Frozen stretches of water and drifts of snow, yet to melt, glow in the light of the low sun. Winters in Sweden are long and dark, so it’s important to make the most of the daylight hours before settling down for the night in a cosy pub.
After a fog delayed flight from London, I landed later than planned into Stockholm on the first leg of my Scandinavian solo trip. Thankfully the airport has smooth and straightforward navigation to guide you to the ticket machines and onto the Arlanda Express train that whisks you into the city. I spent two days here in January. Ready to experience the Swedish art of ‘Fika’ in the cosy comfort of cafes and the elegant architecture of the old town, Gamla Stan.
Currency | Swedish krona
Time needed | 2 days – 1 week
Seasons & Weather | Short, cold days in winter, mild to warm in summer. Rain and clouds can be common! Visit anytime, but summer will guarantee better weather and longer daylight hours.
Languages | Swedish, but English is widely spoken
How to say Hello | Hej
How to say Thank you | Tack
Transport | Walking, boat and bicycle are best!
Nearest Airport | Arlanda (ARN) is where most international flights arrive. Bromma Airport (BMA) is for more domestic flights.
Nearest Train Station |Stockholm Central Station, you’ll like arrive from Arlanda airport and catch a quick train into the city.
Things To Visit, Places To See
Vasa Museum | SEK 170 | The story attached to the Vasa ship is impressive, from being salvaged, restored and preserved. Seeing it in person is even more so.
The Royal Palace & Parliament House | Situated in the North of the old town, the elegant Palace and parliament buildings are hard to miss. They’re beautiful structures, specially in the glow of a mid-morning sun.
Take a boat trip in the harbour | There are a number of small ferry ports in Stockholm that you can use to access different parts of the city, they’re a great way for seeing the sights, and one of the best ways to access the island of Skeppsholmen and Djurgården, home to most of the famous museums like the Vasa and The Nordic Museum. I departed from the terminal on Gamla Stan, and the view back across the island from the boat was beautiful.
Make time for Fika | Like the nordic Hygge, Fika is another concept which we can’t quite translate into English. It’s a state of mind, a feeling. Visit any bakery, cafe or coffee shop, buy a coffee and a cinnamon roll (kanelbulle), and sit and chat with friends/strangers/loved ones, or just enjoy taking some time for yourself.
Hop on a boat trip into the archipelago | From a couple of hours, half day tours to full day tours. Based across 14 islands, one of the best ways to see the Stockholm and it’s surrounding area is by boat.
Go Iceskating! | If you’re here in the winter, check out the ice rinks that are installed in the city. I visited Kungsträdgården, a beautiful city park and attempted a few circuits before I realised that my childhood skills had vanished… Another popular rink is in Vasaparken, a bit further North of central station!
ABBA Museum | SEK 310 | I didn’t budget to visit here unfortunately (my mum was furious! Haha), but I’m sure it’s all you would want it to be and more, the reviews are incredible.
Gamla Stan | If you find yourself on a short stopover in Stockholm, or are limited on time, a visit to the historic old town of Stockholm is a must. Old towns are often a draw for travellers because of the unique architecture and narrow pedestrianised streets, and Gamla Stan takes quaint and iconic to new heights, quite literally, with its warmly coloured, tall townhouses.
Places To Eat
For Coffees | Drop Coffee (££) and Johan & Nyström (££-£££) in the trendy area of Södermalm just South of Gamla Stan.
Bageri Petrus | £ | A small bakery in Södermalm. Popular with locals and tourists and a great place to stop for breakfast for a kanelbulle (cinnamon roll).
Under Kastanjen | ££ | A sweet cafe sat at the meeting point of two streets in Gamla Stan, under the shade of a tree. Perfect for breakfast or lunch.
Cafe Nova | ££ | Situated in Gamla Stan, it’s a perfect place to stop for lunch, dinner or a drink in-between your exploration of the narrow cobbled streets.
Kajsas Fisk | £ | Often busy, but for good reason, you’ll find Kajsas Fisk in the Norrmalm area. It’s home to amazing seafood dishes and a famous and hearty fish soup. Perfect for lunch!
Meatballs – For the People | ££-£££ | With locally sourced Swedish meats, and even vegetarian options, this is the perfect place to experience a true Swedish meatball.
Stockholms Gastabud | ££-£££ | A cosy restaurant in Gamla Stan, perfect for dinner. You’ll find a host of Swedish dishes here, from meatballs to salmon. Vegetarian and gluten free options too.
Places To Stay
Stockholm has a host of beautiful places to stay, whether Airbnb is your thing, hostels or chic hotels. I have included the two places I stayed and a few more with excellent reviews and somewhere I would could consider staying next time!
Budget | £
City Backpackers Hostel | I stayed here the night before I caught the train to Gothenburg. It was stylish, clean and modern, the staff super sweet and friendly, and you could even borrow ice skating boots for free!
Mid-range | ££
Castle House Inn | I stayed here when I arrived in from the airport. It’s located in Gamla Stan, minimalist but lightly styled with an Art Deco theme. Stepping out the door into the winter morning sunshine flowing down the cobbled streets was brilliant. Opting for a shared bathroom will bring the room price down a bit!
Hotel Hasselbacken | Located on Djurgården, this classically beautiful hotel has a sauna, sun terrace, and garden and at a great price too! It would be a perfect place to stay in spring or summer.
Luxury/Special Occasion | £££
Downtown Camper by Scandic | Effortlessly cool, nordic inspired decor. With yoga classes, a rooftop sauna and sun terrace, can I live here?
Walking through Gamla Stan was definitely the highlight of my visit, each cobbled street is lined with narrow passageways, and seeing it in the wintry evening light with glowing street lamps and window fronts made the buildings look even more welcoming and cosy.