Since I moved abroad it’s become such a treat to return to my home country and I feel way more patriotic and nostalgic about Sweden than I did before. My last three school years I spent in Stockholm and it’s definitely a spot I recommend to anyone looking to visit Sweden for the first time. Let me give you my top recommendations and tips in the city – and I’ll continuously add to it as I discover more.
Read on to find out about my favourite things to do in the city and my recommendations for cafes, restaurants, things to see and do and Stockholm musts.
Stockholm is Swedens capital city and is built upon 14 islands, linked together by bridges. This means there’s pretty much always water nearby. This lovely city is nicknamed Venice of the North and you’ll find plenty of things to see and do like our Royal Palace, lots of museums and a good shopping & food scene.
Good to know
Currency is Swedish krona (SEK), but most places only accept card, especially in Stockholm. Cash is NOT king in Sweden.
The weather in Sweden is generally quite dry, in particular when comparing to places like the UK so it can be a good idea to bring a moisturiser and body lotion as I always dry out so much every time I’m in Sweden – especially in the winter.
In Sweden you’ll find two types of electric plugs – type C and F with 230V and 50Hz. These are the standard plugs in most of Europe.
We speak Swedish in Sweden, but most people speak English as well, since we learn English in schools from a young age. The exception is if you are in the countryside or in remote parts of Sweden, particularly with older generations.
FUN FACT: Did you know Sweden has the most islands of any country? Almost 270,000 islands!
Where to stay
– review coming soon –
If you are traveling on a budget but still want to stay centrally, then Hotell Gamla Stan is a good option for you. Fairly affordable and located in the Old Town, this hotel has quite simple but nice rooms and a really nice breakfast.
For hotels with a character, Victory Hotel has to be up there. The owners like collecting antiques and their hotels are like lovable museums. Victory hotel has a nautical vibe with the rooms named after sea captains It’s a stunning hotel in the Old Town full of charm and old-fashioned nooks and crannies.
Downtown Camper is centrally located, has a lovely relaxed wilderness interior design with walking distance to the train station, airport buses, central shopping and the Stockholm Old Town. They also have a lovely rooftop spa with a heated outdoor pool which I’d highly recommend. The spa is available at an additional charge and you book a time slot. If you only fancy a drink there’s also the lounge bar on the same floor. Downtown Camper is part of the Scandic hotel group and like many Scandic hotels also has a lovely breakfast with plenty of options and a good incorporation of Swedish food like meatballs and waffles.
Hotel Kungsträdgården is located very centrally by the “King’s garden” in Stockholm which is pretty much opposite the Royal Palace. If you want to be in the middle of town, but also tucked away on a more quiet side street then this is a good spot for you. the room where the breakfast is held is also so lovely and can be worth coming here just for the breakfast if you are looking for an indulgent morning.
Some other hotels I’ve had my eye on is Hotel Esplanade, Stallmästaregården, Ett Hem, Elite Hotel Marina Tower, Hotel Skeppsholmen, Hotel Kung Carl, Grand Hotel Stockholm, Berns, Haymarket by Scandic, Hotell Hasselbacken and Hotel Diplomat.
Things to do
Go for a Swedish fika
A Swedish fika is when you sit down with a friend, or by yourself, over a hot drink and a pastry and there’s plenty of Swedish treats you shouldn’t miss! I’d recommend cardamom buns, dammsugare or a slice of princess cake. Some good stops are Systrarna Helen on Djurgården, Chokladkoppen in Old Town or Vetekatten in the city centre.
Skansen is an open air museum on Djurgården that showcases old Swedish buildings and Swedish culture. They also have a zoo part of nordic animals such as moose, reindeer, seals and bears. Around Christmas time they have the cosiest Christmas Market, which is probably my favourite Christmas market of all time. Skansen sits on top of a hill so they also got some lovely views of Stockholm.
Take the boat across to Djurgården/Old Town
To take the boat across from Djurgården to Old Town or the other way around, you just pay for a public transport ticket which you activate when you need it. It’s a lovely short little boat trip, but really convenient for getting across and also with a lovely view.
Visit one or several of the museums on Djurgården
Djurgården is a great spot to visit as there’s plenty of museums to be found here, and even if you’re not a museum person, it’s so lovely just to walk along the water and admire the view.
Some of my favourite museums are the Vasa Museum – where you can see an impressive wooden ship that sank in 1628, the Spirits Museum – where you can learn more about Swedens drinks history and try various tipples, the ABBA museum – where you can dance along and feel nostalgic about memorabilia and also the Nordic Museum – where you can learn more about nordic culture.
Go for a boatttrip around the archipelago
As I mentioned previously, Sweden is the country with the most islands worldwide and in Stockholm there’s a beautiful archipelago and plenty of boat trips available if you’d want to do some sightseeing around the islands. This is probably more of a summer activity, but some companies have winter trips where you can enjoy a mulled wine as you admire the winter scene around you.
Go shopping at Mall of Scandinavia
Mall of Scandinavia is the largest shopping mall in the nordics, so if you fancy some shopping – this is the place to do it.
Try Swedish food
I may be slightly bias, but I’d of course say Sweden has some of the best food in the world! Plenty of dill, great seafood and we do like our meatballs and potatoes!
If you’d fancy trying some Swedish dishes then I’d recommend the following:
Toast Skagen – toasted bread with a prawns mix
Obviously also Meatballs and mashed potatoes – preferably served with pickled cucumber, lingonberries and brown cream sauce.
Dill Crisps – just the best crisps!
Falukorv (Falu sausage) – not considered a fancy dish, just your everyday food, but this sausage from the region of Dalarna is great. Especially fried and with pasta.
Kladdkaka – probably best translated to mud cake, but this chocolatey gooey cake is just great. You’ll find it in pretty much every café so you can properly go for a fika whenever you feel like it.
Filmjölk & Crisp Bread – a standard breakfast in Sweden would be crisp bread with butter and cheese and a bowl of filmjölk (like kefir) with some cereal – my favourites are Havrefras. Filmjölk is one of the things I miss most from home – why is it so hard to find in the UK?
Prinsesstårta – a “princess cake” is an airy sponge cake with custard, raspberry jam and a green marzipan lid decorated with a pink marzipan rose. It’s great and you should try it – and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.
Where to eat
Stockholm has a great food scene with plenty of options for traditional Swedish food or more international cuisine.
BREAKFAST / BRUNCH
Pom & Flora
Pom & Flora has a lovely atmosphere and some of the best granola bowls you’ll ever have. They pride themselves on good breakfasts and brunches so don’t miss out if you’re nearby.
Even if you’re not staying at a hotel I can recommend treating yourself to a hotel breakfast at least one morning. I’d generally say Sweden has some excellent hotel breakfasts and better that many other European countries. Downtown Camper by Scandic, Hotel Kungsträdgården and Berns are some of the ones I would recommend.
LUNCH / DINNER
Misshumashu is located in the city centre near Östermalm. They do Tokyo meets Stockholm inspired dishes where you can find various bowls for lunch or small plates and skewers for dinner. I’d recommend sharing some small plates and skewers to try a variety of their food, but don’t miss the guacamasshu!
Asian Post Office
Asian Post Office focuses on asian inspired cuisine and is also a great place for sharing small platters. I went here for the first time when my best friend took us first to Misshumashu and then to Asian Post Office where we shared platters in both places, which was such a fun dinner idea – would highly recommend restaurant hopping like this. Don’t miss the Thai Basil cocktail which is the signature drink here.
Eataly is located by Östermalm in an old cinema. It’s worth visiting just for the interiors and they don’t just have a bar and a restaurant but also a food court where you can buy a variety of Italian goodies – from charcuteries and pasta to tomato sauce and biscotti.
If you are looking for some burgers then Brödernas (The Brothers) is not a bad shout. I’d also recommend trying the Swedish soda Trocadero if you fancy trying something different – in my opinion it’s a great drink with burgers.
I’ve not been to Omaka yet, but heard so many good things about this restaurant and brewery. I have to go here on one of my upcoming Sweden trips!
Under Kastanjen (underneath the chestnut tree) is located in Old Town and a lovely stop for a glass of wine, a lunch or just a fika. They do baked goods (some gluten free), a really good meatballs + mashed potatoes and even have some Swedish whisky behind the counter.
A Classic Stockholm restaurant focused on traditional Swedish food culture. You’ll find some excellent fish roe, toast Skagen, venison tartare, chèvre chaud, veal patties, cod, meatballs and many other classics here.
I actually have not been to an Afternoon Tea in Stockholm yet, but I have a few spots on my list so I thought I’d share them with you here.
Where to drink
The traditional spirit of Sweden is aquavit, but most people usually drink beer, cider or wine. It’s a fun drinks country and plenty of options to try – from Swedish gins perfectly paired with tonics, to herbaceous aquavits and dry ciders.
Spritmuseum (The Spirits Museum)
The Spirits Museum on Djurgården is a lovely spot for a drink. Be it Swedish beer, cider akvavit, gin or whisky – you can find a variety of options and learn more about them here. They also have some lovely akvavit cocktails – I had one with sea buckthorn which was so good!
Take simply translates to roof and is a rooftop bar with a lovely view of the Stockholm skyline. They have a lovely Monkey Shoulder cocktail with banana and walnut.
Härnö Gin Bar
Härno Gin is one of the most well known Swedish gins in the country and they have their own little bar in the south of Stockholm.
Tweed is a wine bar in the Old Town, adjacent to the Victory Hotel. And old fashioned speak easy vibe with good atmosphere.
Ardbeg Embassy in Old Town has some lovely whisky on their shelves. If you are an Ardbeg fan then there’s plenty of options for you, but I’d also recommend trying whisky from Gammelstilla – which is a Swedish distillery and hard to find outside of the country. If you are looking for good whisky you could also be surprised in the chain of pubs called The Bishops Arms where I’ve found whisky from mothballed distilleries for super affordable prices.
Daytrips & Nearby Excursions
Uppsala is less than an hour away from Stockholm and a lovely old university town with plenty of cafés, a cathedral and a castle to explore.
Castles & Spas
There’s actually several castles nearby to Stockholm and many of them offer overnight accommodation so if you’re looking to get away for a night, or just head somewhere new over the day, why not check them out. Staycation Stockholm offer stays in their castles, spas and country houses and I can also recommend Yasuragi which is a lovely Japanese spa where you can book day access or overnight stays. Don’t miss their Teppanyaki dinner if you are staying overnight.
January – February
In January and February – pretty much in the lead up to Lent – the cafés and bakeries around Sweden sells thousands of a pastry called Semla. It’s one of my favourites and consists of a cardamom flavoured bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream. It’s so tasty and nowadays they also have some crazy varieties of the smell, like the semla wrap at Tössebageriet, semla smoothie at Pom & Flora, semla burger at Burger King. And they’re only available this time of year. If you can find a blueberry semla – they’re seriously delicious as well.
The Saturday between 20 – 26th June if Midsummer in Sweden. We eat good food, meet up with friends a family, sing drinking songs, tie flowers crowns and go swimming if the weather allows. Sometimes we also dance around a midsummer pole and pretend we are little frogs and sing traditional songs. It might sound crazy when you are not used to it, but it’s so much fun.
During the crayfish season primarily in August it’s common to gather friends and family for a crayfish party. We eat crayfish, alongside with potatoes and quiche (and pretty much similar food to midsummer and Christmas), drink snaps (aquavit) and sing drinking songs. It’s great fun!
Around Christmas is usually a cosy time in any city, and in Sweden we of course have Christmas Markets (Skansen has such a good one!) where you can also try glögg (mulled wine), saffron buns and various sweets. But if you are in Sweden around the 13th December, that’s when we celebrate Lucia and choirs sing songs and Christmas fika is on the tables. If you can attend a Lucia concert it’s definitely worth it as they’re so atmospheric and beautiful. We also have a tradition around Christmas to book a so called julbord, which translates to Christmas table. This is basically a Christmas dinner buffet and many restaurants offer their own version. Would highly recommend these as well, especially if you can visit a castle or country house as they’re so cosy and Christmassy.
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