Stockholm promises everything from sleek Scandinavian design and fika, to outdoor adventures and sustainable second-hand shopping.
Scandinavia is a truly magical place and Sweden is right at the very heart of it. Recognised worldwide for enjoying some of the best quality of life on the planet, the Swedes are surrounded by beautiful, luscious landscapes where they make the most of outdoor living all year round. For a jet setter who loves cosmopolitan adventure as much as travelling off the beaten track, a trip to Stockholm should absolutely be on your bucket list.
How To Get There
The major international airport is Stockholm Arlanda, just north of the capital. Several airlines including Air China, Cathay Pacific, KLM and Qatar Airways run routes from Hong Kong International to Stockholm Arlanda via Beijing, London, Amsterdam or Doha.
When To Go
Sweden is a country of two halves: in summer you’ll find 24-hour sunlight, lake swimming and outdoor parties on the archipelago islands. In winter you’ll experience snow-covered forests, cosy dinners by candle light and cross-country skiing on the frozen lakes! The best advice would be to visit either mid-June (in time to catch the famous “midsommar” celebrations), or early January for a traditional winter break.
The city of Stockholm runs an efficient metro service, and tickets or top-up cards can be purchased at the stations. This will provide access to trains, buses, trams and ferry boats between many of the surrounding islands. Fun fact: the Stockholm subway is also the longest art gallery in the world!
- Use sl.se to plan your travel – it’s a huge time-saver!
- The SJ regional train service provides fast commutes between all major towns and cities across Sweden, as well as to other Scandinavian destinations such as Copenhagen or Oslo (which takes 5.5 hours and 6 hours, respectively).
- Use sj.se for booking and timetables.
- Hop on a regional flight from Arlanda to Kiruna for Northern Sweden adventures, such as hiking the King’s Trail in summer or husky sledding and seeing the Northern Lights in winter.
- If you want flexibility and panoramic views from the road, hire a car from Sixt or Hertz. Fancy feeling really Swedish? Go for a Volvo!
Where To Stay
The Swedish capital city of Stockholm is brimming with beautiful hotels, there’s an abundance of options to suit every style. Our top three choices range from a charming townhouse for a plush night’s sleep, an industrial style bolthole for lively city vibes and a shoreside chalet for laid back glamour by the water. Which is our favourite? We’d recommend a few nights at each!
With interiors co-designed by Isle Crawford (whose other projects include the design of London members’ club, Soho House, and Hong Kong hotspot, Duddell’s), this traditional townhouse makes for a heavenly home away from home. Throughout your stay you’re welcome to help yourself from the kitchen, feel the burn in the state-of-the-art gym or simply get a sweat on inside the luxurious Swedish sauna. Ett Hem is so lovely that you might forget to explore the rest of Stockholm, fortunately it has bicycles on hire to help get you out and about!
Located on Riddargatan, Story Hotel is in the ultimate spot for experiencing the nightlife of Östermalm, Stockholm’s swankiest (and, arguably, most stylish) neighbourhood. Filled with mid-century style furnishings coupled with industrial interiors, you’ll be feeling like one of the sleek Scandi fash pack from the moment you step into your room. Despite the pared back design, you’ll find plenty of luxe little extras such as smart TVs, wireless charging stations and gorgeous soaps from Swedish brand L:A Bruket. Once you’ve had a chance to settle in, dress up in your chicest monochrome and kick off your evening with a “Potion of wild magic” cocktail at the Ling Long lobby bar.
Looking out to sea from the edge of the urban archipelago, Hotel J feels far away from the bustle of city life. Before you get chatting to the fresh-faced, friendly staff who’ll likely ask if you fancy dinner at Restaurant J (trust us, you do), take a moment to unwind in the bright, spacious lobby and sip a complimentary coffee in front of the open fire. Airy, nautical accents are carried throughout the hotel design and might have you wondering if you’ve switched your room in Sweden for somewhere in the Hamptons or Cape Cod! For the days when you’re not hopping on a boat to the city (which takes 25 minutes), take a wander around the harbour, book in for a massage at the local spa or simply curl up with a glass of wine and watch the sailboats from your balcony.
Where To Eat
For the best brunch, head to Greasy Spoon in Södermalm, the “hipster” island at the south of Stockholm. Here you’ll be met by a buzzing hum of happy diners, digging into delicious brunch dishes such as The Pink Rosti: smoked salmon on potato rosti, poached egg & hollandaise with beet powder and crushed hazelnuts, served up by a multinational mix of jolly waiting staff. Alongside great coffee (beetroot latte, anyone?) there are classic brunch cocktails like mimosas and bloody marys, as well as the not-so-classic but equally tasty F*cking Hell Lager. This place is Stockholm’s worst-kept secret and, with a strictly “no bookings” policy, you can expect to wait for a table most days. Our tip? Visit mid-week when the locals are busy working!
If you’re looking for weekend brunch and don’t fancy waiting, pop round the corner to cyclist haven Cykelcafe Le Mond for scrumptious stacked pancakes and handmade Belgian waffles. Alternatively you could book a table at Nytorget 6, based on the eponymous square in fashionable SoFo. Known as a hotspot for the Swedish Royal family, keep your eyes peeled for Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip on the nearby tables!
Cykelcafé Le Mond, Folkungagatan 67, Stockholm, Sweden (0)8 437 485 41, [email protected], cykelcafe.se
Greasy Spoon, Tjärhovsgatan 19, Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden www.greasyspoon.se
Nytorget 6, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 640 96 55, nytorget6.se
Fika is the ritual of taking time out of your day to sit down with friends and catch up over coffee and cake. It’s possibly one of the most important traditions in Swedish culture. You might notice various displays of freshly baked goods, simply known to Swedes as “fikabrod” (fika bread), in cafe windows as you walk around town. The most popular delicacies are “kanelbullar” (cinnamon buns), “kardemummabullar” (cardamom buns) and “chokladbollar” (chocolate balls) so try fitting at least three fika breaks into your trip!
We’d say the very best place to take fika in Stockholm is Cafe Schweizer, a cosy and quirky spot tucked away in the picturesque nook of Gamla Stan (the Old Town). Eyes are drawn to Schweizer for the bright wall of fresh oranges in the window! The steaming bowl-sized cup of hot chocolate is also the perfect companion on frosty, wintery days.
If you’d prefer fika takeaway then Fabrique is also a favourite with the locals. This chain of bakeries has 19 outlets across the city and is an excellent choice if you fancy fika by the water (or back at your hotel room).
Dinner & Drinks
Spending an evening behind the red curtains at Riche is a must when visiting the city. As a Stockholm institution, the restaurant boasts a hearty mix of traditional Swedish dishes and classic French fare. I know what you’re thinking, “I’m half way through an article about Sweden and they’ve not mentioned meatballs yet!”. Rest assured, you won’t be disappointed by the meatballs at Riche and they’d certainly be our top choice from the menu. Following a long, relaxed dinner, take a pew along Lilla Baren, Riche’s ornate in-house bar. The “little bar” is a wonderful place for a few glasses of Pol Roger and a chance to (quite literally) rub shoulders with the Stockholm elite. This dinky drinking hole is always popular and stays open until the early hours most days of the week.
For an equally inviting ambience coupled with an Italian-inspired menu, go to Trattorian on Kungsholmen. This laid back, boho restaurant sits right on the water and regularly updates the menu to make the most of seasonal ingredients. Next door, sister bar Orangeriet features a central open fire and live DJs at weekends.
If you’re looking for something a little more low key, then Barrels Burger is a brilliant (delicious!) option. The three locations serve up the very best sliders in the city, so it’s easy to fit into any plans. Fancy pizza? Omnipollos Hatt is the place to go for authentic, thin crusts with creative toppings and award-winning microbrewed beers to wash it down.
Barrels Burger, various locations across Stockholm, +46 (0)8 10 00 03, [email protected], barrels.se
Omnipollos Hatt, Hökens Gata 1A, 116 46 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 722 87 22 24, www.omnipolloshatt.com
Orangeriet, Norr Mälarstrand, kajplats 464, 112 20 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 684 238 75, [email protected], trattorian.se/restauranger/orangeriet/
Riche, Birger Jarlsgatan 4, 114 34 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 8 545 035 60, [email protected], riche.se
Trattorian, Norr Mälarstrand, Kajplats 464, 112 20 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 684 238 70, [email protected], trattorian.se
You won’t find yourself short of beautiful bars for an evening tipple. If you want to catch one of the stunning sunsets then stop at Tak rooftop in the centre of town. Here you’ll find unobscured views all the way across the city. Sip sake and watch the light catch the “tre kronor” on top of City Hall.
Where To Explore
Stockholm is a city that’s rich with culture and history. Take a tour of stunning City Hall, perhaps the most famous building in Stockholm and home to the Nobel Prize banquet every year. Walk the cobblestone streets of historic Gamla Stan and visit the Royal Palace. If you’re a fan of photography then you’ll love the exhibitions at Fotografiska (along with the beautiful top-floor bar).
Museums And Attractions
Djurgården is a popular island for ample museums and attractions. Here you’ll discover Skansen, a family-friendly open-air museum and, in the summer months, you can ride the rollercoasters at Gröna Lund theme park or even pick a bouquet of flowers from Rosendals Trädgård. History buffs will enjoy learning about the stunningly salvaged ship at the Vasa Museum and music lovers can get their “Mamma Mia” on with virtual karaoke at ABBA The Museum (yes, really!).
ABBA The Museum, Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 812 132 860, [email protected], www.abbathemuseum.com
Fotografiska, Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45 Stockholm, +46 (0)8 50 900 500, [email protected], www.fotografiska.com
Gröna Lund, Lilla Allmänna Gränd 9, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 010 708 91 00, [email protected], www.gronalund.com
Rosendals Trädgård, Rosendalsterrassen 12, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 08 545 812 70, [email protected], www.rosendalstradgard.se
Skansen, Djurgårdsslätten 49 51, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 8 442 82 00, [email protected], www.skansen.se
Vasa Museum, Galärvarvsvägen 14, Djurgården, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 8 519 548 80, [email protected], www.vasamuseet.se
Scandi street style is admired all over the world, so it’s no surprise that Stockholm has become a shopping mecca for highstreet and designer brands alike. Wander through the city centre to shop Swedish high street powerhouses such as H&M, Arket and & Other Stories, or to pick up designer labels at Acne Studios and NK (the dreamiest luxury department store). With a strong reputation for sustainability, it’s also unsurprising that Stockholm boasts a thriving second-hand scene. Pootle over to Emmaus and Lisa Larsson in Södermalm if you want to find a unique, vintage piece to take home with you.
NK, Hamngatan 18-20, 111 47 Stockholm, +46 8 762 80 00, www.nk.se/stockholm
In summer, take a trip to Tyresta National Park, just a 20-minute drive south of the city. Pack a lunch and set up camp around one of the many outdoor BBQ stations before taking a dip in the lake or setting off on a hike. The six-kilometre trail takes approximately two hours – it requires some steep inclines but it’s utterly worth the workout for flawless views across the vista from the top.
In winter, head to local slopes Hammerbybacken or Flottsbro for skiing and snowboarding. No need to pack your poles, both venues offer full equipment hire for the day (although advanced booking is recommended).
The archipelago is made up of thousands of islands, with roughly 200 inhabited during the summer months. From Stockholm, it’s possible to reach the islands by car, bus or (more obviously) by boat.
We’d suggest a day trip to nearby Vaxholm where you’ll discover dainty seaside streets dotted with traditional Falu red houses that feel straight from a storybook. Pop over to the 16th Century Fortress for a historic tour (casual) then wander round to the other side of the island for a decadent lunch overlooking the water at Vaxholms Hembygdsgårds Café. Hire kayaks for the afternoon or simply spend your time lusting over Scandi homewares at shop Magasinet. Whatever you do, be sure to pick up two scoops of stracciatella from Glass på hörnet before you go!
Although you won’t be paddling in the sea during the sub-zero months, you can still see the archipelago by boat all through winter. We’d suggest the Stockholm Winter Tour with Stromma for a cosy experience onboard along with stunning sights of the city and the little island of Fjäderholmarna (“feather island”).
Magasinet, Fiskaregatan 1, Vaxholm, Sweden, +46 08 541 305 05, [email protected], magasinetwaxholm.se
Vaxholms Hembygdsgårds Café, Trädgårdsgatan 19, Vaxholm, Sweden, [email protected], www.facebook.com/vaxholmshembygdsgardscafe
Vaxholms Kanotsällskap (Kayak Rental), +46 8 541 320 31, [email protected], www.vaxholmkanot.se
- Regardless of when you’re visiting, a sturdy pair of walking boots should definitely make their way into your case. Despite balmy summers, temperatures can plummet to around -15 celcius in winter, so be sure to bring a down jacket if you’re planning a winter escape. Follow Victoria Törnegren or Carolina Storm for lust-worthy Scandi-style inspiration.
- Learn a few simple phrases to fit in with the Swedish natives: “Hej hej!” (sounds like hay hay) is to say hello. “Hej då” (sounds like hay door) is goodbye. To say yes, use “ja” (say it like yah) and “nej” (rhymes with hay) for no. Thank you is simply, “Tack!”.
- The currency in Sweden is the Swedish Kronor, and 100kr is roughly HK$82. You might want to withdraw some cash but many shops, bars and restaurants in Stockholm are cash free, so make sure you bring a card with low international fees!
- Swedish national holidays are treasured dearly and enjoyed by most Swedish people. If you plan to visit in summer, be aware that businesses (including shops and restaurants) will shut for Midsommar celebrations in June. There is then a 4 to 6 week holiday period in July and August where many corporate and independent businesses will close for the summer. Likewise, many establishments will shut their doors from December 23rd until December 27th.
- Sweden employs “allemansrätten”: the Swedish right to roam. This means that you are welcome to explore all of the natural landscapes across the country and can even camp overnight in any of the forests or National Parks. Freedom to enjoy the great outdoors is fully allowed, providing that you respect nature and don’t leave a trace.