Not just H&M’s, good looking people and start-ups, Stockholm is a modern and forward thinking city that continues to get things right.
Whether you live there or just enjoy to visit, Stockholm is how a modern city should work; its openness, creativity and emphasis on work/life balance. Nature is vital to it’s residents and it is not uncommon to find businesses closing early so employees have family and outdoors time.
How To Get There
Numerous daily flights from all over the UK head towards Arlanda, Bromma, Skavsta and Vasteras which all serve the Stockholm area. The easiest and most convenient choice is almost always Arlanda, which is the closest and best served by transport when it comes to reaching the City. Ryanair typically offer the cheapest options from around as low as £40 but flights only travel to Skavsta. For a slightly higher price but far more convenient, pick Norwegian Airlines who are the cheapest option to Arlanda and consistently voted the best for value and quality.
Once at Arlanda airport the easiest way to the centre of Stockholm is via the Arlanda Express. The station is linked directly to the arrivals lounge and the ultra-modern trains will take you directly to the centre of Stockholm in 20 minutes. Trains depart 6 times an hour, so there’s no waiting around. The Arlanda is one of the easiest and most convenient airport to location transfers in the world and makes a potentially stressful long journey that much easier. 2 people can travel for 300SEK which is around £13pp, a taxi would cost nearer £50 and take longer. It’s also worth checking the Arlanda Express website before you depart as they often advertise promotions and discounted group tickets.
Where To Stay
Made up of 14 unique islands Stockholm is not short of great hotels. While planning my trip, I was recommended the Haymarket Hotel by a Swedish colleague. Despite him never staying here (not many people had at this point) this new hotel was already the talk of the town as it was replacing a former department store. Locals were intrigued to stay and drink where they and their families had spent many hours previously shopping.
The Haymarket is the focal point of an attractive market square in the cities central Norrmalm region. A large, airy and impressive lobby welcomes guest to the luxury hotel. The hotels bar attracts the fun and beautiful people of Stockholm. If you time it right you may catch a live jazz band performing whilst enjoying a cocktail in the American Bar.
It is not only the grand design, charming lobby or quaint exterior that make this is a great hotel. The Haymarket’s central location ensure you are primed to enjoy Stockholm by foot as most of the major attractions and water taxis are only a short walk away.
Where To Eat
As in any metropolitan city international cuisine is readily available; but, for those who enjoy eating like the locals there are some stand-out options. As a general rule any seafood in Stockholm is fantastic and fresh, if you get the chance to experience ‘Husmanskost’, definitely do. Translated as ‘home-owners food’ Humanskost was comfort food for the middle-classes. The dishes were made up of anything that was easily accessible such as potatoes, root vegetables, meat and fish from the North. Anyone that has been to Sweden (or Ikea) know that meat-balls is often considered the national dish which brings me onto one of the most incredible restaurants in the Swedish Capital; Den Gyldene Freden.
Den Gyldene Freden offers traditional Swedish food in luxury 18th century surroundings. Located in the old town the restaurant exudes opulence. The medieval building where the restaurant resides is used to select the Nobel Prize for literature and legend has it many prizes have been decided at the Academy’s regular table here. Once seated in the one of the candle-lit dining rooms you can browse the extensive menu which offers incredible Nordic fare such as Baltic Herring with Swedish Cheese to start. The main course for many first time visitors will be Gyldene Fredens famous Zorns Meatballs complete with potato puree, cream sauce, pickled cucumber and lingonberries. If meatballs are not what you are after then try the cod & sweetbread with fried chanterelles, apples and dill. Eating at Den Gyldene is an essential part of a trip to Stockholm; the excellently cooked traditional Nordic food in an incredible venue make this one of the stand-outs of the trip.
For those after a spot of music whilst dining then Södra Teatern is one of Stockholm’s oldest and most legendary cultural landmarks. Located in the heart of Södermalm, one of the cities more bohemian hang-outs and somewhere you can escape tourists with a breath-taking view of the city. Visually there are few better locations in Stockholm. With almost 360 degree views of the water from its terrace, it’s the perfect spot to get the perfect Instagram shot. If you’re lucky enough to be in Stockholm on a Sunday then book yourself into the venues Jazz Brunch. This is an fun experience where you get to enjoy the venues delicious hot and cold fare whilst sipping champagne and listening to the house jazz band gently play to the room.
Finally, a local favourite and worth a visit if you intend on having a late night is Taverna Brillo. Situated within Stockholm’s fashionable Stureplan district it offers superb dining and drinking with a lively bar adjacent to the restaurant space. Come here for Italain cuisine with a Swedish twist implemented by head chef Henrik Erdmann and Tommy Myllymä. The staff are great and attentive and ensure that your glass of wine is never empty. During the day the bar area is in fact a market where you can pick up bread, charkuterie and delicacies. You will also find ready to eat dishes, salads, sandwiches, sauces, olive oils and other selected products to buy and bring home.
What To Do
Stockholm’s relaxed nature appeals to many. Unlike larger city breaks where it can feel exhausting and fast paced, Stockholm is quite the opposite. Stockholm has no list of must-sees – unlike New York, for example, where you would be expected to visit the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and so on. Stockholm offers freedom and allows its visitors to create their own memories and adventures within the city. So whether you want to explore city’s museums and galleries or want to walk the quaint streets of Gamla Stan it is entirely up to you how full on or laid back you want it to be. Here are some of the best:
Royal Djurgården; translating literally as ‘animal park’ is a national city park in the heart of Stockholm. Djurgården is home to several of Stockholm’s main museums but the Nordiska Museet is where to go if you want a colourful introduction to Scandinavian culture. It also hosts Stockholm’s zoo, home to various Nordic wildlife including moose, brown bears, elk, wolves, lynx, snowy owls and the wolverine in outdoor enclosures as well as the Vasa Museum, home to the world’s only complete 17th century ship.
Gamla Stan is the picturesque centre of the city where you will find an abundance of attractions, restaurants, cafés, bars and places to shop. The narrow winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings in different shades of gold, give Gamla Stan its unique character.If culture is your thing then there are several churches and museums here, including Sweden’s national cathedral Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. The largest of the attractions in the district is the Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in the world with over 600 rooms.
Moderna Museet has one of Europe’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art. It includes key works by Pablo Picasso, Ljubov Popova, Salvador Dalí, Meret Oppenheim, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Irving Penn, along with works by contemporary practising artists. The collection now comprises some 6,000 paintings, sculptures and installations, 25,000 watercolours, drawings and prints, 400 art videos and films, and 100,000 photographs. Swedish and Nordic art naturally have a prominent place in the collection, since Moderna Museet is the central national museum for 20th and 21st century Swedish art. Moderna Museet has the largest body of works by Öyvind Fahlström, Vera Nilsson, Siri Derkert, Dick Bengtsson and many other Swedish artists.
Words by Jack David