Hello there, Scandinavia.
When the GS and I were trying to figure out where our Eurotrip should be, we ultimately just looked for the cheapest flights we could find and settled on this Norwegian flight from JFK to Stockholm. The flight itself was relatively easy, with the exception of being delayed about 30 minutes by the two people sitting directly in front of us who were so drunk they needed to be de-planed.
Just imagine how drunk you need to be for the pilot to escort you off the plane and then announce to the remaining passengers that two individuals needed to be removed as they were “unfit to fly.” At least we got a front row seat to the antics.
Then we got to Stockholm and I was assaulted by an old woman on the crowded metro who was very pissed off that I had a large backpack on. She threw her skinny wrinkled elbow into it more than once, and spat “STUPID!” in my face (the only English word she knew?) with an unprecedented level of disdain.
From there, though, it was smooth sailing! We stayed at a great AirBnb in the SoFo neighborhood. I would highly recommend staying in Sodermalm if you go to Stockholm- it’s kind of hipster-ish and has great vintage/thrift shopping and some good restaurants, too! And it was a good home base to walk everywhere and to the metro.
We got to Stockholm around 2PM so we opted for a quick snack to tide us over until dinner. There’s a place called Urban Deli that has a few locations throughout the city and is basically Swedish Trader Joe’s. We went there more than once for snacks and for to-go food to bring on the train.
We wandered for a while through all the great stores in the neighborhood. There’s a little bit of everything and even though we weren’t really in a position to buy anything as we only had backpacks, it was fun to browse. We loved the Grandpa Store.
Dinner was at Restaurant Pelikan. This place seemed like it was mostly locals inside, and they had some token Swedish delicacies like a herring appetizer and roasted reindeer. By the time we were done with dinner it felt like it was about 2AM for us so we called it an early night.
The next day we walked up toward Gamla Stan (the old town) for breakfast. A persistent issue for me in European travel is that there are barely any places open for breakfast or coffee before like 9AM. But we ducked into a cafe and got something small. We kept walking and wandering over toward Stromkajen, where you can catch a ferry to Vaxholm.
Vaxholm is a little island, kind of like Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard but less rich. We walked around for a while and grabbed lunch at Hembygdsgards Cafe on the water (adorable, and they don’t have a website), and then took the ferry back. I would 100% recommend taking a ferry while you’re there because it was beautiful, but I don’t necessarily know if Vaxholm is the best destination because there wasn’t much going on. Do some research on some other islands!
From there, we walked over to the Vasa Museum. This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Stockholm but it is WORTH IT. Almost 400 years ago there was this huge, ostentatious war ship commissioned by the king that was beautiful but not at all architecturally sound. They launched it anyway and it made it a few hundred meters before it tipped over and sunk in the harbor. It stayed there for over 300 years and was really well preserved, and then they pulled it up and built a museum around it. It was really really cool, and only took us like an hour/hour and a half to get through.
Right by Vasa, there’s Olbryggan which is a beer garden/”spirit museum” which also serves food. We got a beer and a kombucha and sat by the water for a while before walking allll the way back to Sodermalm.
We were being indecisive about dinner and ended up eating outside at an Indian place that was pretty crowded with locals. It was good! And we had walked 12 miles that day so the garlic naan was very appealing.
The next morning we had breakfast in our neighborhood at Kaferang. I HIGHLY recommend this place- they had a delicious acai bowl and the GS was thrilled to see nitro cold brew on the menu. (We liked it so much we actually ended up eating breakfast there the following day, too, which we almost never do.)
Even though we know tipping culture isn’t a thing there it’s still in our nature, so we left a bill on our table. We were probably a block away and the waitress was running after us telling us we had left money on the table. Oops.
Then we ventured west on Sodermalm toward Hornstulls. That was not the best walk but I think we would have made a lot more stops in stores and stuff had they been open. On Sundays the Hornstulls Marknad is open, which is essentially a big food truck rally with a few clothing and jewelry vendors. There’s also a beautiful public park over there, and a very random beer garden under the highway. We spent a good amount of time wandering over there and split a banh mi from the Bun Bun truck.
Also, why did I have to go to Stockholm to find out that Brooklyn has a decent NA beer?!
We took the metro back to our place for a quick re-group to hop on the Wifi and figure out our next move. I found a Body Attack class later that afternoon close to a bar that the GS wanted to go to for the Tottenham game, so we made Normaalm/Vasastan our game plan. Took the metro up to Hotorget and literally walked right into another market- this one was more of a legit flea market- that we wandered for a while.
Then we decided to partake in the Swedish custom of “fika” which is basically just spending time with someone over coffee. They have these cinnamon rolls everywhere and they are amazing for breakfast or for fika.
Walked/wandered more (this is basically how we travel) until it was time for me to head to the gym for my class. Taking a Les Mills class in every country was something I started on our last trip, and I succeeded in Lisbon, Barcelona, and Paris. It was actually way easier on this trip because everyone speaks English. The classes are still in the native language, but communicating with front desk staff about coming in for class and talking with the instructors was painless.
I was shocked that at 4:15 on a Sunday afternoon there were 50 people in this class, and even more shocked when there was no air conditioning in the room. Hot Body Attack in Swedish was a new thing for me and mildly dangerous, given my bones apparently break when I slip and fall on a wet gym floor. But it was also SUCH a cool experience and the instructor was awesome. Thanks for having me, Nordic Wellness!
Walked my sweaty self back to the bar to watch the game with the GS, and then we took the metro back down to shower before dinner. We went to Meatballs for the People, which just sounds like a tourist trap but it was recommended and had great reviews. And it was really good! We did the traditional Swedish meatball platter, and then a more Italian spaghetti & meatballs style to compare.
The next morning we had breakfast again at Kaferang and grabbed some snacks at Urban Deli for our train to Copenhagen, and we were off!
Main takeaways from Stockholm:
-Super walkable everywhere but highly recommend staying in SoFo. Public transit is also great!
-Vasa Museum and a ferry ride are a must, maybe not Vaxholm specifically.
– Don’t get too much money (kronor) in advance because everywhere is card friendly and by the end we were just trying to get rid of the cash.
-Everyone is so nice and speaks English so it’s a really easy city to navigate!
-Not the best food city I’ve ever been to, but the shopping is incredible.
Best food city I’ve ever been to? Copenhagen. Coming up next.