Spread out across 14 islands with about 30,000 more islands and skerries in its archipelago, Stockholm is the intriguing Scandinavian capital well-known for its sustainability, work-life balance, quality of life, and sheer number of technology startups.
Having lived here for the past five years, and while running the site Slow Travel Stockholm, I’ve explored various facets of the city that keep me interested in digging deeper into the city. For travelers who are short on time but want to explore more than the main sights, here are some of my recommendations.
Eat: Rosendals Trädgård Kafé and Bageri
I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Rosendals trädgård (Rosendal’s Garden). It was after my first bite of their pan-seared, buttery and light Arctic char fillet served atop fluffy couscous garnished with sour cream. Home to one of the most sustainable cafés in the city, Rosendals serves up superb organic dishes, thick savory soups, crisp salads, and tasty sandwiches as well as fresh pastries and breads baked from biodynamic flour sourced from Saltå Kvarn mill and seasonal produce. The café itself is inside a glass greenhouse surrounded by flower gardens and fruit orchards.
Rosendalsterrassen 12; +46 8 545 812 70 | Site
Shop: South of Folkungagatan (SoFo)
Rather than list one shop, I’d rather point you to an entire district. From rockabilly outlet Silvetto and vintage clothing store Beyond Retro to record store Pet Sounds, you don’t have to be into vintage style to appreciate this eclectic neighborhood called “SoFo.” You can find everything from vinyl records, throwback clothes, paraphernalia, to odd knick-knacks here.
District south of Folkungagatan and east of Götgatan streets | SoFo Store Listings
Culture: Fika like a local
During your visit to Stockholm, you’ll quickly catch on to the deep rooted coffee culture that envelopes the city. The actual act of drinking coffee isn’t the core of this tradition, but rather the act of religiously sharing with friends, colleagues, and family in a social situation known as observing fika (pronounced “fee-ka”).
Though the word literally means “to drink coffee,” it is widely translated into taking a break (fikarast) from work to socialize over cups of coffee. Stockholm is peppered with small coffeeshops (konditori) that sell pastries to quickly cater to the hourly fika crowds.
Find some of the best places to fika here.
See: The Vasa Museum
If you had to pick only one historic museum to hit while in Stockholm, pick this one. Located on Djurgården is Vasamuseet (“The Vasa Museum”), home to a 17th-century warship “Vasa,” which sank right in Stockholm’s harbor within 20 minutes of departure in 1628. What makes it impressive is that it was salvaged in its entirety in 1961.
Galärvarvsvägen 14; +46 8 5195 4800; guided tours available | Site
Explore: Stockholm’s Islands
As I mentioned earlier, Stockholm has over 30,000 islands in its archipelago. The more popular ones provide a relaxing mini-getaway. Ferries such as Strömma Kanalbolaget and Waxholmsbolaget regularly shuttle travelers around and one of my favorites is Stromma’s 1931 steamboat S/S Stockholm Brunch cruise, which runs every weekend during the summer. It’s a three-hour roundtrip ride to Vaxholm complete with a smorgasbord of pickled herring (sill), cured salmon (gravad lax), meatballs, and much more.