Sweden’s picturesque capital should be any traveler’s first stop on any major trip to Scandinavia. Stockholm is one of those cities that really feels a bit magical, like you’ve accidentally walked through a portal and slipped into a fairy tale. It has it all: sleek modern design, jaw-dropping old-world charm, world-class fashion, food, museums, galleries and even a royal palace, all spread across an archipelago of 14 islands. , ready to be explored. Don’t let that intimidate you, though; it’s incredibly easy to get around the city, with bridges connecting most of the islands and ferries and a metro for those who don’t like to walk. Stockholm is a city you will want to get lost in for more than two days. If you’re short on time, here’s a simple guide to make sure you get the most out of your time in Scandinavia’s “Venice of the North”.
Any self-respecting trip to Stockholm must start in Gamla Stan, the city’s old town and one of the best-preserved historic centers in all of Europe. A stroll through the winding cobblestone streets and warmly colored buildings will give first-timers a real feel for what Stockholm is all about, as this place is full of charm. Treat yourself to a shopping spree by exploring the many boutiques and keep an eye out for unique sights, such as Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, Stockholm’s narrowest street, or Järnpojke (The Iron Boy), Stockholm’s smallest statue in only 15 cm high. There are plenty of iconic places to note here, but the baroque-style Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace) is a must-see and definitely worth a visit. If you arrive around noon, you will even witness the changing of the guard at 12:15 p.m. Be sure to purchase your tickets online in advance! For lunch, wander into nearby Tradition, for a delicious upscale take on Swedish cuisine. If you are unfamiliar with Scandinavian cuisine, you should focus on this trip. it’s just too good to miss authentic dishes in the land of meatballs.
Then, say goodbye to Gamla Stan and head to Moderna Museet, Stockholm’s go-to spot for all things modern and contemporary art. The collection is impressive and includes works by Picasso, Dalí, Marcel Duchamp and many notable Swedish artists, including the magnificent Hilma af Klint. When you’re done exploring, head to the restaurant for a snack, drink, and stunning city views. For dinner, try cozy Agrikultur, one of Stockholm’s top restaurants, with delicious modern Swedish classics and a focus on sustainability. The menu changes daily to reflect the availability of ingredients. If you’re not completely exhausted, end your day back in Gamla Stan with a cocktail at Pharmarium, a bar and restaurant in the same building that was once Stockholm’s first pharmacy in 1575. This spot is popular, but c is for a reason. Observe the passers-by and let yourself be lulled by their house cocktail, Delirium.
Your second day in Stockholm should start in the elegant district of Östermalm. Stroll through the tree-lined streets and expensive houses or enjoy a more upscale shopping experience, then take a stroll down the Strandvägen promenade to take in the sea views from one of the quietest streets. most prestigious in Stockholm. Next, head to Östermalms Saluhall, one of the best food halls in the world, and sample an assortment of Swedish specialties for a late breakfast or early lunch. Then, visit the amazing Vasamuseet (the Vasa Museum) for an experience you’re sure you won’t find anywhere else. The Vasa Museum features the Vasa, a massive warship that sank in Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged over 300 years later. The museum has been specially built around the ship, which is fully visible, and as 98% of the ship is original, it is the best preserved ship of its type you will ever see. To continue your trip to Stockholm’s best museums, head to ABBA The Museum to immerse yourself in the life of one of the world’s best pop bands. Whether you’re a supergroup fan or not, this interactive museum is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re bringing kids with you.
To end a busy trip, end your day with a visit to the creative district of Södermalm. First, head to Johan & Nyström for a coffee and a pastry, or as the Swedes call it, fika. Fika is a Swedish ritual of taking a break during the day to rest, usually with a coffee and a soft cinnamon roll. it’s encouraged daily, as if you need more reasons to move to Sweden. Once you’ve had your fill of caffeine and sugar, stroll through this trendy neighborhood filled with eclectic boutiques, vintage and designer stores. If you still have time, visit Fotografiska, an amazing place focused on contemporary photography with an ever-growing collection. For your last dinner in Stockholm, refuel at nearby Meatballs For The People, a cheap and cheerful place all about the humble meatball. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, head to Frantzén, a restaurant with an experimental menu focused on Nordic-Asian fusion and three Michelin stars.
Stockholm is a city in its own right, with buckets of charm and delightful experiences to enjoy, whether you visit in the height of summer, the heart of winter, or anywhere in between. As you work your way through meatballs, mash, lingonberry jam, pickled fish and cinnamon rolls and spend your time exploring the wonders this fairy tale town has to offer, I have no doubt that you will be looking forward to returning for a longer trip, because If there is one thing I know about Scandinavia, it is that there is always something new to discover.
Bryony Parker is a writer and artist currently living in São Paulo, Brazil, working on her Masters in International Affairs. You can find it on @by666ker on all social networks