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Your favourite places in Stockholm?

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We are exchanging homes with a family in Stockholm (Sodermalm), and we will spend 10 days over Christmas there. The 'we' this time includes my sister and her daughter, and me and my DD - thus two 'somewhat mature' women and two twenty-somethings. We will have a fairly limited budget. I have never been to the Scandinavian countries. My sister has never travelled in Europe. We can and do get many of our questions answered by our home-exchange friends, but I feel the need for the perspectives and wise input from Fodorites.

First question: we would also like to venture outside Stockholm, and Vispy looks interesting. From there it seems possible to take a ferry to Gotland. Has anybody else done this in winter? Any ideas?

I would absolutely love to see the Northern Lights. How to go about it? Does it make sense to travel further north for this? This would be an overnight trip. Where to stay? Is it too ambitious a scheme? From what I can see on the web, there are various adventure-type offerings, with dog-sledding and so on ... also ice-hotels. If we do not want to do that, what are the alternatives?

Lastly: we have bought the guidebooks and we have seen what the main attractions are. But: is there anything really special that you have particularly enjoyed in or near Stockholm? I will not try to speak for all of us, but I love architecture, literature, art, music, food.

THANKS!

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