Following my parents’ visit to Scotland, my friend Chloe and I embarked on a week holiday to Scandinavia. Our first stop was in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. I had not been back to Sweden since I moved back to Canada in June 2016. The first time I was in Stockholm, it was in March, and I can tell you going in September was a much nicer experience! Stockholm was still beautiful and a lot of fun in March, but the weather in September was sitting around 20 degrees each day we were there. Plus when it is warm out it is more enjoyable to just walk around the city. I could spend forever in Stockholm, but it is also possible to enjoy Stockholm for just a few days and still feel like you got the full experience. Plus Stockholm is extremely expensive… so your wallet will prefer if you just spend a few days there. Stockholm is built of little islands that are all connected by bridges over the water, basically, the entire city is on the water.
Here are my recommendations on what to do in Stockholm!
My first tip of advice when visiting Stockholm is to stay in Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm. I also stayed in this area when I visited Stockholm in 2016, and it is just so beautiful and close to everything. The signature soft red, orange, and yellow buildings are all in this area. The Royal Palace and Parliament are also located in this part of the city.
FIKA. This was the first thing Chloe and I did when we arrived. Fika is a Swedish concept which consists of taking a time for a break in the day by enjoying a coffee and a treat with a friend. We opted for Kannelbulle (Swedish Cinamon Bun) at a cafe in the Gamla Stan Square for our first of many Fika’s to come over our trip.
Walk. Walk. Walk. Stockholm is such an easy city to explore, and the best way to take it in is just to walk around the different streets. Also, take a water tour of the city. Being on the water puts the size of the city into perspective, and it is so impressive to see all the different islands that comprise Stockholm. We took a boat tour one morning and it was only fifty minutes to see the entire harbour of Stockholm!
Visit a Museum and learn a little bit about Swedish history. The history of Sweden is fascinating, and chances are you won’t know much or any of it since Nordic history isn’t typically taught in North America! Except you probably know who the winners of Eurovision were in 1974… Sweden’s Pop Music claim to fame, ABBA. There are a wide variety of museums in Stockholm, depending on your interest, The Nobel Prize Museum, Nordic Museum, Art Galleries, Stockholm Muset, the list goes on and on. This trip I visited two new museums I had never been to before. The first being The ABBA Museum, which was honestly the most entertaining museum I have ever been to in my life. If you are an ABBA fan, a trip to Stockholm is worth it. From playing guitar hero while looking at a collection of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendricks, and Kiss’s guitars, to dancing and singing on a stage to Dancing Queen while other visitors cheer you on, the ABBA Museum is one of a kind.
We also visited The Vasa Museum, again this museum was incredible, and on a historical level, probably the most impressive museum I have ever stepped foot in. The Vasa Museum is all about the ship the Vasa, Sweden’s biggest battleship that sank in Stockholm’s harbour August 10th 1628, just twenty minutes into its first voyage ever. The ship was later discovered in the 1950s, and 333 years after it initially sank, archaeologists were able to bring this boat out of the water and after years of conservation, the 98% of the original ship is on display in the museum. There are no other 17th century ships on display anywhere in the world, making this museum a one of a kind experience. The amount of conservation done to this ship is beyond incredible. Artefacts from a gold ring, 15 skeletons, boots, canons, pots, sculptures, etc.
Later in the evening we also visited the Fotographiska, the Photography Museum in Stockholm, and the largest photography gallery in the world. Between Monday – Wednesday the museum is open until 23.00, and a ticket is available that you can visit the museum and then go up to the bar on the top floor, enjoy the view and have a drink! I really enjoyed the photography gallery, each exhibit was completely different. Fun Fact, Bryan Adams actually displayed a photography exhibit here in 2016!
While I was in Stockholm I was lucky enough to get to spend time with my German friend Alicia who I lived with when I studied in Lund, Sweden! Alicia was in Stockholm for work (which inspired our trip to go to Sweden) and since she has spent a significant amount of time in Sweden she knew all the best places to go! One of the neat things we did with Alicia was the Gondolen, a pedestrian bridge where you can get a fantastic view of the city.
Finally, try Swedish Meatballs. IKEA Swedish Meatballs are pretty good in comparison to the real deal, but nothing beats Swedish Meatballs in Sweden. We went to this restaurant called “Meatballs for the People.” If you are a vegetarian they had a veggie option, a chickpea meatball, or they have various types of meat you can have your meatballs made from. My German friend Alicia was with us this evening, and we tried a platter of different types of meatballs, including moose, reindeer, venison, and pork. Along with the meatballs, the meal includes mashed potatoes, lingonberries, pickled cumbers, pickled onions, and “brown sauce” a brown gravy.
Stockholm will always be one of my favourite cities, and I am certain that I will be back. Sweden will always be a special place for me, so I was so lucky to get to share that with one of my best friends, plus it was so fantastic for two of my friends to meet, one from my Swedish life and the other from my Scottish life. I will always recommend people to visit any city in Sweden, and Stockholm is a great place to start! Until, next time Stockholm ✌🏻