I've had the good fortune to travel quite a bit in 2016, so this is the first in an ongoing series of travel guides I will be posting over the coming months.
I took a rather spontaneous trip to Stockholm in March of this year with a close friend. I've always had an appreciation for the minimalism of Swedish design, so I saw the trip as part vacation, part inspiration sourcing for my spring/summer stationery line. While I only spent a week there, it was enough to solidify a desire to return and continue exploring the city's wealth of creative and cultural outlets.
I fell in love with the Stockholm for too many reasons to count, but I think it is suffice to say that the list of recommendations below helps explain why.
FOOD & DRINK
- Café Saturnus: Sporting the largest kannelbullar, or cinnamon rolls, in Stockholm, this cozy, slightly eclectic French café is a must stop if you are in Östermalm.
- Fabrique: It became a morning ritual to grab a fika (coffee) and bun here. I tried the cinnamon, cardamom, and saffron rolls and all were delicious. Multiple locations across Stockholm.
- Blå Dörren: We were told by the doorman of a neighboring bar that this cozy Swedish restaurant was his go-to. The game Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes were divine. Also, prices are incredibly reasonable. Located in Södermalm.
- Hälsocafét: A modern and minimal café serving up fresh juices and an all vegetarian menu for the win. Located in Södermalm.
- Hermans: I had never been to a vegetarian buffet before visiting Stockholm and while I was there I couldn't get enough of them. This one is by far the best. Note that lunch is less expensive than dinner and make sure you sit on the patio for an amazing view of the city. Located in Södermalm.
- Chutney: A delicious, low-key, reasonably-priced vegetarian restaurant in Södermalm.
- Pelikan: Worth the visit because of three things: Herring, aquavit (flavored spirit, like vodka), and the stunning interior. A little spendy but well worth it. Located in Södermalm.
- Stadshuset: A city hall is kind of the last place one might visit while traveling, but I was so impressed with this architectural wonder that hosts the Nobel Prize reception. Easily one of the highlights of my trip. Ticket includes a tour, the timing of which changes depending on the day and season. Located in Kungsholmen.
- Fotografiska: A beautiful building with rotating exhibitions solely celebrating photography. After you peruse the museum, I'd highly recommend grabbing a drink in the rooftop bar, which overlooks the city from the northern bank of Södermalm.
- Moderna Museet: An amazing collection of modern and contemporary art. And it's free! Win-win. Located in Skepps-Holmen.
- Skansen: An open air museum that has original buildings from all eras of Swedish history dating as far back as the 1300's. Ignore the run-down zoo and focus on the living history, which feels like traveling through time. Located on Djurgarden.
- Grandpa: His + hers clothing, accessories, and home goods with a focus on Swedish designers. Multiple locations.
- Hasbeens: The go-to spot for Swedish clogs. Multiple locations.
- House of Rym: I'm smitten with this Swedish designer, especially her textiles and porcelain cups. Södermalm.
- Sandqvist: Like Herschel, but better: High quality, minimally-designed bags made in Sweden. Södermalm.
- Designtorget: If you're looking for an all-in-one place for goods made by Swedish designers, look no further. Södermalm.
- Norrgavel: The epitome of Swedish interior design. I wanted to live there. Östermalm.
- E. Torndahl: Another great collection of Swedish and Scandinavian designers. Gamla Stan.
- Herr Judit: Eclectic vintage shop. Södermalm.
- Södermalm: I stayed in the hip area of Södermalm, which is just south of the old town, Gamla Stan. I can't recommend the area enough for its abundance of amazing restaurants, lively atmosphere, and independent boutiques. There is a reason many of many recommendations are from here. It's easy to reach by public transportation and if you're in Stockholm for a week, I would suggest buying an unlimited metro pass.
- Gamla Stan: The old town is beautiful but overrun with tourists. I wouldn't spend more than an afternoon exploring the narrow alleyways and gawking at the historic architecture before heading off the island for more interesting and less expensive places to eat.
- Vaxholm: We took a day trip by boat to this island in the archipelago. I spent hours wandering around this quaint village, stopping for lunch at an excellent cafe at the roundabout called Kobben. If there is anything I regret about my trip, it's that I didn't explore the archipelago enough (there are an estimated 20,000 islands around Stockholm). It was hard given the time of year, as summer is when most Swedes head to their idyllic island cottages.
City guides by Green Kitchen Stories (a Stockholm native) and Oh Lady Cakes, two of my favorite vegetarian food bloggers, were huge sources of inspiration for my trip. The latest edition of Drift Magazine focuses solely on Stockholm and I so wish it had been around before my trip! I also found the Visit Stockholm site particularly helpful.