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My first trip to Sweden and Stockholm most certainly shot straight into my top 5 places I would love to live.
It’s an idyllic city – made up of islands, so you never feel enclosed in the way you can in big cities (and is why I always love a city by the sea). It’s easy, laid back, has great food and drink and has a massive serving of cool to boot.
We were staying in the cool neighbourhood of Södermalm – funky shops, bars and restaurants and gorgeous architecture. Another Airbnb win, we were in a lovely old apartment with a lovely mix of old and new and of course a comfy IKEA sofa.
There’s a strange central square which is oddly ugly and lovely at the same time. There’s a big, beaten up building, some kind of council office I think, which the local drunks and loons hang out in front of. On the other side are lots of bars and restaurants with outdoor seating to while away the hours watching said drunks doing weird things.
We spent some time going to different parts of the island and there are some fabulous interiors shops. I was literally drooling.
Knowing me Knowing you
We had to go to the ABBA Museum of course. How could you not? You have to catch a ferry over to it, it’s located next to the city’s theme park where they apparently have a lot of gigs on, particularly in summer. Although a tad pricey, it was pretty good – packed with stuff, though the order could be a little confusing and there were queues to do any of the interactive stuff. For me, I just loved the simple stuff, like the merchandise, the display of the cosmetics etc they used in the dressing rooms and the mock-up of one of the couple’s kitchen.
As we were perusing the gift shop and I was getting excited over the kitsch, we had a slightly odd experience. I heard a voice I recognised and glancing over I realised it was the annoying retired American sports guy from the series ‘Better Late Than Never’ show I’d recently been watched and he, along with the other guys in the show, William Shatner, Henry Winkler and George Foreman were stood in the foyer of the ABBA museum dressed in ropey 70s costumes. Now I don’t usually do star struck, but even I had to admit it was pretty cool to stumble into Captain Kirk and the Fonz, especially in such an iconic place. Shatner, though in his 80s, definitely has a little sparkle about him and as lovers of his work (we have his timeless classic ‘Has Been’ album).
Food and drink
Unsurprisingly, as scandi food lovers, we ate very well for our whole week long trip. with the only downsides being cost and as an enthusiastic drinker (!?) wierd alcholol purchasing rules. We found a Vietnamese restaurant which always makes me incredibly happy and despite the surprise June heatwave, we tucked into plenty of hearting Swedish classics, such as meatballs and reindeer steak.
Proof that the Swedish really do love their crispbread…
This, oddly, was my favourite thing I ate during our stay. It’s a crispbread of sorts but was a soft, seedy delight. I still daydream about this and must find out what it is and if I can make one myself.
The strange (to us) alcohol rules, just meant you have to get a bit organised with your planning if you want to buy any alcohol to keep at home. Not that we were hoarding the vodka bottles, but as eating and drinking out was so expensive, we did try to spend some time at home to save the pennies. Anyhow – you have to buy your alcohol from specific stores, which don’t have very flexible opening hours. They don’t open very late and are shut Sundays and Saturday afternoons. You can buy some wine in gourmet type shops, but it’s usually very high end. The oddest thing about the shop we went to, was that you don’t pick up the bottles yourself, you peruse the display and go to the counter and ask for what you have seen displayed. We did this by taking a photo of what we wanted – it doesn’t seem a very easy way of shopping unless you have a very good short term memory. I can’t walk 2 feet without forgetting what something is called.
I’d heard that many of the metro stations were art installations in themselves and there was definitely some amazing ones, though there was only so many excuses I could come up with to make us get off in random areas around the city, before Mark got fed up.
The other way to get about, in the city of islands is of course ferries. You can create some interesting routes for yourselves across metros and ferries, meaning you don’t have to come back the way you went and so you can check out all sorts of places.
Art and Oddness
I was quite delighted that just up the road from us was the photography gallery. It’s always pot luck when you visit a gallery and the exhibitions on at that time weren’t my favourites, but it’s a lovely gallery in a lovely space with a lovely cafe with views over the harbour, so it’s worth visiting for that alone.
As with any good city, there is plenty of oddness on the streets of Stockholm. From the creepy little statues in the old town, to the random suitcase full of rocks in the backstreet of the city, which definitely wasn’t an art installation.
Frankly, we did very little specific things during our time in Stockholm, spending much of it just wandering around aimlessly. It is one of those cities where you simply just be and enjoy being. It’s easy to be relaxed and inspired in this city and I’m dying to go back.