Stockholm is a great city to explore by foot because everything is concentrated in one small area. The city spreads out over 14 islands in Lake Mälaren and looks out to the Baltic Sea to the east.
The Arlanda airport is 45km north of Stockholm. The quickest way to get to the city is by train which leaves for Stockholm every 15 minutes and take 20 minutes to get to the city. This costs ~$60US round trip. If you are on a budget, there are also buses that take you to the city which will take much longer and will cost about $30 round trip. If you are planning on using public transportation over walking, look into buying an SL card. A week costs about $35US (300SK). If you are under 25, you can also get a discount. Another transportation alternative is getting a hop-on hop-off bus & boat pass that takes you all around the city.
Swedish food is largely based on fish, meat and potato. Unusual specialties include reindeer, elk meat and wild berries. Almost all places have lunch specials from 11am-2pm that usually come with salad, bread and coffee. The local spirit is akvavit (licorice liquor) and comes in many different flavours.
Wednesday night is a big night to go out in Stockholm so most bars and restaurants will be packed. If you can, time your trip to land during the summer solstice festival Midsummer, which is usually mid-June in Stockholm. Skansen on Djurgården is the city’s most popular venue for this.
Currency & Payment
There currency used here is Swedish Krona which is 1 USD is about 8 Swedish Krona. Generally, Sweden is very expensive so be prepared to spend a lot. Food, drinks and cabs can be up to double the amount in Canada or the US. Tip isn’t expected here but people will usually leave their loose change or round up to the nearest big number. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.
Where to Stay
- Radisson Blu Strand Hotel – right by the water and is very central
- Hotel Hellsten – live jazz in the lounge on Thursday evening
- Hotel Birger Jarl – showcase for Swedish design; the lobby doubles as an exhibition space for local artists; rates include breakfast and free entrance to Kulturhuset and the National Museum of Fine Arts
- Victory Hotel – located in the old town; has 45 ship-shape rooms, top rated restaurant in hotel but only really serves meat
- Lydmar Hotel – small luxury hotel (if you want to splurge)
Where to Eat of Grab a Drink
- Bakfickan – small restaurant that serves Swedish classics. They don’t take reservations. The food is amazing and portions are big.
- Riche – great place for lunch and dinner but better for dinner as there are multiple bars within the restaurant that you can move along to after. Explore all ends of the restaurant to see what your options are atmosphere and food wise. They serve many local dishes.
- Sturehof – for lunch or dinner. This is also a good place to go after dinner for a drink.
- Take a fika (a local saying for coffee and cake). The Vurma Café in Sodermalm is a great place for this but you can do this at any coffee shop. Make sure to try a Kanel (which is the famous local pastry). Chokladbolls are also really good. Swedes will usually have these for 2 hours, sometimes longer.
- Doden i Grytan (Death in a Pot) – a local spot that rarely attracts tourists
- Sibiriens Soppkok – great lunch spot if you like soup
- Speceriet – similar to a gastropub. They don’t take reservations so if you can, go early and get a spot at the community tables.
- Lasse i Parken – great summer restaurant with garden tables. The menu mixes traditional Swedish and Mediterranean food.
- Have lunch at SaluHall, an indoor food market in Ostermalm. Lisa Elmqvist – known for its fresh fish and seafood – is a good place to eat here. Lunch is served until 5:30pm. Order Toast Skagen, a beer, coffee and homemade truffles.
- Go to the Lydmar hotel lower level patio bar right outside the entrance of the hotel for drinks on a nice day. Some nights they will have live music here.
- Kungstrad Garden has a lot of nice outdoor cafes/bars. On a nice day, grab a drink here.
- Lobby bar of the Grand Hotel is great for drinks and has a nice view of the harbor & Royal Palace
- Le Bar Rouge for late-night drinks
- Malarpaviljongen – an open air café lounge with 3 floating decks, a great summer hangout spot
- Gondolen – great spot to get a drink with a view; on the edge of the Sodermalm neighborhood which overlooks the Old Town
- Och Himlen Dartill – a bar and restaurant atop a Sodermalm skyscraper with great views
- East – modern Asian restaurant with great seafood and sushi
- Moderna Museet – great brunch spot (buffet) serving all sorts of dishes. Reservations are essential as there are only two sittings at 11:30am and 2pm.
What to Do
- Check out the view of Stockholm from Soder Heights in Södermalm on a sunny day. There is a nice path that you can walk from Old Town, over the bridge along the north part of Södermalm that takes you to Hornstull (the west part of the island).
- Take a walk through Gamla Stan (Old Town) and see the changing of the guards at 11:15am near the palace. Here you will also find lots of tourist shops with souvenirs. One place that had some great local items at reasonable prices is Halldor (address: Skomakarg 24).
- Take a boat cruise to see the Stockholm archipelago beyond the main three. There is also an option to do a dinner cruise.
- Definitely visit the Djurgarden Park, including Skansen open-air museum and zoo, and the Vasa museum. These museums give student discounts and rarely check for ID. There great walks here and it is great for picnics. You can also eat at the Rosendals Trädgård café. Get there easily from the city center by foot, or hop on a boat from Nybrokajen or Gamla Stan/Slussen.
- Visit the Fotografiska museum. This is a great photography museum that has a café with one of the best views of the city.
- Walk the five miles that loops around Riddarfjarden, Stockholm’s main body of water – start at the City Hall and cross to Riddarholmen; carry on to Sodermalm and stop at Mellqvist Kaffebar (one of the city’s best coffee bars); continue over the high bridge called Vasterbron and descend to the island of Kungsholmen
- Go out to Bern night club or Sturecompagniet (the most popular club in Sweden made up of four rooms over two floors).
- Ugglans bar – has a ton of games and pretty good food. The entrance can be hard to find but if you go late you will see it because there is always a long line. To play any of the games, you have to reserve them beforehand.
- If you are visiting with a group, the 24 hour “booze cruise” on The Viking that takes you from Stockholm to Helsinki is supposed to be fun.