Love good food, culture, and riding your bike? Sweden is calling your name.
by Carola Felchnher
Stockholm calls itself the capital of Scandinavia for a reason. In this town, trend-setting shops and vibrant nightlife meet idyllic archipelagos like Skärgården in the east. Stockholm keeps pace with the times, but also allows you to breathe.
Stockholm's people love culture and good food. And they love being outside, going with the flow of the city. This energy shows itself in events like the ITU Triathlon Stockholm, the Stockholm Marathon, and the Velothon Stockholmin September, with its iconic city start/finish, and two race courses covering 60 and 160 kilometers on traffic-free roads.
Even if there is no special event that draws riders onto their saddles, cycling and Stockholm go together like old friends. It's the easiest way to get around town, to the islands and out to the beautiful green Djurgården area. There is an extensive cycle path network and the local tourism centers will provide maps and happily give you tips on where to go and what to see.
If you traveled without your bike or only have your fancy race bike with you, rent a commuter bike through one of the many providers. Bike Sweden and Rent-a-Bike both offer guided tours through downtown Stockholm in English. Or, buy a three-day pass for the city's rental bikes "City Bike" (available at many hotels), and use a bike from one of 140 rental stations to explore Sweden's capital on your own.
The best time for cycling in Sweden is from April through October in the south of the country, the season is a bit shorter in the north due to the climate.
Stockholm on the bike
From island to island
Starting in Stockholm, which was built on 14 islands itself, there are guided tours that take you from island to island. You travel by ferry, go for a ride on another island every day, and enjoy the peace of ancient forests, lonely beaches and crystal clear lakes.
Leave the beaten track for some cross-country fun in Åre. Sweden's largest winter sports resort is home to an attractive bike park in snowless months. There are trails for riders of various levels, from easy to expert. If you don't own a mountain bike, you can rent one right there.
Mountainbikeskolan (mountain bike school), just 20 minutes from Stockholm city center, also offers biking lessons and guided tours around the beautiful Nacka Nature Reserve.
Convinced and just need somewhere to stay? There are hotels of every price range and for every taste available in Stockholm, from star-studded luxury lodgings to cozy owner-run pensions. Even cheaper are stays in hostels of which there are many in Stockholm, or pitch your tent at a camp ground and enjoy the adventure.
Stockholm off the bike
For culture enthusiasts
We hope you've got strong legs: Stockholm's cultural offer is so extensive that you'll have to ride hard to squeeze as much as possible in a weekend trip. There is the Royal Opera House, Kungliga Operan, a pompous building and home to opera singers and ballet dancers since January 1773. If you don't get tickets for a performance, you can opt for a guided tour that will take you backstage to royal rooms and the orchestra pit.
If you are more into kings than musicians, you might want to pay Rosersberg Palace a visit. Its been at the royal family's disposal since 1762 and today has a wealth of well-preserved textiles from the late 1700s to the 1800s. Don't leave before having taken a stroll on the vast palace grounds and Lake Mälaren.
In case it's raining. seek cover in one of the museums or art galleries of Stockholm like the Swedish History Museum, Post Museum, or Vaxholm Fortress Museum, where the history of the fortress and coastal defense is shown. If you want something more up to date, Moderna Museet displays one of Europe's foremost collection of modern art including Picasso, Dali, and Matisse. And don't miss out on Färgfabriken. In this former paint and soap factory, experimental art is on display and regular talks and workshops are given.
For food lovers
Eating in Stockholm can be expensive, but there are options to get great food at reasonable prices. You can go for cinnamon pastries, hot dogs with mashed potatoes, or opt for a snack from a food stall or truck. A nice place with great atmosphere and a variety of food is Saluhall, a covered market in a 19th century building. Another market,Hötorgshallen is smaller, but also cheaper and less touristy.
For a break from the traffic, head to Sweden's countryside. As it's the third largest country by area in Europe, but has relatively few inhabitants, you will have many roads virtually to yourself. Due to Sweden's crystal clear lakes, small villages and dense forests, cycle tours will be varied without you really planning them to be. There are no high mountains, but rather rolling roads that are also suitable for riders who came here for relaxed touring and not to give a proof of performance.
Willing and able to spend some more money on food? Check out Aifur restaurant, a 25-minute boat ride from Stockholm city. It specializes in the gastronomic heritage of the Viking Age, so be prepared for lots of meat.
For the active
Stockholm is a playground, even for cyclists tired of the saddle after a hard race. Take a kayak out on Lake Mälaren, where a tour guide will school you on the proper paddling technique, and you can also head for the islands off Stockholm's shore.
Think water is better without a boat? Take a swim in lake Mälaren in the public baths of Södermalm or Hornstull. If you prefer solid ground, go hiking on the trails in Stockholm's surrounding area that winds through untouched nature and offer breathtaking views. Most starting points are easy to reach from the city center.
The country offers a well-developed network of cycling paths and marked routes. Whether you pedal through national parks or hop from island to island, you'll always find quiet roads and meet hospitable people who will make your stay in Sweden a special one.
Those who want to save time and combine eating and shopping can do so in Café String. There, you not only get a solid brunch on weekends and vintage style furniture, but virtually everything is for sale. Why not opt for a nice teacup as souvenir?
Visit Velothon Stockholm today to secure your spot.