Weekend trips to European cities, also known as city breaks, are becoming more and more popular. Only two or three hours of travel is enough to enjoy a cup of coffee at a Copenhagen café, find the smallest monument in Stockholm or discover the traces of Vikings in Oslo.
It is worth going off the beaten tracks and getting to know the other face of the capital of Sweden. The Old Town of Stockholm, i.e. Gamla Stan, conceals secluded corners and alleys, such as Mårten Trotzigs gränd – the narrowest street in the city. Let’s not forget about the small Dalecarlian horse museum, which is located in a souvenir shop at Stortorget, or the Iron Boy, a 15-cm statue in the Bollhustäppan courtyard. Going out of the centre, let’s take a look at the Södermalm district, often compared to the Berlin Kreuzberg. There you can enjoy several popular viewpoints, e.g. Ejallgatan or the Katarinahissen elevator. The Monteliusvägen is a popular path from which tourists can admire the panorama of the Swedish capital. Few, however, know that there is a small cat street nearby (Kattgränd), forming the quarters: Cat’s foot (Kattfoten Mindre) and Cat’s bum (Kattrumpan). If you look around carefully, you can spot many feline traces in the form of paintings on the walls, stained glass windows or elements of the fence.
If you have time to visit only one museum, go to Vasa (Vasamuseet), devoted almost entirely to the 17th century ship of the same name excavated from the bottom of the sea. The museum is located in the western part of the island of Djurgården, which in the 16 century was a hunting ground for King John III (hence its name – “Animal garden”). You can easily reach the island on foot, but it is worth taking the opportunity to take this short route on the historic tram No. 7. Although prices in Stockholm restaurants are not the lowest, it is impossible to leave the city without visiting at least one of them. In “Meatballs for the People” you should try the world-famous Swedish meatballs (köttbullar), and in order to try the best delicious cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) you should visit the local bakery chain called “Fabrique”.
Located on the Skåne peninsula, the city is considered a multicultural melting pot. One of the most diverse districts is Möllevången, called “Möllan” by the locals. The main tourist trail goes through Stortorget, the market square and at the same time the oldest part of the city, where the 16th century town hall stands. On the square, you will also see the monument to King Gustav Adolf and the sculptures of strolling musicians. From every point of the city, you can see the high tower of the Lutheran church of St. Peter, as well as Turning Torso – a 54-story skyscraper with a characteristic twisting structure.
It is located in the revital ized Västra Hamnen docks – a business centre during the day, which in the evening turns into a place full of bustling cafés. Just a 20-minute walk from the centre, you can find yourself on the Ribersborg beach – a place of rest and recreation, ideal for a picnic. There you will find a pier by the beach, at the end of which you can find bathhouses used by the Swedes throughout the year. Small Malmö can boast a rich culinary offer. You can choose from fastfood bars with local specialties and restaurants known for the prestigious Michelin stars. If you like culinary experiments, be sure to visit “Bloom in the Park” in the city park Pildammsparken – the menu changes every day, depending on the creativity of the cook.
You can quickly travel from Malmö to Copenhagen by the famous Öresund bridge. Öresund is the longest bridge in the world connecting two countries. It is over 8 km long, and can be travelled both by a rented car and by train (a ticket costs around DKK 90 per person). The most characteristic part of the city is Nyhavn, also known as New Harbour. Established at the end of the 17th century, today the port canal is full of cafés, bars and restaurants. The Charlottenborg palace located in this Baroque district houses the Museum of Contemporary Art – Kunsthal Charlottenborg invites you to, among others, an exhibition of the works by Jesper Just, an artist renown in the world of film (from June to August 2019). In the very heart of the Danish capital you can find the so-called Freetown Christiania.
This is a small housing estate that was granted the opportunity of self-determination, provided that it became self-sufficient economically. In summer, concerts and cultural events take place there. The Christianshavn district can also be admired from the deck of the tourist barge. Families with children will appreciate Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest funfair in the world, operating for over 170 years. Thrill-seekers can take advantage of Vertigo – an attraction that imitates a plane flight, during which you will experience the speed of 100 km/h and a load factor of 5G. Another attraction for true daredevils is Monsun surrounded by cries of fear mixed with euphoria. Amateurs of beautiful landscapes can go to the highest carousel in the world, measuring up to 80 meters. It offers a panoramic view of the city.
Another impressive building is the national opera house. Interestingly, it is structured in such a way that you can enter its roof on foot or by trolley, and from which you can see the panorama of the city and fjord. Truly futuristic architecture can be admired in the modern Aker Brygge district. From there, when going towards Karl Johans gate, you will also see the town hall building and the Nobel Peace Center. You can also visit the island of thieves – this once uninteresting region has now been transformed into a luxurious district with the Sneak Peak lookout tower. Another similarly elevated scenic point located in the affluent area is the Holmenkollen ski jump.
Museum enthusiasts should visit the Bygdøy peninsula, where such museums as the Viking Ship Museum or the Fram Polar Ship Museum are located. An original combination of nature and art is the Vigeland Park, which houses 212 sculptures. Nevertheless, undoubtedly the most famous artist from Oslo is Edvard Munch. You can visit a museum devoted to him, or see the equally interesting Grünerløkka district, where the Norwegian painter spent his childhood – once belonging to the working class, now associated with alternative culture. Norwegians love exercising and communing with nature. There are many forests around Oslo, which are treated like urban parks by residents. It is worth going to one of them, like Oslomarka, or visit those located by Sognsvann Lake.
As in other Nordic countries, you can find a lot of parks there. It is worth taking a walk by, for example, the green Esplanadi Avenue, which has more charm than the most famous city route – Aleksanterinkatu. However, you must bear in mind that you can enjoy the green there for a relatively short period of time, as Helsinki is the northernmost capital city of continental Europe, located just over 800 km from the Arctic Circle. It is just cold there, even in May. The city’s image was influenced by two factors – the proximity of the sea, which is felt everywhere here, and Russian influences. Some compare the city to St. Petersburg, a fact which can be explained by the long Russian occupation of these areas.
As a matter of fact, the Lutheran cathedral, one of the central points of the city, resembles an Orthodox church. Its white building is crowned with characteristic green domes with gilding. Moreover, the church towers over the Senate Square where the monument of Tsar of Russia – Alexander II is located. Another worth seeing Lutheran temple is Temppeliaukio, a modern church, whose impressive shape was carved in a rock. However, to do justice to the city, it should be mentioned that similarly to Oslo, it also has a unique building. This is the Museum of Contemporary Art – Kasima (charisma in Finnish). Its “twin”, KUMU museum, is located 100 km away in Tallinn, Estonia.