Friday, July 16, 2010

Guide to Stockholm (updated on July 28, 2011)


This is probably what I get asked the most - what to do when in Stockholm! As a local, I don't reflect all that much on some of these categories, but I've tried my best. Feel free to comment and tell me about your own favorites!

Where to go in Stockholm when you want...

... coffee
Swedish coffee is good, in just about any place. It's a whole lot better than American coffee - that's for sure. The coffee culture is strong, and because of that you can get a decent espresso-based drink in a lot of places. However, there are some that are MUCH better than others. I like Sosta and Primafila, both tiny coffee bars. You'll notice that there are no Starbucks in Stockholm (only at the airport, so get your fix before you leave!) but there are many other chains that at least look similar. I find that Espresso House and Barista Fair Trade are the ones that seem to train their baristas the most, and have the most consistent, good results. None of them can make a frappuccino though, so you'll just have to go without. (And no, their "frapinos" and "frapistas" are nothing like the real thing.)

... tea
Not a coffee drinker? Longing for an excellent cup of tea? Go to Chaikhana or Esters The & Kaffehandel.

... Swedish food
This is really the hardest part to write, and the one most people ask me about. See, I never ever go out to eat Swedish food. That's the kind of stuff I, and most others, cook at home. So, I asked my friends on Twitter and Facebook for advice, and they recommended Ulla Winbladh, Konstnärsbaren, Tranan, Rolfs kök, Tennstopet and Magnus Ladulås.

... Swedish fastfood
You'll find korvkiosker (hot dog stands) all over the city. Try one! A Swedish specialty is a "tunnbrödrulle" which is a soft wrap bread (sort of like a tortilla) with a hot dog and mashed potatoes. It's often topped with shrimp salad. It's as weird as it sounds, but people really do eat it. (Not me, though.) And if you're here in the summer, go to Slussen subway station, get to the plaza on top and find Strömmingsvagnen for fried herring sandwiches.

... pastries
You'll find tons of bakeries and pastry shops ("konditorier") all over the city and most of them are very good. Things you definitely want to try include cinnamon buns, Princess cake, chokladbollar, chokladbiskvier and dammsugare. My favorite place to go, and to take foreign guests, is Vetekatten. It's very old-fashioned and very quaint. A similar place is Sturekatten on Riddargatan 4 - also very nice. Don't forget to try Lussekatter if you're here in December, or Semlor if you're here between January-March.

... ice cream
You'll find excellent home made ice cream at 18 smaker. Stikki Nikki is also great, and serve gelato. And when nothing else will do, there *is* always Ben & Jerry's - in several locations.

... fancy dinner
For a spectacular fancy dinner, definitely go to Frantzen/Lindeberg. Check out my post about our dinner there - I can't wait to go back! (But I better start saving up some money - it's pricey.)

... Smorgasbord
Well, not that I've tried these personally, but if you want a traditional big smorgasbord (and aren't lucky enough to get invited to a Swede who happens to serve you one), I hear that Stallmästaregården and Ulriksdals Wärdshus have good ones. Or hop on a day-ferry to Åland - the boats have surprisingly good food and it's very reasonably priced. (Viking Line, Silja Line)

... burgers
I really like the burgers at Texas Burger Co. Good stuff. A Swedish alternative to McDonalds is MAX.

... steaks & American food
The above-mentioned Texas Smokehouse has some nice steaks too, but I prefer Saddle & Sabre. (Their chili is awesome too!) Also try Restaurang Peppar (a relative of mine is head chef!) at Torsgatan 34, or Mississippi Inn.

... French food
Le Rouge and Wasahof come highly recommended. I haven't tried either, though.

... Mexican fast-food
Ok, so maybe you're not expecting to find great Mexican food in Stockholm - and why should you?However, Swedes are obsessed with Tex Mex and you'll find tons of products in any supermarket. Every Swedish family - well, almost - eats some sort of Tex Mex at least once a month, and many more often than that. So, it's sort of surprising that there aren't more restaurants. There are however two shining stars. La Neta is wonderfully authentic, and they make their own tortillas. Serrano calls themselves Fresh Mex, but their burritos and quesadillas are really tasty and it's well worth a visit. Avoid Taco Bar!

... Japanese
There's good stuff to be found, promise! Ki-Mama is supposedly great, and Hasseludden Yasuragi is a Japanese-style spa with excellent food. A few dumpling places - perhaps more Chinese than Japanese have been popping up around the city lately. I've tried Pekingmormors Dumpleria and was very happy.

... Swedish traditions
Skansen, definitely. It's a zoo (nordic animals only), but also an outdoor museum. There are many authentic old buildings showing what life in Sweden has been like through the ages, and in different parts of the country. It's well worth a visit - and while you're there, don't miss the freshly baked goodies in the "town quarters", they're excellent.

... groceries
The major chains are Ica and Coop, and there are many locations. For something special, go to the food halls - Hötorgshallen, Söderhallarna and Östermalmshallen. Hötorget also has a great outdoor market with good fruit & veg. (NOT a farmer's type market, though - for those, check out Bondens Egna Marknad.)

... ethnic food stores
There are many, most of them clustered near Hötorget. I have to do a separate guide on that, some time... For now let me just say that there are definitely at least Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Polish, French and Korean stores.

... cookbooks
There are many book stores, but some of the best selections are at NK and Hedengrens. These also have a decent amount of cookbooks in English.

... kitchen stuff
The department stores NK and Åhléns City have decent kitchen departments, but if you really want the best selection of cooking tools, head to Cordon Bleu. They have it all.

... a history lesson
Old Town - Gamla Stan - is always nice. It's quite touristy and you'll find a lot of cheap souvenirs, but that's not all you'll find. Do take one of the walking tours - they're quite interesting. (If you happen to be here in December, there's a nice christmas market at Stortorget.) And tourists seem to enjoy Vasamuseet as well - I personally don't really find an old ship all that charming (especially not one who went under on her maiden voyage) but the exhibit is pretty good and there's a lot to learn about life in the 1600:s. Medeltidsmuseet is a good museum about old times in Stockholm, and for an authentic meal, go to Sjätte Tunnan.

... to get out of the city
Nacka Strand (get there by boat or bus) is nice - you can see lots of people fishing for herring, and while you're there - drop me a line and maybe we can have coffee, as it's about ten minutes from where I live. You can also take the boat to Fjäderholmarna - a nice place for a picnic! Or if you have a car, drive out to Värmdö and perhaps visit at Siggesta Gård. You'll find a big flea market on the weekends.


Feline Flodin said...

Hehe, märks att det är en högerorienterad människa som skrivit. ;D Naturligtvis finns de bästa etniska livsmedelsbutikerna i förorterna! :D Hail Skärholmen!

Mitt verifieringsord är ketos. Intressant.

Jake said...

Stockholm is by far one of my favorite cities. I would highly recommend the Nationalmuseum for it's elegant and well curated arts displays. While it's not exactly a tourist destination, I also found the subway system to be very interesting because it's largely carved out of solid rock and randomly painted and carved with interesting shapes and figures - it's an organic departure from most of the saline transit systems I've used elsewhere.

John K said...

I also like the National Museum and the area Djurholmen is very nice in summer (Vasa Ship Museum is right there too). A nice place for ice cream is the panorama on the north side of Södermalm. And I agree too, coming from the perspective of the U.S., the subway system is very interesting and aesthetically another world from the system in Chicago.

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

I love this - so useful and so timely as we are considering Stockholm for a long weekend in August! I will keep you posted...

Vaire said...

For the most excellent Indian food, try Pam's at Hornstull. It's a new place and her dishes are superb.

John K said...

Oops, I meant to write "Djurgården" earlier (but wrote Djurholmen). I guess it's nearing time for a return trip to get familiar again.

Anonymous said...

Skansen sounds wonderful! I know I'd love it there:)

Emma said...

Hej Anne,

We absolutely love Stockholm, it's definitely one of our favorite cities in the word.

If you want to try an amazing smörgåsbord, you should definitely visit The Veranda of the Grand Hotel. The location is beautiful, staff absolutely brilliant and the food delicious. The staff will tell you about the concept of the smörgåsbord, how you should approach it in order to get most out of it, and recommend what kind of drinks works best with it (schnapps of course! :)).

It's probably not the cheapest place to go, but it's a buffet, so you will definitely get value for your money. And as mentioned, the location is very beautiful, just next to the sea. Superb lunch option in this great city!

Anne said...

Thank you everyone for your input! I do agree about the subway system - it's not something I think about, but it is pretty unique! It's also easy and safe to use, and there are elevators or at least escalators at pretty much all the stations. (Still, I prefer the bus if I'm travelling with the stroller - the elevators are pretty funky.)

Feline - det beror ju lite på vad man menar med etnisk, det ligger mig veterligen inte sådär supermånga asiatiska eller typ spanska/franska/osv butiker i förorterna. Men många har ju lite blandat sortiment, och Munirs livs är absolut värt ett besök. Om man nu vågar sig ut :)

Jeanne - if you're here in August, we have to book a crawfish party for sure! I really hope you'll come, I'd love to see you again!

David T. Macknet said...

Feeling offended at the slight against Americans and coffee. We're not all aficionados of Starbucks, you know.

Anne said...

David - oh please don't, it's definitely not meant to offend. I *love* Starbucks, so it's just my usual annoyment that it's not available here. I really truly wish it was.

Rachel said...

Thanks so much for this. Although it's a different city, I'm traveling to Gothenburg shortly so it's nice to know what sort of food is available. I'm so looking forward to having "fika"!

Rachel said...

Thanks so much for this. Although it's a different city, I'm traveling to Gothenburg shortly so it's nice to know what sort of food is available. I'm so looking forward to having "fika"!

Anne said...

Rachel, in Gothenburg you have to get coffee at DaMatteo - they're the best! Bar Centro is very good too. Get pastries at Steinbrenner & Nyberg! And I hear "Familjen" is a really good restaurant, but I haven't been myself. The shrimp sandwiches at Heaven23 are delicious, huge and come with a fabulous view!

Mrs. Zantstorm said...

Nej men, jättekul, tack!

Feline Flodin said...

Anne, Dock är ju de etniska butiker som finns i våra förorter de som bäst representerar våra invandrargrupper - vi har ju inte så mycket Chinatown, Little Italy osv. :)

Gaviota said...

Hej Anne!
Many thanks for this! I will be going to Stockholm on 2 July and this has definitely helped me decide what I want to do in the 3 days I'll be there.
One question though, I would very much like to buy an inexpensive kruskavel, are there any places in Stockholm that will store them, maybe supermarkets? I do not necessarily mean expensive boutiques for the kitchen gadgets, just sth that will do the job. Sorry if this sounds silly, I'm quite keen on getting one...
And thanks a lot again!
Any favourite place you have for fika and bullar?

Anne said...

Gaviota, I'm not sure that supermarkets would have them, but Åhléns City should definitely have one. They have a really good kitchen department, and with reasonable pricing. If you can't find it there, I'd try Cordon-Bleu - expensive in general, but I don't think a kruskavel will set you back a lot.

As for fika and bullar, I always take my guests to Vetekatten - one of my favorites, and very quaint :) Do send me an e-mail if you want to meet up for coffee - if I can, I'd love to meet you!

Gaviota said...

Will do! I'd love to meet you too!


Anonymous said...

I see you have a little baby boy. I am coming to Stockholm in August with my 3 yearr old boy and wondering if you can suggest places to see and eat that kids can enjoy!

ida said...

hi anne..
i'm Ida from indonesia.. :-)

i'm going to stockholm 20-26 of august 2012 with oriflame for our Gold Conference, and am very happy reading your post about stockholm!
Give me lots of recomendation where to go, what to eat, and i'm so excited to try and visit the food and the place in this post.

visiting stockholm has been my dream ever. So when the opportunity is right in front of my face, i'm busy browsing around and finding your post helping me a lot!

btw, i can see that you love cooking and baking. Same here.. :-)
do you want me to bring you something related to your hobby of baking and cooking from my country, indonesia? :-)
I'm serious and i'd love to bring it, if you want to.. :-)

Please kindly email me to if you want to have special spices or traditional tools from my country..

Please visit my facebook also here if you wan to inbox me.. :-)

fyi, based on oriflame itinerary, i'm going to stay at Clarion Sign Hotel during my stay in stockholm. Is the hotel in a good location to explore stockholm on foot?

thank you so much anne.. :-)

Unknown said...

I have just printed your tips. I hope it will help us during visiting Stockholm. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne, I'm in Stockholm this weekend, and am wondering if it's possible to buy semlor at this time of year? If yes, can you recommend somewhere to buy them from? Many thanks!

Anne said...

Maninas, so sorry, I really don't think any place is selling semlor yet. At least they shouldn't be! :-) But yeah, sorry, don't expect them, unfortunately.