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City of the cool north.

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Stockholm, city of the cool north, is lightening up. This once dour port on the Baltic has been transformed into a tourist destination of distinction. Prices are high, but so are the standards. And in 2009 it was named Europe’s first green city.

Elegant capital

Ingrid Bergman has probably done more for tourism in Casablanca than her
native Stockholm. It’s time
they invoked the ravishing screen idol’s spirit to sell one of the
world’s most elegant capitals. Move over Sven, Abba and Ikea. Stockholm,
rapidly emerging as a top destination for the romance break, deserves
the classiest icon around.
Built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, with many fine buildings
reflected in acres of water, Stockholm has a setting other tourist
boards would kill for. Add in 38 parks, including Ekoparken, devoted to
the eco-preservation, 100 art galleries and 70 museums ‘ said to be the
greatest concentration anywhere ‘ and you’ll be busy for days.

Credit card

The easiest way to join all this up is the Stockholm Card,
which allows unlimited travel by bus, and the subway (aka the world's
longest art gallery - most stations are adorned with with paintings,
sculptures, and mosaics.)
The card gives free entry to 75 museums, including the very best. They
include the Vasa Museum (showing the recovered wooden ship sunk for 333
years); Skansen, the open-air museum, with 150 houses transplanted from
all over Sweden. And the Nobel Museum: learn about the prize winners and
their winning discoveries and ideas. Stockholm Card: 1 day - £19 for
two; three days - £41. Sold at any tourist centre and many
hotels.

Stay up late

It’s 3 am on a summer morning in Stockholm and the insider’s tip is ‘Go
outside’, just as the Swedes do, for the best free show in the
north. Sip a coffee on your hotel balcony and marvel at the delicate
dawn morphing through the hues, from the lightest crystal blue to a
magical, subtle peach. Then hit the streets (you can catch a nap in the
afternoon) to savour the endless Scandinavian day.

Take a spin

Try a cycle tour in and around this easy flat city, taking in its many
islands and the countryside beyond, visiting prehistoric sites, little
churches and quiet picnic spots.

The city from above

See the city from above - Stockholm is that rare world capital: it
permits hot-air balloons to overfly it. Or the water: there are all-day
excursions, with lunch, on the sailing boat Jeanneau 51 on the
Nynäshamn's archipeago, with a skilled sailor onboard,
. You could ride on the small and gentle mounts at the Haniwnge Iceland Horse Centre at Hemfosa, 23 miles
south of the city - £30 for two for 2 ½ hours, including a picnic lunch.www.out.se
00 46 8 500 481 81.
Complete your outdoor day with the Summer City
Cruise on the 100-year-old Prins Carl Philip, gliding under the city's
bridges as you dine. Music and a majestic view. www.summercity.nu
. And if you time it right, catch the Stockholm Jazz Festival, mid July (00 46 8 508 285 08.

Taste Of Stockholm

With no real gastronomic heritage, Sweden still relies on the fare from
its wide open spaces, both water and land. Gravlax, pickled herring and
crayfish, wild boar, reindeer and grouse are among the staples, served
with the freshest fruit and vegetables.
But since the 1980s Stockholm has working hard in the kitchen to add art
and invention to its menus, making a virtue of all that fresh produce.
The city dines in style, and with an immense choice - 1,600 restaurants,
with a fine dusting of Michelin stars. The top places are classy and
clever, but pricey, with many breaking our budget.
In A Taste Of Stockholm,
(www.smakapastockholm.se) the city’s best chefs offer their wares much
more cheaply, and conduct daily cooking duels. On June 4th see who
provides the fastest service in town in the Waiters Race.

Three courses at Master Andrers (www.masteranders.se) with wine and coffee -
£80- £90 for two. Or you could skip a starter at Den Gyldene Freden (an
1800 century tavern, largely unchanged since 1722, 51 Österlånggatan,
Stockholm, 00 46 8 24 97 60.) Try fried Loin of reindeer with
potato flan, followed by coconut muffin with chocolate cream, mangostan
coulis and Tropical sorbet – over £100 for two.

It’s the same in F12restaurant; dine lightly but well on nettle fondue,
snails and tomato, spring chicken au lait ,with eucalyptus, and spring
cabbage. (12 Fredsgatan, 00 46 824 80 52).

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