While Copenhagen seems to get all of the credit lately for being the cosmopolitan capital of Scandinavia, nearby Stockholm is severely underrated. This understatement is typical of the Swedes, of course, and belies a beautiful city filled with gorgeous cobblestone streets and historic architecture with eight centuries of history to discover. Stockholm was built where the lake meets the sea, and there are no less than fourteen islands for visitors to explore — and these seafaring day trips are fitting for a capital once ruled by Vikings.
This summer is a wonderful time to visit Sweden’s capital city, as destinations around Europe that were once flooded with tourists are noticeably less crowded — and less filled with American accents — in 2022. So, why not choose Stockholm as your next revenge travel destination this year? (After all, there are plenty of last-minute flights to consider). Read on for your ultimate guide to summertime in Stockholm.
Stockholm Museums and Activities
Vasa Museum in Stockholm (Adobe Stock)
Stockholm is a culture-vulture’s dream, with an array of fascinating, unexpected museums, and an urban explorer’s delight, as the city is exceedingly safe and conducive for solo travelers eager for a taste of the Scandinavian lifestyle. In a city like Stockholm, there’s a never-ending list of things to do and places to see. The good news? It’s quite easy to navigate the city’s myriad hotspots and attractions — Stockholm Central Station offers cost-efficient (and time-efficient) transport in the nation’s capital.
Additionally, travelers should buy a Stockholm Pass and a pass for transportation to facilitate ease of entry to attractions and landmarks, as well as seamless passage aboard the city’s ferries, which take passengers to and from the capital’s fourteen islands. And, in the land of the Vikings, you will certainly want to island-hop — there’s never been a better time to go native, in the maritime sense at least.
The island of Gamla Stan is home to the capital’s Old Town — a must-visit for both new and returning visitors to the city. The Old Town is home to medieval cathedrals, royal palaces, and the oldest restaurant in the world. The island itself may be compact, but the streets are filled with a seemingly endless array of 17th and 18th-century architectural (and cultural) curiosities, including the medieval Storkyrkan Cathedral, Parliament, the Nobel Prize museum and the Royal Palace. We suggest booking a historic walking tour in order to understand and appreciate the Old Town’s storied and varied history. Two quirky attractions not to miss? The Wooden Horse Museum — wooden horses are to Sweden what rubber ducks are to Holland — and the Abba Museum (for obvious reasons).
Visitors should cross the famed Skeppsholmen bridge to check out the newly renovated National Museum, located on the Blasieholmen peninsula. Skeppsholmen island is ideal for museum-hopping, as it’s home to the Moderna Museet, Arkdes, the Musuem of Far-Eastern Antiquties and the Bergrummet Tidö Collection of Toys & Comics. Other islands to visit include Djurgården, home to the Vasa Museum, the most visited maritime museum in the world. The Vasa is a famous wooden ship that first sunk in 1628 and was found and restored in 1961, after 333 years under the sea. Understandably, the Vasa is a national symbol for the Scandinavian country — we encourage purchasing a miniature replica as a souvenir.
Finally, the island of Södermalm features Fotografiska (a contemporary photography museum), and the picturesque Ivar Lo’s park — home to an array of galleries and vintage stores for stylish travelers with an eye for second-hand treasures. As for additional shopping, we suggest acquisitive travelers check out the old bookstores scattered throughout the city, as well as clog stores, for a traditional souvenir. Another quintessentially Nordic find? A reindeer pelt, in order to bring Scandinavian coziness — also known as hygge — home with you on your return flight.
Stockholm Restaurants & Cafes
Swedish Fika Coffee Break (Adobe Stock)
Scandinavian cuisine has become increasingly popular in recent years, and Stockholm is a foodie lover's dream. When visiting Stockholm, be sure to set aside time for Fika, a coffee break that occurs daily at 10 am and 2:30 pm. This quintessentially Swedish social event can be observed at cafes throughout the country and offers the perfect break-time during your day of travel. While in Stockholm, be sure to order reindeer meat and herring — traditional delicacies.
Speaking of Nordic cuisine, head to the restaurant at Villa Dagmar for an innovative interpretation of classic Swedish dishes by two of Sweden’s most celebrated chefs, Daniel Hoglander and Niclas Jonsson. Aifur should be on every history lover’s bucket list: This Gamla Stan institution is a lovingly-recreated Viking restaurant offering traditional Swedish cuisine — but book in advance, as tables are known to fill up quite early in the evening. Other options include Fat Cat Asian Brasserie, a quirky Japanese restaurant located inside a gaming center, and Kaffegillet Gamlastan, which has outdoor tables for people-watching in the Old Town.
Aside from the city’s storied heritage and culture, the nightlife is nothing short of invigorating. Even New Yorkers may find the techno-fueled dance parties to be never-ending — an impressive feat for residents of the City that Never Sleeps. Zum Franziskaner is an old-school beer hall located in the Old Town with a variety of European beer and an ambiance that is pure 1920s throwback. Barflys should consider a visit to Spy Bar (a great dive), Cocktails & Dreams, Pharmarium (the city’s original pharmacy that’s since transformed into a medicine-inspired cocktail bar), Riche Lilla Baren, Geronimo’s (order the house margaritas), and Pub Anchor (a Death Metal karaoke bar, which is a combination you never knew you needed). Dagges is a lovely wine bar, while The Garden offers cocktails in a beautiful courtyard with a glass-roof atrium (and both are located at the aforementioned Villa Dagmar). Finally, the Hells Kitchen nightclub is heaven for dance-lovers — prepare yourself for house beats and hydrate in advance.
Stockholm architecture (Adobe Stock)
A historic city deserves equally historic accommodations, and we suggest the Hotel Skeppsholmen, a former army barracks turned chic, luxury hotel with extensive gardens and gorgeous grounds. The hotel combines two buildings that were built in 1699 to host Sweden’s royal marines and the modern Swedish décor is minimalist and elegant. The property also boasts the delicious Restaurant Langa Raden, specializing in classic Swedish dishes, and an elegant terrace provides classic waterfront views.
Our second option, the Hobo Hotel, also boasts tremendous views of the surrounding city from its rooftop restaurant — we recommend waking early for a delicious breakfast while watching the sunrise. And if you stay up late enough for sunset, the hotel also features a spectacular watering hole for a well-deserved nightcap. If you’ve been out and about for 19 hours of daylight, you deserve a vodka (or two). So, pack your bags — and your sense of adventure — and book your Swedish summertime vacation now. Skal!