I’ve recently come back from the dreamiest four days in Stockholm, which in my opinion is the most liveable city in the world, as well as one of the most beautiful. If you’re sick of tourist mayhem, summer in Sweden is the place to be. Stockholm is not nearly as crowded as other European hotspots like Paris or Rome. The weather is warm, but not too warm. The locals are friendly and speak English, which makes getting around super easy. The city is safe, immaculately clean, well-organized, modern (I didn’t need cash once), and everything works. There are so many things to see and do, delicious specialties to taste and gorgeous seaside parks to stroll through. As far as I’m concerned, Stockholm is Europe’s best kept almost-secret. I suggest that you go there (no, run there), before the word gets out. Here is my Stockholm Travel Guide.
Reservations are always a good idea. I usually made mine online the day of.
Pelikan | Blekingegatan 40, 116 62 Stockholm | A beautiful interior with the best meatballs I had in Sweden. Another local specialty worth trying are the potato dumplings with lingonberries.
Kvarnen | Tjärhovsgatan 4, 116 21 Stockholm | This dreamy establishment has been in business for over 100 years and is a great place to try local classics like reindeer stew and seafood stew. You really can’t go wrong.
Riche | Birger Jarlsgatan 4, 114 34 Stockholm| Try the toast Skagen, which they are rumoured to have invented, and do better than anyone else. Make a reso a few days in advance.
Rosendals Trädgårdskafé | There are so many charming cafes dotted around the city, especially in parks and along the waterfront. One of my favourites is this garden café on Djurgarden island, not far from the city centre. This is the idyllic spot to enjoy your fika, Sweden’s national pastime of afternoon coffee and cake.
Baked Goods || No trip to Sweden would be complete without sampling some of Sweden’s famous cookies and pastries, which you can find in bakeries and cafes across the country. Try the chocoballs (my personal favourite), jam cookies and cardamon buns, which are all delish.
Hotel Scandic Central | Kungsgatan 70, 111 20 Stockholm | After quite a bit of research, I opted for this stylish and centrally-located hotel so that all of the major sites around town would be within walking distance. They offer small but nice single rooms at moderate prices for the solo traveller, which I was. More importantly, included with your stay at the hotel is by far the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. Eat breakfast to your heart’s content, snack at lunch and splurge on dinner.
Take a tour of City Hall | Perfectly situated on the waterfront, this is where they host the Nobel Prize dinner each December. The Golden Hall is breathtaking and worth the visit alone. Tours in English run all day long.
Gamla Stan & the Palace | This island in the centre of the city is the oldest part of Stockholm and home to the Royal Palace. My favourite part of the palace is the Royal Treasury (Crown Jewels!). One ticket gets you into all of the palace museums, which take a few hours to visit.
Soddermalm Neighborhood || Right across the bridge from Gamla Stan, Soddermalm is a hip neighborhood filled with cafes, restaurants, shops, museums and pretty side streets. Visit Fotografiska, the contemporary museum of photography, and take in the latest temporary exhibits. Walk down Götgatan and check out some local shops, like Granit for home goods. Hornsgatan has lots of second-hand and design stores, like Afroart and Brandstationen. After dinner, take a stroll through the quaint streets lined with traditional homes. Go to Skinnarviksparken for the view of the city, followed by a walk down Gamla Lundagatan and Bastugatan, back towards the bridge to Gamla Stan. Visit the historic streets of Stigbergsgatan and Fjallgatan for their old red houses and stop by the super cute Stigbergstäppan park for my favourite viewpoint.
Nationalmuseum || The national gallery of Stockholm. Come here for your fix of beautiful art, sculpture and furnishings from the 16th century to today.
Carl Eldhs Ateljémuseum || The tiny museum that was once sculptor Carl Eldhs’s atelier is nestled on a green hilltop alongside a few other old houses and the rustically charming Bellevue Café. This light-filled artist’s studio is chalked full with sculptures. And though it is small, you will want to sit inside for hours soaking in the artist’s ambiance.
Strandvägen || This is the city’s boardwalk. Lined with impressive architecture, cafes and scenic views of the city by the water, I recommend walking along here on your way to Djurgården.
Djurgården || This tranquil island in central Stockholm is home to a large park, cute cafes, fun museums and even an amusement park. Make a day (or two) of it, starting with the Vasa Museum, where you can visit an almost fully intact 17th-century ship. It’s spectacular! Very Captain Hook. The Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) is housed in a beautiful building next door and is worth a visit if you have an interest in cultural history. The Abba museum is also nearby.
I recommend going to the Skansen open air museum. Stroll around old Swedish villages and homesteads, where you can meet with friendly Swedes in traditional costume working in the shops and on the farms. If you prefer to browse through a stately mansion, visit Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde Palace Museum by the water’s edge. While on the island I recommend a walk through Kungliga Djurgården, former royal gardens which include several trails, idyllic grassy picnic spots and Rosendals Trädgårdskafé (mentioned above). Walk leisurely back into town along the water or stop at one of the many restaurants or cafes along the way, such as Tabbouli Djurgården, Restaurant Oaxen Krog & Oaxen Slip, or Djurgårdsbron.
The Hallwyl Museum || Another small but charming mansion filled with decorative arts from the 19th-century. The central courtyard is home to one of the prettiest outdoor restaurants in the city.
Sandhamn || No trip to Stockholm is complete without visiting the Stockholm Archipelago, a collection of over 30,000 islands in the Baltic Sea. With so many to choose from, there is an island to suit everyone’s tastes. I chose to visit Sandhamn for its pretty seaside town and rustic outdoors. This famous cottage community includes a small assortment of shops and restaurants. The ferry ride takes a few hours and I recommend booking your spot on the Cinderellabåtarna boat a day or two in advance in busy season. Show up a good 30-60 minutes early to get a good seat. The relaxing boat ride takes you passed endless islands dotted with lovely red cottages and natural scenery. In my opinion, the perfect way to break up full days of city touring.
In Sandham, I recommend grabbing lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants, such as Pentaboden, picking up dessert at the Sandhamns Bagerie (bakery), and exploring the small cottage-filled streets surrounding the town. Then walk 30 minutes to the other end of the island to Trouville, a wild and picturesque beach with warm, clear water and soft sand. Spend the afternoon basking in the sun and sea before heading back to town to catch the evening ferry home.
Happy travels x
P.S. Love discovering hidden treasures and insider shopping secrets? Read The Best Vintage and Secondhand Shops in Paris.