Stockholm A-Z: Parklife

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As a visitor to Stockholm, one of the first things many notice is just how green it is. The 400 parks in Stockholm make up about 40% of the land in the region so it’s not surprising.

One of the unique things about Stockholm’s parks stems from the 1930’s when city planners introduced the idea that parks should be functional and be used actively for play, picnic, demonstrations, theatre and socializing. The concept of Park Theatre was a central part of this and today in many parks, free open air theatre performances are offered to city dwellers. This approach to park-building became later known as ‘the Stockholm Style’.

Two of the oldest parks in Stockholm are Kungssträdgården in Norrmalm and Humlegården in Östermalm. Both were originally gardens where fruit and vegetables were grown and they became public parks in the 1800’s. Today, they both provide escape from the buzz of the city as you sit on a park bench, eat an icecream and enjoy the view.

The 1800’s were a time of park development in Stockholm. On Södermalm, Vitabergsparken startled to be built on a hill. At that time an impoverished shanty town existed on the hill and, though many of the houses were removed, a few still exist today. This is a popular park with picnickers and sunbathers and those playing the Swedish stick-throwing game of kubb. It’s well worth it to go to the Park Theatre here and watch a play or listen to some live music of a summer’s evening.

If you visit Stockholm City Hall, why not extend your stay by strolling along the water’s edge along Norr Mälarstrand to Rålambshovsparken. Along this trail, you’ll find many cafés and restaurants and benches to relax on. Rålambshovsparken is a park for picnicking and playing sports. Here you can play or watch basketball, boule, football, rounders, volleyball. There’s also a skateboard park where death-defying stunts can be witnessed, and an amphitheater for park theater and live music. Just a little step beyond the park and you will find Smeduddsbadet, one of Stockholm’s many beaches.

For Baroque style parks, nothing beats the park at Drottningholm’s Palace, just outside of the city. This is the residence of the Royal Family and it is surrounded by wonderful structured gardens from the 1600’s and English parkland from the1700’s. There’s also a cafe here, a dog island, a theatre and a Chinese pavilion.

In the north of Stockholm, you will find one of the city’s biggest parks – Hagaparken. This park used to be the place where the royal sheep would graze. Today, the sheep are gone but the park still boasts lakes, lawns, pavilions, palaces, cafés, temples, trails and ruins. The official residence of Crown Princess Victoria is also located here.

One of the most popular park destinations for Stockholmers is Djurgården. This pleasure island offers museums, fun fair, cafés, beaches, restaurants, trails and art galleries. Here you will also find Rosendalsträdgård which is a popular, high-end nursery selling plants, fruit and vegetables and flowers. Grabbing a cup of coffee in one of the green houses or picnicking in the orchard are popular summer weekend activities. In the winter, visiting the market and drinking hot chocolate over an open fire is rather relaxing.

For more information about Stockholm’s parks: http://www.stockholm.se

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