Georges Rouzeau - 2012-05-10
Set in the very heart of Stockholm, this one-time royal hunting ground is now a protected nature reserve. Bicycling, jogging, relaxing and even a dash of culture: on the island of Djurgården, there’s a bit of everything.
Formerly a royal hunting ground, the island of Djurgården is now a carefully preserved urban park. At 279 hectares (for only 800 inhabitants), Stockholm’s green belt is larger than London’s Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens combined. The park is divided into two main sections. To the west, the area closest to the city, are the very well-tended public gardens; a number of restaurants (including Danyel Couet’s Villa Godthem); the Gröna Lund amusement park; the Vasa museum, which holds the world’s only entirely preserved 17C ship; the gigantic Skansen open-air museum and zoo; and a naval shipyard still used for repairs located on the island of Beckholmen, accessible from Djurgården via a simple bridge.
At the other end, stretching a long way into the Stockholm Bay, the eastern part of Djurgården is home to more traditional historic monuments. One example is the art museum Waldemarsudde, the residence of renowned painter Prince Eugen (1865-1947); another is the Rosendal Palace, built for Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, a distinguished member of the French military who was to become Charles XIV John of Sweden, King of Sweden and Norway. If you bicycle along the water (undoubtedly the best way to explore the island), you will also espy the occasional neo-classic manor belonging to a Swedish bank or one of Stockholm’s most prominent families.
Djurgården also features sunken lanes, forests and marshlands where birds thrive – a bucolic ambience at just ten minutes by bike from centre city. Sooner or later, all visits of Stockholm must include the Island of Djurgården.
A bite to eat
You’ll find Rosendal’s Garden Café next to the castle of the same name. Produce from the (organic) garden is transformed into delicious quiches, salads and homemade cakes (cooked in a wood-burning oven), all served in the glasshouses or the big garden graced with shady arbours. The orchard, populated by historic apple trees that were planted circa 1860, is a favourite Stockholmer gathering place, as is the rose garden. Classes, conferences and exhibitions centred on themes relating to ecology and the environment are regularly organised here.
Where to stay
Located on the island of Skeppsholmen, a rock that stands guard over the Baltic Sea, the eponymous hotel was originally designed to serve as barracks. The architecture is classic outside, designer-chic inside, and the hotel has a superb, verdant terrace cooled by the sea breezes. Breakfast can be taken there amongst the swooping gulls, and evenings there’s no better place to have dinner or simply enjoy a drink. And all this at just a ten-minute walk from the centre of Stockholm and (especially) the F12 restaurant. Daily shuttles to the island of Djurgården leave directly opposite the hotel.
Gröna gången 1
P.O. Box 1616
SE-111 86 Stockholm
Tel: +46 8 407 23 00