Stockholm at a glance
Few European capitals are as pretty or stylish. Stockholm sprawls across more than a dozen separate islands, which are threaded together by boats and bridges.
Långholmen, a leafy inner-city island with its own wild-swimming spots and a former prison turned hotel.
You probably didn’t know
That the world’s biggest-ever coin, which weighs nearly 20kg, is on show at the Royal Coin Cabinet in Gamla Stan.
Uncommon Stockholm (Erik Nordlander, 2013)
- Population: 898,000 (2013)
- Annual visitor numbers: 4.6 million (2013)
- January mean temperature: -1.7°C
- August mean temperature: 16.7°C
Things to do in Stockholm
After 40 years of serving shellfish dinners in Gothenburg, Restaurang Räkan achieved cult-like status. Now relocated, it’s getting its claws into Stockholm’s seafood scene. The concept is the same as at the original Gothenburg restaurant: diners sit around a big tank of water and use remote-controlled boats to reel in orders of fresh prawns and crayfish.
Kalf & Hansen
For fuss-free Nordic lunches that are fast, healthy and tasty, try tiny Kalf & Hansen on Mariatorget. Although this place is co-run by a Danish celebrity chef, the seasonal soups, salads and sandwiches are all well priced. Ingredients are organic, too.
Kids love eating at kitschy Koh Phangan in Södermalm, a perennially popular Thai place that’s festooned with fairy lights and neon paint, just like a proper beach bar. Listen out for the hourly “thunderstorms” that rumble through the restaurant.
Södermalm is now well and truly gentrified, but if you choose your watering holes wisely, there’s nowhere better for boozy bar-hopping:
Pet Sounds Bar and Vampire Lounge
Mingle with the indie kids at Pet Sounds Bar on Skånegatan, which puts on noisy live shows throughout the week, or dance with DJs at the vaguely gothy Vampire Lounge, tucked away beneath street level on nearby Östgötagatan.
Garlic & Shots
If you’d rather keep the bloodsuckers at bay, go for one of the pungent martinis at Garlic & Shots, where almost everything – including the beer – comes spiked with garlic. Bring chewing gum.
Fancy keeping active while you drink? Head to one of the four Boulebar venues across town, which have pétanque courts available to hire by the hour.
NK, Stockholm’s answer to Harrods, is an Aladdin’s cave of glittering watches, sweet-smelling perfumes and high-end clothing.
Down by Nybrokajen, design devotees always have a hard time leaving the Svenskt Tenn shop empty handed; this is Swedish interior style at its boldest and brightest, with eye-wateringly high prices to match.
Flea market at Blasieholmstorg
Stockholm’s most central loppis (flea market) sets up on nearby Blasieholmstorg around seven times a year, selling everything from old vinyl to shiny pots and pans.
Buses and boats whisk art fans away from the city and out towards Artipelag, a slick, spacious gallery that’s marooned on a big island in the Stockholm Archipelago. Lit up by huge glass windows that provide glimpses of the surrounding rocks and trees, the cavernous exhibition spaces host works by contemporary photographers and sculptors from all around the world. Even if galleries aren’t usually your cup of tea, the setting is worth the trip.
Closer to the city centre at Spritmuseum (the booze museum) you can get a cheeky insight into Sweden’s often-troubled relationship with alcohol. Highlights include the backstory on Sweden’s alcohol monopoly, “Systembolaget”, and a room that replicates the effects of a nasty hangover. Much more appealing is the chance to wet your whistle with different types of Swedish “snaps” as you learn about the fruity, herby and flowery ingredients they’re made from.
If you’re travelling with little ones then be sure to stop by Kulturhuset in Norrmalm. Inside, Rum för Barn is a fun, creative area where kids can read books (English ones are available), paint pictures and clamber around.
Tom Tits Experiment
Outside the city but still easy to reach on a day trip, the humorously named Tom Tits Experiment is a kind of hands-on science centre with an earthquake simulator, a ride-on industrial robot and an outdoor labyrinth.
Events to look out for:
- Stockholm Lifestyle Motor Show (January)
- Stockholm Design Week (February)
- Stockholm Boat Show (March)
- Stockholm Marathon (April)
- Midnattsloppet 10km run in Södermalm (August)
- Stockholm Culture Festival (August)
- Stockholm Speedway Grand Prix (September)
- Stockholm Jazz Festival (October)
- Stockholm Film Festival (November)
- The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and the Nobel Banquet (December)
- Lucia and New Year celebrations at Skansen (December)
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