Kungsholmen — the King’s Island in Stockholm

Sweden is made up of a series of islands squished between the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren. The geography, coupled with obsessive efforts from the city to ensure the cleanest water possible, makes Stockholm one of the only cities in the world where you can swim from place to place, in the summer (in the winter you have to skate). This makes the city a triathlete paradise and while walking around Kungsholmen I saw more runners and cyclists than any other place I’ve ever been.

I stayed on the island of Kungsholmen. “Kungs” means king and “holmen” means island. As the story goes, the island was originally inhabited by monks and named “Munklägret;” but, in 1672 the island was turned over to the people of Stockholm and the decision was made to name the island after the current King: Karl (Charles) XI. He wasn’t keen to have an island named after him and pointed out that there was already a “Queen’s Island” (Drottningholm) and a “Knight’s Island” (Riddarholmen). So, he asked it to be named Kungsholmen instead of Karl’s Island.

Kungsholmen is filled with parks, stroller-pushing families, joggers, bikers and boats. The largest tourist attraction on the island is the Stockholms stadshus or City Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet is held yearly on December 10th (more on that later).

Everyone in the city walks or takes transit because cabs are REALLY expensive and parking is difficult to nonexistent. From Kungsholmen, it’s easy to walk to most major sites: from Stockholms stadshus (City Hall) to the oldtown is 10-minutes; from the Marriott Courtyard, it is a pleasant 30-minute walk on bike paths. Most bus tours depart from Gustav Adolf torfs, which is a 5-minute walk from Stockholms stadshus.

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