Hej! Welcome to the coziest city in Scandinavia. We both look back on our time in Stockholm with such fondness for the people, the incredible nature, and, of course the fika (the Swedish burritos, not so much…). Please enjoy (or as Swedes might say “you are warmly welcome to enjoy”) this semi-insider’s guide to the city of 30,000 islands.
Food and Drink
Though “New Nordic” cuisine is starting to gain popularity world-wide, Swedish culture has traditionally valued cozy dinner parties at home more so than eating out. While this is starting to change, you may find fewer outstanding restaurants than you might otherwise expect. A great tip: even more expensive restaurants will have a daily “dagens” lunch deal, which is usually around 100 kr. and typically includes a main dish along with salad, bread, and (of course) coffee.
Lilla Ego: A charming neighborhood restaurant. Be sure to book in advance as they fill up quickly. You could be like Alex and order the “Pickle Shot” or be like Bex and just have champagne.
Urban Deli: A hip spot for lunch or dinner -- it's part upscale grocery store and part restaurant.
Hermans: Decent vegetarian buffet, but one of the most stunning views of Stockholm. Go in summer and you might see hot air balloons flying overhead.
JuiceVerket: Hipster juice bar.
Judit and Bertil: One of our favorite chill, neighborhood bars in Stockholm.
K25: If you can't decide where to eat, this is a place where a bunch of Stockholm restaurants all set up shop in an upscale, hip food court. Great for a quick lunch or dinner.
Corner Club: If we had to choose just one bar, this would be it. They change the (small) menu of drinks 3-4x a week depending on weather, mood, etc. Open Thursday-Saturday.
Pharmarium: A charming little bar right in Gamla Stan. Be sure to book a table in advance.
Cafe Pascal: A cozy cafe right by the amazing Stockholm City Library.
Reggev Hummus: Hummus in Scandinavia? Yep, it’s really good!
Gondolen: A super pricey restaurant. But they have great drinks. And more importantly: an amazing view. If you don't want to go inside, you can take their elevator up, pretend you are going to the restaurant, but then head up one more flight of stairs to get to the outside outlook.
Rosendals Trädgård: In the heart of Djurgarden is this greenhouse meets Swedish cafe. It’s a bit of a walk, but the scenery to get there is amazing.
Story Hotel: One of our favorite bars in Stockholm -- great cocktails. Riddargatan.
Mellqvist: Favorite coffee shop.
Drop Coffee: Best coffee in Stockholm, hands down. Mellqvist is the better hang out place, but the coffee at Drop Coffee is the winner.
Vurma: A couple of these on Södermalm. A good place to try some Swedish baked goods: cardemonbulle (cinnamon roll but with cardamon), kanelbulle (cinnamon roll), Semlar (a special Easter thing that Swedes are crazy for but we don't especially like -- though you should definitely try one), and Chokoladballs (you can figure this one out). They also have great lunch food (salads, sandwiches), so you could easily spend a couple of hours here with food and a fika. They have a few locations; our favorite is in Hornstull. Very kid friendly (many parents even leave their babies outside in their strollers to nap...yes, it’s a thing, especially in winter).
Johan & Nyström: Super cozy spot. Great coffee and tea.
Söder Mälarstrand: One of our favorite views in Stockholm. A great intro to the city on your first morning.
Monteliusvägen: A short, steep, and potentially muddy walk rewards you with an incredible panoramic of Stockholm’s waterfront. Worth it!
Djurgården: If the weather is good, rent bikes and ride around. So much for kids to do here.
Kungsträgården: Worth walking through. You can ice skate here during winter.
Hellasgården: About a 20-minute bus away from Stockholm, accessible via public bus from Slussen. This is the perfect place to do a proper Swedish sauna and then go jump in a frozen lake during winter. During summer, it’s a beautiful lake with miles of dirt trails. They also have a playground for kids.
Tyresta National Park: A national park with a bus that drops you off right at the trailhead. A perfect place to explore in all seasons.
Långholmen: Fun beach (in summer) with cafe and lovely trails. Close to the city center and literally minutes walking distance from Bex and Alex’s old apartment on Reimersholme. You can rent kayaks in the summer. It’s amazing.
A day on Djurgarden
Outdoors for kids
Vasaparken: Fruit-themed playground in a nice residential area.
Drakenbergsparken: Walk along the south-side of Södermalm. Start at Hornstull metro and walk towards Skanstull. Drakenbergsparken playground, which has a snake-like dragon to climb, is along the way. Other playgrounds and beautiful sites along the way.
Byrggartäppan: A playground that is a small-scale version of a 19th century Swedish village.
Hagaparken: A huge park, just north of the city center. Great for kids, with a butterfly and bird house and a big lake. Accessible via public bus.
More playground ideas here.
Gamla Stan: Definitely go explore 'old town' and see the cobblestone streets and make your way to the square by the Nobel Prize Museum. Stockholm is not very touristy overall, but this is definitely where you’ll find the most tourists!
Södermalm: The island Bex and Alex called home for three years. Hip, creative, funky and fun. You could spend a couple of days exploring its cafes, boutique stores, and enjoying its waterfront views.
Ostermalm: Stockholm-chic. If the city had a Saks Fifth Avenue, it would definitely be in Ostermalm. The NK department store is here for classic Scandinavian fashion.
Stockholm Archipelago: One of the greatest perks of living in a city made up of thousands of islands is the opportunity to explore them on a clean, modern ferry. You’ll catch most ferries right outside of the Grand Hotel. Check out timetables and routes on the main ferry provider: Waxholmsbolaget. Some islands from which to choose:
Vaxholm: The easiest day-trip from Stockholm. Very kid-friendly. We nicknamed this “dessert island” because of the most incredible bakery/restaurant, Vaxholms Hembygdsgards Cafe, which features a huge table overflowing with dozens of different desserts. Some of our guests nearly refused to go back to Stockholm with us and just wanted to live here. The whole island is easily walkable and you will never forget the desserts. Ever.
Grinda: Also possible to do in a day-trip, although it’s a couple of hours each way. Gorgeous, untouched nature. There is one restaurant, but be sure to bring snacks in case it’s closed in the summer. One of our favorite picnic spots in Sweden.
Möja: It's about a 3-hour ferry away, so plan to stay the night, which is a special experience in and of itself. We recommend the Möja Vardshus. It's nothing special, but simple is the key in the archipelago and it has a nice restaurant. The island is a perfect place to ride a bike and explore. Though you don't need to book the ferry ahead of time, you do want to book the hotel since it is small and fills up.
Fotografiska Museet: Creative and unique exhibits. And a great cafe (with outstanding views).
Vasa Museet: The reviews are real. You should go.
Nobel Museum: Super inspiring and worth a visit!
Stadion T Bana: Coolest metro station decoration ever. Check it out.
Stockholm City Library: What an inspiring place, whether you love books or not. Great Scandinavian design.
Stockholm City Hall: It’s beautiful inside and out. Lovely spot to catch some sun in the summer.