When I created my travel bucket list for 2019, I had my first trip in mind already – Budapest. But Budapest wasn’t where I ended up. No, instead I was in Sweden’s snowy capital, Stockholm!
It was – like some of my trips have been – a last minute decision based purely on an opportunity to see a new city. The timing was the same and Stockholm was already on my wider bucket list. I had the chance to visit another country I wanted to explore.
The time of year meant a definite winter theme, so I had a plan of what to do while there. Aside from the usual sightseeing like exploring the narrow streets of Gamla Stan, wandering its popular shopping streets like Drottninggatan, visiting the very cool Vasa Museum and chowing down on a selection of Swedish meatballs, I found myself doing a few other cool things!
A day planned in the snow
I decided to spend one of my three days in Stockholm doing some outdoor activities. It was the perfect setting for some (hopefully) fun in the snow. I’d already decided that iceskating would be a feature – it’s one of my other hobbies. Aside from skating on a few of the city’s rinks, I also wanted to skate on natural ice, so on a lake.
I did some research to see where I could do this. Ideally, as time was short, I didn’t want to go too far outside of the city, but luckily, I came across Hellasgården – an outdoor activity centre located in the Nacka nature reserve area. But that wasn’t the only thing I found. I stumbled upon something I wasn’t expecting which would actually complete my day of outdoor activity quite nicely.
Starting the morning off n-icely
A local rink not far from where I was staying at City Backpackers Hostel in Norrmalm, was where I began my morning. About a 15-minute walk away, the outdoor ice rink Vasaparken– a park in the Vasastaden area – was a little larger than I’d expected. Before leaving for Stockholm, I checked to make sure local schools were not on holiday but even though they weren’t, the rink was still quite busy for 8.30 am! Quite a few children were actually having skating lessons.
Well, I wasn’t put off by that, so I spent just under two hours on the rink. It was good way to warm up as I had a long day and activities ahead of me.
The best thing about the ice rinks in Stockholm is that they’re free if you have your own pair of skates, which I do. Some hostels like City Backpackers even provide free skates for you to use which is great.
When I arrived at Hellasgården I stood and took in how beautiful it looked! There was thick snow everywhere and it made me think that I hadn’t seen so much thick snow in one place for a long while.
When you get off the bus, Hellasgårdenis right opposite so you can’t really miss it. The stop isactually called Hellasgården.
Skating on a lake wasn’t quite what I imagined. It started snowing on the way to Hellasgården so the lake was pretty much covered. The staff had cleared a track all the way around it. It was still a really cool experience and not something I’d do living in the UK. I really enjoyed it despite how much heavier the snow had started falling.
It was very busy but there were still quite a few people outside. The activity centre is so vast that it feels almost empty which isn’t a fad thing. Other people were on the lake’s track too – some were on skates or skis, while some people were running from the sauna to the swimming hole cut out of the ice for a quick dip in the cold water.
After skating for quite a while and wondering around the park, I went to chill out in the sauna myself. It was so relaxing not to mention warming after hours out in the snow and on the ice! I can tell you I was not one of the brave ones so didn’t go for a dip in the ice water afterwards. The thought of doing it sent too shivers down my back!
After the sauna I chilled for a bit with a hot chocolate before setting off for my next activity.
The day was far from over!
A snowy, sloped afternoon
So, when researching, I found out Stockholm has a small ski venue! Hammarbybacken is in central Stockholm and although it’s not as big as a resort you may find further outside of the city, but it’s more than enough to give you a feel for what skiing is like – especially if you’re never skied before like me.
It wasn’t something I had a great urge to do, but I’d wanted to see what it was like. With a ski resort within easy reach, how could I not give it a go! I don’t really know what I was expecting from the city’s ski slope as I’d not been skied before. I had no expectations.
When I was doing research I’d seen pictures of what Hammarbybacken was like. I have to say it looked a little strange and cool at the same time.
Behind the rooftops and buildings of Stockholm’s city you see this snowy mound peeking out in the distance. Seeing it made me make sure skiing featured somewhere on my trip.
I’d rented my equipment before arriving in Stockholm and although this was risky (trying to judge sizes of ski boots, skis and helmets) I wanted to make sure the process was speedier as I didn’t know whether to expect a lot of queues.
It was the complete opposite – busy but not so that it impacted on my rental time of the gear.
Strangely (imagine that) I found it a little awkward moving around in my skis. In fact, I had to get them changed as they were a little tight. After getting a second pair – this time Green, I headed to the ski lift. As I did so, I felt a little perplexed. I did not think I could make it up, let alone down the size of the slope in front of me. Not a chance!
Remember, I’d never skied before so was an absolute complete beginner and this slope didn’t scream beginner at all! It was quite steep. There is of course a slope for beginner’s… but it’s located at the far end of the resort!
With no moving elevator until halfway up the first section, it wasn’t a quick task for a newbie!
The few people on the beginner’s slope were in the same position as me, so I was in good company.
I had a great time and had more fun than I thought I would. Plus I didn’t fall at all!
Since I was there for quite a while, I got better each time and I really got the hang of it. Put it this way, I wouldn’t say no if I was asked to go on a skiing trip!
Night at Kungsträdgården
To round off my day, after stopping by my hostel to drop off some of my bits from earlier activities, I headed to Kungsträdgården to do some more ice skating at the outdoor ice rink. By this time it had (finally) stopped snowing and the rink was open until 9pm. I had enough time to see what the city’s main ice rink was like.
With blue lights and the sound of music, you can’t miss the ice rink in the middle of Kungsträdgården park. It’s one of the most popular places to chill out in one of the cafés, art galleries or restaurants nearby. It was not too busy which was nice, so I glided around for an hour or so knowing that I’d be back at this rink the next day.
Look out for posts coming soon for more on Hellasgården and Hammarbybacken!
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