guide to stockholm


V I S I T

Stroll through Queen Street, named after Queen Christina, infamous for her sexually-ambiguous appearance. You’ll pass by no less than three different H&M stores, all within fifty meters of each other (H&M’s headquarter offices are also located above one of the shops). Queen Street is also the home of Pub, the department store where Greta Garbo used to work as a young adult, before she moved to Hollywood and changed her name. 

Walk over to Hotorget (literally: ‘hay market’), the square that hosts Stockholm’s Concert Hall, in which Nobel are prizes given out.

Tour of the Södermalm area. Söder is truly a creative hub, and in addition to attracting many designers and artists, is also the home of video game developers (does Candy Crush ring a bell?). Make sure to stop by Katarina’s Church and Maria Madgalena Church. And if you’re a fan of Steig Larson, look out for house number 1 on Bellmansgatan 1, which is where Mikael Blomkvist lives in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!

tour of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. Here are some highlights of this picturesque - and unavoidably touristy - neighborhood:

Brantingtorget. A circular, peaceful square in the heart of Gamla Stan. A well-kept secret I’m willing to share with you all!

Stockholm Cathedral

Royal Palace. With its 600 rooms, it’s said to be the largest in the world in front of Buckingham Palace. Looks a lot like Versailles, actually.

St. George and the Dragon. Impressive statue built to commemorate a battle between Swedish and Danish. There’s another version inside the Stockholm Cathedral.

Järnpojke (Little Boy Looking at the Moon). Also known as the Iron Boy, this is the smallest public statue in Stockholm. It was created by the Swedish artist Liss Eriksson in 1954, and can be found on Bollhustäppan, behind the Finnish Church. During the wintertime, people will dress him with a miniature knitted hat and scarf. There’s also the tradition of leaving coins by his feet for good luck! But no worries: if you’ve no change to spare, it’s also acceptable to rub his little head.

Stortorget (literally: “The Big Square”). Postcard-worthy square surrounded by cafés and colorful buildings.

German Church. Beautiful church.

Marten Trotzigs Gränd. The narrowest street in Gamla Stan. It’s only 35.4 inches wide at its narrowest point!

Jarntorget (Iron Square) - Another cute square.




Kulturhuset

Vasa Museum. The Vasa is absolutely massive. It reminds me of those big ass ships in Pirates of the Caribbean. Though it’s not possible to venture inside the boat, the installations surrounding it provide great insight as to what life on board must have looked like, and even more interestingly, the reasons behind its sinking. I highly recommend watching the free film screening before you visit the museum. It features very well-made reenactments of the ship’s building and sinking, as well as fascinating footage of the Vasa’s salvaging and ongoing restoration/preservation efforts.

Nordiska Museum. Head upstairs for a great collection of Nordic furniture. My favorite pieces, as usual, are those after the 1920’s. There are also a few well-made reconstructions of more classical interiors. I really enjoy Nordiska’s fantastic corridor full of table settings from various time periods. Other highlights include rooms dedicated to Swedish folk art, collection of dollhouses, and exhibit about the lives of old people, and a reconstruction of an entire 1949 Stockholm apartment.

Walk along Strandvägen, which gives a great view of, on one side, the waterfront, and on the other, the wealthy buildings of Ostermalm. Pass by the Royal Drama Theater, with its ornate golden statues and Grecian style, and step into a nice shop called Edblad.

Hallwylska Museet. A great look into the interiors of a bourgeois Swedish home, and only takes half an hour to visit. It’s slightly uncanny that all the employees are dressed as period maids and butlers, but that’s maybe just because the museum pamphlet features a group photo of the staff that makes me think of The Others.

Hedvig Eleona Kirka. A beautiful church.

Humlegarden

National Library of Sweden

Wetterling Gallery and Norrbottens Ambassad för Konst. Both have great exhibits and are completely free.

Royal Swedish Opera House

Dansmuseet. The permanent collection contains various artefacts that once belonged to Rolf de Maré, a leader of the Swedish Ballet in Paris during the 1920’s. I particularly enjoy the miniature set reproductions, which are accompanied by music when you pull the drawer below each of them.


Swedish Center for Architecture and Design. Has a permanent collection of Swedish architectural models.

Moderna Museet. Its permanent collection includes some great pieces by Doris Salcedo, whose Atrabiliarios pieces have always been some of my favorite art works of all time, as well as by Lee Botencou and Yayoi Kusama.




Thielska Gallery. Has a nice collection of Munch works.


Sven Harry's Art Museum. Even though there’s not much to see on the inside, the museum building itself is worth seeing for its golden, cubic exterior.



Stockholm Cathedral

Nobel Museum. There’s really not much to see in there, so I’m glad I didn’t have to pay to get in. Unless you’re an absolute fan of one of the Nobel prize laureates, or of Nobel himself, then I suggest you pass.



S H O P

Bonne mécanique. A super cool bike café, repair shop and hangout spot.

Pet Sounds and Record Mania. Two fantastic record stores.

Konst Ig. An art bookstore with typography and packaging compendiums to feast your eyes on.

Colors of Africa. Lovely collection of home accessories produced by African artisans.


Afro Art. Colorful, ethnic objects of good taste!

Papercut. A bookstore filled with lustworthy coffeetable books and independent magazines such as Kinfolk, Milk, Cereal and Gather.

Nitty Gritty. Ultra-stylish men’s clothing store. Perfect for your hipster significant other. Or non-hipster significant other to whom you’re trying to give a makeover.

Widdergalswag. Retro furniture! Prepare to be immersed in the world of Mad Men and all things formica.

Hemslojden. A boutique selling traditional Swedish crafts.

Asplund. A cool design shop.

Grandpa. Possibly the best (if not, one of the best) concept stores I’ve seen so far. Polished, hipster, original.


Coctail. Modcloth on crack. Basically.


King Lily. Great fashion store.

Smiley Vintage. Repurposed clothing.

Retro Etc. A quirky assortment of new and vintage home accessories.

Kungens Kurva IKEA. The world’s biggest IKEA store. Blend in with the locals and stroll through the showrooms. The products are nearly all, if not all, the same as those offered in the States and in Canada, so no need to be jealous there! However, I’m pretty sure the Swedish IKEA has a lot more packaged food options, perhaps because they appeal more to Swedish people.


E A T

Blä Lotus, a delightfully bohemian and vegetarian café-restaurant. Everything looks appetizing, so it’s really difficult to choose, but I end up getting the feta and vegetable quiche, served with salad and pesto-covered bread. The delicious 85 SEK meal includes a cup of tea of your choice (jasmine for me!) and unlimited homemade lemonade. With its friendly, relaxed atmosphere, I highly recommend Blä Lotus and would return any day.

Grab an open-faced herring sandwich at Nystekt Stromming.


Enjoy a sandwich at String. With its warm, eclectic decor and relaxed atmosphere, it’s definitely up to par with Blä Lotus.

Max. A Swedish fast-food chain on par with Shake Shack.

Fabrique. A lovely bakery to try a cardamom roll (since I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon rolls, it’s perfect!).




Ostermalm Saluhall. Overpriced, but the Smorrebrod place and Vete Katten bakery do look very tempting...

Big Ben. Local meetup place for Anglophone expats in Stockholm. They have free comedy on Thursday nights, and it’s a great way to experience a night out with locals.



M E T R O    S T A T I O N S   T O U R

Before heading out for your tour of Stockholm’s creative metro stations, mark all of the spots you want to see, and plan out the order in which you will get to them. Not only is this metro crawl a good way to see some free art, but it also allows you to do some people watching! Here are the stations I recommend:

Hotorget. Neon lights on the ceiling and lovely aqua tiles.

Thorildsplan. This one was clearly made by a Super Mario fan. You’ll feel just like you’re in a video game!

Fridhemsplan. Cave-like, and a little creepy.

Solna Centrum. Still cave-like, but with added painted landscapes on the walls.

T Centralen (blue line). Mediterranean (?) patterns on the ceiling.

Stadion. Rainbows galore!


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