I’ll try to share with you some of my favourite gems in Stockholm.
Östermalms Saluhall – is the biggest and best food hall in Stockholm and I’d dare to say the best in Europe – I might be biased but I really don’t think there are any rivals that keep the standard this place keeps throughout. Here you can browse, sample and buy classic Swedish cuisine and a great selection of world wide delicatessen products. You’ll find beautiful chocolate truffles, rustic freshly baked bread, meat and poultry, game, wild daily caught fish. The most famous place is probably Lisa Elmqvist’s fish restaurant, where the menu changes daily depending on the mornings catch – this place is a must visit for lunch and the classic Swedish dish Toast Skagen is always on the menu – it’s Swedish summer on a plate! Tysta Mari is also a great place to go for lunch, they serve more rustic dishes, what we like to call Svensk Husmanskost – Swedish working mans food. Wherever you decide to eat – you won’t be disappointed, but beware this place does get busy at lunch. It might be worth trying to go there for an early lunch instead, aim for 11.30-12.00.
Vetekatten is a must see visit to understand something vitally important in Swedish culture – fika. There is no English translation for the word, it’s really a verb as it’s something we do, we meet up over a coffee and some cake and have a jolly good chat and catch up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be coffee and cake, the choices may vary. The cafe culture is I guess our answer to the English pub culture. It’s been very strong for years and still is and Vetekatten is one of the oldest cafe & bakery in Stockholm, it’s been in the same place since the opening back in 1928. The cafe has more than one entrance, but it’s important that when you go there you walk around the back and sit in the old coffee rooms, so that you too can enjoy your Swedish fika like the ladies did in the olden days. You can enjoy a delicious classic cinnemon bun or why not one of their delicious mousse cakes. Whenever a friend goes to Stockholm I tell them – do NOT miss out a fika here! Who could say no to these?
So if you’ve already been to Saluhallen for lunch, enjoyed your fika at Vetekatten, what’s next? Well, why not take a walk around the city, Stockholm is very easy on the eye, in fact I think both Mat and Chris described it as looking at a painting. So take a walk around Old Town – Gamla Stan and admire the old beautiful buildings and cobbled crooked streets, it’s also where the Royal Palace is located. You can also walk up the narrowest alleyway in Stockholm at less than a metre wide – Mårten Trotzig Gränd.
After you’ve wandered around Old Town, make your way over to the south island, Södermalm, or more commonly known as Söder. Södermalm used to be the working class area back in the days and you can still find some of the very old little wooden working class cottages, now a days very sought after properties! (more info & history here) Söder is by far mine and Mat’s favourite part of town, so it’s hard to just give you one thing to do here as it’s full of gems. My suggestion would be to walk up to Monteliusvägen, a small tree lined gravel path, which gives you a stunning view of Stockholm and the walk up there is quite interesting with the beautiful old houses and cobbled streets. This place is close to Hotell Rival in case you would be staying there. (To find the road, type it in on google maps and add Stockholm or see map picture below). Or you can choose to walk up to another beautiful viewing spot, my personal favourite spot in all of Stockholm, called Mäster Mikaels gata, if you start from Hökens gata and walk up towards the Södra Teatern, it’s the most interesting walk to take. You won’t be disappointed by the end result, or the walk there for that matter! Once you have admired the view over Stockholm harbour maybe it’s time for dinner, and from here it’s an easy walk to one of our favourite restaurants, Kvarnen. It’s on old beer hall and restaurant that has been around for over 100 years and as is custom on Söder, portions are generally bigger and better value for your money. They serve classic Swedish comfort food, like the good old SOS (sill & snaps) but also more modern interpretations of Swedish cooking, the menu changes with the seasons, but I’m sure that you will find something to please your taste buds! If you like fish and would like something simple but yet tasty and budget friendly, I would suggest to go with the summer classic Rye fried herring, with mashed potatoes, browned butter and lingonberries – a little piece of Swedish summer heaven! A little tip, I would suggest to sit in the restaurant as it’s a beautiful old building, rather than the outdoor serving restaurant that they have open during the summer months.
Mäster Mikaels gata – if you look towards the bottom left of the below map you can also see where restaurant Kvarnen is located, it’s easy to find from the viewing spot, take your first left onto Nytorgsgatan, follow it along and take your second right onto Tjärhovsgatan.
Places to stay in Stockholm
Stockholm has a lot to offer in Summer time and there are a lot of different options of where to stay and we know it can be hard to choose the right place if you’re only going by the mainstream guides. What’s great about Sweden and Stockholm is that you can stay in a hostel and they are mostly just as clean as a hotel, but only the fraction of the price. So we’ll give you options to suit every wallet.
Our favourite hostel is Två Kronor, we have stayed in the one in Vasastan area a few times, its always clean, the staff are always friendly and helpful. The building is old and beautiful. Given its a hostel, you will need to share a bathroom in the hallway and the showers are downstairs in the basement, but for the money you save its more than worth it. If you want to make the most of the city and you’re anything like us, you won’t spend much time there anyway! There are some nice cafes and restaurants in the nearby area too – you will be able to read more about this on the Stockholm Guide page. They also have a hostel in Gamla Stan.
If you fancy a Boutique Hotel, you might like Hotel Rival – which is part owned by none other than Benny Andersson from Abba! Its not only a hotel, it also has its own theatre! Located on Mariatorget on Södermalm (the south island) which is a great location. Södermalm is the more buzzing island of Stockholm, there are heaps of cafes, bars, restaurants and independent shops and is still close walking distance to Gamla Stan and the centre of town. They do good deals from time to time, so they are worth checking out even if you think you are on a tight budget. This is where we were staying for a couple of days before Christmas. And I have to say it is a great hotel and I don’t have anything bad to say about them, our room was nicely decorated, the bed was real comfy and you even had a pillow menu! Meaning that if you didn’t like the pillow in the bed, they had other options for you to choose from. The breakfast buffee was fantastic and it kept us full up all day long! And when we left early in the morning and didn’t have time for breakfast they gave us take away bags for our breakfast. The staff are super friendly and helpful.
There are several other hostels (and hotels of course) to choose from, if you just google hostels b&b’s stockholm you’ll get an array of options.