Is a trip to Stockholm on your horizon, but you’re not quite sure where to begin? Well, I assure you, there is a lot more to this magical city than just IKEA and outrageously attractive and tall people. (Though there's plenty of that, too.)
Stockholm is literally a city of islands—14, to be exact—so you bet there’s plenty to do and see on each of them. For starters, it’s undeniable that Scandinavians are some of the most well-dressed people on the planet—which, in turn, means that Stockholm has some of the best shopping out there. On top of that, there’s many a Swedish meatball to be eaten, anise-flavored drink to be had, nightlife to be experienced, and museum to see. And you should partake in all of it; the Swedes, after all, have the longest life expectancy in Europe, so they must be doing something right.
Below, we round up everything you need to check out when traveling to Stockholm. Tip? You’ll want to visit during the summer months, specifically the second half of June when it barely ever gets dark outside. More sunlight means more time to play.
Where to Eat
Sturehof: Even though Sturehof is located in Stureplan, a square in one of the more expensive parts of town, its menu (rooted in both French and Swedish cuisine) is quite affordable in terms of Stockholm pricing. Its large outdoor seating area makes it the perfect place for lunchtime day-drinking, especially considering it boasts more than 600-plus wines on its wine list. Tourist tip? If you’re vegetarian, get the potato gnocchi, you’ll thank me later.
Riche: This non-touristy spot in Östermalm district was founded back in 1893, and is always full of locals, good drinks, and good vibes. While the restaurant emphasizes its focus on international—though classic—fare, you’ll definitely find Swedish meatballs and other Swede staples on the menu. Late night, the bar’s backroom is jam-packed with people, and, well, it’s definitely a party.
Greasy Spoon Café: With two locations in Stockholm’s Södermalm and Odenplan neighborhoods, Greasy Spoon Café is your go-to for Sunday morning brunch, as the light and airy atmosphere is always packed with Stockholm’s hippest denizens. Opening as early as 8am and staying open as late as 5pm depending on the day, classic British-inspired breakfast and brunch options are served all day—meaning even the late-to-rise can enjoy a dippy egg with a side of breakfast (or vegan!) sausage.
What to Do
Walk around Gamla Stan: I’m not going to lie, Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s “Old City,” is a complete tourist trap. But it’s also extremely beautiful—and amazingly Instagrammable. While the ancient streets are filled with tiny shops selling everything from souvenirs and antiques to homemade waffles and ice cream, it also boasts quite a few restaurants with outdoor seating prime for people-watching. So, if this is your first time in Stockholm, it’s worth taking a few hours to explore the cobblestoned, medieval architecture of Gamla Stan.
Visit Fotografiska: Fotografiska is a must if you’re a fan of contemporary photography. The museum, located in the Södermalm neighborhood, boasts four major exhibitions and 15 to 20 minor exhibitions per year. There, you’ll catch the works of famed artists such as Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier, and Ren Hang. Added bonus? The top floor café boasts some of the best city views across Stockholm.
Catch a show at Debaser: Looking for a night of live music? Catch a show at Debaser, where there’s a show or dance party practically every day. While the club actually has two locations, its waterfront Hornstull Strand one shares a roof with Calexico’s, a Mexican restaurant, and Bar Brooklyn, a restaurant-bar that serves classic American fare and beers—so you can catch some bands and grab a bite to eat. On the weekends, you’ll find a pop-up street fair with everything from tents selling vintage clothing and quirky antiques to a full row of food trucks.
Where to Go Out
Trädgården: If clubbing is your thing, then you have to stop by Trädgården while you’re in Stockholm. The giant outdoor club, located under the Skanstull Bridge in southern Södermalm, serves as an outdoor party all summer long and a two-floor indoor nightclub during the rest of the year, with multiple bars, food areas, an art gallery, and more. While it can be on the pricier side and lines often mean a significant wait time, it’s worth it if you’re a night owl: The club regularly stays open until 5am.
Lijne Tio: Or, maybe cocktail bars are more your thing. That’s where Södermalm’s Lijne Tio comes in. Rated the 25th best cocktail bar in the world, it’s a go-to for creative and off-kilter cocktails of all sorts (and delicious dinner, too). Salted caramel old fashioned and beet-infused vodka? Don’t mind if we do.
Pet Sounds: Or, perhaps dive bars are more your speed? In that case, be sure to stop by Pet Sounds Bar for a cocktail or a beer to catch a DJ spinning your favorite ‘80s shoegaze or a local Swedish garage rock band in the basement venue.
Where to Shop
Beyond Retro: London’s leading vintage warehouse opened two Stockholm shops, bringing its colorful and well-curated array of vintage to Södermalm and Norrmalm. Upon entering, you’ll find quite the assortment of vintage wares, from ‘80s-style dolman-sleeved denim jackets to color-coordinated ‘90s printed maxi dresses. Prices range from steals to splurges, so look around. You're bound to find something.
Grandpa: When you first walk into Grandpa, you may notice the colorful-yet-minimal fashion from Scandinavian designers for both men and women—or maybe you’ll notice the bar. Dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find many quirky Scandinavian housewares, from candlestick holders and other decorative knickknacks, to houseplant coffee table books and at least six different kinds of paper clips.
Acne Archive: Are you a fan of Acne? You’re right, that was a dumb question. Who isn't? Anyway, Acne Archive is a dream come true for any fashion enthusiast, carrying overstock, one-offs, and samples from past Acne seasons at deep discounts. We’re talking coats originally well over a thousand dollars in the mid-hundreds range and fancy (yet minimal and cool) loafers for just $200.