenn Miller Café (glennmillercafe.com) is for great live jazz and blues, and the four halls at Sturecompagniet (sturecompagniet.se) are a favourite hangout for the 20-something party crowd.

Where to stay

The rooms at hotel sisters Nordic Sea and Nordic Light (nordichotels.se) all have pure, clean Scandinavian design, with some innovative touches. The Nordic Sea has an ice bar, and a gigantic aquarium in the lobby; the Nordic Light features mood rooms where you can change the lighting to suit your style. Meanwhile, the waterfront location, distinctive Art Nouveau architecture, spacious individually designed rooms and classy T/bar make Hotel Diplomat (diplomathotel.com) a great choice for sightseeing, shopping or just enjoying the view.

Fact File
Population 847,000
Climate Warm to hot summers, cold winters tempered by the Gulf Stream; spring and autumn cool to mild
Currency Swedish kronor (£1 = 10.3 SEK)
Time Zone GMT+1
Dialling Codes +46 8
Useful Websites visit-stockholm.com