A short break in Sweden
Last week, Luke and I spent 4 days in Stockholm, Sweden. We visited Norway last year and I also went to Denmark at the start of this year, and it turns out, I adore Scandinavia. And Stockholm might be my favourite city yet.
It’s beautiful with gorgeous architecture, so clean, the people were just so lovely and the water surrounding the city made it an interesting place to explore. Even the weather was favourable, with mild and mostly dry days, although the evenings were quite chilly! I can imagine it gets very cold in winter with the coastal breeze too.
We arrived Wednesday morning after a hideous early start but an otherwise very smooth journey and flight. We wandered around through the city from the central station to our hotel, getting a little bit lost but admiring the sights. After checking in, we realised how peckish we were and headed to a supermarket to stock up on snacks and get some dinner to cook in the kitchen on the boat (more on this in a bit).
Call me lame, but I absolutely love visiting supermarkets in other countries.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Rygerfjord Hotel. Despite my exclusive love for AirBnB, I spied this hotel and thought it would be a unique experience. The hotel is made up of 3 boats.
It's not the fanciest or most modern or most luxurious by any sense, but it certainly was different.
Being an archipelago, the city is surrounded by water so it seemed quite fitting to be staying on a boat.
The best thing about the boat was the shared kitchen. Even though it felt a bit like going back to student accommodation - *shiver* - it was much cleaner, people were more respectful, polite and tidy and none of our food went missing from the fridge/freezer. We cooked a couple of meals in there, had coffee and met some lovely people, including a Swedish guy who planned an entire day for us in the city with insider knowledge which was so helpful.
The location of the hotel was also excellent. We had a beautiful view from our room over the water and looking out at Gamla Stan (the old town). It was no more than a 15 minute walk from Gamla Stam, right by Monteliusvägen viewing point and in Söldermalm - which is a fantastic area for non-chain restaurants and shopping.
What we did
A lot of walking, mostly.
The city is really walkable, and while the public transport is very good in the city, it's not insanely cheap and easy to avoid if you’re not heading too far afield.
We walked around Söldermalm, popping into shops, taking pictures of street art and stopping in a park.
We walked around Gamla Stan with no map, ambling down every street and alleyway as every single one is as pretty as the last.
We walked around Djugården, enjoying the calmness and nature, exploring the grounds of Rosendals slott and admiring the unique houses.
The city has so much to explore, with quite unique areas, interesting architecture and sights to see.
We also visited the Modern Art museum and Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design as a break from the rain one afternoon. Both are free to visit. There was also a temporary exhibition on gay sex and cruising which was.. unexpected.. but also very interesting and well put together.
places to check out and things to do
We didn’t do every single one of these things, but they were either recommended to us or highly rated, so worth checking out if you’re planning a trip to the city:
Vasa museum - Viking ship museum with the only preserved boat that was pulled out of water
Skansen museum - an open air museum with a zoo, showing the different ways of life in Sweden
ABBA museum - quite self explanatory, really not our thing but it might be for some!
Archipelago boat tour
Gröna Lund theme park
In summer, you can go swimming in the waters surrounding Stockholm. There are numerous beaches but a good, central one is Långholmsbadet
Fotografiska - a photography art gallery / museum - it has really late opening hours so it’s a great evening activity
Fika - a Swedish cultural staple, go for afternoon coffee and baked goods in many excellent cafes
Go on an underground art tour and find the best designed metro stations
What we ate
We didn't eat out for every meal because 1) I prefer not being in debt (yes it's true what they say about the city being expensive) and 2) I actually couldn't find too many vegan options. Possibly me looking in the wrong places though!
Our favourite meal was at B.C Burgers where Luke had a halloumi burger and I had a vegan Beyond burger. It wasn't hugely expensive (I think we paid £35 for 2 burgers, 3 sides and 2 alcoholic drinks), the food was amazing and the service was great. Our server was really lovely and even taught us a bit of Swedish! Would really recommend this place.
We also had a good vegan burger for lunch on our last day at Barrels in Gamla Stan.
And if you’re looking for a vegan cinnamon swirl (and if you’re not then you should be), then definitely head to Naturbageriet SATTVA in Gamla Stan.
Other places worth checking out:
Tips for visiting Stockholm
Stockholm is mostly cashless. I didn’t take any currency in cash and just took my Starling debit card (there’s no transaction fees so it’s free to use abroad and what I’ve used on all my recent trips - definitely recommend). A lot of places won’t even accept cash so have a suitable debit or credit card that you can use if you visit and don’t worry about getting money exchanged!
Take a tote bag for groceries - just like in the UK, Sweden charge for plastic bags.
Tap water is perfectly drinkable, so bring along a reusable water bottle and just refill that!
There’s a Pfand system like in Germany in place in Stockholm, where you pay a ‘deposit’ on plastic and glass bottles, which you need to return to a supermarket and recycle to get your money back.
Be prepared for any weather - it can go from warm to chilly just by walking down a different street!
‘hej hej’ (pronounced like hey hey) means hello and ‘tack’ (pronounced like well… tack) means please and thank you.
McDonalds and Max Burger are two fast food restaurants that offer vegan options
Avoid taxis - they are very expensive!
We had such a lovely time in Stockholm. It’s definitely up there with one of my favourite cities to visit. Being expensive is probably it’s only downside but there’s so much to experience and a huge amount of things to do. I’d really love to go back as I don’t feel like 4 days was enough and I’d like to head further out of the city and see some more of the islands in the archipelago.