After over 10 years since my first trip to Stockholm it was nice to back to be back – I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I vaguely remember much of it from last time. This was long before I started blogging, which is partly why I enjoy writing about my experiences and have something memorable to look back on in future, so this trip was a great opportunity to create some new memories of this lovely city, and I was especially excited to once again cheer on Emma who ran the Stockholm Marathon!
Partly for my own recollection and hopefully some potential travel tips for anyone out there, I’ve made a list of things we did that I would recommend as well should you be planning to visit Stockholm sometime in the future.
We flew from London Gatwick airport to Stockholm Arlanda Airport which is approximately 37km North of Stockholm. There was the option of taking the train into the city which would normally take around half an hour, but we decided to grab a taxi as a group which cost about 600 SEK – unfortunately we were stuck in traffic so it took a bit longer than expected!
We stayed in a cosy Airbnb close to Globen metro station on the green line of the Stockholm metro, which although slightly further south, was an easy commute into the city. We each bought a SL Access Smart card and loaded it with a 72 hour Travelcard which costs 280 SEK in total and allows you unlimited travel across all public transport networks in Stockholm – when it expires you can top your card up (like an Oyster card) where each single journey costs 31 SEK.
Where to eat:
Fabrique – When in Rome … or rather, Stockholm! We paid a visit to one of their branches in Gamla Stan, rather unintentionally, the first tempting bakery that we stumbled upon, hungry and caffeine-deprived after our flight. I know we have them back in London but what better place to have them than in the city where it all started – and you can always count on them for a good coffee and bun.
Kafe Krans – another cosy cafe that we stumbled upon whilst wandering the streets of Gamla Stan. We popped in for some takeaway cinnamon buns which we very much enjoyed on our boat trip. The coffee is supposed to be good as well.
Vete-Katten – one of my favourite fika spots on this trip. They have a wide array of delicious sweet and savoury treats that will make you feel spoilt for choice, and a spacious coffee room where guests can dine in comfort – think of it as the equivalent of Bettys Tea Rooms in the UK. We tried the cinnamon bun and the princess cake which were both tasty, with some smooth flat whites to wash it all down.
Karla Café – a cute cafe in the heart of Östermalm that happened to be right on the marathon runners route! – the perfect spot to stop for a hot drink and do some people-watching. I liked how the interiors were furnished with plush sofa chairs, and they had a tempting variety of sweet and savoury foods.
Rosendals Trädgård – a lovely garden café located on Djurgården island that offers salads, soups, sandwiches and pastries made in the bakery next door. And let’s not forget to mention the unlimited bread and butter that diners can help themselves to! The café uses organic and biodynamic ingredients, a lot of them even sourced from their own garden. There are plenty of tables in the conservatory-like structure or you can even sit on the grass in the orchard during the warm summer days. A perfect destination if you’re looking to immerse yourself in some greenery and nature.
MyVegina – Yes, you read that correctly! It certainly kept our conversations amusing each time we mentioned the name. A cosy little vegan spot in Norrtullsgatan that does colourful hot and cold bowls, as well as sandwiches, pastries and healthy smoothies. Seating space is quite limited, especially during peak hours, so ideal for a quick bite or take away.
S:ta Clara Bierhus – a local bar and restaurant specializing in traditional Swedish and Central European cuisine, we came here specially for the free live music in their cellar! I enjoyed my seafood stew and the jazz music that night was highly upbeat and entertaining.
Meatballs for the People – because you can’t possibly go to Sweden and not have meatballs. One from the list of recommendations, it would have been a perfect evening out, if not for the painful long waiting time – this is why I tend to avoid places at peak times that don’t take reservations …
Apart from my hangry ranting, the food was delicious and comforting – we ordered the ‘Sharing is Caring’ which gets you four different types of meatballs, served with creamy gravy, red wine gravy, potato purée, lingonberries, pickled cucumber and red onions.
Whippet Lab – a quirky restaurant/microbrew lounge/cocktail bar that we visited on our last night in Stockholm, co-owned by Jami Weinstein, a professor, and VS Brodie, a chef, with Sherlock, a whippet-greyhound mix from Cork. We tried to lure Sherlock over to our table for a little canoodling, but he seemed a bit shy …
They do a great selection of gin-based cocktails and don’t forget to try their smoked olives … they really packed a punch!
What to do:
Station hopping – continuing on the note about public transport and making full use of your unlimited Travelcard (or even a single journey ticket if you don’t plan on stepping out of each station!), I’d highly recommend taking some time to explore the different stations of Stockholm’s subway system – the tunnelbana – sometimes referred to as “the world’s longest art gallery”, which have been decorated with paintings, installations, mosaics and sculptures by 150 artists since the 1950s.
With a network of 100 stations in the 110km tunnel system, we obviously didn’t have enough time to visit all of them, but we did stop by a handful, including the painted blue vines in T-Centralen, Kungsträdgården, and my favourite of them all, Stadion, which features a beautiful rainbow arch painted against the bright blue of the station’s cave walls, by artists Åke Pallarp and Enno Hallek. One of Stockholm’s first cave stations, there were actual fears that people would associate these cave stations with the netherworld and other nasty places – the bright blue and the rainbow serves as a reminder that there is a sky not far above.
Fotografiska – a centre for contemporary photography in the Södermalm district of Stockholm, and one of Sweden’s most popular attractions. At the front of the museum stands a 2.75 meter high elliptical bronze figure by Swedish artist, Dan Wolger, which represents the artist’s lying skull, although based on first impressions, it is open to interpretation …
My favourite exhibition in it was Light Within, which showcases some 50 set pieces of shadow and light shaped and captured by fashion and portrait photographer Vincent Peters.
They also have a cool looking cafe/restaurant upstairs if you’re looking for a bite.
Stockholm Stadsbibliotek – Stockholm Public Library was created by world-famous architect Gunnar Asplund and is one of the city’s most notable structures. It is free to enter and explore inside, the main attraction being the grand and graceful rotunda which accommodates about 40,000 books, the grey-white heavy-stucco walls above evoking a feeling of the sky or clouds.
Monteliusvägen – a narrow and charming path located on the northern shore of Södermalm island which offers impressive views of the opposite Stockholm downtown. There are benches and picnic tables, and even BBQ grills along the path, which I can imagine to be a popular location during the summer.
Sight-seeing by boat – we went for the Under the Bridges of Stockholm package which cost 261 SEK (purchased online stromma.com) – a relaxing way to see Stockholm from the water. We were really lucky with the weather and I spotted a few nice waterside cafes/restaurants on the way that I’ve starred to visit on my next trip back …
Just Explore – sometimes you don’t need a route, or a plan – you just need to wander the streets and immerse yourself in the local surroundings. We spent most of our time exploring the streets of Gamla Stan, the Old Town, where Stockholm was founded in 1252, one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe.
I loved the narrow winding cobblestone streets, lined with buildings painted in different shades of gold, a beautiful contrast against the bright blue skies above.
And that pretty much sums up my short but sweet trip to Stockholm. The city of Stockholm is situated on fourteen islands (!), so there is obviously so much more to to see, so hopefully I’ll be heading back again to discover more of Stockholm sometime in the near future.