I adore Stockholm – the fairytale spires, the great design, the Swedish comfort food and fika culture, and all those stylish Swedes! It’s the perfect city break for a long weekend (3-4 days is ideal), and one that’s so accessible and easy to do in style.
I’m lucky to have spent several such long weekends in the city, and have been introduced to some of the city’s hidden gems by my Swedish boyfriend – so I thought it was about time I compiled a curated list of the best places to stay, dine, drink, brunch and explore, in each of Stockholm’s neighbourhoods.
Consider this a pocket guide to Sweden’s capital, with everything you need to know for a suitably stylish and indulgent trip.
Things to note before you go:
- Stockholm is almost cashless – so expect to pay for everything by card, and don’t bother visiting the bureau de change before you go.
- Check the weather – Stockholm’s winter is bitter, and the summer is still quite mild.
- The menus in Sweden’s bars and restaurants do carry quite high price tags (service staff are well paid in Sweden, so prices in restaurants and bars are high – you’ll struggle to find a decent main course for less than £25; cocktails are around £15) – just FYI.
- There’s not a culture of tipping in Sweden, so don’t feel the need to pay any more than the bill asks for (this helps to offset the high prices, at least!).
- Swedes speak amazing English – thankfully! – making this an easy city to visit.
- It’s super easy to get from the airport to the city centre by train (20 mins) or bus (45 mins).
Just a single recommendation for where to stay – because it’s just so good, and amazingly affordable:
Miss Clara by Nobis
A beautiful Art Nouveau building (formerly Stockholm’s largest girls school) that has been impeccably furnished (it’s a member of Design Hotels), Miss Clara was pretty much my dream hotel. Hardwood floors, huge windows, Byredo bath products, a sauna and fitness room, a brilliant bar and restaurant on site, the comfiest bed, and every little touch perfectly designed and curated. And at ~£130/night, it was amazingly affordable.
BEST RESTAURANTS FOR DINNER
As I mentioned, eating out in Stockholm can be pricey – but I’ve curated a list of restaurants with a broad price range, so you can go fancy or casual, as you wish.
This waterside spot is well-known – for good reason. Oaxen has two restaurants – Slip (more affordable and casual) and Krug (higher end, with prices to match) – and Oaxen Slip is definitely my choice. The most beautiful setting by the water, with a myriad of boats suspended from the ceiling, and delicious sharing plates.
This bustling cosy restaurant serves exceptional wine, delicious gratinée oysters, and impeccable pork belly with roasted garlic mash – and it’s surprisingly reasonably priced for Sweden!
A meat-focused restaurant housed in a former silver factory – hence the name: Ag is the chemical symbol for silver (here, it’s pronounced like “Aga”, the posh range cooker – which incidentally was invented in Sweden!). The interior is stunning, with lots of clean white tiling and perfectly worn leather. Although slightly pricey, the ingredients and meat here are top quality, locally produced and seasonal (game in winter, lamb in spring, etc), tenderized on site in a large fridge that can be inspected as you take your seats. Ideal for special occasions and carnivores.
Casual and tiny, RACAMACA serves tapas-style small plates on a trendy street in Söder. Expect closely-packed sharing tables and a buzzing vibe, and some excellent charcuterie and cheese platters (the burnt manchego with fig jam and almonds is not to be missed). Dishes are around £6 each – though you’ll want to order several – so it’s one of the more affordable dining options.
This place is tiny, but it’s also *the place* to come if you’re after: 1. No-frills pizza, 2. Great red wine, and beer (from their sister brewery & pizzeria, Omnipollos Hatt on Södermalm), and 3. To pay less than £20 per person to eat out (no mean feat in Stockholm!).
Knut serves up no-frills Norrland-style cuisine – think reindeer carpaccio, slow-cooked elk with juniper berry gravy, and lingonberry sorbet for dessert. The interior is traditionally rustic, with lots of wood and natural elements, bringing the wilderness of Northern Sweden to central Stockholm. For such a great experience, it’s surprisingly affordable.
BEST RESTAURANTS FOR BRUNCH
If you’re also staying at this hotel, then brunching here is the ultimate convenient luxury! Miss Clara’s dining room is beautiful, with Lee Broom’s pendant lights fashioned from crystal decanters, lots of greenery and dark leather. The coffee is strong, the Elvis pancakes come with a generous serving of peanut butter and the service is swift! The weekday breakfast is fab too, with a well-stocked self-service buffet with everything from mini cinnamon buns to DIY waffles to smoked salmon and caviar!
Pom & Flora
This is one of Stockholm’s most well-loved breakfast spots, combining a cute interior with fab dishes – from milky Scandi-style porridge (gröt) to yoghurt bowls to banana bread with peanut butter. There are thankfully two locations, north and south – this spot’s not to be missed.
Nybrogatan 38 (named simply with the street address) is great for a little daytime luxury. Although open all day, I particularly love this spot for breakfast or lunch… The omelettes are simply flawless – or, for something more Swedish, check out the daily changing special (or “Dagens Anrättning”) for everything from elk stew to salmon with dill.
BEST CAFES FOR FIKA
Fika is a concept; a state of mind; an attitude – and an important part of Swedish culture. In fact many Swedes consider it imperative to make time for fika every day! This means taking the time with friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something sweet to eat. It’s a ritual, and it cannot be experienced by yourself, but is about taking time to pause during your day and socialise.
It’s an idea that I am fully onboard with – so here’s my shortlist of the best spots in Stockholm for a fika…
The “ghost” cafe is cute and cosy, with lots of students on laptops, millennial pink tiling and wonderfully high ceilings. The coffee is expertly crafted, and the fika options are plentiful – try the Kladdkaka (gooey chocolate cake) or a cinnamon bun, and grab a bag of Swedish coffee beans to take home.
After much research, taste testing and deliberation (!), I can confirm that this little traditional bakery on Söder does the best kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) in Stockholm. Soft, sweet and spicy, they’re perfect when combined with a bottomless cup of filter coffee. There are also cardamom buns on offer, or large sharing pastries to take home.
Instagram | Södermalm
After a visit to Stockholm’s super photogenic Public Library, walk three minutes to Cafe Pascal for a fika. Expect cosy interiors, lots of students on laptops and excellent third wave coffee.
Londoners will no doubt be familiar with Petersham Nurseries – and Rosendals Trädgård is Stockholm’s version: tea and cake served in a greenhouse, in the grounds of a garden and plant nursery, with a home and garden shop onsite. Check the website before visiting, as it’s not open during the winter – best enjoyed on a mild summer’s day, anyway.
You will see a Fabrique every few minutes – they’re everywhere! (And in fact they’ve even come to London now.) But their cinnamon buns are reliably awesome, and the cafes are always cute and cosy.
Coffee in Sweden can be of the black-as-tar variety – but at Drop (and the other hipster cafes), it’s a little lighter – more “Third Wave”. A cute, airy space in trendy Södermalm – grab a bag of beans as a Stockholm souvenir; these guys are good and well-renowned.
Located in the oldest industrial building in Stockholm, this beautiful space used to be a bakery that made bread for the military – but now it’s a popular spot for fika instagrammers… Oh how things change!
Stockholm’s best speakeasy-style bar, if you ask me – all cosy and candlelit, with some of the stiffest drinks in the city! The team really know their stuff, and can talk you through every drink.
Another excellent cocktail spot, located right on the main tourist square in Gamla Stan – yet I’ve never had a problem getting a table here. Where Erlands is traditional and no-nonsense, Pharmarium is a little more gimmicky – more unusual ingredients, and drinks served with a flourish – but the cocktails are still spot-on.
I realise I’ve recommended Miss Clara for each of the Stay, Brunch and Drink categories – but it really is fabulous in every sense – including the bar. Find a cosy corner or squishy sofa to curl up with a glass of red – safe in the knowledge that you only need to stumble upstairs to bed (or downstairs to the sauna!).
If cocktails aren’t your thing, then head for Mikkeller for a wide variety of craft beers (+ bar food) instead. (There’s also a Mikkeller running club – a good way to see the city, then finish with a drink!)
THINGS TO DO
Stockholm’s Tunnelbana (subway system) is not only pretty efficient, it’s like an underground art gallery! Some of the stations are absolutely beautiful, and touring them was one of my favourite things to do. Thankfully the Tunnelbana is nowhere near as busy as the London Underground, so you can actually take some pretty great photos! These are the stops you should get off at to see the coolest artworks:
T-Centralen | Map
Being the central station, this one’s easily accessible – but the large-scale blue and white mural is still super impressive.
Stadion | Map
This station makes me so happy, with all its rainbows and uplifting motifs! The photo possibilities are endless.
Tekniska Högskolan | Map
This is the station closest to Stockholm’s technical university, KTH – and the decor in the station reflects its scientific roots!
Thorildsplan | Map
A little further out of town (but possibly en route if you’re heading out to the archipelago), Thorildsplan is like a scene from Super Mario – all smiling clouds and mushrooms!
Odenplan | Map
This is a big station, and the awesome heartbeat-inspired neon squiggles may take a bit of searching for (I believe they’re near the commuter trains…) but they’re well worth the effort.
Brunkeberg Tunnel | Map
Photographers will enjoy this photogenic tunnel that carves a straight and convenient path through the middle of a hill in the city!
Stockholm Public Library | Map
City libraries are often absolute hidden gems – from New York to Boston to Stockholm, I’ve been surprised and delighted by what lay inside a nondescript building. Free to enter, and open to the public, it’s perfect for warming up during the winter – and close to fab fika spot Cafe Pascal.
Fotografiska | Website
House in a striking building by the water, Fotografiska is Stockholm’s home of contemporary photography. The gallery houses regularly-changing exhibitions, plus a shop and award-winning restaurant – and the view from the top floor café is one of Stockholm’s best.
Take a tour of Stockholm’s old town – winding cobbled streets, a palace and the history of the Stockholm Bloodbath…
ABBA The Museum | Website
Expect costumes, gold discs, memorabilia and more at this contemporary, interactive museum that will have you singing and dancing along to the hits of Sweden’s greatest pop band.
Shop like a stylish Swede
My favourite Stockholm spots for shopping:
- Grandpa (locations in Norrmalm and Söder) for mens & womens fashion and accessories
- NK department store – for fashion brands like Samsøe & Samsøe and Ganni (these two are both actually Danish)
- Granit for simple, stylish homewares
- Designtorget for Scandi-designed souvenirs, homewares and gifts
- Drottninggatan and Götgatan are good streets for high street shopping.
Kungsträdgården cherry blossoms | Map
If you time it right, you may be lucky enough to be in Stockholm while the cherry trees on Kungsträdgården are in bloom – though exactly when they’ll bloom is hard to predict (late spring – usually sometime in April/May).
Let me know what you get up to in Stockholm – or if you know of any Stockholm hotspots that I missed… Have a great trip!
Jag hoppas du har en underbar tid!
Cover image @moumita.paul_