Summer is hustle and bustle season, especially in Stockholm. When the sky is blue and the trees are vibrant green, everyone wants to be out and about. But what about taking a little time to enjoy the splendid, Swedish sun alone?
When I first moved to Stockholm, this suggestion would not have appealed to me. I like to be surrounded by people at all times. Being social gives me energy – it keeps me alert and keeps things interesting. And when the icy drudgery of Swedish winter finally yields to the first no-jacket day, trust me, I am ready to run outside and hang out with every person I have ever met.
But being a social butterfly also has its downsides. It is a lot of work and I have a tendency to stretch myself to the limit trying to do everything and see everyone. And I often find myself wondering: if I am doing the thing I love – being social – then why does it sometimes make me feel so jittery and stressed?
Maybe it’s because I need to engage in a little more me time: winding down and reflecting on everything and nothing in the calm embrace of solitude.
Perhaps that sounds selfish. And maybe it is. But I believe that Walt Whitman was onto something when, in Leaves of Grass, he proclaimed “give me solitude” and “give me faces and streets” within the lines of the same poem. All of us, perhaps, need a little of both – social time and me time – and it seems important that we learn to balance the two.
So if, like me, you’re interested in re-charging your soul by soaking up Stockholm’s summer beauty alone, then here are 5 places you can enjoy in the company of your own sweet self:
Djurgården is great for solitary wandering, but one particularly fine place to visit on the King’s island is Rosendal’s Trädgård, boasting lovely plots and greenhouses that are home to a variety of organically cultivated plants. It has an apple orchard that really is the perfect place to spread out a blanket and chill by yourself for a while. If you get hungry, there is a café with savoury sandwiches and sweet treats and, if you feel like taking in a little history, then have a walk around – or even go inside – Rosendal Palace: a light pink royal pleasure residence that looks like it was built in a dream.
Strolling along Kungsholmen’s Norr Mälarstrand at summer’s zenith is an absolute must. You can do it with friends, of course, but it is also an excellent place to go solo. As you walk, you can watch boats sail slowly by or take in the view of Södermalm’s heights and Riddarholmen. You can also rest and dip your toes in the cool waters of Riddafjärden or grab a drink at Orangeriet Bar & Café. However you choose to enjoy Norr Mälarstrand, the experience can be a kind of urban meditation if you go at it alone.
Rönninge by is a hidden gem in Täby, one of Stockholm’s northern suburbs, and as an agricultural and cultural village, it provides a close-to-the-city escape to the Swedish countryside of storybooks. At Rönninge by, collections of red farmhouses dapple sprawling fields with cows and horses and sheep and there are crafts and snacks to enjoy, as well as a petting zoo. But the main draw for those interested in quiet contemplation is Rönningesjön: a glittering lake around which you can walk and enjoy Swedish nature at its finest and most enchanting.
Drottningholm Palace is one of the main tourist attractions in Stockholm and probably every visitor or resident of Sweden’s capital city has been there. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that its gardens are gorgeous and regal and made for sunny afternoons with nothing but yourself and a picnic basket. So even if you’ve been there before, go there again and really pay attention to your surroundings – there is often more to well-known places than meets the first-time eye.
Art speaks to and inspires the individual in a way that is intimate, maybe even secret. Thus, a morning or afternoon spent at one of Sweden’s foremost contemporary art museums – Moderna Museet – may have just the piece you need to help you get more in touch with your needs, fears, dreams and desires. True, Moderna Museet is not an outdoor experience, but luckily it is located on Skeppsholmen, an island in central Stockholm with a very Zen-like milieu that will get you in the right frame of mind for taking in colorful bursts of creative expression.
Whether you live in Stockholm, or are merely visiting, the places listed above are perfect for sojourns into Whitmanian solitude. I know I’m going to take some me time at these places this summer.
And if at the end of the day, I find myself craving faces and streets – the alluring buzz of the social life – then Stockholm can most definitely fulfill that need, too. But that is a whole other article…
Featured Image: David J/Flickr (file)