You know that friend who’s effortlessly cool and beautiful without even trying? That’s Stockholm. Sophisticated and chic, this is a city with everything and more to offer – traditional Scandi culture, world renowned architecture, rich history, delectable cuisine, and that’s before we even touch on the beautiful people…
Arriving into Stockholm on a Friday afternoon you’ll soon realise just how different this city is to any you’ve visited before. Built over a series of islands and surrounded by water, you’ll immediately get a sense for how free and laid back this place is. With a population of just 900,000 people, Stockholm has what other cities so desperately need – space.
Kick your WOD (Weekend Of Dreams, hello!) off with a visit to Gamla Stan, the city’s Old Town and one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe. Lose yourself for hours as you wander through the winding cobbled streets and hidden alleyways, each one peppered with handicrafts, street performers, cute little cafes and the occasional medieval church. The Royal Palace, Gamla Stan’s piece de la resistance, is also worth checking out, if just to catch the pomp and ceremony surrounding the changing of the guard at noon each day.
From Gamla Stan hop on a ferry boat to the green island of Djurgården. Beloved by locals and tourists alike, this nature haven is home to several of the city’s top museums and attractions (big kids will love the Grona Lung theme park) not to mention some adorable café’s and restaurants. Fuel up on coffee and cake before a stroll down the Djurgårdsbrunn canal and Blockhusudden.
If visiting Stockholm in the summer you’ll quickly be struck by one thing – EVERYONE is outdoors. Possibly one of the most enticing elements of Swedish culture, it’s practically an unwritten rule that in the summer months life is meant to be lived outside. And where better to experience the great Swedish outdoors than on a boat road through the archipelago. Cruising through just some of the 30,000 islands that make up this natural marvel, you literally want to give Mother Nature a high five. Vaxholm and Grinda are two popular island choices but honestly, the list is endless. Go for a morning, a day trip or even the whole weekend and just enjoy the sheer beauty on offer.
Once back in the city centre, indulge your inner hipster with a visit to the Södermalm district. The vibe here is relaxed, creative and distinctly trendy with enough vintage stores, art galleries, high street and upmarket boutiques to keep you entertained (and slightly lighter of penny) for hours. For a great view of the city, head to either Fjällgatan or Monteliusvägen.
Of course, a weekend in Stockholm wouldn’t be complete without indulging in each and every edible delight going (check out @stockholmfood on Instagram for just a teaser of what to expect). So much more than meatballs, Sweden has a varied and eclectic array of husmankost (traditional fare) that play a huge part in traditional Swedish Culture. In Stockholm, you HAVE to try a smörgåsbord. This is essentially a huge buffet with a selection of hot and cold dishes, the champion of which is the sill (pickled herring). Head to Prinsen (Mäster Samuelsgatan 4) for a masterful herring platter, or up your calorie count at Pelikan (Blekingegatan 40), a traditional Swedish beer hall which offers cheese, pork knuckle, lingonberries and meatballs by the bucket load.
A fika fix is also a must for any weekend itinerary. As you’ll quickly realise, café culture is hugely popular in Sweden, with more cafes in Stockholm than you could ever hope to visit. Getting your coffee fix with a sweet treat on the side is a firmly established Swedish pastime, most often enjoyed with friends, family or colleagues. Wayne’s Coffee in Södermalm is a popular choice, but better yet find your own favourite in the Parisian style cafes of Östermalm or the tucked away, hole-in-the-wall style cafes of Gamla Stan.
To get the most from your short but sweet experience, come with good shoes for walking, a thick coat for that bitter Nordic wind and a pocket load of cash to spend. Sweden isn’t cheap, but is it worth it? Oh hell yes.