When you’re in town on business with just a few hours to yourself, it’s important to spend them wisely – and in Stockholm, that means escaping the capital to explore the historic charms of Uppsala. If you’re pushed for time on a business trip, it can be tempting to spend your free hours in front of your laptop catching up on your favourite series – but other attractions might be closer than you think. The mediaeval city of Uppsala is just 17 minutes away from Arlanda Airport by train, so take a look at this easy guide to exploring its history in just eight hours – or less.
After a short bike ride from the city centre you’ll reach this ancient village, home to several archaeological sites that once held special significance for both the Vikings and Christians. Three major gods in Norse mythology, Odin, Thor and Freyr, were all worshipped here, with reports of human sacrifices performed as part of the annual Midwinter Festival. Today, the most visible remnants of the past are three huge burial mounds, named for their locations: east, middle and west. Gamla Uppsala became Sweden’s arch bishopric in 1164, but the cathedral was destroyed in a fire and today a charming stone church stands in its place. If you’re keen to learn more, there’s an informative museum onsite that provides more detail on the myths and legends surrounding Sweden’s history.
Cycle back into town, chain your bike in the centre and then stroll over to Uppsala Cathedral, the largest and tallest cathedral in Scandinavia. Building started around 1270 and took over a hundred years to complete, with the consecration dated as 1435. Its brick walls tower above the rest of the city, designed in a French Gothic style with ornate limestone detailing. Several members of the royal family are buried inside the cathedral, along with distinguished scientists and intellectuals including Olof Rudbeck and Carl Linnaeus.
Much of the cityscape is dominated by the towering pink facade of Uppsala Slott. King Gustav Vasa began construction of the royal castle in 1549, at a time when Sweden was beginning to claim its place as an important power in Europe. It’s since been the site for numerous coronations, the infamous abdication of Queen Kristina and even the odd brutal murder – in 1567, the diplomat Nils Sture and his father and brother were all killed in their cells by King Erik XIV, who accused them of high treason. In the more peaceful centuries since, the castle has become the new home of the Uppsala Art Museum, showcasing a range of different exhibitions on all three of the museums’s floors. Guided tours are available in both English and Swedish.
Old Uppsala Train Station
Formerly Uppsala’s main train station, this exquisite building has been beautifully renovated and now houses several stylish bars and restaurants. Stationen Brasserie has a great menu that includes business lunch options, should you need to entertain any colleagues during your stay. The new train station is just next door and offers frequent connections to both Stockholm and the airport, where you can enjoy a well-earned rest at the Radisson Blu SkyCity Hotel, Arlanda Airport before jetting off on your next business adventure.