uppsala for one day
This city is one of my biggest recent enchantments. Here everyone should find something for themselves. It is pretty easy to get to here, it is pretty easy to move around here, it is pretty easy to find something to eat here (which is a priority), finding an accommodation should also be an easy task. And what is the biggest advantage of Uppsala is that it can be adjusted to everyone’s budget and time limits.
STAYING IN STOCKHOLM? GO TO UPPSALA
Are you in Stockholm and have no plans for the following day? Get on a train and go to Uppsala. One way journey takes around 40 minutes and connections are frequent enough to find suitable time. In Uppsala forget about the northern-eastern part of the city, which will be on your right after getting off the train. However, before you go toward opposite direction, don’t leave the central station yet and firstly find a bus stop. It is just outside of the railway station. From there take a bus to Gamla Uppsala, i.e. Old Uppsala. It is one of two must-see locations in Uppsala for me. As getting there requires a bit of determination, I suggest do it right away, at the beginning of a day.
GAMLA UPPSALA MUSEUM
A bus ticket you can buy from the driver, so no worries. After 15 minutes the bus leaves us in a boring suburb, which rose around three hills. Yes, we came here for an undulating piece of soil.
economical version: go towards those three famous hills. It costs nothing to see them, there are many information boards around them. Beside – it is nice here. Calm, clean, fresh air, nice views. You can climb the hills and this activity does not exceed physical possibilities of an average human (although I wouldn’t be so sure with an average American). To walk around all three hills won’t take more than 20 minutes. You can step into an old church, which is not the most beautiful one, but has its charm and, as usual in Sweden, is surrounded by pretty cemetery.
less economical version: welcome to the museum. The exhibition is well-balanced, the exhibits can fascinate both kids and adults. Here you will find way more detailed informations about the hills and history of Gamla Uppsala than from the information boards outside. I was astonished by the imagination of human mind that designed this exhibition. Reconstruction, boards, small and large requisites, circles, squares, stuffed and wooden objects, fine art and creations made in Paint. All. Even if you don’t read everything, it will take around 40 minutes to look around. Sometimes the subtitles for the exhibits are only in Swedish. Does not happen often though, but it does happen.
UPPSALA CASTLE / ART MUSEUM / VASABORGEN / HOUSE OF PEACE
So now, after we have been breathing in fresh air or air filled with a tone of old stones and aged wood, we can come back to the city. Probably it is lunchtime, so after coming back to the central station let’s go towards southern-western parts of Uppsala. If you have, as well as I do, problems with orientation, then look for towers. They will probably belong to the cathedral, which is our final destination. Almost immediately we enter a maze of charming streets, full of inhabitants, tourists and activists. After every 5 meters a new lunch place will appear. All price and flavour ranges. After this kind of meal I know coffee is needed – of course I cannot stop you from taking a cup, but I recommend to withhold and go back to sightseeing.
Depending on where we stopped for lunch, now we can have two options – go to the castle or to the cathedral. As my personal preference is to make the tension grow, I would choose a castle.
economical version: we go to the castle, walk around it, take pictures (cause the view is awesome) and that’s it, call it a day. The castle is not much to look at and I cried a bit over the interiors, which are not open for visitors, but well, I am a special case.
economical version with a bonus: there are two museums at the castle, both for free – Fredens Hus, i.e. House of Peace and Uppsala Konstmuseum. You won’t cry over any penny, but you might cry over wasted time. I spent 7 minutes at Fredens Hus (it was 10 minutes before closing time and I needed 3 minutes to pee). In the modern art museum I spent a bit more time, but it is exactly what you think it is, when you here “modern art museum”. In general it is weird and boring, sometimes you can find pearls, more often it is just weird, but mostly it depends on personal taste. But if you are a postcard person you might want to check their gift shop – they have pretty good choice of postcards.
less economical version: Vasaborgen. This is the only preserved part of an old castle. There is not much to see, basically bare walls, very modest exhibition and probably only a person like me (i.e. with an unhealthy relation with Erik XIV) can recommend a place in which some king in 16th century stabbed with a knife some boring nobleman.
From the castle you can take three roads, I suggest taking a small detour before going to the main star, the cathedral. Probably now our path will be the same as every other tourist in Uppsala. Botanical garden can be seen from the courtyard and that is the place that I recommend visiting (so if you go towards my camera on the picture above this paragraph). Yes, I hear already this moaning, that there is nothing more boring than looking at plants, closed in a glass hut, in which smells bad and your t-shirt is sticking to you back. First of all – you don’t have to enter the tropical garden, we are adults now, our tutors won’t drag us there holding our hands. Besides, and I am honest now – I don’t know anything about plants, they do not intrigue me, I am not marveled at them. Nevertheless, this garden is damn pretty. The entrance is free, the area is relatively small, so it won’t take up too much of your time and it is really nicely preserved. You can also check Linneanum, also free of charge, there is nothing beside Linnaeus’ sculpture, cactuses collection and nice bench.
Okay, so if we went down, now we have to go back up. The cathedral we saw while standing beside the castle, so our target is easily visible. You don’t have to get back to the castle – just keep it on your right, go up and then on your left Carolina Rediviva will appear. This is the university’s main library and my biggest disapointment – during my visit in Uppsala the library was under maintenance and the exhibition, that I was eager to see, was closed. Therefore I am unable to say anything about it. All I know is that I’ll be back just to see this exhibition. Why? Two reasons:
1) Carta marina et descriptio septentrionalium terrarum or simply Carta marina, which was the first map of Nordic countries, created by Olaus Magnus and published in 1539
2) Codex Argentus, known also as the Silver Bible, parts of which are on display. It is a manuscript from 6th century, containing original fragments of a piece written by bishop Ulfilas – developer of a Gothic alphabet and a Bible in this language.
So let’s pass the library and go to the cathedral. Yes, I know, there are people who are not interested in history and visiting churches is the least fun thing of their to-do list. But really. It is worth seeing and the entrance is for free. Take few minutes, walk around it. This is a place where the Father of Swedish Nation, Gustav Vasa, is buried. In my humble opinion, he, his two wives, his son John III and John’s first wife, Katarina Jagiellonica, have the most beautiful tombstones I have seen in Sweden.
As the cathedral is located on a small hill, if you want to go back to the part with cafes and restaurants, you have to go down. After 3 minutes you end up by the river Fyrisån, along which you have almost endless possibilities to choose from. This is why I recommended abstemiousness. Now you are after city walk and you deserve a cup of coffee and piece of cake. Or coffee and ice cream. Whatever you want. And it won’t matter whether you sit here or 20 meters further. Every location along the riverside is beautiful and charming. And from here you have only 15-20 minutes back to the central station. Enjoy!
MY MUST SEE PLACES IN UPPSALA
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