FOR BEAUTY, ORDER, AND PASTERIES TRY

Stockholm

 


The capital of Sweden, Stockholm embodies everything about Scandanavia - the reliable public transit, the bikes, the tall, attractive people, the proximity to water, the well-ordered green spaces. It’s a beautiful place with a colorful history that’s worth learning about in between coffee and pastry breaks! Read on for my overview of things to do in Stockholm, Sweden.

 
 

 
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Where to go and where to stay?

A Quick Neighborhood Guide

• SÖDERMALM: A trendy and artsy island for dining, drinks, as well as cliffside views over the city. Affordable Airbnbs can be found and it’s an easy walk to the main city sites.
GAMLA STAN: Old Town Stockholm, with narrow cobblestone streets, crooked buildings, and a royal palace. Tour bus crowds can be heavy.

DJURGÅRDEN: For museums large and small, an amusement park, a historical village, and a serene park in the middle of the city.

NORRMALM:  A central, busy area handy for quick, easy access to the central train station and train to airport. Less character, more function.

ÖSTERMALM: For high end dining and very posh living, stay and be one of the other half!
KUNGSHOLMEN: For a quieter, greener stay a short walk from the hustle of downtown. Walking trails and parks are plentiful. Lots of hostel and hotel options can be found here.

 

Important Tips

Things to keep in mind while planning your vacation (solo or otherwise)!

STOCKHOLM PASS

A lot of blogs will tell you to pick up the Stockholm Pass before you go. It’s available in 1, 2, 3, or 5 day options. For the cost, it’s only really worth it for the 3 or 5 day options (to get the most bang for your buck), and to be honest, even then it might not be. I didn’t get it myself for my 3-day trip, and I don’t regret it. It’s worth figuring out what your ‘must-see’ Stockholm museums, boats, or tours are, and adding that up. Know that there are pay-what-you-can walking tours available, and cheaper ferries to some of the surrounding archipelago islands. But if you have a lot of things you want to see on your list? Pick up a Stockholm Pass.

WHEN TO GO?

Winters in Stockholm can be dark, cold, and very gray. Boat tours run occasionally, if at all. However, it can be much cheaper. The summer months are beautiful, but will be more crowded. Also remember if you’re going at Midsommar in June that the days right around the Summer Equinox are public holidays and a lot of sites will be closed. In warmer months, keep in mind when you’re booking that most apartments, and many hostels/mid-range hotels, as well as public buildings and the metro, will not be air conditioned.

HIGH COST OF SWEDISH LIVING

Stockholm has a reputation for being a very expensive city. You’ll find that in both hotel prices and in some of the transit costs. I did find the food, at least, was similarly priced to other cities such as New York, LA, London, etc. Yes, you can easily pay $100 at a nicer restaurant, but you can also find a lot of good restaurants that can get you a filling dinner for $15. And grocery store prices are quite low. For drinks, beer is actually fairly inexpensive in Stockholm (again, compared to other urban areas). Wine and cocktails will cost noticeably more.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Swedes believe in equality in all things. This socialist utopia has a lot of upsides, but as a tourist, remember that service people are not going to go out of their way to do something extra for you - anyone who asks for favors, a bending of the rules, or in some way wants special consideration may be given a dirty look. If you’re out with Swedes, you might find that no one wants to be the one to make all the decisions - it’s better for the group to come to a consensus, and not be bossy. As Swede Alexander Skarsgaard explains, even the Royal Family apologizes for their high class lifestyle.

FIKA

Fika is a mid-afternoon coffee and pastry break. It’s a tradition in Sweden. A few moments to sit and relax and appreciate life. It’s a tradition I was only too happy to take part in (although my coffee was tea). Chocolate balls, cardamom rolls, cinnamon rolls, and almond cakes are all standard fika pastries. Vanilla rolls, if you can find them, were my favorite.

 

 
 

QUICK GUIDE

  • Language: Swedish, though most Stockholm-ers will speak better English than you will

  • LGBT-Friendly: Yes

  • Female-Friendly: Yes

  • Timezone: CET (GMT +8)

  • Best Time of Year: Fall or late spring

  • Price: $$$

  • Suggested Itinerary: 3 days

  • Transportation: Walk, Metro, or bike

  • Currency: Swedish Kroner

  • Credit Card-Friendly: Very

  • Wi-Fi Friendly: Yes


FUN FACTS

Stay on a boat? -  Did you know that there are multiple options to stay on a boat while in Stockholm? And that’s fairly affordable? For off-kilter hotel experiences, this ranks up pretty high, and in Stockholm’s warmer months, may warrant checking out. 

The bridge to Skeppsholmen comes with a royal view

The bridge to Skeppsholmen comes with a royal view

Bread bar -  At many restaurants you’ll find a side bar where you can pour your own water, and sometimes tea and coffee. You’ll also be able to serve yourself a variety of breads with butter, including an amazingly dense and moist rye bread that is hard to find outside of Scandinavia

This bread is amazing

This bread is amazing

Getting around in Stockholm

Metro - The subway, buses, trams, and ferries are all on one system.You can pay-as-you-go (32 kr per ride, includes transfers) or get an unlimited card in 1, 3, or 7-day options. You can buy all of those at a metro ticket counter, paying an extra 20 kr for the SL card to hold the fares. After that, if you need to top up, do so either at stations or on the SL app. Everything is well marked in both Swedish and English, all trains have a ‘next arriving’ sign, and from my experience everything, including the buses, arrived according to schedule. After 1am, the system switches to night buses only. The one downside with the metro system: There is no air conditioning or ventilation at all in the summer months.

Bike - Sweden is incredibly bike friendly. You’ll find bike lanes most everywhere, and bike rentals are easy to come by. Some of islands (Södermalm) can be a little hilly, but by and large Stockholm is fairly flat. If you’re into biking at all, it’s worth looking into as an option to get around.

Scooter - Electric scooters have become quite popular in Stockholm recently. You can find pay-as-you-go scooters all around the city. And it being Stockholm, instead of being dumped on the sidewalk like they are in the States, the scooters are left lined up in an orderly fashion out of the way of cars and people. Local company Voi is the scooter you’ll most likely see, but US-based Lime scooters can also be found.

Walking - Stockholm is very walkable, given its flatness and relatively small size. It’s also considered a very safe city for walking day or night.

Taxi/Uber - Uber is available in Stockholm, though given the efficiency of the metro system, and the easy walkability, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend unless you’re traveling late at night or carrying heavy luggage.

Streets made for walking, bikes, and scooters

Streets made for walking, bikes, and scooters

Tips for Solo Travel in Stockholm

IS IT SAFE?
Yes! Stockholm is a great place to go as a solo traveler. The crime rate is very low. Swedes pride themselves on gender equality, so catcalling is basically non-existent. Obviously you’ll want to follow basic safety protocols, especially if you’re out later - know your surroundings, don’t leave drinks or purses unattended, take cabs home if uncertain about the streets, etc.

MEETING OTHER TRAVELERS
With such an international population, and almost all of it English-speaking, you won’t have a problem conversing with other travels in Stockholm. Swedes themselves you might find a little reticent - ex-pats living in Stockholm have voiced how challenging it can be to befriend their Swedish coworkers and neighbors. It’s not you, it’s them. To invite a relative stranger out for happy hour would seem too forward for a Swede. That’s not to say you won’t find the exceptional outgoing Stockholm-ite to meet! As far as other travelers, I find food and drink tours are great ways to meet other people in a relaxed, fun, and sometimes educational setting. It also helps to give you any tips about the local dining scene, as well as local customs for ordering, tipping, etc. Also seek out meetups, facebook groups, or couch-surfing for international travelers based in Stockholm, many of whom have weekly or monthly gatherings. And if you’re single… dating apps (tinder, bumble, etc) are an option to meet other travelers or potential dates in Stockholm!

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