A weekend in Stockholm
When I think of Scandinavia I think “winter”, so I figured early March would be a great time to visit Stockholm. Did you know that Stockholm actually stretches across fourteen different islands?! I didn’t. Lake Mälaren was partially frozen during my visit, which made the entire city really picturesque. Despite the cold, I had a wonderful time walking around and exploring. There aren’t a whole lot of ‘must-see’ tourist spots in Stockholm; it’s more-so just a great place to wander and eat! To view a map of all the places I mention below, click here.
What to see
If you only have time to wander around one area in Stockholm, this should be it. The narrow, cobblestoned walkways are lined with colourful buildings that are sure to keep you entertained for a morning. There are a whole bunch of great restaurants, cafes, and shops in this area, so just enjoy the maze-like streets without an agenda and see what you find! [Free]
This is Sweden’s largest museum of cultural history dating back to the 16th century. I particularly enjoyed the textile and folk art sections, as well as the exhibit about Sweden’s indigenous people - the Sami. The museum building itself is quite impressive, and the free audio tour will take you through all of the exhibits in about 60 minutes. However, I did feel slightly rushed (I went at the end of the day just before they closed), so I would recommend giving yourself about 90 minutes here. [140 SEK]
If you are in the Södermalm area, this church is worth a walk-by, if only just to admire it’s bright yellow paint. [Free]
Stockholm City Hall is the venue for the Nobel Prize banquet and has an impressive location right on the water. I didn’t bother going inside, but the views from here are great, especially early in the morning when the area is deserted. [Free from the outside; Guided tours available for 90-120 SEK]
Where to eat
View? Check. Adorable decor? Check. Amazing food? Check. Although this definitely isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a cheap meal, their vegetarian buffet is incredible. Part of their beautiful dining room overlooks the water, so it’s a great place for a long, leisurely lunch, and they also have a mouth-watering dessert selection. [198 SEK for the buffet]
This is one of the hotspots for weekend brunch in Stockholm - I went on Sunday just before they opened, and there was already a line. Their menu has lots of fantastic smoothie bowls, as well as the usual brunch choices. If you’re vegan or have any dietary restrictions, many of the items on their menu can be made to accommodate your needs. I had the vegan ‘nice cream’ - I absolutely loved their homemade peanut butter and wish they had it available for purchase! Just be aware that this place does not take cash. [125 SEK for breakfast and a latte]
This whole place is filled with mismatched furniture and eclectic wallhangings, which in my opinion made it a great place to sip tea while reading a book. There also seems to be some sort of breakfast buffet available, however everything was in Swedish so I wasn’t able to figure out how this worked. [29 SEK for a tea]
During my visit, semla (a traditional Swedish dessert) was in season, and several sources told me this was the place to go for baked goods. The cafe itself might not appeal to everyone, but you can still take your yummy treat to-go. [48 SEK for a dessert]
Here are a few other places that were recommended to me, but I didn’t have a chance to check them out: Tradition (classic Swedish food), Nomad (more upscale classic Swedish food), Godvindas Vegetariska Restaurang (cheaper option for a vegetarian buffet), STHLM Brunch Club, and Naturbageriet (bakery with gluten/dairy-free options).
where to stay
Although I don’t often stay in hostels anymore, alternative accommodation in Stockholm was out of my budget for this trip. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by City Hostel! They don’t allow alcohol on the premises, so the atmosphere is much calmer than typical hostels. Everything is amazingly clean too, and all the facilities appear to be quite new. If you’re on a budget but don’t want to share a room with drunk travellers in their early twenties, definitely consider City Hostel as an option. Also - see my note below about accommodation near the airport.
Tips & tricks
- One very important thing to know about Stockholm is that many places do not take cash - even some of the public toilets were card only! Unfortunately I didn’t know this beforehand, so I had already exchanged some money into Swedish krona. My recommendation would be to take a small amount of cash with you, but stick to using card as much as possible, especially if you are travelling to other places that use euros.
- Stockholm is walkable, but I would recommend planning your day out beforehand. Because there are so many islands, sometimes you might have to walk all the way around to a particular bridge - planning beforehand saves you having to double back too much!
- A lot of the public bathrooms are coed, so don’t be surprised if you see the opposite sex.
- If you’re flying with a budget airline, you’ll likely arrive into Skavsta airport which is about 100 kilometres away from the city centre. The Flybussarna is the easiest way to get to the city; it’s timed with the flight arrivals (i.e. it will wait if you’re delayed) and costs 278 SEK for roundtrip. However if you arrive late in the evening, you could also stay at Connect Hotel and take the first bus to the city the next morning. Connect Hotel offers decently priced ‘Quick Sleep’ rooms, an included breakfast, and it’s located just steps from the airport. [599 SEK/night]
Food and drink: 572 SEK
Accommodation: 1157 SEK for three nights
Attractions: 140 SEK
Transport: 323 SEK
Total: 2192 SEK