Back in April, I took advantage of a bank holiday weekend to spend a few days in Stockholm. Already obsessed with all things Scandi, I knew I’d love Stockholm before my plane even touched down in Sweden- and I was oh, so right.
Stockholm is a beautiful capital city, built on the water, and known as one of Europe’s best preserved old towns. Sometimes called the Venice of the North, wherever you are in Stockholm, you’re likely just a short walk away from the nearest body of water.
5 Things to Do in Stockholm
Indulge in Fika
What’s Fika, you ask? The act of drinking coffee is so important to Swedes, they’ve turned it into an art form. Fika is a huge part of Swedish culture, which essentially means having coffee and a treat over conversation with someone.
There were so many beautiful coffee shops in Stockholm, but my favourites from our trip were:
- Fabrique: Number one on my list. They don’t just sell delicious coffee, but are also home to incredible Swedish cinnamon and cardamom buns. The best part? There are multiple locations throughout the city
- Snickerbacken: If I could only choose one place to have fika in Stockholm, this would be it. Part cafe, part concept shop, part gallery, housed in a gothic church style building. The lighting is dim and there are candlesticks on every table, so intimate and cozy
- Drop Coffee: Lovely drip coffee, lots of seating
- Kaffeverket: Cute coffee shop, pretty large too- a good place to snuggle up for a bit to take fika
- Mellqvist Kaffebar: In the warmer months, there’s plenty of outdoor seating, making this the perfect spot to grab breakfast or take fika in the afternoon
Ride the Subway to See Art
Only the Swedes could make public transit so wonderful, Stockholm’s subway system has been designed to be the world’s longest art gallery. Travelers and commuters will find a variety of paintings, mosaics and sculptures across Stockholm’s metro- 150 artists were commissioned to bring art to 90 of the 100 stations.
The stations were enhanced back in the 1950s as part of a social debate to make art accessible to everyone. Back then, only the elite could afford admission to Stockholm’s art galleries and museums.
Stockholm’s metro is broken up into three lines (blue, red, green), all of which are super easy to navigate, even if you aren’t used to taking public transit every day. All of the lines intersect at T-Centralen, making it easy to hop off one onto another.
We spent ~two hours one night riding the metro, checking out different stations. Here’s a list of the ones we visited, the subway is super easy to use- even if you don’t typically take public transit. 10/10 recommend.
Wander Old Town
Getting lost in Stockholm’s old town, Gamla Stan, was the loveliest way to spend one of our afternoons. Stockholm’s foundation began in Gamla Stan in the 13th century.
While you’re in Gamla Stan, stop in a basement pub and relax over a drink if you need a break from your wandering. Some of the buildings in Stockholm are so old, the basements have existed since the 1300s. A couple of these basement pubs are not advertised because they’re a part of the restaurants- the only way to discover them is through exploring.
Eat All the Delicious Things
Always on the lookout for awesome eats when I travel, I was surprised by how many great places there were in Stockholm.
- Meatballs for the People: Known for their Swedish meatballs, I tried the vegetarian ones in a carrot, fennel, saffron soup. The flavors were so good, come early if you don’t have a reservation
- Urban Deli: Trendy bodega/market. Come for a beer or meal, either way you won’t be disappointed
- Vina: Cozy wine bar with a great cheese plate
- The Hairy Pig: Small, but lovely ambiance with candles burning. Food is so good, but it’s also a good place to end your night with a glass of wine
- Ostermalms Saluhall: Awesome food hall in Stockholm with something for everyone
- Babette: On Good Friday, we had a tough time finding somewhere to have dinner, and were just about ready to give up when we found this place. An Italian restaurant and wine bar serving up tasty pizzas and hearty dishes
- Greasy Spoon: Really nice brunch spot with Aussie and American vibes. We ordered grilled halloumi, tri-color fruit salad, strawberry and lemon ricotta hot cakes, and horchata oatmeal- nothing disappointed
- Barbro: Super good Taiwanese. Before coming here, I’d never had vegetarian bao buns I truly liked. Whether you’re veggie or not, try the sunchoke and salted broccoli ones for sure
- Svartengrens: Food here is supposed to be very good, but we came in search of a nightcap after dinner at Babette. Loved their cocktail menu- named after foods/flavors
- Americain: Good cocktails in the basement of Haymarket. We came here two nights, not just because it was convenient, but also because the drinks were good enough to warrant it
Check Out the Museums
I love museums, but am pretty particular about visiting them if I’m short on time in a new place- they’ve gotta be worth it. When we visited Stockholm in April, it was pretty cold and even snowed one day. Luckily, there are a few really great museums to visit in Stockholm, ones I’d recommend even if you have beautiful weather.
- Fotografiska: The ultimate place for photography inspiration
- Moderna Museet: Modern art heaven
- Vasa Museum: Albeit the most touristy on the list, you’ll find the world’s only preserved 17th century ship here
Bonus Reco: Go Scandi Shopping
If you’re into all things Scandi like me, hitting up a few of Stockholm’s best design shops needs to be on your list.
- Home decor: Granit, DesignTorget, Gingko (cacti babies!), Brandstationen (killer antique shop)
- Scandi fashion: BikBok, Grandpa
- Cosmetics: Byredo is a darling perfume and lotion shop
On My Next Trip
To say I loved Stockholm would be an understatement. I definitely want to visit Stockholm in the summer again, when the weather is warm and the sun shines all day, but this trip was a great first introduction to another slice of Scandinavia.
On my next visit to Stockholm-
- Having dinner at Rosendals Tradgard, a gorgeous greenhouse
- Going on a canal cruise to explore Stockholm’s archipelago
- Spending more time wandering the waterfront
- Visiting Drottingham Palace, I’ve heard it’s quite lovely
Know Before You Go Info
- Getting there: If you fly in from Arlanda, hop on the airport express train. It’s a bit pricer than taking a bus, but super fast- less than 25 minutes from downtown Stockholm to the airport.
- Where to stay: Normally a strong Airbnb advocate, we found a great deal for Haymarket Scandic and decided to splurge. The hotel was gorgeous- so glad we decided to stay there. And, the morning breakfast buffet included in your stay was really good- fresh fruit, hot foods, veggies, and more.