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Stockholm: City guide

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Stockholm reflects Swedes' obsession with style, design and culture. To get a sense of the importance of all three, visit the Kulturhuset, a stunning 1970s building dedicated to art, design, fashion, photography and multimedia exhibitions that is described as "Stockholm's Sitting Room."

Modern art lovers will also find plenty to occupy them at the Rafael Moneo-designed Moderna Museet, which contains works by Picasso, Matisse and Dali.

The Globen, a vast sport and culture arena and the world's largest spherical building, is another of the city's architectural landmarks.

The heart of old Stockholm is Gamla Stan, a maze of narrow medieval streets and squares packed with cafes, restaurants and sights, including the latest addition to the city's long list of museums, the Nobel Museum, which celebrates some of the greatest scientific and artistic minds of the past century.

Set across an archipelago of forest-covered islands, sometimes Stockholm doesn't feel like a city at all, especially on Djurgarden, once a royal hunting ground and now a sprawling park that contains the Vasamuseet. The Vasa, a 17th century warship which sank on its maiden voyage, was raised from the seabed in 1961 and is now the most popular museum attraction in Scandinavia and an essential part of any visit to Stockholm.

For shopping, check out the designer stores of Ostermalm and the quirky boutiques of Sodermalm.

Be seen:
In the summer, you may not want to look further than the all-night spontaneous street parties, where revelers take to the city's squares to celebrate the sun. But if you do...

New York and London have Soho. Stockholm has SoFo -- the area on Sodermalm south of Folkungagatan popular with young creative types, packed with hip boutiques, laidback cafes and trendy bars. First stop for beer drinkers should be Akkurat (Hornsgatan), a specialist bar with more than one hundred to choose from. For novelty value it's hard to beat the Absolut Icebar (Vasaplan), where you can drink the eponymous vodka until your glass melts -- though you'll have to book yourself a shot-drinking slot in advance.

Many of Stockholm's best social venues are found in hotels. The Lydmar Bar (Sturegatan) started the trend, but now has immaculately stylish competition from The Rival (Mariatorget), complete with its own cinema and Art Deco cocktail bar and the Skandic Hotel's Eken Bar (Guldgrend Södermalmstorg), set on a cliff top with views over the city.

Most of the city's best clubbing venues also double as restaurants and bars before turning up the bass later in the evening, with the emphasis firmly on the party vibe rather than cutting edge sounds. Cafe Opera (Kungstradgarden) and Berns (Berzelii Park) are shamelessly grand, upmarket and expensive, though the Spy Bar (Biger Jarlsgatan) remains the place to be seen -- if only to prove you can make it past the notoriously fickle fashion police on the door.

Regardless of the food, Gondolen (Stadsgarden) would be worth dining in simply for the sheer drama of the setting. Suspended high over the city underneath a metal walkway and reached via a lift from the waterfront, it boasts amazing panoramic views over the water and the skyline. You'll pay for the privilege of dining there but Erik Lallerstedt's French-influenced menu doesn't disappoint.

Traditional Swedish fare means pickled fish, reindeer and smorgasbords. Try Jonas's favorite, the Teatergrillen, or Den Gyldene Freden (Osterlanggatan) -- a Gamla Stan institution that is as busy today as when it opened its doors in 1722. Another popular spot down on the waterfront is Villa Kallhagen (Djurgardsbrunnsvagen) while Nalen Restaurang (Regeringsgatan) offers a culinary tour of Sweden with dishes from all over the country.

Asian cuisine may not have made the inroads in Sweden that it has elsewhere in Europe, but East (Stureplan) is doing its best to change that with a menu offering a wide selection of tasters from all over the Far East.

Stockholm rooftops

Jonas: "It's a beautiful city."


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