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On a recent visit to Stockholm, we didn’t hit the ATM once, a first when traveling, as Stockholm is proud to be a mostly cashless city. It’s also an elegant and scenic city; built around parks, islands, and endless waterways, with some of Scandinavia’s most respected museums and most lauded restaurants. Throw in hip design stores, waterside bars, and cafes, and a garden café from Martha Stewart’s dreams and you have an ideal city for a midsummer adventure.
Logistics: Djurgarden is home to the Vasa, Abba Museum, Rosendals Tragard, Skansen and Oaxen Slip—easily combined. Sodermalm, Gamla Stan, and the Fotografiska Museum also make for a nice combination.
Exciting news--Fotografiska is opening this fall in NYC and London if it has anything like its sibling we are sure it will be a great addition to both cities.
White Nights: Midsummer the sun sets around 11, so that means your sightseeing day does not end at 5 or 6, it's almost like getting two days in one. From a traveler’s perspective, this allows you to wander the old city, walk along the water, and enjoy a drink outside after the museums and shops close. We made dinner on the later side and didn’t stop till 8:30 each day, only pausing for a quick pre-dinner shower. (While summer is ideal, my daughter visited in late November, and it was still one of her favorite spots while studying abroad.)
Water, Water, Everywhere: There’s a reason Stockholm is often called the Venice of the North. The city is a web of bridges, canals, and rivers all spread across 14 islands. It’s picturesque in spades, and easily walkable.
Photo-bomb: The Fotografiska is reason enough to visit Stockholm, located in a former 1906 red brick customs house; it sits scenically on the harbor. The top floor is home to an award-winning restaurant, and a casual café-- a wow and then some, with large windows spanning the entire dining room. The panoramic views serve up some of the best vantage points of the city. That alone would make it a destination without seeing the exhibits, but don't miss the exhibits-this is a destination for world-class contemporary photography. An added plus the museum stays open till 11 pm each day, so save this as a late day stop. You could plan on dinner or drinks either before or after you browse the current exhibit.
Historic: Get lost in the cobblestoned streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town filled with narrow lanes and medieval buildings. Attractions include the Royal Palace, Nobel Museum, and Storkyrkan Church. It’s a touristy area, but worth a meander during your stay.
Best Bites: Matbaren is a one-Michelin-starred restaurant that is refreshingly casual with food you want to eat in a fun, buzzy room in the Grand Hotel overlooking the water. It was one of the best meals we’ve had in the last few months, and we eat out a lot! The menu rotates often showcasing the best local, seasonal fare, with menu sections divided playfully with titles: “from our country,” “from other countries,” “from the plant world” and “from the pastry.” Matbaren is a must during your stay in Stockholm. Other top tables include Oaxen Krog and Slip, Adam and Albin, Rolfs Kok, Wedholms Fisk, and Sturehof. Ponte Fiore is a sweet spot for lunch along the water.
Secret Garden: Rosendals Tradgard is a magical place—a farm that harvests vegetables, flowers, and herbs, located on the far tip of Djurgården island, itself a green oasis in the city. (You can walk here, though it’s a bit of a long one from the city center or take a quick taxi or uber or if your daring rent bikes.) Rosendals Garden has been at the forefront of the farm to fork concept for over 30 years. Eat lunch in the greenhouse café, sample some delicious bread from their wood-fired bakery, enjoy the beautiful gardens, stock up on artisanal products in their lovely store or buy heirloom seeds in the plant shop to bring home. Popular with both locals and visitors, you’ll fall in love with Stockholm's very special Eden.
Artful: Experience one of Europe’s premier collections of art from the 20th century until today at Moderna Museet, on the island of Skeppsholmen. (Easily walkable from the city center or a quick five minute uber.) Go hungry because the museum's restaurant serves excellent food in addition to one of Stockholm’s best views with large panoramic windows overlooking the water, Djurgården, and Strandvägen. (Great food and impressive views seem to be a theme of our trip to Stockholm's museums.)
Shipwrecked: Back in 1628, the Vasa warship sank in Stockholm harbor--it was her maiden voyage. After 333 years under the sea, she was salvaged in 1961 and painstakingly reconstructed. The Vasa Museum is considered a must-see sight, which translates to big crowds and tour groups—definitely a distraction; so go when it opens if you can. If your short on time, view the quick film and then walk around the giant ship—it’s not something you get to experience every day. You'll be in awe, as we were, that it was recovered, restored and now impressively displayed.
Culture Vulture: It’s lowbrow fun at ABBA: The Museum, a journey through time from the band's beginnings to the present day. Mama Mia brought ABBA back into the limelight, but those of us of a certain age grew up singing all their hits as they rolled them out in the 70’s. Interactive, entertaining, and informative—this is a engaging museum for fans.
Half-Day Excursion: Visiting Artipelag is about the journey—and the destination. Sure you can drive (or uber) the 20 minutes or so to the island of Varmdo in the archipelago, but it is so much better to arrive by boat. Cruising through the archipelago is an experience worth doing on its own, and the combination with the museum is a winning combination of art and nature. There are over 25, 000 islands in the archipelago and the hour and a half ride to Artipelag is just a small taste, a lovely morning out on the water. Once at the museum explore the latest exhibition and then leave time to wander the boardwalks and hiking paths scattered throughout the property. Have a late breakfast or lunch at either the casual café or restaurant –both with pretty views and indoor and outdoor seating. Highly recommended.
Shopping: For unique stores head to Sodermalm, Stockholm’s diverse younger neighborhood, just south of the city center. Sodermalm is the hip, bohemian heart of Stockholm—think the Marias, Williamsburg, Shoreditch. There are tons of cafes, vintage shops, music stores, and independent boutiques. The area is spread out, and stores are more in clusters, so be prepared to explore and use your GPS. Sofo (the area south of Folkungagatan) is the trendiest section, home to two of our favorite shops of the trip-- concept store Grandpa, a mix of clothes, accessories and design objects, and ATP for beautiful and stylish leather shoes. Continue to Nytorget (New Square) just down the street, a square in the heart of Sofo surrounded by charming old wooden houses. It’s a glimpse back in time to the olden days of Stockholm.
One More Day: We would have liked to tour the palace and gardens at Drottningholm Palace, just outside the city, stopped by the Spritmuseum and visited Skansen, Stockholm’s open-air museum that sounds like it's Sweden’s version of Colonial Williamsburg.
The people of Madrid live well: the city is filled with incredible shopping, all kinds of cuisine, and some of the best museums I’ve ever visited. I navigated the city using a mix of articles I read online and recommendations from friends, but some of my favorite places ended up being those that I stumbled upon while wandering.Read More
Mouthwatering cuisine, beautiful beaches, plus friendly locals are just a few of the things that make Tel Aviv the truly remarkable city that it is. Just about an hour drive north-west of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv (nicknamed the White City) will take your breath away--whether you are religious or not. Cami Rubach, who just back from visiting her sister studying abroad, shares all of the spots that you must hit if you want to feel like a Tel Aviv local.
Stay: There is a wide variety of places to stay in Tel Aviv. The Royal Beach, Sheraton, and Hilton are beautiful hotels located right on the beach. With stunning views of the water, it really doesn’t get any better. Hotel Montefiore and The Norman Hotel are great boutique options located right in the center of the city.
Breakfast: Dr Shakshuka is the ideal place to go for a traditional Israeli breakfast. This restaurant has mastered the art of making the perfect Shakshuka, which is a tasty combination of a hot tomato stew and fried eggs. Make a note to try their Lemonade! If you’re looking for a spot on the port, Café Nimrod serves up traditional food from Galilee. The Israeli Breakfast for two is a highly recommended dish.
Explore: A walk to the port in Jaffa is exactly what you’ll need after your filling breakfast. Around a half hour walk from the center of Tel Aviv, Jaffa is reminiscent of Ancient Palestine and perfect for exploring. Walk the cobblestone streets and feel as if you are transported into the past. Stop into some of the local shops that are hidden within the beautiful walls; you will surely be amazed!
Lunch: Café Xoho is a unique lunch spot that you definitely want to try before leaving Tel Aviv. It features American classics with a Mediterranean spin and is simply delicious. They also serve locally roasted coffee, a perfect pick-me-up for the busy day ahead! For a quick bite, stop at Hakosem. Centrally located and easy to walk to, Hakosem is known for their amazing falafel and shawarma. Order and pick up your food at the counter, then find a nice table on the street for some people watching as you eat.
Activity: Neve Tzedek, considered one of the “artsier” areas of Tel Aviv, is the perfect place to shop and do some gallery hopping. Shabazi Street is the central area, where you can find small boutique shops selling jewelry, clothing, sunglasses, and much more. Just Believe is a popular spot for students abroad in Israel; the personalized Hebrew bracelets are a favorite!
Visit: After a few hours of roaming around and shopping, you will definitely work up an appetite. Head over to the Shuk Ha’Carmel, the most popular of all the shuks in Tel Aviv. A short ten-minute walk from Neve Tzedek, the Shuk is an outdoor market with a wide variety of produce, bread, fish, meat, and tons of candy! Be prepared for lots of crowds and hungry locals.
Sunset: Watching the sunset from the beaches of Tel Aviv is a truly remarkable experience. The expansive beach is lined with restaurants and bars perfect for happy hour with your friends or family. One great spot, Lalaland, is where many of the young people congregate. It serves food and drinks and is located right across from the Sheraton Hotel.
Dinner: When dining in Tel Aviv, you simply cannot miss North Abraxas. Owned by celebrity chef Eyal Shani, North Abraxas is a one of a kind experience. The food is placed directly on the table as the restaurant does not believe in plates. The menu changes daily, but if the sweet potato or the pizza is available, they both must be tried! HaSalon is quoted to have the “most amazing food EVER”. Make your reservation immediately because they are only open on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s, with only two seating’s each day. For those late night fans, it is recommended to choose the later seating since the restaurant turns into a nightclub; the chef even lights the bar on fire! Manta Ray is a charming spot on the water serving fresh and delicious seafood. While nothing in Tel Aviv is too fancy, Claro is on the fancier side. The décor inside is almost as amazing as the food. Don’t skip out on the bread, as it is absolutely delicious, and try the short rib wrapped in tortellini as your main course.
Nightlife: Tel Aviv is known for its lively nightlife; people party till the sun comes up! Kuli Alma is a bar located in South Tel Aviv that focuses on music and art. With projected images of vintage films and art on the walls and staircases, Kuli Alma is definitely an out of the box experience. Check out their website to see which artists are performing when you’re in town. Solo is a popular club, probably the trendiest in Tel Aviv. They bring in some of the best local and international DJ’s—it makes for a memorable night. Clara Club, an outdoor club located right on the beach, doesn’t open until the end of May each year, but it is definitely worth the wait!
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The beauty of studying abroad in Europe is that many countries are small, have many borders and use the same currency. As a result, traveling throughout Europe is pleasantly easy; however, not all methods of travel are created (and cost) equal. This list will provide you with several different mechanisms of travel to help you reach your globetrotting goals.
European Thomas the Tank Engine:
Trains are one of the easiest and safest ways to travel throughout Europe. You can purchase tickets to and from almost anywhere on the continent (plus the UK!) from Rail Europe. Prices vary depending on distance, class of seat, etc., but the great news is that students ages 25 and under are considered “youth,” and get discounted tickets.
Going rate for one-way journey from Rome to Florence: ~25 USD
Train for the Centralist:
If you want to see some of the greatest historical cities in Central Europe, kill three birds with one stone and purchase the Central Europe Triangle Pass. This train ticket can take you through three great cities and offers two different itineraries: Vienna, Prague, Budapest or Vienna, Prague, Salzburg. The ticket lasts for a month, so you can extend your travel for more than just a couple of days.
Going rate for one-way journey: ~140 USD
If you prefer airplane peanuts:
Europe has tons of airlines that are sometimes cheaper than trains. Kayak and Skyscanner will both help you to find the cheapest flights available. They will allow you to compare and choose among airlines.
Going rate for a round-trip flight from London to Paris: ~260 USD via Brussels Airlines
If you’re just going somewhere close by:
Alas! Uber exists in many European countries. While taxis may be more prevalent and common in Europe than in most US cities, you can use Uber in many parts of Europe if you’re looking for the same type of convenience you enjoy in the US. There are many different Uber variations depending on location.
Base fare for an Uberx in Vienna, Austria: ~1.11 USD
Courtesy of ALL THINGS ABROAD.