TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE

Zoe Macfarlane, Travel & Wellness Writer

26 November 2018

Want to experience the ultimate Stockholm travel guide? Girls Love Traveler Zoe Macfarlane jams the most alluring of Sweden’s capital in two days in her Stockholm travel guide. 

Stockholm is so much more than the syndrome – though it is captivating. Black spires peak atop mustard and maroon rooftops. Preserved palaces, Gothic churches, and refined museums command your time. Kayaks zip through the city centre in water so clean you could ask them to fill your bottle en-route.

From every vantage point Stockholm demands attention, your camera striving (and failing) to capture the city’s graceful architecture. A prominent Baltic trade route, it grew from one small island in the 13th century (now Gamla Stan) to the sprawling-yet-stylish metropolis that now covers 14.

DAY ONE

MEDIEVAL WANDERINGS

Considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the world, the cloistered island of Gamla Stan is the perfect introduction to the unofficial capital of Scandinavia. The quaint slew of streets and higgledy-piggedly nature of the old town’s buildings charm from first sight. It’s a fairytale village in the middle of the city center.

If you’re travelling in summer, aim for an early start to explore the streets, moving on to the nearby Royal Palace or Parliament building once the tour-bus crowds arrive.

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

If you’re any kind of foodie, you’re about to get your taste buds tantalised with a wide range of cuisine options. No trip to IKEA’s motherland is complete though without a plate of köttbuller (meatballs). Riche makes for a far more sumptuous feast than budget IKEA. Riche is close to Gamla Stan, making it the perfect ‘day one’ replenishment stop.

ROCK THE BOAT

After the hearty fare of Sweden’s most cherished meal, walk (or waddle) the short distance to the harbour. No Stockholm travel guide should omit exploring the surrounding archipelago by boat.

Seasonality will determine how far you can reach into the summer playground of Stockholm’s elite. But, even in the depths of winter, a daily schedule gets you at least to Nacka’s nature reserve. After a walk, the affordable sauna at Hellasgården provides a just reward for your efforts.   

Incredible vantage points showcase the best of Stockholm.

Photograph by Zoe Macfarlane

FIKA TIME

Fika is hip.The latest in Swedish vernacular to reach our ears, it means to ‘have coffee’. Although sugary pastries, delectable tarts, and cream-filled cakes are also the reality for an afternoon pep up. It’s practically tourism law for any Stockholm travel guide to include at least one stop encouraging participation in this sticky-fingered ritual. Vete-katten is the perfect fika introduction and caters to the gluten intolerant too.

SHOP TILL YOU DROTT

Shopping in Stockholm is more than just popping into the H&M that seems to be on every corner. Drottninggaten is the main pedestrianised shopping area where you’ll find the country’s key retailers. For on-trend Scandi fashion, check out the cool stores in Södermalm or head to the swanky boutiques of Östermalm.

TAK IN THE VIEW

Given that the city’s best vistas are taken from on high, Stockholm’s latest bar and restaurant offering is a must. Tak offers modern Scandinavian meals with a Japanese twist, but it’s the 360° panorama that entices. Book ahead as this is a trendy hotspot for locals and visitors alike.  

From every vantage point Stockholm demands attention, your camera striving (and failing) to capture the city’s graceful architecture.”

DAY TWO

VIKING HISTORY

The Vasa Museum is considered one of the country’s most significant treasures. Here the 17th century Vasa warship stands 95% intact. The 10 exhibitions are homed in the architecturally admired building, with three masts a beacon across the landscape.

If you’re more into pop culture, the interactive ABBA Museum is close to Vasa. Perfect if you need to split your group by interest. Explore memorabilia and outlandish costumes from Sweden’s most famous musical export.

FOOD (HALL) FOR THOUGHT

Ostermalm’s Saluhall is considered one of the world’s top food halls, with a range of Swedish delicacies on offer. Check out Nybroe Smørrebrød for a Swedish sandwich-style lunch. Alternatively Melanders has traditional fish dishes or visit Tysta Mari for their fabulous gateaux.

Stunning Stockholm sunsets.

Photograph by Zoe Macfarlane

UNDERGROUND INGENUITY

Stockholm has elevated art from the museum to the masses – and all you need to explore it is one subway ticket. There are 100 subways stations in Stockholm and a whopping 90% of them have some form of art.

Dedicate an afternoon to exploring the world’s largest art exhibition. Alternatively, ticker your time out throughout your stay as you navigate the stations. For the definitive guide, in summer there is a free subway tour three times a week.

 

EUROPE’S GREEN CAPITAL

Stockholm is approximately one-third urban, water and green spaces. Therefore a Stockholm travel guide would not be complete without some time spent in nature. Families looking for an outdoor space for young ones should check out Skansen. The Scandinavian animals and houses on offer at this outdoor museum educate and excite.

For those looking for more solitude, take a 15-minute subway ride to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Skogskyrkogården. Woodhill Cemetery blends sacred chapels with nature atop a pine ridge. It’s aimed at celebrating life and relieving grief in a more curated, calming approach.

 

It’s a lightning 48 hours in Stockholm, covering the tip of the vibrancy iceberg, but it forms a fantastic introduction to the city’s charm. Consider these two days a gateway to the region’s riches and catalyst for future travels to Sweden. You will be back!

What would be the first thing you would do in Stockholm?

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