If all you know of Sweden is that it’s home to tasty meatballs and the Muppet’s favorite chef–never fear! I’m here to give you the skinny on all things related to the country’s capital, Stockholm.
Upon arrival, the first thing you’ll notice about the city is that it’s stunning. Although it’s the largest city in Scandinavia, Stockholm’s natural beauty has been expertly preserved, but also houses a vibrant urban scene.
Currency: Stockholm’s currency is the krona. If you’re taking a trip around Europe, you will need krona in place of dollars. However, most places accept credit cards. That being said, Stockholm was pricey during our visit. Make sure you plan accordingly so you don’t find yourself kronor-less trying to thumb a ride home via a small boat.
Language: The beautiful blue-eyed Swedes speak Swedish. But during our travels, we found that nearly everyone we met also spoke English well (which makes me think that I should get to work learning Swedish…).
Public Transportation: Stockholm is extremely walkable, but for the times when you’re in a hurry or don’t want to be late, you have ample public transportation options. Many locals take the underground, but there are additional buses, trams, and commuter trains available as well. Travelers can purchase and load a card to use all types of transportation, as well as buy prepaid 1, 3, or 7 day cards that allow unlimited access to the city’s public transit.
Nightlife: Drinks out on the town will cost you a pretty penny, but if you want to get down with your bad self, head out for a night of Swedish debauchery. Stureplan is where you’ll find packed clubs and pricey cocktails, Södermalm offers a more eclectic scene with nontraditional music and kitschy bars, and if you head to Gamla Stan you’ll be greeted by bars that are more low key than its techno-blasting alternatives. Looking for Stockholm’s LGBT bars? The city is extremely liberal and you’ll find vibrant rainbow flags flying around town. That being said, there’s no specific gay neighborhood, essentially because the LGBT community is welcomed everywhere. However, you will find a decent number of gay bars and clubs in Södermalm and Gamla Stan (and if you find yourself in Stockholm at the end of July or early August, you’ll be witness to the largest pride festival in Scandinavia).
Djugården: We spent the better part of a day exploring the scenic grounds of Djurgården. Massive stretches of flower beds, walking trails, and sweeping views of the Baltic Sea make this destination the perfect place for a picnic, photo shoot, or just a place to stop to smell the…tulips. In addition to residential areas and yacht harbors, Djurgården is home to the majority of Stockholm’s museums and attractions.
Vasa Museum: Due to the city’s location, it should come as no surprise that Stockholm has a rich maritime history. At this particular musueum, you’ll find the epic warship, Vasa, which sank on its first voyage. Dating back to 1628, the ship has been beautifully restored from the depths of the sea, and it’s the only ship from the 17th century that has been so fully salvaged.
Gamla Stan: Cobblestone streets, buildings from the 1700’s, and charming squares lined with restaurants. Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s Old Town. If you find yourself in the heart of the city, you’ll have access to the Royal Palace, Nobel Museum, and the awe-inspiring Riddarholm church. Don’t be alarmed by horse drawn carriages, they’re for the tourists (not that you’ve ever dream of being outed as one).
Ice Bar: You’ll need a jacket anytime of year in Stockholm, as the Baltic Sea never gives its visitors a warm welcome. But you’ll need a full-on hooded parka when you visit Stockholm’s Ice Bar. Luckily, they’re provided at the door. Step into the -7 degree room and sip on tasty vodka-based cocktails before sitting on furniture made entirely of ice.
ABBA Museum: Yes, this is exactly what is sounds like. An entire museum devoted to the Swedish supergroup. This attraction isn’t for the faint of heart, but it will have even the most jaded in your group tapping their toes.
Archipelago Boat Tour: Locals are happy to let visitors know about how beautiful Stockholm’s archipelago is, but don’t take their word for it. Experience the splendor of Sweden for yourself by taking a boat tour. A local will tote you around for roughly three hours (which won’t even be enough time, trust me) and show you all that rural life in Sweden has to offer.
SaluHall: From 9:30am-6:00p.m. you can gape open-mouthed at fresh fruits, succulent smoked fish, and pastries you’ll dream of for years to come. This indoor market boasts local vendors and restaurants, making it the perfect place for a smorgasbord of your own creation.
Gröna Lund: For the members of your party who want to scream after the ABBA Museum, mosey over to Gröna Lund. This captivating amusement park offers thrills for people of all ages, as well as remarkable views of the sea.
Swedish Meatballs: There’s more to meatballs than Ikea! This traditional Swedish dish will make your mouth water. Typically served with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, it offers a balance of savory and sweet flavors that will keep you coming back for more.
Princess cake: A dessert fit for royalty. You’ll be hard pressed to find an adequate rendition back in the States, so stock up while you can (and find a way to ship me some while you’re at it). Green fondant topped with a pink sugar rose makes this treat jump out amongst bakery displays. Made of layers of moist sponge cake, vanilla custard, and jam (usually raspberry), this cake was named for the Princesses Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid who adored its sugary escape.
Shrimp salad: Served on its own or atop crisp toast, shrimp salad is a Swedish staple. Tiny, fresh shrimp, mayo, dill, and an assortment of other spices comprise this simple seafood snack.
Cinnamon buns: In Sweden, people excuse wolfing down pastries with their coffee because they have a term for it, which makes it civilized. “Fika” is a daily tradition, and what better way to pay respects than with a fresh cinnamon bun. In fact, Swedes love their cinnamon rolls so much that they devote an entire day to them. Ditch your Cinnabon and find your way to Stockholm on October 4th to see what all the delicious fuss is about.
Banana curry pizza: Yes, it sounds cringeworthy. The banana curry pizza deserves an open mind though. Think of an American Hawaiian pizza, pineapple and ham doesn’t sounds too appealing at first, either. Test run your taste buds and chomp down on this classic Swedish pizza, which traditionally features curried bananas and bits of smoked ham.
Have you ever traveled to Stockholm?