We got the chance to visit Sweden following our time in Copenhagen in December and continued our ever-growing love for Scandinavia. It was so interesting to learn about the inclusive and warm Swedish culture. While traveling to these cities in the winter months means less daylight, seeing the streets lit up with lights and holiday decor was really magical. Below are some of the places we got to explore as well as some recommendations for spots to check out if you ever get the chance to visit.
One of our favorite things about Stockholm was the how visually striking this city is - it's made up of numerous islands connected by bridges, so there is water everywhere! It's hard to capture the gravity in photos. The natural beauty of its location mixed with the stunning architecture make it one of the most beautiful cities we've ever visited. We stayed in the old town area of Gamla Stan, which is made up of winding cobble stone streets and 17th century buildings. While there were a few stretches of touristy shops and attractions, it holds so much charm and would highly recommend spending some time there (be aware that walking from the metro with suitcases on these bumpy and hilly streets is challenging!).
Kungliga Slottet (The Royal Palace)
We didn't get a chance to see much of the palace because of an event happening at the time, but the few rooms we were able to see were beautiful. I may not recommend it as a must-see, but if you have time and are interested in a little Swedish history it's worth a visit.
This church is right next to the royal palace. I really enjoyed the exposed brick incorporated into the design throughout.
Stockholms Stadshus (City Hall)
We just walked around the grounds and it was lovely. It's a short walk from Galma Stan.
Stortorgets Julmarknad (Christmas market)
There weren't quite as many Christmas markets in Stockholm compared to Copenhagen, but this one was really sweet and located in the middle of Galma Stan.
Galma Stan had a number of antique shops (see Antik Kuriosa), and one in particular fairly close to the royal palace had a large selection of beautiful Dala horses. There were also a number of lovely shops with Scandinavian goods and decor, as well as a decent thrift shop (see Stadsmissions).
We really enjoyed walking through this more relaxed and open neighborhood just south of Galma Stan. There is a beautiful walkway with view of the old town on the north side, as well as a park with an exposed stone landscape that is the highest point in the city.
Norrmalm had a much more modern, upscale feel. It had a number of upscale hotels as well as many restaurant and shopping options. If you're interested in exploring a Swedish department store, NK Stockholm was a fun experience. It also has a large and very nice food court if you need a bite to eat. Across the street is Kungsträdgården, a park that has an ice skating rink in the winter months. We would recommend walking through Norrmalm to Skeppsholmen, an island to the east of Galma Stan. There are a number of museums, parks, and landmarks there.
We took most of a day to walk and explore this beautiful park on an island to the east of Skeppsholmen. There was an odd open-air cultural museum (Skansen), which looked interesting but we decided to pass and just walk through the park, including PREKS skulpturpark which had some lovely modern sculptures. It was a bit of a walk from the center of town, but if you have time and are up for it, it is beautiful and so worth the trip. I often find the best things while on a long walk to a destination!
Food + Drink
Probably my favorite spot in Stockholm! This garden + greenhouse cafe is nestled into Djurgårdens bokskog. In addition to the cafe, they also had a few cute shops. I could have spent all day here, and I can imagine it's amazing during the warmer months.
Portal + Restaurang Hantverket
We really, really enjoyed the food in Stockholm. We went to Portal (left photo) and Restaurang Hantverket (right photo) and loved them both. They had really interesting menus and everything was amazing!
Östermalms Saluhall (food market)
I love a good international food hall. This one had a bit more meat + cheese vendors rather than prepared food, but there were still a few spots where you could pick up a bite for lunch.
Drop Coffee Roasters
We returned to this spot a couple of times. An easy-going coffee shop with high quality coffees and tasty treats. A good go-to in the Södermalm neighborhood.
Lucy's Flower Shop
This was high on our list, as it was ranked in The World's 50 Best Bars. It's a funky yet cozy cocktail bar in the basement of a building in Norrmalm. Very friendly service, delicious drink, and a cool vibe.
A really cozy + cool cocktail bar right off of the Stortorget square in old town. Highly recommend!
We took a day trip on the train to Malmo from Copenhagen. While we didn't do much due to time constraints, it had a lovely old town with cute restaurants, shops, and some good vintage, antique, and thrift stores. We also popped into St. Peter's Church, which was really beautiful and had a section where they were restoring the original painted walls and ceiling. We ate at Lilla Kafferosteriet, a cozy coffee shop with healthy breakfast and lunch options.