Stockholm manages to combine a 13th century heritage with 21st century ambitions. Medieval buildings and royal castles rub shoulders with world-class baristas and inspired designers of all things designable. Though you’re bound to have a good time in Stockholm regardless of where you spend it, here is a hands-on guide to – well heck, let’s stick with the slogan – The Capital of Scandinavia.
Start your day by taking a mandatory stroll through Old Town, where half a millennia worth of history is packed into the buildings. Let the narrow alleys transport you to the year of the “Stockholm bloodbath” –1520 – or to the everyday life of a medieval Swede. Don’t be surprised if those same alleys walked 500 and 700 years ago are now teeming with tourists, enough of them sometimes to deter your native Stockholmer from entering Old Town in the summers. This area is much like the Eiffel Tower or The Statue of Liberty – cool enough, but not the only reason to visit Paris or New York.
When you are done with the textbook tourism, turn on your heels and walk (yes, walk) towards your very own Stockholm. To the north of Old Town is the city center, and if you’re aiming for great shopping, fine dining, or effortless people-gazing, Stureplan is one of the best bids in town. Flanked by luxurious office buildings on one side, and the equally luxurious homes of Östermalm on the other, this is the place to be seen. With the lion’s share of Sweden’s most exclusive nightclubs, Stureplan is the epicenter of Swedish nightlife. Try to get out early. The myth that Swedish people love to stand in line, well – it’s not a myth.
If Stureplan is the playground for H&M heirs, bankers, Spotify founders, and night owls in general, south of Old Town is where you’ll find the opposite. The island of Södermalm is home to a disproportionately large percentage of Sweden’s cultural elite. Singers, actors, writers and painters – they all live on “Söder”. As do journalists, art directors, and DJs. This is where you dress down instead of up, a challenge in itself.
In Söder you’ll find vintage shops, award winning baristas and an abundance of chic bars and restaurants. It’s not necessarily cheaper than Stockholm’s other boroughs, but it tries to look that way. Here, the people-gazing is perhaps even more effortless.
If you have a few more days in the capital, turn towards the water surrounding you. About 30 minutes away, via ferry, 30,000 islands await you in the Stockholm archipelago. These specks of land range from small, uninhabited islets to larger islands full of summerhouses, restaurants, sail races, and even the occasional nightclub. But first and foremost, they are home to the most stunning natural sceneries Sweden has to offer. Closer to the mainland are green islands covered in grass and forest, and further out in the Baltic Sea, barren rocks of land rarely visited by man.
No matter what rocks your boat, Stockholm is an easy place to visit, not least because almost everyone speaks English with ease. Children are taught English from the first grade and most people jump at the chance to show off their skills. Another myth – aside from the ones about beautiful blondes and long queues – is that Swedish people are silent and difficult to talk to. If that has ever been true, perhaps around the time of the bloodbath, it is not in the least true today.
A.W. Bauer Tailor
One of the world’s oldest bespoke tailoring houses, A.W. Bauer was founded in Stockholm in 1863. Since then its clientele has grown to include both Swedish kings and the world-renowned playwright August Strindberg. Today, 150 years after A.W. Bauer first founded his company, its five tailors continue to produce world-class tailoring for a very demanding group of clients.
Riche opened its doors in 1893, and with more than a thousand daily visitors from early morning until 1 AM, it’s fair to say the people of Stockholm have properly vetted the establishment. Its dining rooms and bars have been a social arena for power brokers, the cultural elite, young hipsters, classic gentlemen and regular folk for over a hundred years.
Dusty Deco is a different kind of vintage interior design store. The owners work hard to find unique and interesting pieces on their trips around the globe. The store holds an extensive mix of industrial furniture, design classics, old kelim carpets, photo art and handpicked interior objects – and it’s restocked almost every week in order to provide a new shopping experience with every visit.
Uniforms for the Dedicated
Founded as a collective of artists, Uniforms for the Dedicated hold a strong belief in the art of expressing true intentions. The brand takes pride in making comfortable garments for casual gentlemen interested in long-lasting products. To ensure their products will stay fresh for years to come, their designs incorporate three things: design aesthetics, quality and environmental impact.
Grandpa sells Scandinavian and international fashion, interior design and vintage furniture. Since it opened in 2003, the store has offered a different type of shopping where service, atmosphere, and inspiration are top priorities. Environmental focus has been an important part of Grandpa since the beginning, too – they put pressure on their suppliers and often decline products and brands that don’t live up to the Grandpa standard. But above all, Grandpa is a store that’s impossible to leave empty-handed.
Modernity offers vintage 20th century design – furniture, lighting, ceramics and glass. The emphasis is on Scandinavian designers by the likes of Wegner, Juhl, Aalto, Mathsson, Jacobsen, Salto, Friberg, Wirkkala, and Sarpaneva.
Herr Judit is quite possibly Scandinavia’s leader in vintage men’s clothing. The selection process is fierce – just ask anyone who’s tried to sell used clothes to the store. Only the best garments are accepted, and this is probably why entering the store is like stepping into the wardrobe of your dreams. From denim and rare vintage pieces to smart suites and lots of accessories to play around with – if you want it, it’s there.
Haberdash was founded with an ambition to carry men’s clothing that can be worn proudly day after day, year in and year out. Five years after they first opened, their two stores in Stockholm do just that. One visit will fill your bags with clothes you’ll love for a long time. Another visit will most likely be the start of a whole new wardrobe.
Roy & Son
Tjoget’s barbershop, Roy & Son, is the real deal. Its history reaches back to the 1950s when Roy Mannerstål started his first barbershop in Stockholm. The spirit and knowledge from the early years have been proudly carried into the concept of Roy & Son. They offer their clients classic shaves and modern haircuts of “perfect yet imperfect standard”.
When you’re overlooking the cruise ships arriving at the Stockholm harbor, it is difficult to imagine a more beautiful setting for a restaurant than Hermans. Hermans serves superb vegetarian and vegan food, and with a view to boot it’s enough to make even the most passionate meat lover change their mind – at least for a day.
DaySpa is just what it sounds like – a spa that doesn’t demand more than a few hours of your time. It’s a place where an espresso is enjoyed along with a foot massage, while your friends or colleagues equally enjoy their backrubs. A quick and affordable getaway, DaySpa is a well-earned break from all that shopping and sightseeing.
Lydmar Hotel is a second-generation boutique hotel in the center of Stockholm. This straightforward, relaxed and informal place promotes calmness and simplicity over an abundance of impressions. Less is a lot more at Lydmar Hotel.
With a proud history spanning over a hundred years and a prime location on the south side of Stureplan, Sturehof is a classic Stockholm restaurant. It’s on par with famous brasseries in New York and Paris and functions as a bustling meeting place from mid-morning to late night, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It often hosts concerts and other performances, and attracts an audience that covers a mix of ages, origins, professions, and interests.
The founders of Paper Cut have the ambition to create the ultimate store for people who consider fashion, art, literature, design, film, and music integral parts of life. If you’re seeking inspiration, or need a gift for someone, this might just be the perfect place to start. The shelves are packed with first edition DVDs, imported lifestyle and literary magazines, tons of interesting and beautiful books, and all kinds of unexpected accessories.
Nitty Gritty started out in 1991 as a reaction to the mainline clothing department stores that dominated the market of the decade. As one of the first independent stores in Stockholm, they’ve long offered their customers a personal mix of brands that can be cheap or expensive, Swedish or international, known or unknown. This is as important today as it was two decades ago. At Nitty Gritty you’ll find handpicked collections and inspiration from around the world.
Tjoget is a restaurant, barbershop and patisserie. A small marketplace inspired by an old train station, it’s a mix of the eclectic French and urban New York. No matter if your hair is too long, your stomach is too empty, or your glass needs a refill, Tjoget can deliver. Founded by two of the most sought-after bartenders in Stockholm, Tjoget’s restaurant Linje 10 became an instant success when it opened two years ago. The kitchen has its roots in southern Europe and the drinks are just as spectacular as you would expect. Roy & Son Barbershop is also located here.
Located in an old fire station, Brandstationen is a toy store for grownups. It’s filled with things you don’t really need, but boy do you want them. Decorative objects, design furniture, carpets, vintage watches, jewelry, you name it – this eclectic mix of vintage, antiques and second-hand will make your home more you.
Nosh & Chow
Nosh & Chow is a newly opened restaurant, speakeasy and hotel housed in an exclusive townhouse in the very center of Stockholm. Their global cuisine is made with Swedish ingredients and served in a fantastic courtyard with two luxurious suites framing this popular establishment.
World-class produce and wines and an amazing ambience to boot, Pane Vino is a welcomed addition of Italian flavor to the Stockholm food scene. With breakfast, lunch, bistro and a winebar, Pane Vino caters to most of your culinary needs. It offers the pre-work macchiato and perhaps the best lunches on Södermalm, and an amazing á la carte at night. Pane Vino also carries more than a hundred especially selected wines, so you don’t have to worry about your palate either.
Svenskt Tenn is perhaps the most exclusive interior design store in Stockholm. It was founded in 1924 by Estrid Ericson, who ten years later recruited designer Josef Frank to the company. Together they created the elegant and boldly patterned interior design style that to this day pervades the collection. Swing by and have a look at their signature patterns, wallpapers and fabrics – and if that’s not enough, have a peek at the very best in Swedish furniture design.