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Quality of life in the green and blue city.

Sustainable Swedishness – The green and blue city

Stockholm is recognized as a top sustainable destination. The City was first-ever to receive the European Green Capital Award in 2010, based on the city’s consistent record of achieving high environmental standards and commitment to ongoing improvements and sustainable development. To sum it up, just about everything in Stockholm is done with quality of life in mind. Here are six story ideas to explore the city from a green and blue perspective.

First time visitors to Stockholm are typically struck by two things; firstly the sense of style and creativity of the people, it may be technology, fashion, food, music or design. And secondly the sound lifestyle, the behavior patterns, consumption habits and the tangible authenticity connected to it. What is it about this city that hits the number one position when it comes to Quality-of-Life?  And what is it about Sweden that makes it appear so healthy? I believe that the love and care for nature are key elements of the Swedish soul and a vital part of the modern society in Stockholm.

Stockholmers take pride in their enjoyment of outdoor life. During fall for instance, you will not find a single work place where Monday discussions aren’t all about the weekend-harvest of chanterelles, apples and blueberries. All made possible through the unique “Right of Public Access”, which is a right to roam freely in the countryside but to show consideration for nature, wildlife and landowners. Come winter, come spring, come fall, Stockholmers enjoy outdoor life all year around; in the city parks, in a leisure boat or in a summer house. Did you know that 10 percent of the Swedish population owns a summer house and ten percent owns a leisure boat, most of them living in big city areas. Visitors can enjoy the Swedish lifestyle by just travelling to Stockholm and taking part of organized tours on bike, on foot and on boat or just renting a bike.

From an early age children in Sweden learn a healthy lifestyle, the importance of movement, the love of nature and how to eat healthy. The “Food Plate Model” ,Tallriksmodellen, widely used all over the world, is a Swedish invention and is still used to teach healthy food in pre-schools. The cold weather doesn’t seem to stop parents from placing their loved ones outdoor in any grim weather condition? One of the most popular type of kindergartens in Stockholm is all about being outdoors. Kids use all their senses and becomes muddy, but also stronger and healthier.

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Facts about Activities and Tours in Stockholm
Facts about Stockholm

Nature and culture in perfect harmony

Marine culture is something central in a city built on 14 islands. One of the city landmarks is the Af Chapman boat, nowadays a hostel, situated on Skeppsholmen island. Skeppsholmen island, translated islet of Ships, is a great place to explore Stockholm’s maritime history. The three museums; The Modern Museum, Museum of Architecture, Arkitekturmuseet and East Asian museum Östasiatiska are all Navy building conversions. The yellow house on “Långa raden”, nowadays Hotel Skeppsholmen, was built to house the marines and a former torpedo workshop has turned into a cozy restaurant named Hjerta (heart). Along the quays of the city you will find house boats, especially along Skeppsholmen and Norr Mälarstrand. There are plenty of museums linked to water, the Vasamuseum being the number one followed by Sjöhistoriska, Maritime Museum and the history museum, Historiska. The latter telling the real story about the Vikings. This year a former Warf area on Beckholmen, Djurgården will breathe new life. A luxury restaurant, Oaxen Krog och Slip will open during the summer of 2013.

Stockholm has three sites on UNESCOs World Heritages list, all of them with the combination of Culture and Nature: The Viking village of Birka and Hovgården in lake Mälaren; the beautiful landscape and buildings of the woodland cemetery Skogskyrkogården by renowned architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz and finally the Drottningholm Palace with its beautiful park, the Chinese pavilion and theatre, still in use with original sets from 1766. 

The combination of nature, innovation and culture is what makes Stockholm unique. Surprisingly many of the top attractions in Stockholm are all about the cultural-outdoor combination. Take Skansen, the open-air museum, as an example. The entire museum is packed with culture, history traditions, buildings, food and entertainment – everything outdoors. You learn about Swedish culture and enjoy it at the same time. The eco friendly Rosendals Garden café, next door, is another great example of telling a cultural story and being a place for enjoyment at the same time. As a matter of fact, the entire green island of Djurgården is just packed with culture, events, festivals and recreation. 20 of Stockholm’s museums and attractions are situated on Djurgården in the Royal National City Park.

Celebrating light and darkness

The main traditions in Sweden are related to the most obvious uniqueness of our part of the world. The bright nights in the summer and the dark days in December. No wonder our favorite holidays, midsummer and Lucia, are celebrated on the lightest day and the longest night, making it high points of the year. Explore the magic of the midnight sun in May and June, when life after work starts with a long swim and ends with an al fresco picnic in a park followed by a drink at one of the outdoor clubs a couple of hours later – with the sun still present. Midsummer is best celebrated in the Swedish countryside, but Stockholm is lovely all other days.

And when the days are short the Queen of Light, Lucia, brightens up the dark winter with candle light and singing on December 13. The city becomes snuggly. It transforms into a fairy-tale Narnia all embedded in cotton-white snow. Even the smallest café offers a candle light experience to remember. The open-air museum Skansen, is a perfect place to explore all Swedish traditions, new and old.

The intensity of the seasons, that harsh winter leading to a sudden euphoria of spring, also breeds a split personality; Sober and sensual, tolerant and whimsical, as the colorful quilts on chairs outdoor café in March when the snow and cold weather still remains, the indoor nightclubs that move outdoors during the summer and the importance of a stylish indoor environment to survive winter season indoors.

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Facts: Traditions, holidays and food

Four seasons to enjoy outdoor life

It’s said that Stockholm is one third blue water, one third green parks and one third yellow buildings. The water and the parks are two of the city’s greatest assets and it is enjoyed all year around. And with 87,5 square meters of green area per inhabitant in Stockholm has a lot to offer.  Did you know that Stockholm’s water is so clean that you can fish for salmon, swim in it or even drink it? Rent a bike an cycle along the quays of exclusive Strandvägen boulevard or passed the City Hall. Take a walk and enjoy the views from Södermalm. Rent a canoe and paddle through the lush Långholmen canal and enjoy an afternoon swim. Enjoy a morning jog around the Djurgårdsbrunnsviken canal in the Royal National City Park, fish your own dinner outside the Royal Palace, hop on the Djurgårdsfärjan ferry or a boatsightseeing or rent a RIB-boat and take off into the archipelago. There are plenty of options.

Although the days are shorter in the winter, you will find Stockholmers making the most out of the few hours of daylight. Seeing someone dressed for crosscountry skiing carrying their skis in the metro is quite a common sight. And there are plenty of cross country skiing opportunities in the Royal National City Park, by Tekniska Högskolan or at Gärdet for example. Few capital cities in the world can boast with downhill skiing in the city center? Stockholm can. In the middle of the sustainable residential area Hammarby Sjöstad you will find Hammarbybacken ski slope. And if you are more for skating you can try it in Stockholm. In the winter, the lakes freeze and you can enjoy walking on frozen water or try iceskating, the safest ones being on an ice skating rink at Kungsträdgården

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Facts about Activities and Tours in Stockholm
Facts about Stockholm

Royal National City Park – the green lung of Stockholm

National parks can be found all around the world, but Stockholm is home to the world’s first National City Park. The area covers approximately 27 km2 (6,671 acres) of unbroken land. The Royal National City Park of Stockholm is owned by the Royal Family but open to the general public. Most visitors to Stockholm explore the Royal National City Park without even knowing it? The islands of Djurgården and Skeppsholmen, where you will find attractions such as the Moderna Museet, Vasamuseum, Junibacken and Gröna Lund are part of it. All year around you can enjoy some of the hundred outdoor festivals and sporting events in the Royal National City Park.

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Facts: The Royal National City Park, Stockholm

30 000 other stories in the Archipelago

For many people, Stockholm’s most spectacular attraction is still the archipelago’s wonderful maritime landscape with more than 30,000 islands and skerries. On some islands there are picturesque restaurants, hotels, youth hostels and country stores, while other islands are uninhabited and only have natural harbors. There is great variation, and a wealth of wildlife. Many of the islands in the archipelago can be reached by boat from central Stockholm and are ideal for a day trip or spending a few nights in a hotel or youth hostel.

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Facts: About the Archipelago