Stockholm City Guide from the Perspective of a Local
January 1, 1970
by Vendela Lou
Being born and raised in Stockholm I never used to spend a lot of time doing the ‘touristy’ activities. However, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and having lived abroad for four years made me appreciate my beautiful hometown that much more. Below, I will go through my personal top things to see and do here, as well as where to eat and drink.
Where to start off: Östermalm and the restaurant Strandvägen 1
My all-time favourite place to breathe in the vibe of Stockholm is Nybroplan and Strandvägen. Situated in the heart of Stockholm, in the suburb of Östermalm, there is always something happening here. Visit the popular restaurant Strandvägen 1 for the best view, as well as a good spot for people-watching. The food is on the pricier side, but you can also go for a coffee and dessert, or even a cocktail. The place is always full of life.
Djurgården, the paradise of Stockholm
What you can do next is walk down Strandvägen towards Djurgården. The walk is beautiful with an alley of trees, incredible architecture and sailboats all over, an idyllic place. When you reach Djurgården you will realise that it is an island where nature is very well preserved and there is an abundance of museums and activities for tourists and locals alike. I especially recommend the Vasa museum and Skansen. The Vasa museum hosts a Swedish ship that sunk in 1628 but magically enough was preserved and managed to be brought up again 333 years later. It is the only ship that remains from the 1600s and this museum is thus the most visited in the whole of Scandinavia, pretty cool! Skansen is another gem of a place with a range of activities. There is a wide range of animals to be seen, a lot of ancient houses that are typical of places all over Sweden, Christmas markets, concerts, events and so much more. If you visit in winter, the Christmas markets are a must. On the other hand, summer is also a beautiful time for a visit, as it then hosts one of the biggest Swedish events of the year on a few Tuesdays – Allsång på Skansen. It is a sing-a-long sort of event that is also visited by some of Sweden’s most famous and popular musicians. Stockholm’s only theme park is also to be found here, Gröna Lund, with a range of attractions and nerve-wracking activities.
You can easily spend a couple of days at Djurgården, visiting the museums and walking around the canal, setting up a picknick or having great lunch in one of the gardens: Rosendals Trädgård. This truly is one of the most special places of Stockholm, albeit a little touristy the vibe is great. Another place to visit for incredible nature is the archipelago of Stockholm. Made up of 20,000 islands it is a place like nothing else. You can either get a cruise that goes around for a day or you can go somewhere like Vaxholm where there are hotels, because other than that there are not many places to stay unless you have your own little cottage there – which a lot of the Stockholmers do.
Eat and drink like the locals
But back to the city for now. If you want to eat something typically Swedish you cannot miss the restaurant Meatballs for the People, serving typical Swedish meatballs made out of the meat of your choice. It is located on Södermalm, the more hip and bohemian part of Stockholm. If you are interested in vintage shopping, this is the place for you. Another spot that is rather new and that boasts one of the best views of the whole of Stockholm is Takpark by Urban Deli. Literally translated it is a ‘roof park’, which is actually a pretty good description of it. Have an evening drink at this rooftop and watch as the sun sets over Stockholm. If you want to continue on the night with some partying a few of my favourite spots include Dramatenterassen and F12 in the summer and Vida or Berns in wintertime. But a word of caution – if you don’t want to spend a fortune you are going to have to put yourself up on the guest list of the club of your choice. This has to be done early in the day to ensure a spot on the guest list and may come with conditions such as having to enter the place before 11 pm. Yeah, it is true, Swedes are not the most spontaneous of people, unfortunately.
A stroll in the most historic part of Stockholm: Gamla Stan
Next up on the list of must-dos in Sweden is a visit to Gamla Stan, the old town, situated in-between Östermalm and Södermalm. It is a place with tiny cobble-stoned streets and little cafés and restaurants. Nytorget has two of the most famous houses with a bit of an Amsterdam-feel to them but beware of the prices here. It does tend to be very touristic and this is one of the few places in Stockholm where there is a tonne of souvenir shops. But it is worth a visit and a walk around for sure, you can take a trip to the royal palace from here too, and further all the way to Nybroplan if you wish. The scenery around here is absolutely beautiful so I would absolutely recommend going for a stroll.
General tips and things to do
To conclude, Stockholm is known for its minimalist fashion, interior design items and its nature. You will be able to spend a lot of time (and money) here so I would recommend a visit of at least 2-3 days. Stockholm is beautiful in winter, but please remember the very limited amount of daylight during that time of year. It may be wise to spend as many as possible of the hours of daylight viewing the things that you wish to see outside and to get up rather early in the morning, as it will get dark by 3 or 4 pm. But if you are lucky enough to come after a larger amount of snow has fallen you will be sure to feel that true Christmas vibe that you might not get in your own country, or even to go ice-skating on the lake. If you know where to go, which you do now, Stockholm truly can be magical.