Stockholm - said to be one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. But the city is more than a pretty sight. It's a cultural hotspot with an exciting history, its restaurant and bar scene is extensive, its cool factor sky high, and its location - a stone's throw away from the world's biggest archipelago - is magical. This guide is probably our longest, partly because Elin is from Stockholm, but also because we've collaborated with our german friend and Stockholm expat (and expert) Lukas Rose. A special thanks to Luke, for his eminent and local contributions to this guide. Enjoy Stockholm.
➳ WHERE TO have dinner in stockholm
Gastrologik: One of many fine dining options in Stockholm. Gastrologik serves a modern interpretation of Nordic cuisine. A lot of their ingredients have been sourced very close by (among others from Rosendal’s Trädgård on Djurgården), and both presentation and taste impresses. But be prepared to spend a pretty penny.
Pubologi: With innovative dishes, a remade menu that is really reasonably priced (we are still talking Stockholm food prices, of course) and a quirky interior, this restaurant is a sure pick if you feel like having a nice evening in relaxed atmosphere.
Farang: The Stockholm edition of the Finland-native restaurant concept. They mix Asian dishes with Nordic influences and are definitely on the design-side when it comes to both the restaurant and the presentation of the food. It also tastes great. It is quite a big restaurant, so in case you are a big group or realize that Stockholm restaurants are notoriously fully booked, this is one to try.
Babajan: A little more remote than other restaurants, Babajan is a truly relaxed place with a huge selection of beers and a great variety of Africa-inspired dishes. They are catering to carnivores as well as vegetarians and vegans and dishes are as tasty as they are affordable.
Hjerta: The area around Skeppsholmen is not really famous for anything but its museums. But if you feel hungry after looking at the Warhols of Moderna Museet or indulging in east-asian culture at Östasiatiska, Hjerta is your place. It’s located a stone’s throw from the two museums and has a small but delicious menu. Try one of their pizzas or falafel plates, and sit outside and watch the rollercoasters of Gröna Lund across the water.
Pizza Hatt: This new pizzeria was started by three of the founders of the immensely popular clothing brand Cheap Monday. The name itself is a conversation starter, the toppings are innovative and the pizza is to-die-for. The story goes that a baker was hired from Bakery&Spice, one of Stockholm’s best bakeries, just to prepare the sourdough pizza base. It’s a small place, but they don’t take reservations so it is always worth a try.
Oaxen Slip: Djurgården is famous for its tourist attractions - and that usually means a big warning sign when it comes to restaurants of any kind. Not in this case. Oaxen Slip is the more affordable cousin of Oaxen Krog which is undoubtedly one of Stockholm’s and Sweden’s best restaurants. Housed in an old rowing-boat hall, Oaxen Slip delivers both on service and food. Definitely worth a visit if you are up for a fine dining night.
Volt: my (Lukes) personal very favorite restaurant in Stockholm. It pushed Pubologi from the throne, which is quite a thing to do. Choose a set menu at Volt and be surprised by both how attentive the service is and how very, very great the food tastes. By any standard - be it price, quality, or value-for-money, Volt is my recommendation. If you call in advance, they are also happy to accommodate for Vegans.
Pan e Vino: Pane e Vino is simply a tasty neighborhood restaurant on Zinkensdam that decided to take their food up a notch. Sit in their glasshouse during winter, or outside during summer, and enjoy one of their Italian dishes (my favorite is the Vegetarian pizza). Great food at just slightly above-average prices.
Steam: After dumpling places have been popping up everywhere in Stockholm during the past years, it seems the town has moved on. The great thing about that is that only the good places remain - and Steam is definitely one of them. If you’re on Söder around Mariatorget, try their Dumplings and a noodle soup for a cheap but tasty and filling lunch or dinner.
Adam & Albin: For a few years now, Adam & Albin has operated on a one-weekend-per-month basis. The two chefs host cooking courses and compete in chef championships (successfully) - and it shows. They serve very seasonal, very delicious food. Recently, they added a noodle-lunch to their offering. So if your a 'ramantic', put Adam and Albin’s on your list. Also, don’t forget to have a look at their bathroom while you’re there…
Gossip: Indian food can seem like colored cream accompanied by deep-fried dough in the worst cases. Not here - a simple, but tasty menu located right on the edge of Nytorget provides for a great option for whenever you feel like good indian food.
Reggev Hummus: A place that focuses on really, really good hummus. Why has no one thought of that before?
Arirang: Korean food is quite underrepresented in Stockholm when it comes to east-asian cuisine. Arirang is definitely a great pick among the available ones. If you have never had Korean food, try the Bibimbap, a rice bowl with differently prepared vegetables, meat (optional) and an egg on top. Eat it with a spoon instead of chopsticks to get instant bibimbap-expert status!
Råkultur: When it comes to serious sushi in Stockholm, there are two places that come to mind: laid-back Akki sushi on Medborgarplatsen and the more posh Råkultur. This is a place to sit down and indulge in sushi and sake. What makes this a great choice is that while fish is in focus, even vegetarians will feel they get genuinely good food, rather than ten slices of avocado sushi. Surprisingly affordable considering the quality.
Shibumi: Located in the same house (literally around the corner) as Råkultur, Shibumi has an Izakaya concept - a Japanese street-style grill. Very innovative dishes and a nice atmosphere make for a nice setting to experience a different side of Japanese food. As interesting as it is, the focus is definitely on the fish- and meat dishes -those are great though!
Akki Sushi: Akki Sushi has become a staple for getting great sushi among Stockholmers. It’s a hole in the wall right outside Medborgarplatsen metro station and looking at it, you might get second thoughts. But the long line usually assures you that you’ve come to the right place. The fish is fresh and excellent, and their veggie sushi is both innovative and good. With 2,5 seats, this place is for take-away. So on a sunny day, just buy your sushi, walk ten minutes and sit on either Mosebacke terrace or Nytorget for both sunshine and great food.
Cantina Real: Cantina Real provides a long-sought after south-american restaurant option in Stockholm. It has outdoor seating and is close to the water, a perfect summer spot. Occasionally, there are even small concerts. What makes it truly great though is the delicious food. Corn tortillas, guacamole and a variety of vegetarian and vegan options cater to the hip Hornstull crowd and anyone searching for a taste of latin america alike.
Matkonsulatet: Matkonsulatet fills the void of a place with quite some heritage. Housed in the former place of now-institution Flippin’ Burgers (and Jin and Peeters dumplings way back), Matkonsulatet serves tapas, and does that greatly! Try to get a table with a view over the water and then just indulge in hams, cheeses and other small treats. Super friendly staff, too.
➳ WHERE TO 'FIKA' [fee-kah] in stockholm
To 'fika' is Swedish custom, a kind of social coffee break where people gather to enjoy a cup of coffee/tea and a few nibbles. Fika is an important part of life in Sweden, and here are your best places to get at it.
Snickarbacken 7: Very good coffee, friendly staff and a nice (though crowded) place for lunch, too. Inside a really interesting place that is art gallery, design and clothing shop and situated in an old barn.
Tous Les Jours: A France-inspired café with cute interior design, some delicacies to shop and good coffee. It’s a small place, but great to grab a quick cup of coffee.
Mogen & Grus: Hands-down my (Lukes) favorite coffee place in Stockholm (and I tried many). Super friendly staff, extremely good coffee, and a nice store. Their selection of music in store depends on who is serving that day - sometimes it is more poppy, sometimes reggae, always fun. Perfect place to either sit down and have one of their tasty sandwiches or just take away one and go for a walk to watch people on Nytorget.
Drop Coffee: Probably Stockholm’s most famous café and roaster. They take their black coffee seriously. There’s also a special on the menu called “iskaffee tonic”. Try it - it’s surprisingly good.
Johan & Nyström: Another roaster just across Drop Coffee, but you can also get really nice tea there. Always full, and for a reason. Try their matcha latte, a green tea specialty that is brewed with milk.
Café Orion: One of the latest additions to Stockholm’s café scene. It’s small, super-well designed with very friendly staff and a great cup if you are in the Vasastan area. Not to miss!
Pom och Flora: Stockholms best breakfast deal - that’s also why it is very packed all the time. A five minute walk east of Nytorget, this corner-café serves you a full basket of breads, self-made jam, pickles, cheeses and ham or avocado, granola and a well-made coffee for an unbeatable price (in Stockholm).
➳ WHERE TO DRINK in stockholm
Brandstationen: This is simply a nice, relaxed and casual bar. Surprising how hard those can be to find in Stockholm. No door policy, good drinks and fair prices. If you are on Mariatorget, try this one.
Laika: A lot has changed in Hornstull in recent years, including Hornhuset, a new building right next to the train station. On the second floor, sandwiched between a restaurant and a sports bar, lays Laika. The interior design definitely caters to the hip Hornstull crowd. And a range of drinks and very tasty but unhealthy snacks (fried Mars, anyone?) make this a pick for the less fancy, more boozy nights. It’s also fairly big, so a great option if you come with a few friends.
Tweed: Tweed’s list of alcohol is impressive; the bar menu is almost a book. Drinks are done expertly and the bar is known for their burger! The interior design resembles an old captain’s cabin, which is tacky or charming - however you choose to interpret it. Plus, it has an open sky inner courtyard that is perfect for spending a night or evening under the open sky with a great drink in your hand.
Pharmarium: On Gamla Stan right across Nobelmuseum lays Pharmarium. Which is surprising, since its location would usually almost certainly mean that it is a tourist trap. But this bar serves classy drinks that are way more experimental than the usual ones you get. So if you feel like unusual ingredients, foams and steams in your drink, Pharmarium is the bar you should choose.
Mikkeller: The craft beer wave has hit Stockholm with full force, and Mikkeller is for sure one of the leading ones. With some 20+ beers on tap and staff that is happy to give you recommendations for whatever beer you fancy, Mikkeller is worth the detour to an otherwise less touristy part of town.
Snotty’s: Snotty Sound Bar, or Snotty’s is one of my favorites in Stockholm. It’s just one of those places that always seem to have a positive and happy mood- be it staff or people there. They people that run it are big music geeks, and the decoration (concert posters and band photos) change constantly. Plus, prices are fair, the beer selection is good and if you feel like eating something, they do that surprisingly well for a bar, too.
Nobis Guldbaren: If you want to go all-in fancy, go to Nobis Hotel’s “Guldbaren”. It’s in the inner courtyard of the hotel and has an impressive ceiling height. The drinks are craftily made, but it is definitely as much a place to see and be seen as it is a place for a great drink.
Riche: Apparently, Riche is the place where media people go. It’s also a great place for watching an occasional concert or just having a glass of wine. In the Stureplan area, Riche is one of the best picks in case you want to have a good time without all the fuzz that the rest of that part of town comes with.
Ugglan: Ugglan definitely draws a rather young crowd, which is not really understandable, given that it is a fun place to go for anyone. Go down the spiral staircase and you’ll find pingpong tables, shuffleboard and boule all in one bar. Beer and drinks are nothing spectacular there, but if you want to be entertained, Ugglan is a sure pick.
➳ WHAT TO DO AND SEE in stockholm
Rent a canalboat: Have we mentioned that Stockholm is seriously gorgeous? This 'Venice of the North' must be discovered from the sea side, otherwise you might miss its grandeur. And what better way to do it than renting a dutch canal boat, just off Djurgården, and slowly boating your way around this beautiful city. Just choose a sunny day, bring a map, some cold beer and a picnic and get ready for some quality time. If you can't rent your own boat, just hop on a Stockholm Sightseeing tour. You'll meet more tourists, but just focus on the views and you'll be fine.
Sven-Harry’s Art Museum: Situated in the otherwise quite residential Vasastan-part of Stockholm, this museum is quite unique. It is as much an art museum with varying exhibitions on modern art as it is an homage to its donor, Sven Harry. On top of the building, his actual house (which is located another part of town) has been recreated for visitors to view and look into.
Ugglan: Play shuffleboard, boule or rundpingis in a seriously relaxed environment. Ugglan is no fuzz, unpolished and fun.
Magasin 3: “Hard to find. Easy to love” is the claim of this modern art museum. It’s well-worth the tour, being Stockholm’s most avant-garde modern art museum.
A coffee tour of Södermalm: Swedes love coffee and drink a lot of it. I sometimes do a café/coffee tour through Södermalm as a Saturday thing. Walking past those cafés will give you a good impressions of the different parts of Södermalm and make for a nice little walk. Also, stop by any other café you find on the route and feel like trying out.
These are the stops:
1. Mogen & Grus, Kocksgatan
2. Drop Coffee, Wollmar Yxkullsgatan
3. BioRio’s café
A run around Djurgården: Pass by all the people that go for walks, or avoid them and do a morning run. A run around Djurgården is around 6-7km and will give you the prettiest imaginable views of the town.
Go swimming on Reimersholme/Långholmen: During summer, everyone is out in Stockholm. Go swimming with the locals, but at a less crowded place. Reimersholmen is a stone’s throw from Södermalm and has some nice grass and pretty views to offer. Neighboring it is Långholmen, a small, green island with picturesque old villas, a big old prison turned hotel/brunch place, and a few beaches and cliffs. Perfect place for a swim.
Tellus Bio: There are few cinemas with character left in Stockholm. BioRio is one of them. Tellus Bio is another. It’s not open every night for movie screening, but when it is, it is definitely worth a visit. You won’t find a more charming cinema in Stockholm, so it is so very worth the short train ride from the center of Stockholm.
Go to a free concert: There are a few places in Stockholm that feature upcoming bands - the good ones, not the, well, school band-level ones. So if you’re in the mood for music, check the websites of “Lilla Hotelbaren”, “Obaren”, “Landet” or “Cantina Real” and you might be lucky and see Mac Demarco or Angel Olson in their early days.
➳ Stockholm AREA GUIDE
SÖDERMALM (SOUTH ISLAND)
The southern island Södermalm, is relaxed, creative and trendy, especially around SoFo, Mariatorget and Hornstull. Find a myriad of vintage stores, eclectic shops, Swedish fashion, galleries and design stores, mixed with an abundance of places to eat and drink.
Mariatorget: Mariatorget is a park surrounded by a small number of calm streets, cluttered with restaurants, cafés and hip boutiques. Just like many other areas of Södermalm, Mariatorget has been gentrified in recent years, and is now one of the nicest hangouts in Stockholm. It's not that big though, and you'll walk through the main streets quite rapidly. Check out Sankt Paulsgatan, Swedenborgsgatan and the nearby streets, and don't forget to cross the busy Hornsgatan to get to some of the most picturesque streets in Stockholm, like Tavastgatan and Brännkyrkagatan. On that side, you're a stones throw away from Stockholm's most mesmerizing view. So, head out to Monteliusvägen to get your mind blown.
Hornstull: The Hornstull area, once rough and dodgy, has undergone a renaissance and is now a trendy meeting place for Stockholms hip crowd. This old-new kid on the block is a strong competitor to the more established, utterly cool, hipster area Sofo. Hornhuset, a newish shopping center and food hall of industrial design, is a popular hangout area in Hornstull, and natural starting point to explore this area. Grab a super juice at Juiceverket, head to the locals' favorit flea market Hornstulls marknad for some Sunday pulled pork, and finish off by walking around the picturesque island of Långholmen (pack your swimsuit if you're lucky with the weather).
SoFo: SoFo is the nickname of a certain part of Södermalm and stands for South of Folkungagatan. Much like the original, Manhattan's SoHo, this area is edgy, trendy and attracts vintage shops, independent designers, trendy cafés and a crowd dressed typically scandinavian; in oversized, black and minimal. Find your way to Nytorget, a square around which lots of the small gems can be found. During summer, don't miss out on the fantastic vibe on the SoHo located hill Vitabergsparken. Bring picnic and beers, and soak in the views and perfect chill out vibe. Also during summer Sundays, there's a colorful organic farmers' market along Katarina Bangata.
Kungsholmen: A nice, calm residential area that has come to life in recent years due to the construction of new, modern apartment blocks and the many newly opened restaurants. Its proximity to the water and the city center, and the wide views of Södermalm is what makes this area attractive. The waterfront promenade Norrmälarstrand is paradise on a warm summer's day. Take a dip in Mälaren and get your tan on.
Vasastan: This inner city residential area is more posh, clean cut (and boring) than Södermalm, as is most places on the North side. Still, it is many people's favorite Stockholm area due to it's endless choice of restaurant, and flawless location close to just about everything.
Gamla Stan: the old town, a place of fascinating history and gorgeous old houses that look like they could fall down any second now, used to be the most touristy place in Stockholm, with a myriad of souvenir shops and overpriced, poor quality restaurants. That hasn't changed, but lately it has turned into something more. A few fantastic restaurants and bars that you don't want to miss out on now hide in the area, and small design shops selling high quality pottery, leather work and art are waiting to be found in the narrow alleyways. Just avoid Stora Nygatan and you'll be fine.
Östermalm/Stureplan: Stockholm is a posh city with lots of posh people in it. There, I said it. We usually hang out on the contrasting South island; Södermalm, but if you're into shopping exclusive brands, drinking (or emptying?) bottles of Champagne with ridiculous price tags and dancing to Avicii until dawn with ultra dolled-up girls and ultra back-slicked boys, then Stureplan and the rest of Östermalm is your place. To be fair, Östermalm is also a beautiful residential area with jaw dropping architecture with many things to do. We especially love the magical, old food hall on Östermalmstorg.
Djurgården: This picturesque island is home to many museums, like Nordiska Museet and Skansen - the world's biggest open-air museum, huge green areas perfect for long walks and Sweden's second biggest amusement park, Gröna Lund. A visit here is bliss on a Sunday when you feel like a long aimless stroll in some fresh air. Close to Djurgården is Skeppsholmen, another picture perfect little island home to Moderna Museet and Art Schools.
➳ WHERE TO STAY in stockholm
Story Hotel: Story Hotel is one of the hottest spots of this cool city, known for its quirky design interior, unique to each room. Its bar is a popular late night hangout for hotel guests and Stockholmers alike, and also the graffiti heavy courtyard is a winner among a trend sensitive, it-crowd. Come here to experience urban chic, Swedish style in the middle of fancy Östermalm.
Ett hem: once a private residence built in 1910. This Arts and Crafts building is a tranquil home away from home, steeped in the Scandinavian aesthetics where functionality meets beauty. With twelve rooms, Ett Hem offers comfortable interiors and bedrooms full of summery whiteness of light. Outdoors, the courtyard garden is a secret city wilderness that is the perfect place for summer breakfasts or winding down in the evening over a chilled bottle of wine.
Miss Clara: reinventing Art Nouveau for modern days, Miss Clara shows off impressive design and art work in this lovingly restored 1910 building, located on one of the busiest streets in Stockholm. On street level you'll find a beautiful retro bar and Nordic restaurant, popular with hotel guests and locals alike. If you crave Scandinavian design but with an edge of soul and history, this place should be your pick.