I’m so happy that I finally made it to Sweden. Although I can tick that country off my bucket list, I only scratched the surface and I would love to go back. I have an obsession with Scandinavia. I'm a huge fan of their minimal, contemporary designs, and some of my favourite music acts like Lykke Li, Röyksopp and The Knife are from there. I admit, I even like Ikea. Shopping was one activity Mark and I indulged in. And even better, we happened to be there when the sales were on. I got to re-visit my favourite Swedish labels like Hope, ACNE, Samsøe & Samsøe, Filippa K, Marimekko, & Other Stories and COS.
Mark and I spent 4 days in Stockholm before driving to the west coast of Sweden to spend 6 days exploring the Bohuslän coast with 2 nights spent on the car free Koster Island.
Stockholm is a city built on islands, connected by bridges and is incredibly easy to navigate. We stayed in Gamla Stan (old town) and although quite touristy, it’s location was central and convenient for sightseeing. We spent a lot of time in Södermalm and Hornstull, the island south of the old town, and walkable from Gamla Stan. It's trendy and quite the creative hub with lots of cafes, bars, restaurants, galleries and independent boutiques. Other areas we explored were Norrmalm (north of the old town), which a shopping haven of high-end, up-market shopping, department stores and boutique shops, as well as the usual high street stores. Djurgården & Skeppsholmen is where you go for museums, cultural attractions with lots of gardens and green space. It is tranquil, leafy and a pleasure to cycle around. If you have time, I would recommend a day trip to one of the islands in the Stockholm archipelago. We chose to visit Grinda and it only took an hour on the ferry from Stockhom.
We also discovered Fika, the act of taking time out to have a drink and something to eat, usually coffee and cake in our case. We indulged in it everyday. And believe me, you won’t have trouble finding a decent coffee here.
Fabrique Bakery – A great place to pick up a loaf of bread or pastry and coffee in the mornings.
Oaxen – We made sure to book this restaurant in advance to ensure we had a table. The food was modern Nordic bistro fare and the staff were very friendly. You will find plenty of seafood on the menu and the interiors reflect this - dark wooden boards with fishing boats hanging from the high ceiling. Take the 7 minute ferry ride from Gamla Stan to the island of Djurgården for views of the harbour on your way out there.
Rosendals Trädgård – I highly recommend lunch at this place. Unfortunately, on the day we went, the weather wasn’t great so we couldn’t sit outdoors. There is an apple orchard and I could imagine a spot under one of the apple trees would make the perfect picnic spot on a sunny day. After lunch, take a stroll around the gardens.
Woodstockholm – Small but cosy with outdoor seats on a hot day. The seasonal menu here changes daily, which is in Swedish but the staff will happily translate for you.
Eat Bao – Taiwanese bao buns in an outdoor leafy setting in a shopping centre. It was the perfect pit stop to rest our feet after a few hours of shopping. I could have had 2 servings of their “Fortune Shake” chocolate shake.
Snickerbacken 7 – Part café, part retail shop down a quiet side street in Norrmalm. The coffees are great and they have a small selection of cakes so you can have Fika. The shop inside the café was small with a selection of childrenswear, home accessories and women’s clothing/accessories.
Gastabud – Although Gamla Stan is touristy, we decided to try one of the restaurants close to where we were staying. We had the Swedish meatballs here, which were really delicious and much better than we expected.
Drop Coffee – Besides regular coffee, you can get drip coffee here. You can also pick up a bag of their beans to take away with you.
Johan & Nystrom – Brilliant coffee (we came back twice) and I was pleased to see cortado on the menu. It was here that we discovered Espresso Tonic – a shot of espresso poured into a glass of tonic with ice. It was strange to begin with but great on a hot day like it was when we visited.
Coffice – A coffee shop where you can rent out rooms for meetings. You can also become a member allowing you to use the space to work here.
Mosebacke Establissement – Our favourite bar in Stockholm for the chilled outdoor vibe and with breathtaking views of the city. We liked it so much , we came back twice to sit in the outdoor terrace to watch the sunset on the harbour. It's also used as a venue for performance and music gigs.
Babylon Bar – We stumbled upon this bar one night after dinner as we were strolling through Södermalm. It was the outdoor red umbrellas, moody atmosphere and house music that drew us to it. It is relaxed and a great place for a post or pre dinner aperitif.
Sneakers N Stuff – A large selection of men and women shoes.
Grandpa - A mix of men and women's fashion, interiors and vintage items.
Nitty Gritty – High end men and women's fashion store with premium brands like A.P.C., Carhartt, Sunspel, Helmut Lang, Comme Des Garçons.
Adisgladis - A mix of menswear & outdoor accessories. A very small section of women's clothing at the back of the shop, which can be easily missed.
Brandstationen – We weren’t looking to buy any furniture but we came across this shop as we strolled around the Hornstull area. They stocked a beautiful collection of vintage home décor and jewellery. Worth popping in just for a browse.
ACNE Retail Outlet – Worth checking out if you’re looking for a bargain and a fan of ACNE. Being a retail outlet selling samples, there are only 1 size of each item.
Aplace – A fashion store and magazine. You will find a selection of well-known Scandi brands like Hope, Samsøe & Samsøe, Carin Wester, Wood Wood, Sandqvist, Rains, as well as Nike, Vans, New Balance. They have a few locations around Stockholm.
Nordiska Kompaniet – Or NK as everyone refers to it. A well-known luxury department store located on Hamngatan. Like any department store, you will find every type of merchandise you may need or want.
Mood Stockholm – A shopping galleria in the centre that brings fashion, art and food together stylishly. With sleek, modern interiors, you will find high end boutiques and well known Scandinavian brands. It’s the kind of place for treating yourself to some shopping, a spa/beauty treatment and a cocktail afterwards. We wandered around and ended up at Eat Bao for a bite and drink.
SOFO - Spend an afternoon shopping in SOFO (South of Folkungagatan) in Södermalm. Just stroll around this area and you will come across a myriad of independent shops.
Fotografiska Museet – The photography museum in Södermalm is worth a visit, especially on a rainy day.
Modern Museeet – Situated on a small island that can be easily reached on foot from the town centre. It houses 20th century and modern art collections. Another cultural activity to save for a rainy day.
Skogskyrkogården – How often do you get to visit a cemetery that is World Heritage Listed? It is the most beautiful cemetary I have visited. It was a pleasure strolling around under the canopy of the fir trees with meadow flowers all around us. We paid a visit to Greta Garbo’s grave site and admired the modern design of the crematorium designed by Gunnar Asplund. It is only a short train ride from the centre and I highly recommend a morning or afternoon visit here.
Grinda – If you have time to spare when in Stockholm, I would recommend a visit to one of the islands in the archipelago. With so many islands to choose from, we read through a list of the main, larger islands and decided on Grinda. It only took an hour one-way on the ferry from Stockholm. Grinda was very pretty, peaceful and relaxing. You could walk from the top to the bottom of the island in about 30 mins (depending on how fast you walk). We spent the day sunbathing on rocks, had lunch in a café and explored the island and walking trails. There is a hotel, cabins in the woods you can rent and camping sites. The locals in Stockholm are so lucky to have the archipelago so close by and easily accessible.