It’s really unfair to judge a place by one day’s worth of sightseeing, especially from a controlled tour bus from a cruise ship. But Stockholm and its surrounding areas left us with the impression that we weren’t finished visiting this place. Not being particularly keen on hanging out in big cities, we were impressed with how clean and safe this city seemed to be. There were many places that appeared to be favorite hangouts of the locals and tourists alike, and the people, like most folks we met in and around the Baltic Sea, seemed to be generally friendly.
Part of our tour bus adventure took us outside of Stockholm to a little town called Sigtuna. Located about 48 km north of Stockholm’s city center, Sigtuna is thought to be the oldest city in Sweden, dating back to 980 A.D. It served as an important trading center until the middle of the 13th century when Stockholm began to surpass it in importance and popularity. Today, Sigtuna remains a medieval small town and is certainly worth a visit.
One of our most fascinating and entertaining experiences in Sweden was not the city of Stockholm, or any typical tourist attraction for that matter. It was the route the ship made on our way into the city from the Baltic Sea. We arrived in Stockholm relatively early in the morning, which is typical of a cruise ship’s schedule. But before we got there, we made our way through what seemed like miles and miles of channels, past islands that had many homes but no roads, ferry crossings, small harbors, vacation homes, and small villages. We did this at about sunrise (which, for that area of the world in late May is about 5:00 AM) so the light was perfect for viewing these sights in their best appearances. Needless to say, by the time we arrived in Stockholm we were already anticipating a great day.
While we traveled around the Baltic Sea getting small snapshots of all these fascinating countries and cities, we formed opinions about whether we would come back for a longer look. With some places we weren’t particularly impressed. Others we thought it might be fun to return again with a cruise ship and see a different tour.Still others, like Stockholm, we placed firmly on our list of places to return on our own and spend some actual quality time exploring the city and its surroundings.