If you head to Sweden, Stockholm will inevitably be on the list. It’s the London of Sweden except that it is a little less hectic. Stockholm is one of those cities that appeals to just about every type of traveler. Culture enthusiasts have a slew of museums to choose from while foodies can indulge in traditional cuisine with a modern twist at every meal. While Stockholm has somewhat of a bad reputation when it comes to the exchange rate, it’s still a destination that I highly recommend adding to your wanderlust list.
Take a Boat to Vaxholm, a Main Archipelago Hub
Sure, there are plenty of other things to see and do in Stockholm but some of my favorite moments actually happened on the humble island of Vaxholm. Based on what my guide explained, Vaxholm is to Stockholmers what The Hamptons are to New Yorkers, except a little more “down to earth.”
While in the archipelago, I sampled local cheeses from Ostmakeriet including one infused with juniper and another with schnapps from the island of Möja. Besides the typical Swedish architecture you find in Vaxholm, many artists and musicians settle here because it’s so quiet and peaceful. I opted to spend a night in town at a local bed and breakfast and it was really comforting to feel like I had a home away from home. Many people commute between Stockholm and Vaxholm and boats depart daily.
Looking for more Stockholm fun? Visit The Vasa Museum to see a larger-than-life ship, feast your eyes on Sweden’s best design brands in Östermalm or stroll through Gamla Stan in the early mornings to feel like you’ve time traveled.
Meander Through Södermalm to Shop & People Watch
I’m a neighborhood-obsessed traveler, so Södermalm quickly became my favorite artistic hub in Stockholm. Technically, Södermalm is an island (roughly translates to south isle) and within this island there are a few different areas. The most hipster-centric is SoFo, which is essentially a bohemian’s paradise. Short for “south of Folkungagatan,” this is where trendsetters go to eat, shop and gossip. The main activity takes place near Nytorget Square so that’s a good starting point.
SoFo is filled with shops selling everything from vintage jewelry and second-hand housewares to records and random knick knacks and it deserves a few hours if you can spare. Tjallamalla (Bondegatan 46), Kinglily (Södermannagatan 11) and Aplace (Brunogallerian) are great examples of how Stockholmers like to dress.
Taste Organic Food at Rosendals Trädgård (Rosendal’s Garden)
This was easily my favorite spot in Stockholm and I almost gave up trying to find it. For those of you who are less directionally challenged than me, just head to Djurgården, which is another island in Stockholm and one primarily comprised of parkland and museums. At first glance, Rosendals Trädgård might look like a spacious patch of grass but there’s a lot going on here. Firstly, this is a popular locale for family picnics and scenic walks around the grounds.
There is also a cafe selling fresh local produce food from local vendors, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. In fact, you could stop by everyday of your trip if you wanted to because there’s a new dish served daily. If you’re in town for awhile, why not buy one of the plants and start a garden of your own? Bike rentals are also available at the tourist information center.
Brush up on Alcohol History at the Spirits Museum
Also located on Djurgården is the Spirits Museum, which also happens to have a lovely view of the water. Unlike huge museums that can seem overwhelming, the Spirits Museum will probably only take you an hour, maybe two if you’re really interested in the exhibit. Right now the exhibit is “Sweden: Spirits of a Nation” but while I was in town I caught the end of the “Art Pop” exhibit that showcased how music and alcohol are often intertwined.
Through a series of interactive installations and a collection of vinyl record cover art, I traveled through music history from the mid-1950s through today. Anyone interested in music and art should definitely squeeze this into their itinerary. Wine enthusiasts will appreciate their variety of tastings, including “flavors of Sweden,” Swedish whiskey,” and “flavor your own snaps.”
Gallery Hop for Arts & Craftsmanship in Mariatorget
The Mariatorget are of Södermalm has a lot to offer cultural travelers. The area is somewhat hilly and if you walk on the street closest to the water (Söder Mälarstrand) you’ll have a spectacular and elevated view of the city. There’s even a little walking path there offering a few different views of the city skyline.
This area is also quite picturesque in terms of architecture and many locals artists choose this upscale neighborhood to showcase their best work. Kaolin (ceramics) and The Glassery (glass) are both located along Hornsgatan. In between popping in and out of the craft stores, reserve a few minutes to yourself. Either take a breather on one of the benches shown below or dip into one of the local coffee shops. I also saw lots of families here so I’m guessing this is a coveted place to live.
This trip was hosted by the Visit Sweden and Visit Stockholm. All opinions are my own.