A stylish Scandinavian city break with a beautiful Baltic Sea backdrop
What to do in the Swedish capital might change with the seasons, but Stockholm’s undeniable charm can be found all year round. Built on 14 picturesque islands, you can swim, canoe, and cycle your way along the waterfront in the summer, when rooftop terraces come alive and cafés spill out into the streets – while winter sees a cosier side to the city, with heart-warming restaurants and hipster galleries inviting visitors and locals alike indoors. This is the sort of place you’ll want to stay a while, and each time you return, you’ll find something different to draw you back again.
A short round-up of Stockholm’s must-see sights…
Gamla Stan: Wander the cobblestone streets of Stockholm’s photogenic old town to take in colourful 17th and 18th century buildings and some of Europe’s best preserved medieval architecture.
The Royal Palace: The official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden, this Baroque landmark is brimming with history.
ABBA The Museum: Channel your inner dancing queen at Stockholm’s most popular attraction, with interactive exhibits and behind the scenes displays where you can see the Mamma Mia! movies in the making, virtually try on costumes, and perform on stage to all your favourite hits.
Strandvägen: One of the city’s most prestigious addresses, a stroll along this seafront promenade will put you in the heart of high-end shops and Art Nouveau architecture.
Vasa Museum: The Vasa has made up for its unfortunate maiden voyage by becoming the world’s best preserved 17th century ship – which you can see in all its glory at this family-friendly museum.
Skansen: A charming collection of Swedish homes and farmsteads transported from all over the country, with open-air Nordic wildlife meets and festive crafts and concerts around Christmas time.
Djurgården: Make like a Stockholmer with a weekend walk through this tranquil park, stopping for fika in one of the many quaint cafés.
…and a longer look at Stockholm’s lesser-known spots
Window shopping one of Södermalm’s many aesthetic lifestyle boutiques, images from @designtorget
This über trendy district has long drawn a cool, creative crowd to its stylish shopping scene, eclectic eateries, and laid-back gardens. But there is more to see in the up-and-coming areas of ‘The South Side’, as the hippest Stockholmers are starting to branch out into Södermalm’s secret, style-conscious pockets of Hornstull, Skanstull, and Mariatorget. Browse own-brand clothing and vintage treasures in the independents of Skanstull, or simply soak up the old-school meets modern vibe on the Mariatorget square lined with characterful pubs and inns.
Once a bit of a backwater, Hornstull is enjoying a renaissance with locals and tourists alike – nowhere more so than the neighbourhood’s flea market. Located along the Hornstull waterfront, this is the perfect place to pick up trinkets of all shapes and sizes, from old film projectors and lost-to-time books, to funky vintage labels and handmade accessories. Be sure to make a pit-stop at one of the many food trucks nearby, serving up some of Stockholm’s best street food.
Portrait of Laleh Kazemi Veisari in her studio, whose upcoming exhibition runs in The Main Hall at Färgfabriken from 5th February – 27th March 2022. Photo by Märta Thisner
This former paint factory turned contemporary art gallery is the place to come for culture without the queues of Fotografiska and the Moderna Museet. Playing host to under-the-radar exhibitions, club nights, and flea markets, you never quite know what Färgfabriken is going to unveil next in its industrial setting – with vast exhibition spaces flooded with natural light. Grab a bite to eat at the Färgfabrikens Kafé, which serves up slow-cooked, seasonal dishes and homemade pastries in a relaxed, artsy atmosphere.
What – and where – to eat in Stockholm
Everything tastes as good as it looks at @cafepascal
While visiting the capital of the coffee break, it’s important to press pause on your sightseeing and fika – a Swedish tradition which is all about slowing down over a piping hot cup of coffee (and some tasty pastries). Just as important as the drinks are the sweet treats that are paired with them, from classic kanelbulle (twisted cinnamon buns) to chokladboll (coconut-covered chocolate balls). Whether you sit down to Nordic roast coffee and organic snacks at the much Instagrammed Café Pascal, or some Swedish dark rye bread as you sink into a sheepskin-covered chair at the Green Rabbit, there are plenty of places to fika throughout Stockholm.
Yes, there is more to Sweden than meatballs (or köttbullar as they’re known locally), but no visit to the capital would be complete without tasting this Swedish speciality. As its name suggests, Meatballs for the People serves up some crowd-pleasing variations on the dish drenched in veal gravy – including some vegetarian options. For an unpretentious meatball menu in the Old Town, head to Tradition, where every delicious dish is lactose-free and comes with wine pairing recommendations.
Marennes Oleron Fine de Claire oysters served with shallot vinegar, Bank hot sauce and lemon at Bonnie’s Restaurant, Norrmalm
Thanks to Stockholm’s proximity to the archipelago, the city’s seafood scene is filled with freshly-caught fish dishes and waterfront restaurants. The traditional Swedish flavours of salmon and herring can be found on most menus, while shellfish plateaus and mussel broths are great for larger groups to share. Save room for the famous five-course tasting menu at Wedholms Fisk, known for its high-quality seafood and innovative takes on Swedish classics, or enjoy a lighter bite at Stim on Närvavägen, where fish is cooked over a charcoal grill and served with simple yet scrumptious sides.
Where to stay in Stockholm
Ett Hem…an impossibly stylish Arts and Crafts townhouse in the embassy quarter of Stockholm, specifically designed by the owners to feel like a home rather than a hotel.
Bank Hotel…a heritage bank building on Stockholm’s sweeping waterfront, offering private guided sightseeing tours on foot or by luxury limousine, boat trips around the archipelago, and tip-offs for just-opened exhibitions.
Lydmar Hotel…rooms at this art-filled hotel come with breath-taking views overlooking the sea, the Royal Palace, Nybroviken and Strandvägen.