Sweden is known for their pop music, design, vodka and of course, their excellent tastes in food. The country’s real trump card, however, is Stockholm, which is a magical combination of urban hustle and endless outdoor beauty. Situated on the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is made up of a collection of 14 different islands, each of which has its own unique personality. It is a truly stunning capital city, nicknamed “Venice of the North”, though it is totally accessible for those who wish to walk of course, as that is the best way to explore the city.
Where then, should a prospective visitor start their tour of the city? Perhaps the most obvious starting point in the city would be Gamla Stan (the Old Town) where Stockholm was originally established back in the 13th century. Apart from the stunning medieval architecture and the beautiful view of the harbor, this area is full of pubs, restaurants and souvenir shops.
A short walk from Gamla Stan you will find Södermalm (the south part of Stockholm city), Sweden’s version of Brooklyn. Here you will find hipsters and witness the emergence of new trends. Trendy restaurants, bohemian cafés, pubs, nightclubs, vintage stores, and art galleries are some of the attractions to be found when visiting there.
If you are passionate about architecture and design, head to Vasastan (the west part of the city), and witness how locals in Stockholm live and play. There are great local cafes, restaurants, and pubs to visit, all while taking in the sights. If you are looking for something more high-end, you can head to Östermalm, which is the most exclusive and elegant area in Stockholm. It is lined with impressive buildings and it is obvious to any observer that it is the part of the city that caters to Sweden’s elites. It also features one of the nicest parks in Stockholm, Humlegården as well as serving as a nightlife center, full of exclusive nightclubs and bars.
No matter where in the city you choose to visit, you will enjoy how clean, friendly and safe it is.
Where to stay Whether you would like to experience the finest offerings of a luxurious and trendy hotel or alternatively stay in a remote peaceful location, Stockholm has everything to offer in the way of accommodations.
Spend your nights at Stockholm’s # 1 hotel. Lydmar Hotel was awarded TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice award and it isn’t difficult to see why. A perfect example of a style, sophistication, and service within the heart of the city, it offers the best possible service with a home away from home feels that will make you feel as if you never want to check-out.
Photo: Lydmar Hotel
Live like a Swede Do you want to try something different this summer? Why not spend your time living like a native of Stockholm? You can do this by renting a few nights in a charming Sommarstuga (summer cottage), as a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The peaceful atmosphere of the summer cottages has attracted many a Dutch and German fan, and when you’ve finished your stay, you’ll be one as well.
Photo: GRÄDDÖ, NORRTÄLJE
Explore the freedom of Stockholm
While visiting Stockholm, be sure to take advantage of the unique Swedish Allemansrätten, the right of public access, and experience a different way of staying in the city by staying in a tent in the wild. Just make sure to keep your distance from people’s houses and away from farmlands. Not only will you enjoy the peaceful silence, but it’s absolutely free of charge.
Things to do
When planning a trip to Stockholm, make sure you have plenty of time since there are a lot of things to see and do.
A speedy way to sightseeing If you want to travel around the city in a speedy, trendy and efficient manner, then do it by scooter. You can book Vespa tours that are customized by the locals to make sure you’ll see even more sights than just the classic tourist traps. Island hopping, archipelago tours, sightseeing along the seaside or whatever you have in mind, there is a guided tour that fits your needs. If you have a driver’s license then this is the ultimate way to explore the city.
Abba Museum Are you a music fan? Don’t forget to visit the Abba museum, which is entirely dedicated to one of Sweden’s most famous bands of all time. This is not your ordinary museum though, here, you are part of the entire experience. See how you would look in their legendary stage costumes, and experience entering the stage with the band and singing at the Polar Studio. Best of all, you can record all material and access it by a personal ticket number.
Photo: Abba The Museum
The Royal Palace in Stockholm is the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden. With over 600 rooms it is one of the largest palaces in Europe. The palace is not only open to the public but offers five museums to visit. If you only manage to see one attraction while in Sweden, make it the palace.
Food With a diet high in whole grains, protein, and omega oils, the Swedish are praised for their good health, and it’s no wonder why with such a healthy diet. While this cuisine might sound boring, Sweden is also one of the top consumers when it comes to coffee and desserts so don’t be fooled. Fika, the Swedish version of a coffee break, is something you will see and hear several times a day. To the Swedish, a coffee break is more about socializing however than drinking coffee. The best part of this social experience, of course, is that Fika is always accompanied by something sweet.
Meatballs- The Most Well-Known Swedish Tradition Ground or minced meat rolled into small balls and accompanied by ingredients such as onions, breadcrumbs, eggs and butter, form the basis of the traditional Köttbullar (or as we know it, the titular Swedish meatball). The Swedish prepare these meatballs with love and care to such an extent, that they are known as “mom’s meatballs”. These meatballs are traditionally served with brown cream sauce, potatoes, and lingonberry jam, and are a classic favorite both in Sweden and abroad.
Toast Skagen Invented in 1956, Toast Skagen is still a Swedish tradition today. An elegant combination of prawns mixed with mayonnaise on a small piece of sautéed bread topped with dill, lemon, and fish roe, it is a timelessly delicious classic Swedish dish you can not afford to miss out on.
Drinks When one is having a late summertime dinner in Sweden, it is customary for guests to be offered a snap, which is a small shot of a strong alcoholic beverage, often accompanying a traditional drinking song such as “Helan går”.
To Know Before You Go
- Language. Any denizen of Stockholm is more than happy to practice on their English, so don’t worry if you aren’t fluent in Swedish.
- Making Swedish Friends. Swedes, in general, aren’t for small talk. They seem reserved at first but once you have made a local friend you will find them very warm and loyal, it just takes a bit of time is all. In many cultures a greeting with a kiss on the cheek is common. However, don’t do this in Sweden, as you will definitely freak a Swede out. Err on the side of caution and hug the person until you have gotten to know them better.
- Transportation. Everything in Sweden is organized by the book, and transportation is no exception. To travel between cities, you can easily take a train, the bus, or a plane. Don’t forget, however, that even if the country has a low population that the country is still fairly sizable in distance so allow one day and one night’s time to get from the furthest northern reaches to the utmost southern parts.
- Weather. While known for being a cold country it can be very warm during the summer months. If you are going in the winter time, however, it is highly recommended to bring your warmest winter clothes!