Stockholm: Beauty by the water

The best of home: Ambassadors to Singapore provide an insider's guide to their favourite destinations

Who: Mr Hakan Jevrell, 48, Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore

Favourite destination: Surrounded by water, with the old city and the Royal Castle at its heart, Stockholm in Sweden is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The close proximity to water is my favourite thing about the city, which is spread across 14 islands.

Stockholm has a great variety of shopping, food, scenery and neighbourhoods. You can start your day by walking by the water at Strandvagen boulevard, have lunch in beautiful, residential Kungsholmen island, and end your day with food and drinks in the trendy Sodermalm neighbourhood. There is something for everyone.

SEE

There are great museums like the Vasa Museum (www.vasamuseet.se/en). The most visited museum in Scandinavia tells the story of the Vasa, a large warship that sank off the Stockholm docks on its maiden voyage in 1628. After 333 years, the ship was salvaged and is the world's only preserved 17th-century ship.

For a relaxing afternoon, I like to go for a walk or run on Djurgarden, an island of green parkland in the heart of Stockholm. Here, you will find nice cafes and restaurants like Rosendals Tradgard (www.rosendalstradgard.se/in-english) and Ulla Wihnbladh (www.ullawinbladh.se/en), as well as some of the city's best museums.

  • Getting there

     Singapore Airlines will start flights to Stockholm, via Moscow, next month.

    Travellers can also connect to Stockholm via Copenhagen on Singapore Airlines, via Helsinki on Finnair, via Doha on Qatar and via Amsterdam on KLM, to name a few.

    Tips

    • The length of stay depends on what type of holiday you are looking for. A long weekend in Stockholm, combined with one week of skiing in Are or Salen, or a couple of weeks boating and hiking in the archipelago, will give travellers a unique and memorable experience.

    • Sweden is safe and Swedes speak good English. They are always ready to help.

    • For more information on the islands in the Stockholm Archipelago and other aspects of life in Stockholm, go to www.visitstockholm.com.

The Vasa Museum is here, as is ABBA The Museum (www.abbathemuseum.com/en), which houses the costumes, gold records and memorabilia of one of Sweden's most famous music groups. There is also the amusement park Grona Lund (www.gronalund.com/en) and one of my favourite attractions, the world's first open air museum Skansen (www.skansen.se/en).

Founded in 1891, Skansen illustrates life in Sweden from the 16th century to the first half of the 20th century, and is home to around 150 historically interesting houses and farmsteads that have been relocated here from around the country.

For the best people watching, trend-spotting and a sense of modern Sweden, go to Stureplan, a public square that connects some of the major streets and where many high-end offices, restaurants and banks are located. Grab a cup of coffee and watch people walking by, or take a seat at Sturehof (www.sturehof.com/en), a famous 100-year old restaurant in the south side of the square.

EAT

I recommend the Swedish smorgasbord, a buffet-style meal with various hot and cold dishes spread across a table that people pick from and make open-faced sandwiches.

In Stockholm, I recommend Tennstopet (www.tennstopet.se/en/index.php), an old-fashioned Swedish restaurant with homecooked food. For a more trendy, buzzing atmosphere, head to the restaurant at Hotel Diplomat (www.diplomathotel.com/en/hotel-diplomat-stockholm/restaurant-bar), which blends traditional Swedish cuisine with Mediterranean influences.

Near Are, in the north of Sweden, you can't miss Faviken Magasinet (favikenmagasinet.se/en), a restaurant located in a 8,000ha hunting estate and nature reserve. It is about a 71/2-hour drive or an hour's flight from Stockholm.

A meal here costs $470 a person and there is a long waiting list for reservations, but it's worth the wait. The 12-seat award-winning restaurant highlights chef Magnus Nilsson's unique vision of seasonal and locally sourced Swedish ingredients.

In the very south of Sweden, a half-hour drive south of the city of Malmo, I recommend Badhytten (badhytten.com), located near the beautiful seaside villages of Skanar and Falsterbo. The food and atmosphere on the beach are wonderful. A main course costs around $40.

For breakfast in Stockholm, enjoy cakes and pastries at the chic Cafe Saturnus (www.cafesaturnus.se) or go to Vete-katten (www.vetekatten.se/en) for a more traditional breakfast, which typically consists of a cup of coffee (it is a must), a sandwich, a glass of healthy juice and perhaps some yogurt with granola, Swedish blueberries and wild strawberries.

Food in Sweden varies greatly according to the seasons. In winter, visitors must try the semla, a sweet bun with cream and marzipan. In autumn, the season of harvest and hunting, try the crayfish and food from the forest like moose, deer and wild boar meat with lingonberries, cloudberries and mushrooms.

PLAY

As one of the world's biggest music exporters, with artists such as Zara Larsson, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Ace of Base and Otto Knows, it's fair to say that music is at the heart of all Swedes.

There are festivals covering every music genre all over Sweden. The best way to find out what's on is to go to www.swedenfestivals.com/en.

For a fun day trip, board the coal-fired steamship SS Mariefred, built in 1903, and enjoy a 31/2-hour voyage through the lake Malaren to the picturesque historic city of Mariefred, where you should visit the Royal Castle of Gripsholm (http://tinyurl.com/ldrb4kf).

The fairy-tale-like castle, built in 1537, is owned by the Swedish royal family, but is also a museum that houses the National Portrait Collection of over 4,000 works.

Stay the night at the quaint yet luxurious Gripsholms Vardshus guesthouse (www.gripsholms-vardshus.se/english) before heading back to Stockholm.

The Stockholm Archipelago (www.stockholmarchipelago.se/en), which stretches for roughly 150km and includes about 30,000 islands, plays an important role in Swedish life. Sailing, exploring the islands and spending time on the water is a big part of a Swedish summer.

There are many types of islands to explore, from the isolated and remote where you will be all alone, to Sandhamn island, a gateway to Stockholm where travellers will enjoy a more energetic pace and great restaurants.

Several agencies provide sailing services and rentals and they can be found on the Internet.

If you have limited sailing experience, I recommend that you hop on one of the archipelago ferries in central Stockholm (www.waxholmsbolaget.se/visitor/archipelago-traffic/island-hopping/), which will take you anywhere you want in the archipelago for day trips or longer.

If time permits, Are and Salen are also very beautiful places in the north that are great for downhill and cross-country skiing in winter and trekking during the summer.

SHOP

The icon of Swedish department stores is the Nordiska Kompaniet (www.nk.se/stockholm/) in Stockholm. You will find all possible brands and a wide range of products in a calm atmosphere with lots of cafes and restaurants.

Also, go to Ostermalms Saluhall (www.ostermalmshallen.se/en) where you will find quality food products from around the world.

Sweden has always been very focused on high quality food products, which means there is no salmonella and our meat products have the lowest levels of antibiotics in the world.

Unique treats to buy are Vendace Lojrom (lojrom is Swedish for roe) from Kalix in northern Sweden, a tasty Swedish caviar ($25 to $40 for 100g); reindeer meat; salted liquorice; and vasterbotten ($20 to $30 a kg), a hard, granular cow's milk cheese. You can find them in most convenience stores.

STAY

I recommend the modern and elegant Hotel Diplomat (www.diplomathotel.com/en/hotel-diplomat-stockholm), which is centrally located and has a great view overlooking the water at Nybroviken.

Just across Nybroviken bay is the Radisson Blu Strand Hotel (www.radissonblu.com/en/strandhotel-stockholm), which provides a unique Scandinavian atmosphere.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on , with the headline 'Beauty by the water'. Print Edition | Subscribe